1 April 2013


Claire Spencer

Dr Claire Spencer

Senior Research Fellow, Middle East and North Africa Programme & Second Century Initiative

Jane Kinninmont

Deputy Head and Senior Research Fellow, Middle East and North Africa Programme


  • Thanks to strong intergovernmental contacts, trading interests and the personalised relationships that have characterised Gulf-West alliances, shared priorities concerning regional security and stability have survived a number of setbacks and disappointments over more than fifty years. Furthermore, so far, the EU-US-GCC relationship has survived the testing times of the Arab uprisings. 
  • The greater involvement of Gulf actors in the application of their own strategies and priorities across the MENA region may, in practice, highlight increasing divergences in the real national and regional interests of states on both sides of the West-GCC divide.
  • In the longer term, questions remain over whether the foundations of this relationship can survive the challenges of global and regional changes.

This chapter is extracted from The Uneasy Balance. Potential and Challenges of the West's Relations with the Gulf States, edited by Riccardo Alcaro and Andrea Dessì, IAI Research Papers No. 8, April 2013.