One of the driving forces of international relations over the last several years has been a rivalry between Arab states. This is sometimes called the “Gulf Crisis” and put simply, it refers to tensions and hostilities between Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates on the one hand; and Qatar on the other.
The roots of this rivalry run deep, but around the time of the Arab Spring these tensions came very much to the surface. The United States has historically had a profound interest in mitigating hostilities between Gulf Arab states, principally because each of these countries are key US allies. The US, for example, has a major Navy base in Bahrain and a major Air Force base in Qatar. But the Trump administration has been less adept at keeping a lid on the hostilities between these countries. Now these tensions are not only affecting relations between Arab gulf states, but are also leaving a mark in other regions.
As my guest today, Elizabeth Dickinson explains, the Gulf Crisis has been exported. The true fallout from this feud has not been felt on the Arabian Peninsula, she argues, but on battlefields across the greater Middle East and in the fragile politics of countries in the Horn of Africa, specifically Sudan and Somalia.
Elizabeth Dickinson is a senior analyst with the International Crisis Group and in our conversation she explains both the roots of this rivalry in the gulf and how this crisis in the gulf is stoking instability across several regions of the world.
If you have 20 minutes and want to learn how Gulf rivalries are shaping the politics outside the region, have a listen.