L'Europe et Les Pays Arabes Du Golfe: Des Partenaires Distants / L'Europe et la Mediterranee: Geopolitique De la Proximite

Article excerpt

L'Europe et les pays arabes du Golfe: Des partenaires distants, by Bichara Khader. Paris and Ottignies: Publisud-Quorum-Cermac, 1994. 233 pages. Append. to p. 239. Contents to p. 244. FF174.

L'Europe et la Mediterranee: Geopolitique de la proximite, by Bichara Khader. Paris: L'Harmattan, and Louvain: Cermac, 1994. 336 pages. Append. to p. 376. Contents to p. 378. n.p. paper.

Bichara Khader, a professor and director of research at the Catholic University of Louvain, has made something of a cottage industry of the production of books and articles on the relations between Western Europe and the Arab world, drawing lessons from and for both sides. These two recent publications can hardly avoid repetition and overlapping with their predecessors and with each other. The centrality of oil supply and oil prices and of the political factors underlying such cataclysmic events as the Gulf War of 1991 are never lost from view. Common threads, both in interpreting the past and prescribing for the future, run through both volumes. The one on the Mediterranean was written "under the direction" of the author/editor, but the names of his collaborators are not attached to individual chapters, and we may assume that the main lines of argument, along with writing and re-writing, are his own. For the specialist, there is much that is elementary; but there is no denying the author's solid knowledge of his subject to support his often controversial opinions.

One great value of the volume on Europe and the Gulf states lies in its detailed chronicle of the negotiations between the European Union and the Gulf Cooperation Council leading to the comprehensive agreement they signed in June 1988, not an earth-shaking document, but one on which further cooperation could be built. Another is the plenitude of economic information in the form of tables provided to illustrate and buttress the text. A third is the way in which the author probes the effects of the "reverse oil shocks" of the mid1980s on the psyche as well as the economies of the Arab nations, factors insufficiently recognized and appreciated in the West. The author would like to see the European Union, or individual West European governments, make their own direct arrangements with the Gulf states on price and deliveries over the long term. France and Italy have at times been intrigued by the idea, but in the end market forces have prevailed, not to mention the power of the big international oil companies and of the United States.

Between Europe and the oil-producing countries of the Gulf there has been the unresolved question of petrochemical industries. The logical route to diversification and future security, as the Gulf states see it, lies in the development of new industries based on their major resource, notably refining and petrochemicals. …