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Volume :5 Issue : 20 1979      Add To Cart                                                                    Download

THE GULF UNION AND THE SUPER POWERS

Auther : Dr. M.A. Seaudy

 

       This paper deals with concept of the Gulf Union, and the stand of the two superpowers: Vis., the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R.  So, it revolves round three major parts.

 Part one:

           Covers the unique features of the Gulf and its hinterland as an arm of the Indian Ocean extending northeast towards the Mediterranean, so it has been an active passage for trade between East and West.  This strategic geographical location has attracted the great powers since the times of Alexander the great.

           Its importance has been accelerated, since the discovery of oil, as it contains over 60 percent of the world oil reserves and produces more than one third of the world oil.

           Taking the population size, these countries with the exception of Iran and Iraq are thinly populated.  This means that they have to rely heavily on foreign labour both skilled and unskilled, with its benefits and abuses.  Most of the Gulf States are highly urbanized, especially the oil states that have no agricultural base, like Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar.   Economically, the agricultural and industrial activities do not play significant roles in most of the Gulf States as oil does.  Iraq, Oman, and Iran are the only states that have this agricultural base besides oil.  In spite of the states wealth, they are considered as developing countries depending on one major item for export, dependent on external markets for both exports and imports etc….

           The Gulf States with the exception of Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq are small in size.  The smallness in size besides under population of these countries is reflected on its economic and military capabilities.

 Part two:

           Deals with the superpower’s interest in the Gulf.  The U.S.A’s interest is expressed in senator W. Fulbright’s words “If it is in our interest for Israel to survive because we wish Israel to survive, our interest in Arab oil is a matter of vital economic necessity and urgent.  It is more urgent now than is recognized by any but a few energy experts”.  By the end of 1976, the U.S.A. oil imports accounted for 42% of all oil consumption.  What gives the Gulf its highly importance, is the dramatic shift away from relatively reliable western hemisphere sources of oil imports to less secure eastern hemisphere sources.  If this is the situation for the U.S.A., no doubt it is more crucial for Western Europe and Japan.  Till recently the U.S.A. relied mainly on the major oil companies to maintain the flow of oil.  For Political stability and security in the Gulf, the U.S.A. depended mainly on Britain.

           When Britain decided to withdraw from the Gulf in 1971 a policy of indirect security developed which relied on the regional states, particularly Iran and Saudi Arabia.  The U.S.A. also puts the economic dimension in consideration, as there are large potential benefits in the form of increased U.S.A. business with the Gulf countries through trade as a whole and particularly arms trade.

           This helps to absorb most of the oil revenue concerning arms sales, some American politicians argue that these sales might work against Gulf security by increasing the risks and rivalry and instability within and among the Gulf States.

          The U.S.S.R. interest in the Gulf region was earlier than that of the U.S.A. since it lies on its southern borders.  It has been known that Russia pressed vigorously towards the warm waters of the Arabian Gulf and the Indian Ocean.  The U.S.S.R. is self sufficient in all forms of energy and is a major exporter.  However, despite justifiable confidence in their country’s long energy prospects, Soviet leaders are not complacent about the coming decades.  The problem of future oil supplies involves both the availability of reserves and geographic distribution.  In the European U.S.S.R. most fields are already declining, new discoveries in the west of the Urals are increasing by scarce, while East of the Ural requires very expensive and highly specialized technology.

           The Soviet Union is East Europe’s major exporter of basic raw material and fuel (e.g. oil, gas).  Moscow is determined to maintain its economic bonds with it, for strategic reasons.  In 1976, the U.S.S.R. supplied East Europe with 55 percent of its consumption of oil.  As these demands increase, the U.S.S.R. must seek new supplies, hence comes the role of the Gulf Region. The U.S.S.R. has recently exported oil to Western Europe, especially top West Germany in exchange for Western technology.  Moscow is also as eager as the west to attract the petro-dollars to finance its imports.  But till now most of these dollars go west, as the Arab favors the western machinery and manufactures.  They believe that these western commodities are more durable than the Soviet’s.

           Moscow sold large quantities of modern weapons to a number of Arab states, unlike many earlier deals, payment was in hard currencies.  Concerning the Gulf, it has been only Iraq that dealt with the Soviet Union in the arms sales.

 Part three:

           Covers the writer’s concept of Union.  In his opinion, the political union must be abounded now.  Instead integration and cooperation is more urgent in the various fields of culture, economy and security.  The Gulf States must get out from the traditional relations to a new one.  The geographical, historical, economical and security factors both help and press to achieve this target.

           It is only co-ordinating their stands and aiming at some form of integration that the Gulf states can resist the pressures of the world powers, and can assist their independence.

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