This book studies how smaller Gulf states managed to increase their influence in the Middle East, oftentimes capitalising on their smallness as a foreign policy tool. By establishing a novel theoretical framework (the complex model of size), this study identifies specific ways in which material and perceptual smallness affect power, identity, regime stability, and leverage in international politics.
The small states of the Gulf (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates) managed to build up considerable influence in regional politics over the last decade, although their size is still considered an essential, irresolvable weakness, which makes them secondary actors to great powers such as Saudi Arabia or Iran. Breaking down explicit and implicit biases towards largeness, the book examines specific case studies related to foreign and security policy behaviour, including the Gulf wars, the Arab Uprisings, the Gulf rift, and the Abraham Accords.
Analysing the often-neglected small Gulf states, the volume is an important contribution to international relations theory, making it a key resource for students and academics interested in Small State Studies, Gulf studies, and the political science of the Middle East.
Table of Contents
1. The four types of state size and the foreign policy of small states
2. Applying small state theory to the MENA region
3. The relative and normative size of smaller Gulf states
4. Absolute size, perceptual size, and regime security in the smaller Gulf states
5. The foreign and security policy history of smaller Gulf states (1968-2011)
6. Smaller Gulf states in the age of regional uncertainty (2011-2021)
Conclusion – Size, power and regime stability in the Gulf
Máté Szalai is a senior lecturer at Corvinus University of Budapest and a senior research fellow at the Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Hungary. He was a visiting scholar at the Harriman Institute at Columbia University. Besides the general political, economic and social developments of the Middle Eastern and North African region, his primary fields of research include Small State Studies, the Persian Gulf, and the Syrian and Iraqi conflicts. He is co-author of the book entitled The Caliphate of the Islamic State, published in 2016.