Shake up for the sheikhs as the oil slump hits home

David Roberts charts the effects of low oil prices and regional conflicts on Gulf politics

The World Today
Published 27 May 2016 Updated 4 March 2021 3 minute READ

David Roberts

Lecturer, Defence Studies Department, King’s College London

For all of the political and religious waves that have washed over the Gulf Arab monarchies in recent generations, the states have remained relatively unchanged. Pan-Arabism came and went. The Cold War scarcely affected the regional balance. The challenge of the 1979 Iranian revolution certainly affected the states, but only by reinforcing some of their innate characteristics. Even war in the region between Iraq and Iran in the 1980s left the Gulf Arab monarchies mostly untouched. The invasion of Kuwait by Iraq in 1990 shifted the international posture of the states and the United States became a much-needed military ally and US bases sprang up.

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