Eight Persian Gulf states. One hundred six million people. One regional giant (Iran), two mid-sized states (Iraq and Saudi Arabia), and six statelets whose tiny populations range from a mere 500,000 to 2.4 million (and in three only a minority are citizens). Unstable? The 1980s and 1990s witnessed the devastating Iran-Iraq War and Desert Storm. Important? The Persian Gulf states have a whopping 65 percent of the world's proven oil reserves. Isolating the Gulf for study can be useful, and this fine example of integrated group research offers both in-depth and up-to-date coverage, including Sick's "The Coming Crisis in the Persian Gulf," two strategic overviews, an analysis of border issues, and a review of Iranian military capabilities. A chapter on political Islam gets beyond the usual stereotypes. An overview of Islamic law in theory and practice provides the framework for treating actual practice in Saudi Arabia and Iran. "The Islamic Movement: The Case for Democratic Inclusion," concentrating on Iran, is informative and well-reasoned. Two Gulf scholars are represented: Munira Fakhro describes protest movements in Bahrain and Anwar Gargash estimates future developments in the Gulf. There are also chapters on Gulf oil prospects, possible confidence-building measures, and the emerging private sector.
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