Significance of International Relations Theory in Analyzing the Gulf Region

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The Importance of International Relations Theory in Understanding the Gulf Region

The Gulf War of 1990-1991 was, by any measure, one of the most significant worldwide conflicts (Gause, 2009, p. 93). It involved the mobilization of approximately a million mobilized individuals, the political participation of the majority of foreign nations, and a war that many viewed as a significant scenario of inter-state upheaval (Gause, 2009, p. 93). There has been much discussion on the importance of International Relations (IR) theories in understanding the Gulf region.  A lot of people including experts question whether there is any requirement for an educational discipline for IR by any means (Fawcett, 2016, p. 142). However, one could question the people of actuality when Saddam Hussein was residing in Kuwait on the night of August 2, 1990 (Gause, 2009, p. 95) or what could explain why Saddam intended to fall asleep in Maryland, Bethesda, Virginia, or in Arlington (Gause, 2009, p. 95). The valid reason has to be that people can foresee, however, past any understandings, humans could cast on occurrences, modern, or ancient, and reveal a number of fundamental concerns, which are presented by global politics (Fawcett, 2016, p. 142). This is where the significance of International relations come in, to help us get the insights of the political complexities and offer viable solutions.

Fawcett (2016, p. 143) observes that when commenting on present-day issues, often there exists an urge to dismiss IR as not having any need to react to the immediate happenings. Although similar to other social disciplines, IR is relevant, and ought to identify itself to current incidents and problems in an involved but critical and independent manner. This view is supported by Simpson & Kaussler (2009, p. 414) who assert that the entirety of social sciences background is one of academic and rational exercise, no matter, if integrated into a college syllabus or not, thus the study of international relations, should not be ignored. For instance, realism, of the popular IR theories, has been applied as an important tool to understand the Iraqi-Kuwait conflict (Gause, 2009, p. 89)

Drawbacks in Applying IR Theories to the Study of Gulf Region

In earlier times, several historians indicated to an intellectual gulf between Gulf region analyses and popular international and comparative political research (Berti & Guzansky, 2015). This thought of gap was generally due to two major reasons. First, Gulf region scholars were usually incriminated of concentrating on illustrative analyses with no thorough theoretical emphasis (Berti & Guzansky, 2015). Several scholars long handled the Gulf region as too remarkable to be theory-relevant. This a-theoretical status has prevented Gulf region scholars from providing theoretical observations, which might have led to theory creation outside of the region. The other explanation was the abstain of social analysts from utilizing the Middle East in a theoretical advancement, as scholars aimed at building general subjective techniques (Berti & Guzansky, 2015). The previous decades demonstrate a lot attempt has been carried out to fill this gap. Current scholarship on the Gulf region is made up of considerable efforts to combine detailed scientific studies, also, with theoretical ideas in the political science materials, on the other. However, this development is especially more leading in evaluation politics compared to international relations.

The Gulf Region is still introduced to students as an area which goes against present theoretical approaches and arguments (Acharya, 2014). This gulf in teaching the Gulf region international relations can be seen in course design (syllabi) and references. A rapid survey of syllabi of courses on international relations in the Gulf region shows that IR theories and techniques are not completely incorporated into the analysis of the area. The composition of the courses is far from divided following IR approaches and models.

Benefits in Applying IR Theories to the Study of Gulf Region

IR theories have become suitable to deal with the complexities of geopolitics. Realism, specifically neorealism, has been instrumental in analyzing the international scope of the Gulf region politics current years (Acharya, 2014, p. 647). Neoliberalism (or neoliberal institutionalism) also offer to understand the contemporary surroundings. The political technicalities of the Gulf region offer sufficient proof for a harmony of the dynamics of power; this is especially correct when one takes into account the Gulf region’s tactical relevance to exterior forces (Acharya, 2014, p. 647). Realist theory, despite the insufficiencies that it comes with, has for many years made it through the attack of contending assertions as well as theories of insignificance following the period after the cold war (Gause, 2009, p. 89). Without a doubt, for years the Saudi-Iranian competition on its own seemed to be the best example of realist supremacy politics among two monarchies (Berti & Guzansky, 2015, p. 40). The two states found their way to achieve territorial advantages at the cost of each other. They applied their wealth to amass greater power for themselves, usually for the benefit of less strong states. All these analyses were achievable using international relations theory tools.

Realism theory and Iran-Iraq war

Realism has been applied as an important tool to understand the Iraqi-Kuwait war. Regardless of the effective realism role in describing rule, it does not take into account all elements of the decision-making of Iraq (Gause, 2009, p. 130). Despite the fact that external influences performed an essential role in the judgment of Ira to invade Kuwait, there were other essential factors in determining Iraq’s policy. Specifically, Berti & Guzansky (2015) contend that several internal factors including the role of Ba’ath pan-Arab triggered Iraq’s decision to attack Kuwait. Also, political and economic issues, the exclusivity of Saddam as the foremost leader triggered the invasion of Kuwait. So, realism theory helps us understand whether Iraqi experts made rational decisions or if they were only serving at the behest of individual’s selfish interests (Fawcett, 2016). This was because the results of the attacks immensely disfavored Iraq and in effect worsened their power (Gause, 2009, p. 130)

Feminism theory and Labor Migration

Being familiar with gender is important in the context of migration (Nawyn, 2010, p. 749). The author asserts that this is mainly because migration theory has in the past stressed what causes international migration instead of inquiries into the people who migrate, it has typically become unsuccessful to tackle gender-oriented migration encounters effectively. Absence of distinct theoretical frameworks, it gets hard to describe, for instance, situations surrounding the migration of women, or the prevalence of women in some labor departments which is not the case in other sectors (Nawyn, 2010, p. 750). Also, the conventional theory does not explain the situations which inspire women to be transnational migrants, to get into trafficking networks, or to search for refugee resettlement. Giving answers to these concerns and other much more gender-sensitive questions demands demonstrating how an outwardly gender-neutral process of movement is and could lead to differential results for women and men (Nawyn, 2010, p. 755).


Acharya, A. (2014). Global International Relations (IR) and Regional WorldsA New Agenda for International Studies. International Studies Quarterly, 58(4), 647-659.

Berti, B., & Guzansky, Y. (2015). Gulf Monarchies in a Changing Middle East: Is Spring Far Behind?. Orbis, 59(1), 35-48.

Fawcett, L. (2016). International relations of the Middle East. Oxford University Press. 140-150.

Gause III, F. G. (2009). The international relations of the Persian Gulf. Cambridge University Press.89-135.

Nawyn, S. J. (2010). Gender and migration: Integrating feminist theory into migration studies. Sociology Compass, 4(9), 749-765.

Simpson, A. W., & Kaussler, B. (2009). IR teaching reloaded: Using films and simulations in the teaching of international relations. International Studies Perspectives, 10(4), 413-427.

May 02, 2023

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