Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

Power and Politics in the Persian Gulf Monarchies

Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

Power and Politics in the Persian Gulf Monarchies

Article excerpt

Power and Politics in the Persian Gulf Monarchies. Edited by Christopher Davidson. London: Hurst and Co., 2012. 203 pp. £17.99, paper.

Recent Middle Eastern upheavals have centered on the Mediterranean littoral, not the Persian Gulf - and with them the bulk of attention. Power and Politics in the Persian Gulf Monarchies remedies that deficit with a concise and informative volume about the six countries that make up the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

The gulf states share a number of similar tendencies and challenges but operate in different contexts, thereby producing different results. Saudi Arabia - the powerhouse of the group - must necessarily adopt different approaches when accommodating the needs of its nearly thirty million subjects than neighboring Bahrain which hosts a population of under one million.

These differences notwithstanding, certain themes recur in all six essays: a reliance on hydrocarbon rents and imported labor and a concentration of power in the hands of hereditary monarchies. The issue of political succession presents uncertainties; though most states have designated heirs, formal systems scarcely exist to determine the procedure by which these successors are decided. While this affords an incumbent ruler flexibility, it also generates its own problems: in Saudi Arabia, none of the candidates are under sixty-five.

None of the states are stagnant, however, and all have repeatedly announced reforms to their systems in recent years. …

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