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Saudi Arabia's Relationship with the Uk

Impact of the Iraq war on the Saudi-UK relationship (1995-2005)

RQ 1: How did the Iraq war shape the Saudi-UK bilateral relationship?

Assumption 1: Iraq war brought the Saudi Arabian state closer to the UK through the former’s undeclared support for the war.

Although Saudi Arabia publicly opposed the Iraq war, it did provide support to the US-led coalition army, which included logistical support (Blanchard, 2010). Since the UK was also part of the US-led coalition, it can be assumed that the war played a role in bringing Saudi Arabia closer to the UK.

RQ 2: How did the Iraq War shape Saudi-USA relationship and what was its impact on the relationship between Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom?

Assumption 2: Saudi Arabia has tilted more towards the United States in the post Iraq War period consistent with its increasing leaning towards United States even prior to this period.

The United States has increasingly played an important role in the Gulf since the 1980s, and has even replaced the UK as the region’s historic hegemonic power (Ulrichsen, 2009). With the proclamation of the Carter Doctrine, the dependency on the United States has been one of the outstanding features of the security response of the states in the Arab Peninsula (Ulrichsen, 2009). Saudi Arabia has consequently solidified its military ties with the United States and it has security arrangements under bilateral defence deals with the United States (Ulrichsen, 2009).

RQ 3: How did the Iraq war impact the economic relationship between the UK and the Saudi Arabia?

Assumption 3: The Iraq war led to more economic cooperation between the UK and Saudi Arabia.

The Iraq war is considered to be one of the events that impacted the socio-economic direction of Saudi Arabia by compelling it to look within to identify its failings and strengths (al-Hamoudi, 2014). In the decades of 1990s and 2000s, the economic relations between Saudi Arabia and Britain have grown as the latter has been involved with the Saudi leadership in different spheres of economic relations (al-Hamoudi, 2014).

Theories

Realism theory is used in political theory to emphasise on the element of self-preservation and the desire of power for to protect themselves. The balance of power theory argues that states will form alliances with other states for balancing the power of other states and because unbalanced power of powerful states would threaten the survival of other states (Nexon, 2009). Realists may go so far as to say that states are always involved in a balance of power as they try to secure themselves against adversaries (Mearsheimer, 2010). In the context of the Gulf region, Saudi Arabia sees Iran as a strong adversary and may be involved in aligning itself with countries like the UK and the USA to balance Iran’s power.

The Balance of Threat theory modifies realism by separating the concept of power from threat (Walt, 1985). It posits states are more concerned with the nature and extent of threat and not power of the other states and based on this they seek to balance the threat from other states by entering into alliances and international relations (Walt, 1985). Walt (1985) argues that it is the balance of threat which drives state action so that states do not seek to balance against states rising in power but balance of threat from states who may not be powerful but pose threat to them. This may be relevant to Saudi Arabia’s approach to Iraq prior to the Iraq war and its actions during and after the Iraq war of 2003, which may have ramifications for its relationships and alliances both with the United Kingdom and the USA.

Research methodology

This research uses a case study method under qualitative research methodology, which involves an in-depth inquiry into a phenomenon (Yin, 2013). This research involves the use of a single case study (which is, the relationship between the United Kingdom and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) in the context of the impact of the Iraq war.

This research study will use a sequential research method to assess the importance of Iraq war for the development of the UK-Saudi Arabia relationship post the war. The sequential research method asses the relevance of a specific sequence of events to identify the causes that are most likely to have led to the outcomes. As this is also historical in nature given that the period of the relationship being assessed is 1995-2005, it is important to note that there is a dilemma involved in historical studies, which is explained by Geddes as follows: “If two path- dependent arguments set out to explain the same outcome, and one argument concludes that choices made at one historical juncture determined the final outcome while the other identifies a different juncture as critical, how can we tell which is correct?” (Geddes, 2009 , p. 140). Similarly, it has been posited that if multiple causes may be linked together in a historical sequence, then it may be challenging to identify an intervening causal factor as more important than the initial causal factor that may have begun the historical sequence in the first place (Mahoney, Kimball, & Koivu, 2009).

Historical analysis is used to employ sequential explanation for the e outcome of the relationship between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom. Historical explanations may be inferences regarding the causes of specific outcomes, in this situation, the relationship between Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom. This research will use primary data, which will be collected from government papers from the UK and Saudi Arabia. This data will provide the evidence of diplomatic and other communications between the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia and governmental communications regarding each other, which can be assessed to understand how the Iraq War shaped and impacted the relationship between these two countries.

Bibliography

al-Hamoudi, W. (2014). The business of politics and the politics of business: Anglo-Saudi relations in the contemporary era, 1991-2006. King's College London, University of London.

Blanchard, C. M. (2010). Saudi Arabia: background and US relations. Diane Publishing.

Geddes, B. (2009 ). Paradigms and sandcastles: Theory building and research design in comparative politics. Ann Arbor : University of Michigan Press.

Mahoney, J., Kimball, E., & Koivu, K. L. (2009). The logic of historical explanation in the social sciences. Comparative Political Studies, 42(1), 114-146.

Mearsheimer, J. (2010). Structural Realism. In T. Dunne, M. Kurki, & S. Smith, International Relations Theories. New York: Oxford University Press.

Nexon, D. H. (2009). The balance of power in the balance. World Politics, 61(2), 330.

Ulrichsen, K. C. (2009). Gulf security: changing internal and external dynamics. The Centre for Study of Global Governance.

Yin, R. (2013). Case Study Research: Design and Methods. London: Sage.

Walt, S. (1985). Alliance formation and the balance of world power. International security, 9(4), 3.

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