Issue 64  
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Magazine News
15.01.2018 07:18

From Loose Integration to Fragmentation: Gulf Cooperation Council

Asserting that it will soon evolve in a kind of security community exemplified by the European Union, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has nevertheless been drifting into fragmentation as demonstrated by the latest developments. 

Theoretical explanations on regional integration in the Third World have been relatively sparse in International Relations literature. Against this background, the origins and expansion of the Gulf Cooperation Council to date, despite the attention it received from rationalist and critical theories alike, are still underexplored. Neorealist explanations for regional integration point at alliance formation. Based on short-lived balance of power considerations, regional (or sub-regional) integration is treated as a response of weak states to threats caused by potential hegemons. They further emphasize the factor of a “core” power within a regional organization. Neoliberals, on the other hand, argue that regional integration is a means to increase mutual benefits by reducing mutual threat perceptions and by enhancing welfare. Put in different terms, regional organizations help member states deal with common issues through creating a venue for dialogue and cooperation. Introducing the concept of “security communities” in this vein, Liberals have greatly inspired Constructivist theorists, who focus on a post-positivist understanding of the international system and its actors. 

As for Constructivists, regional integration is based on regional awareness, meaning a shared sense of belonging to a particular regional community. Here the focus is both on material factors and on ideational motives. It is also maintained that compatibility of major values as well as the leadership of a strong power within and/or outside a regional grouping may contribute to the success and sustainability of regional coordination of issues. To quote from renowned constructivists Emmanuel Adler and Michael Barnett, the GCC is still a loose security community, albeit among “illiberal” states. 


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