ISRAEL: Israel and the Persian Gulf: Retrospect and Prospect

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ISRAEL Israel and the Persian Gulf: Retrospect and Prospect, by Gawdat Bahgat. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida, 2006. viii + 155 pages. Notes to p. 167. Bibl. to p. 176. Index to p. 187. $59.95.

This book is a welcome addition to the historical and political accounts of the Middle East in modern times. It centers on the relevant aspects of Israel's relations with the Gulf states: individual chapters focus on Israel's relations with Iran, Iraq, and the Gulf monarchies; another chapter concerns the broader context of the book's subject, namely, the Persian Gulf and the Levant (or, the more Western region of the Middle East).

The author employs an analytical approach that examines the relations between Israel and the Persian Gulf under the impact of the international system, minorities, ideological influences, in terms of the decisionmaking of the main actors, regional geopolitics and most of all, the impact of power politics on the parties. These concepts provide quite suitable analytical tools. Bahgat's own assertion that, in contrast to the frontline states' perceptions and policies regarding Israel, the Gulf states' "perception of and policy toward Israel can be explained more by ideology and less by national interest" (p. 146), that is, they have not viewed Israel as vital for their interests. The analysis would have been strengthened had the author also discussed the importance (or marginality) of these relations to each side's power politics and interests. After all, the Gulf states on one hand and Israel and the Arab frontline (or Levant) states on the other, belong to different geopolitical arenas, each with its main concerns, priorities, and game rules.

Nevertheless, Bahgat's analysis is rich in knowledge and revealing in the complexities of the relationships explored. …