Profound changes in regional geopolitical dynamics in the Arabian Gulf since the early-2000s render the region a highly challenging environment for U.S. foreign policy and military engagement. At a time of continuing domestic instability in Iraq and an increasingly isolated Iran, the geopolitical weight of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states has risen dramatically over the past 10 years; the GCC states' ermous ecomic power, coupled to some of the most stable political systems in the entire Middle East and North Africa region, call for continuously close U.S.-GCC relations in the security sphere as an important element in U.S. foreign policy. But these fundamental shifts in the political environment coincide with changes in the regional perception of the United States as a security partner. The conflict in Iraq, resulting in yet ather unstable state at the heart of the Middle East and in immediate proximity to the GCC, has left many former supporters of U.S. engagement in the region disappointed and cynical. Furthermore, ongoing U.S. defense budget adjustments have raised concerns among GCC leaders about the future of U.S. military capabilities and U.S. willingness and ability to engage in the region. In addition, U.S. responses to the Arab Spring sent important signals to the GCC about the potential durability of U.S. political and military support in the event of popular demand for more democratic rights and access to their countries' ecomic resources.
Strategic Studies Institute, U S Army War College Press