Oil Monarchies: Domestic and Security Challenges in the Arab Gulf States

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Oil Monarchies: Domestic and Security Challenges in the Arab Gulf States

By F. Gregory Gause III
Council on Foreign Relations Press, 1994
217 pp. $16.95

Ever since the dust settled after Desert Storm, an assessment of how the oil monarchies of the Arabian Peninsula are faring has been needed. This clear and concise account is the best analysis to date. The author challenges the conventional view of unchanging traditional political systems rooted in tribalism and religion. Oil wealth has brought great change to each of these states, but not quite in the way that some theorists of rentier states assumed. The welfare state that makes few demands on its citizens has not produced passivity and consent, particularly when oil revenues are in decline. Demands for political participation have grown, and regimes have been obliged to respond, at least with token gestures. The major challenges facing the regimes will be managing the oil revenues, gradually opening up political life to more people and creating institutions. Succession problems are everywhere foreseeable. Nonetheless, the overall prognosis is fairly upbeat, with no major upheavals in store. Some sound, if general, guidelines for American policy conclude this useful study.

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