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Dialogues in pandemic politics: COVID-19 and the struggle to re-order relations in the Persian gulf

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/11/2020
<mark>Journal</mark>Global Discourse
Issue number4
Number of pages9
Pages (from-to)507-515
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Over the past decade, regional politics across the Persian Gulf-and within the GCC in particular-has increasingly been characterised by suspicion and mutual distrust. Predominantly appearing in the guise of tensions between the Arab side of the Gulf on the west and the Iranian side on the east-divisions which are exacerbated by ethnicity, religion, economics, geopolitics, demographics, and geography-are coupled with intra-Arab and intra-GCC tensions about the nature of regional order. Yet at times of crisis, as Michael Barnett (1998) astutely observed, opportunities emerge to reshape the nature of relations. In what follows I reflect on Barnett’s Constructivist take to explore the nature of Persian Gulf politics at a regional level. Other contributors to this special issue take a deeper dive into the intricacies of political, social, economic, governance and human rights concerns and, as such, I will largely steer clear of such observations. Instead, I will engage in a broader set of reflections about the nature of regional order and the impact of the pandemic on changing order.

Bibliographic note

Export Date: 5 January 2021 Correspondence Address: Mabon, S.; Lancaster UniversityUnited Kingdom; email: S.Mabon@Lancaster.ac.uk Funding text 1: Beyond the enmity directed between these states, COVID-19 appeared to prompt a turn inwards to address domestic challenges exacerbated by the pandemic. Financial challenges brought about by the pandemic placed additional pressures on states and, in turn, raised questions about the articulation of national visions. Responses to the ensuing economic crisis ranged from budget cuts, spending freezes and the provision of financial support to banks and local business (Kozhanov and Zaccara, 2020). While Iran had previously struggled under ‘maximum pressure’ sanctions, Arab Gulf states articulated opulent visions of the future, perhaps none grander than Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 and its NEOM project. 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