The GCC in the Mediterranean in Light of the Arab Spring
The turmoil sweeping across the Arab world and the ensuing transition processes have been a crucial test for Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Oman. Confronted with external as well as internal outbursts of disaffection, they have responded in a mixed way by combining patronage, outright repression, and outreach to the protesters. It is important to focus on the external role of the Gulf countries in North Africa by answering two questions: to what extent does the economic cooperation between the Gulf and North Africa represent an instrument of political penetration and influence and what are its effects on the transitions? Does it help or impinge on the chances of genuine reform in the countries undergoing these transitions aimed at solving the problems that triggered the Arab uprisings two years ago, e.g., lack of accountable, transparent, and inclusive institutions as well as unsustainable socio-economic policies? The four authors of this paper — coming from different geographical backgrounds and disciplines — attempted to address the aforementioned questions and to offer policy recommendations. The result is a comprehensive and multi-faceted assessment of the growing engagement of the GCC countries with the North African region and its potential impact. While offering different perspectives, the four papers contribute to highlighting a number of common points from which some policy-oriented proposals can be drawn.