The Enigma of Political Stability in the Persian Gulf Monarchies

by Daniel Byman, Jerrold D. Green

The stability of Gulf Arab monarchies has been remarkable given the high level of regional conflict and the unsteadiness of other countries in the region. The authors first analyze the reasons those states might be expected to face major internal unsteadiness, then discuss the policies their governments have followed that have allowed them to survive. To control unrest, Gulf monarchies use a combination of six tools: (1) strong security services; (2) co-opting of potential dissidents; (3) divide-and-rule tactics; (4) ideological flexibility; (5) pseudo-participation — appointed and representative institutions to provide discussion and decisionmaking input; and (6) accomodative diplomacy — placating potential foreign adversaries with noncontroversial foreign policies and generous aid.

Originally published in: Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA), v. 3, no. 3, September 1999, pp. 1-20.

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