U.S.-GCC Security Relations, I: Differing Threat Perceptions   [open pdf - 21KB]

"Support for Washington's tough containment policy toward Iraq and Iran remains strong at top leadership levels in the Gulf. However, among educated elites and the man in the street, it is softer. The distance in views between the government and the populace on security concerns may be widening. In Saudi Arabia, there is a widespread view that Saudi Arabia (as distinct from Kuwait) was not threatened by Iraq in October 1994. In this view, Saddam's mobilization on the border was designed to call attention to Iraq's sanctions plight, and the United States over-reacted. Among the educated elite in the GCC states, sympathy for the Iraqi people is strong. So too are fears that continued sanctions, while failing to remove Saddam, could turn the Iraqi populace against the Gulf states that support sanctions. Conspiracy theories accuse the United States of keeping Saddam in power, or at least doing little to remove him, while using the Iraqi threat to strip the Arab Gulf states of their wealth through purchases of unnecessary military hardware. The idea that the United States has used the Iraqi threat to acquire a monopoly of military sales to the Gulf is widespread. More disturbing is growing anti-American sentiment, especially in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, where the the oil industry and the U.S. military are concentrated. Educated Arabs are beginning to blame the United States, with its strong military presence in the Gulf, for bolstering governments open to charges of corruption and maldistribution of wealth and perceived as suppressing even modest dissent."

Report Number:
Strategic Forum No. 39
Public Domain
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