The Hedging Strategy of Small Arab Gulf States

Sofie Hamdi
Mohammad Salman

In light of growing tensions in the Persian Gulf between Iran and Saudi Arabia, the search for a formula of security in the five small Gulf States—Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE)—has become a complex issue. The question that arises is how these small Gulf States can maintain security and stability in the prevailing scenario. As the weaknesses of the small Gulf States tends to polarize the region even more, it is argued that a hedging strategy can best capture the security dilemma that the small Gulf States are facing. This article examines how the five small Gulf States are facing the current security dilemma by following (or not) a hedging strategy. The results of a qualitative content analysis of news articles, official government's documents, and academic literature show that the Gulf States vary in warmth toward Iran or Saudi Arabia. Oman, and to a lesser extent Kuwait, seem to have good relations with both sides. Qatar currently enjoys relatively warm relations with Iran, while the UAE and Bahrain lean more toward the Saudi side.

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