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Literature Review Paper
Paper title: National Security of United Arab Emirate
Pages: 60 (15,000 words)
Academic level: University 
Discipline: History
Paper Format: Oxford
Sources: 20


The changing effects of the economic development growth and the National Security (External & Internal) of United Arab Emirate, Reviewing, implications and comment and quantititve analyze the readings under discussion. The best types of commentary and analysis are those which most effectively distil and condense the essence of an article into a form that an audience finds informative and stimulating.


The chapter should be content two major parts First Internal Security and Second External both parts should be related to the Economic Development and the rate of growth using the quantitative presentation including table.



The UAE is located in an extremely volatile part of the world, which has experienced many regional and international wars since the end of the Second World War. The current conflict in Iraq seems to be increasing tensions between Sunni and Shia Muslims, and Iran’s nuclear ambitions seem likely to raise tensions further. In these circumstances the presence of a very large foreign contingent in the population might be thought to cause potential problems of security. Though there is little evidence of such problems at present, recent reports of work-related disturbances (e.g. Human Rights Watch report) give some cause for concern.

Free Written Sample


National Security of United Arab Emirate
[Author’s Name]
[Institution’s Name]


The paper briefly examines fundamental elements of the concept of national security, seeking to relate theoretical generalizations to concrete conditions in the United Arab Emirates. We then directly confront the main question at issue: whether the Gulf War has finally laid to rest long-established skepticism over the applicability of state-centric orthodox views of internal and external national security in the Arab context.


Table of Contents
Literature Review


Seven unified emirates on the eastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula comprise the UAE. Excavations at Bahrain and Kuwait attest to those areas' importance as trading and commercial centers of the Persian Gulf. The UAE is bounded on the north by the Gulf of Oman, on the northeast and southeast by Oman, on the east by the Gulf of Oman, on the south and southwest by Saudi Arabia and on the northwest by Qatar. The capital city is Abu Dhabi, although each emirate has a chief town. Almost 90 percent of the UAE is the emirate of Abu Dhabi; the other five original members are Dubai, 'Ajman, Ash-Shariqah, Umm al-Qaywayn and Al-Fujayrah. Ra's-Khaymaj, the seventh state, joined later.The region has been occupied since Sumerian times (c. 3000 B.C.), and was known even then as a rich trading and commerce complex. Conversion to Islam occurred during the time of the Prophet Muhammad but required reinforcement to maintain the Muslim beliefs from non-Sunni sects, especially those from Iran (Shi'ite), across the gulf. Many succumbed to Shi'ism, however, and converted. By the early sixteenth century, Portuguese explorers had visited the region and carried on some enterprise there. The British East India Company arrived in the late seventeenth century and established some commercial ties, but they were never allowed to settle and were subjected to piracy on a regular basis. The British attacked the coastal towns in 1819-1820 and forced concessions (1820), which caused a reduction in piracy and increased trade. The Treaty of Maritime Peace in Perpetuity (1853) gave the area the name “Trucial States” and included Qatar and Bahrein. The 1892 Treaty of Exclusive Agreements with the Rulers of the Trucial States gave Great Britain protector status over the region. British India administered the states until 1947, when with the independence of India, the British Foreign Office took administrative control. The Trucial States were unique in that Great Britain never established any of the “standard” colonial appendages to them and they each maintained complete control in all things except foreign policy. A Trucial States Council was established in 1960 in which each state was represented. On 18 July 1971, following the general withdrawal of Great Britain from the Persian Gulf, the Trucial States combined, first into the Federation of Arab Emirates and then, on 2 December 1971, into the United of Arab Emirates (UAE), but Bahrain and Qatar chose separate independence. Trucial Oman joined as Dubai. Ra's al-Khaymah, after at first refusing, joined a year later on 10 February 1972. By that point, the UAE had already joined the Arab League and the United Nations. Before that, however, on 24 January 1972, Sheikh Khalid bin Mohammed al-Qasmi (qv), the ruler of Sharjah ('Ajman, Ash-Shariqah), was killed in a coup led by his cousin, Sheikh Saqr bin Mohammed al-Qasmi (qv), who had been deposed as ruler in 1965. Khalid's younger brother, Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed al-Qasmi (qv), became the new ruler of Sharjah. In June 1972, tribal warfare broke out between Sharjah and Fujairah. Only about 20 people were killed in the border conflict, which was settled by the UAE's leader, Sheikh Zaid ibn Sultan an-Nahayan (qv), after intervention by a UAE military force. After March 1978, France began supplying arms to the UAE. Mass demonstrations in favor of Sheikh Zaid's plan to do away with borders inside the UAE and combine the armed forces took place on 19 March 1979. When the UAE suppressed PLO activities in the country, the Arab Revolutionary Brigades, an Abu Nidal (qv) offshoot, retaliated by blowing up an Omani airliner over the emirates, killing 111 people (23 September 1983). On 15 November 1985, the UAE opened diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union. Sheikh Zaid was reelected federal president in 1986, and the articles of federation for the UAE were extended an additional five years. In 1986, at the height of the Iraq-Iran War (qv), the UAE once again opened a dialogue with the PLO. The UAE also suffered considerable loss of income as a side effect of the nearby fighting. Another coup was attempted in Sharjah in June 1987, when the ruler's older brother, Sheikh Abdel-Aziz, threatened him. A news report (17 June) about a successful takeover was somewhat exaggerated, but Abdel-Aziz was named crown prince and deputy ruler on 23 June. The UAE began to recover from the effects of the Iraq-Iran War in 1988 and were wooed by the Iranians. Poland and East Germany also courted the UAE as a means of obtaining hard-to-get petroleum. In 1989, the UAE purchased over $170 million in British arms. Dubai's ruler, Sheikh Rashid ibn Said al-Maktum, who had been incapacitated by a stroke in 1981, died on 7 October 1990. Rashid had also been vice president of the UAE. He was replaced in Dubai by his eldest son, who had in effect, ruled since the onset of his father's illness. A third coup took place in Sharjah on 4 February 1990. This time, Sheikh Sultan rid himself of his elder brother, Abdel-Aziz, who had been crown prince and deputy ruler since 1987. The UAE became involved in the scandal following the collapse of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) in July 1991. This fiasco, in which Abu Dhabi had been a major shareholder, strained the UAE's reputation with the international banking industry, especially the Bank of England. Several Abu Dhabi financial executives associated with the BCCI were arrested as the UAE went about rebuilding the BCCI. The UAE also gave unstinting support to the coalition against Iraq during the Desert Storm operation, including the billeting of American and French forces and the use of naval facilities. UAE troops fought alongside other coalition forces in the liberation of Kuwait and suffered at least six casualties. The UAE also underwrote more than $3 billion of the cost of the war. The UAE's position toward Iran soured in 1992, after Iran refused to negotiate the fate of the Tunb Islands and Abu Musa, which were seized by Iran during the Iraq-Iran War. One theory was that Iran feared the UAE would turn the islands over to U.S. control if it released them. When the UAE announced it would submit the question to international arbitration, Iran rejoined the negotiations (May 1993). On 13 October 1993, 13 BCCI officials went on trial after Abu Dhabi filed a $9 billion lawsuit against the group for forgery and bank fraud. The bank's founder, who was tried in absentia, was sentenced (1994) to eight years in prison, once he was apprehended. By 1994, the islands issue had not yet been settled with Iran, and in December, the UAE referred the case to the International Court of Justice. In July 1995, the UAE signed a defense agreement with the United States. This may account for Iran's continued obstinacy over releasing the Tunb Islands and Abu Musa. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a federation of seven trucial states established on 2 December 1971, with the seventh member—Ras al-Khaimah—having joined in 1972. Except for some areas specified in the Provisional Constitution, such as foreign affairs and national defense, sovereignty has been largely left to the individual emirates themselves (the Provisional Constitution became permanent in May 1996). Such autonomy, which includes administration, control over one's own mineral and oil wealth, and internal security, has been a key factor in the resilience of the federation itself. In addition, the traditional patriarchal style of leadership, combined with political loyalties as defined by the various tribal elements of the country, has been maintained to a large extent.
The highest executive and legislative authority is the Supreme Council, comprised of the seven rulers of the seven emirates. As stated in the Constitution, this council ‘exercises supreme control upon the affairs of the Union in general’ (Article 49). The President of the UAE is the ruler of Abu Dhabi, the most extensive emirate and the one with the largest oil and gas resource base, larger than the bases of all the other emirates together. Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan al-Nahyan, present ruler of Abu Dbahi and President of the UAE, is, therefore, the highest authority on all matters pertaining to federal issues. Yet, no important decision can be actually taken without the agreement of the ruler of Abu Dhabi and Dubai, the second most important emirate.
Following the Supreme Council, the UAE has a Council of Ministers at the federal level. In addition, there are individual executive councils in each emirate. While the Supreme Council is responsible for the ratification of treaties, laws and decrees of the federation, the Council of Ministers plans general policy and provides the guidelines for the running of the government. The Constitution describes its function as ‘the executive authority of the Union, and under the supreme control of the President of the Union and the Supreme Council, responsible for dealing with all domestic and foreign affairs’ (Article 60). At the same time, the Constitution authorizes the individual emirates to relinquish certain areas of authority to the federal government, if so requested. Over time, this system of co-existence has proved fairly satisfactory.
No federal or local elections have been held in the United Arab Emirates since its independence. In 1938, a reform movement was initiated by the ruling family in Dubai, which culminated in the establishment of a 15-member Consultative Council in October of the same year. The Council was dissolved a few months later. But despite the short life of this constitutional experiment, the attempt carried long-term consequences, since the advisory power promulgated by the Council and the role of the influential merchant community within the latter prevailed even after this period. Other institutions with broader representation established in the Trucial States include the 1957 Municipal Council and the 1965 Chamber of Commerce.
Since the establishment of the UAE in 1971, the country has had a Federal National Council (FNC), which acts as a Parliament with consultative powers. The Council is appointed and comprises 40 members. Abu Dhabi and Dubai are represented by eight members each, Sharjah and Ras al-Khaimah by six members each and the smaller emirates of Ajman, Fujairah, and Umm al-Quwain by four members each. Most representatives are businessmen from prominent merchant families and high-standing members from other well-known families. The FNC met for the first time in February 1972 and is presided by a speaker or two deputy speakers. Each emirate decides individually on the criteria to follow for the appointment of a member for a two-year term.
The FNC's role is merely consultative, as it has no legislative powers and may only issue recommendations for the Supreme Council. The FNC has the authority to review all federal legislation and to approve, reject, or amend draft bills (Article 89 and 90 of the Constitution). The President, nevertheless, has the power to override any objections expressed by the Council. The FNC is also empowered to summon and question federal ministers and the performance of ministries, a procedure that has become regular in the annual Council sessions. Among its most important functions is the annual review of the budget, discussed in specialized sub-committees and among the members.
Even though the FNC is appointed by the UAE leadership, it is far from being a mere rubber stamp, and its advice is seriously considered within government circles. Given the renowned status of its members, their opinions can hardly be ignored by the emirates' small population. Throughout its existence, the FNC has made a name for itself by advocating sternly in favor of a closer federation among the individual emirates, at times in opposition to the individual emirates themselves. In 1979, a memorandum was circulated, which appealed to a more solid federal consolidation and demanded that the Council should be given full legislative authority. This move, which was to repeat itself in 1986, was accompanied by peaceful public demonstrations in support of the Council's recommendations. Though the calls failed to achieve their implementation, the issues raised by the Council did prompt each emirate to seek mechanisms to improve the government's work and its efficiency.
While issues such as increasing the powers of the Council or holding elections for the FNC's membership will appear on the political agenda in the near future, the more immediate issue will be the inclusion of women. With fading opposition to this idea and calls for the participation of women being voiced by several members of the UAE's leadership, the expansion of appointed membership for women is a real possibility. In the meantime, Council debates are featured in the open media and accessible to outward observers. The Council is a member of the International Parliamentary Union as well as of the Arab Parliamentary Union, in whose activities it participates.
Finally, besides the Federal National Council, Abu Dhabi also has an appointed 50-member National Consultative Council. This institution, less legislative in nature, is based instead on tribal composition. Nevertheless, as an integral part of the ruler's relationship with the population, it fulfills an important consultative function.
No direct national elections or referendums have been held. Parties have not been legalized.

Head of State



Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan


Ruler of Abu Dhabi since 1966; became President of the UAE when the country was established in 1971.


The analysis of national security has been basic to the study of domestic politics and international relations. Consequently, different schools of political science — Realist and Classical, Behavioralist and Contemporary — have something to say about the concept of national security. Indeed, most of these schools find the raison d'être of international relations as a discipline that is distinct from political science to be the need to study in its own right the state's (in)security dilemma. According to this dominant mainstream paradigm, the crux of the argument is that the international system — in contrast to domestic political systems — does not possess a centralized government or political authority. Thus, it is a system in a "state of nature," one fundamentally manifesting Hobbes's war of all against all.
The Gulf War was a major event by any standard. For instance, thirty-seven countries participated in the international coalition that challenged Iraq's occupation of Kuwait, and they acted in the name of the entire international community. The levels of military technology employed during the hostilities ranged from Smart Bombs to Stealth warplanes, with many weapons being used in combat for the first time. The war's financial cost was exceptional — provisionally estimated at around $61 billion. The intensity of military action was no less impressive: During the forty-three days of hostilities, coalition forces conducted 109,876 air strikes against Iraqi targets and dropped between 120,000 and 130,000 tons of explosives.
Among professional students of politics, mainstream approaches to the study of national security are solidly rooted in the traditional power paradigm, whose "core . . . and . . . subject matter are the struggle for power among sovereign nations." The power paradigm synthesized with disarming clarity the most visible aspects of international politics. By doing so, it captured the imagination of laypersons, provided an easy theoretical guide for practicing political leaders, and conditioned the outlooks of generations of students of global politics. Almost forty years after its initial publication, Hans Morgenthau's Politics Among Nations is still described as "the most influential textbook of the early post-war period . . . thought by many, if not by most, to have redirected those working in the field from idealist advocacy to realist analysis." Indeed, the book captured in one volume the ideas of an entire generation of international relations scholars — from E. H. Carr and Harold Nicholson to Raymond Aron and George Kennan. Moreover, it influenced succeeding generations, outselling all other textbooks in the 1950s and still ranking in the late 1970s as the field's most utilized textbook. I should also note that the power paradigm has been presented to the Third World as the framework for understanding international politics. Politics among Nations has been translated into various languages, including Arabic, Chinese, Turkish, and Swahili.
In short, the power paradigm laid the groundwork for widespread consensus on the definition of national security. Examples abound: "A nation is secure to the extent to which it is not in danger of having to sacrifice core values, if it wishes to avoid war, and is able, if challenged, to maintain them by . . . victory in such a war." And national security necessarily implies "that security rises and falls with the ability of a nation to deter an attack, or defeat it. This is in accord with the common usage of the term."
Simple, direct, and logically consistent, the power paradigm nonetheless distorts the complex nature of international politics. In terms of national security, four such distortions are especially important.
First, the power paradigm envisages the state as the sole international actor. International organizations and multinational companies are either ignored or implicitly considered inconsequential. For example, Raymond Aron defined international relations as interstate relations and limited international action to the diplomat and the soldier — the two representatives par excellence of state activity. The analysis presented in his opus classicus, however, is dominated by the action of the soldier, even in the absence of war. Thus, such conflicts as those arising from nationalizations of multinational companies or internationally relevant massive social unrest arising from International Monetary Fund (IMF) or World Bank dictates is neglected.
A further distortion of contemporary international reality stems from the fact that the power paradigm not only conceptualizes the international system within the limited framework of purely interstate relations but also focuses overwhelmingly on the strongest of state actors — the powers of the "center," those who count in a military-industrial sense. Joseph Stalin expressed this outlook in extreme form when, upon being urged to take the Vatican into consideration, he brushed the pope aside by retorting, "How many battalions does he possess?"
A third, related, distorting tendency of the power paradigm lies precisely in its automatic assignment of states of the periphery to the role of junior partners in the global power game. The only alternative role available to peripheral states within this paradigm is that of counter systemic upsetters thriving on "nuisance power" and therefore liable to the techniques of counterinsurgency.
Finally, the power paradigm suffers from an inherent bias that focuses its application on what are automatically defined as "interesting" issues: "high" as opposed to "low" politics. Thus, questions of interstate conflict and national security are high on the analytical agenda for understanding international relations, whereas issues of culture, economy, and society are very low — almost falling beyond the paradigm's ken.
The basis of these distortions is not only the primacy assigned by the power paradigm to the state as the international actor but also that the state itself is viewed in terms of a very specific model: the European state of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. From this flow two related results: the ethnocentrism of mainstream national security studies and the growing irrelevance of such studies to Third World state formation and survival.

Literature Review
Applying the power paradigm narrowly to the regional context that interests us here would produce a distorted political picture, a rendering of the United Arab Emirates as a mere group of sovereign states that are no more interconnected than a group of billiard balls. Actually, there is an "Arab specificity": the collective feeling of constituting a distinct community across state frontiers. Thus, the majority of Arabs — elites and masses alike — have been torn between overlapping and sometimes competing allegiances.
First, there is raison d'êtat — political identification with the territorial state, or al-dawla al-qitriyya. Political identification with the particular Arab state — Morocco, Tunisia, Yemen, Egypt, and so forth — is no myth. Yet, there is also raison de la nation — a sense of Trans state community. This pan-Arab identification underlies a set of general security concerns — Arab versus non-Arab — that cannot be accounted for by the orthodox power paradigm. Moreover, these particularly Arab security issues are distinct from, and at times in conflict with, security concerns related strictly to the territorial state. 7 Indeed, at the root of the Arabs' different alignments during the Gulf War were differing perceptions of security requirements and these, in turn, were determined by whether Arab actors thought of security primarily in terms of the individual territorial state (Amn Qutri) or in terms of the broader collectivity: Arabs versus non-Arabs.
I should stress that these differences in perception did not simply divide Arab governments. Divisions also existed within Arab states, highlighting differences between regimes and the societies they govern. Thus, Morocco — a member of the pro-Kuwait coalition that sent troops to Saudi Arabia — witnessed massive demonstrations protesting the use of "foreign" troops against Iraq. The miscalculations of Iraq's decision makers can be partly explained by the dualistic nature of Arab security concerns. For instance, Baghdad appears to have grossly overestimated the extent to which Saudi Arabia's government would hesitate (either by choice or because of societal pressure) before inviting non-Arab troops to shield the Saudi state and liberate Kuwait.
In itself, this underlines the fact that an important consequence of the Gulf War has been the consolidation of territorial state sovereignty in the United Arab Emirates. What has been furthered is the "reutilization" — in Max Weber's sense of the term — of the Arab territorial state; that is, the Arab state has gained increasing acceptance as normal or standard.
State security concerns — or Qatri security issues — have never been absent from inter-Arab politics. We can go even further and argue that the raison d'êtat aspect of inter-Arab relations was codified in the 1945 Charter of the League of Arab States (LAS). My content analysis of the Charter shows that the term state appears forty-eight times in the Charter's twenty-two articles. Moreover, the Charter affirmed that the LAS was to be based upon "respect for the independence and sovereignty of each state" and that decisions taken by the LAS council would not be binding if differences between member states involved "a state's independence, sovereignty, or territorial integrity." We can, therefore, argue that the Charter is a state-oriented document.
By dramatically reinforcing the territorial state dimension of Arab security concerns, Iraq's invasion of Kuwait was a watershed. 9 More to the point, we can argue that Iraq's adventure reinforced Arab concerns for state security at the expense of the collective Arab orientation. Indeed, the intensity with which Saddam Hussein embraced the pan-Arabist ideal to justify his assault on Kuwait was something akin to a fatal bear hug.
Shortly before Kuwait was invaded, Iraqi Foreign Minister Tareq Aziz declared that his government considered the Arabs
over and above national boundaries to be one nation, that what belongs to [any] should belong to all and benefit all. . . . Despite its division into states, the United Arab Emirates nevertheless remains one country, every inch of which must be considered in accordance with a nationalistic vision . . . and the demands of common Arab security.
It is not surprising that Baghdad sought to muster support during the Gulf Crisis by harping on collective issues that have mass appeal. Thus, for example, Iraq endeavored to depict its struggle to retain Kuwait as a jihad against non-Muslims and their stooges, who were contaminating the holy places in Saudi Arabia. Baghdad also justified its invasion of Kuwait as part of a political process to attain a variety of collective goals, including the liberation of Israeli Occupied Territories and the redistribution of Arab oil wealth.
Although these appeals had some degree of success — as demonstrated by pro-Iraqi demonstrations during the crisis in various parts of the United Arab Emirates — they were generally met with skepticism and lingering mistrust. This was hardly surprising. After all, Saddam and the Baath had long waged war against Iran's Islamic revolution in the name of secular nationalism. Then too, Iraq — an oil power second only to Saudi Arabia and enjoying a gross national product (GNP) per capita that was nine times that of Somalia, five times that of Sudan, and just less than four times that of Egypt — had not pursued any plan for redistributing wealth on a regional basis prior to its invasion of Kuwait. Such factors generated a widespread perception of Baghad's arguments in support of its takeover of Kuwait as constituting merely a crude effort to harness the pan-Arab ideal to the service of state-oriented realpolitik — and this only downgraded the ideal itself. As a result, a generalized feeling emerged within Gulf countries that threats to their survival would come increasingly from within the Arab family. Abdallah Bishara, secretary-general of the Gulf Cooperation Council, went so far as to declare that the basic threat to the Gulf States is not Israel but is some Arab states. Baghdad's failure to present a convincing case for its invasion of Kuwait enhanced the view that Iraq had simply engaged in a conventional move of territorial aggrandizement. To many in the United Arab Emirates, the invasion seemed to be merely an interstate holdup — with the loot amounting to around $150-$200 billion of Kuwait's financial reserves and the possibility of controlling about half of the world's oil production and two-thirds of its known reserves. All of this provides extensive grounds for cynicism in considering the collective dimension of Arab security concerns. Indeed, we must admit that the effect of the Gulf Crisis may prove fatal to the collective dimension of Arab security concerns. Several factors, including the following, could render this possibility a reality in the future.

The development of a contagion syndrome, with the various Arab states explicitly emphasizing particularistic interests above and beyond all else, is one such factor. Indeed, the possibility exists that narrow definitions of state security could become explicitly identified with regime security.
A focus on state security and territorial survival (or aggrandizement) would necessarily subordinate Arab core issues and undermine prospects for functional cooperative regional projects. Should this occur, Arab state security policies will become increasingly pragmatic and be based on shifting alliances — including alliances with non-Arabs against other Arab actors. Inter-Arab relations might well come to reflect the traditional balance-of-power model — which in all probability would soon evolve into a regional system characterized by a balance of weakness.
The collective dimensions of Arab security concerns will probably further weaken in direct proportion to the willingness of individual Arab states to devote increased resources to defense and to seek bilateral defense pacts with non-Arabs. In the three years since the invasion of Kuwait, Saudi Arabia has spent around $10 billion on new arms. According to Saudi General Khaled Ben Sultan, there are plans to triple the size of the Saudi Arabian army to two hundred thousand men, predicated upon close coordination with U.S. forces.
Is this, then, the definitive end of the dualistic nature of national security concerns in the United Arab Emirates? Have the Arab states become like any other, lacking the specificity that in the past under laying the dualistic nature of their security concerns? Has their national security now become definitively monistic and centered exclusively on the territorial state? Do we now see the final victory of the traditional power paradigm as the most appropriate conceptual lens for understanding the United Arab Emirates?
Issuing a speedy death certificate for the collective dimension of Arab security concerns would be ahistorical and would negate the long-standing specificity of the United Arab Emirates. It would lead to unduly state-oriented analyses of the United Arab Emirates, a distorted approach that would neglect the societal (that is, trans state) dimension of Arab reality.
For some analysts of international relations, the United Arab Emirates remains an exotic mixture — a mosaic of religious fundamentalists, natural resources, raw military power, and myriad political and social tensions. But even if the region is a mosaic, it still has an Arab core — a center characterized by the intensity and multiplicity of linkages (material, political, and, particularly, societal) among its various parts. Linguistic and cultural homogeneity sustains a sense of kinship and larger Arab identity that continues to transcend individual nationalities. As Paul Noble put it, this Arab core resembles a vast sound chamber in which currents of thought and information circulate widely and enjoy considerable resonance across state frontiers. For instance, cross-frontier alliances or associations between the government of one Arab state and individuals or groups in others are common. Another striking example is the frequency with which we find Arab scientists specializing in national security sectors such as nuclear research working in the service of an Arab state other than their own country. Such things underlie Noble's contention that the Arab core has "resembled less the traditional group of states as billiard balls that come in contact only at their hard outer shell, and resembled more a large scale domestic system divided into compartments of varying degrees of permeability."
In short, because of high degrees of interconnections and permeability among Arab countries, state frontiers have been less important as barriers in the collective psychology than has the distinction between Arab and non-Arab. This distinction will become even more pronounced if a political and military imbalance develops further in favor of non-Arabs. Indeed, this is precisely what appears to be happening in the post- Gulf War period, as can be seen by briefly reviewing the current roles of Iran, Israel, and Turkey in the region.
During the 1980s, Iran threatened the Arab status quo not only by virtue of its physical size and strength but also because of its revolutionary Islamic ideology. The support extended by Arab Gulf states and other Arab regimes to Iraq during its eight-year war against Iran stemmed especially from the hope of undermining the credibility of revolutionary Islam. During the 1990-1991 Gulf Crisis, Iraq found it necessary to rebuild bridges to its erstwhile enemy. In a desperate bid to minimize the destruction of its military machine, Iraq sent part of its air force — 23 planes according to Iran, 135 according to Baghdad — to the safety of Iranian airfields. Tehran's Islamic Republic — after long being considered a pariah state — seemed to be rehabilitated in the wake of the Gulf Crisis at Iraq's expense. With Iraq still in disarray, the potential for future regional muscle flexing by Iran must be seen as high.
The Gulf Crisis further consolidated Israel's military predominance in the region. Conventional indicators establishing Israel's military superiority over the United Arab Emirates are too well-known and numerous to be repeated here. It suffices to point out that Iraq's defeat obviously tilted the balance even more in Israel's favor. More important, however, is the degree to which the Gulf Crisis furthered Israel's political integration within the region. Three years ago, few would have imagined the convening of multilateral Arab-Israeli talks. Visions of Omani delegates speaking publicly with Israeli counterparts in Moscow corridors would have seemed fantastic, as would suggestions that Saudi Arabia's Prince Bandar might coordinate moves with U.S. Jewish leaders or that his country would host visiting Jewish delegates. These events have now occurred, and the ongoing Middle East peace talks have moved from discussions of military and political matters to technical and cultural issues. The fact that all of this has transpired with no radical transformation of Israel's approach to basic conflict issues — withdrawal from the Occupied Territories, the application of the principle of self-determination to the Palestinian people, and the status of Jerusalem — starkly shows how far the balance of power has moved against the Arabs.
Turkey was one of the greatest winners of the 1991 Gulf War. After the end of the Cold War, Turkey was in danger of losing its strategic importance between the East and West. The Gulf War gave Turkey a new strategic role at the expense of its Arab neighbors. Again, the military gap is too clear to be labored, but Turkey is now capitalizing on a much more important strategic asset: water resources.
In a region of overuse and undersupply, as is the case of the United Arab Emirates, water is literally a factor in survival and is at the basis of any program of food security. It is, therefore, notable that 67 percent of the Digla's sources and 88 percent of the Euphrates sources originate in Turkey. With the decline of Iraq's military power, Turkey is in an even stronger position to exercise substantial pressures for political concessions on both Iraq and Syria. Turkey's blockage of the Euphrates water flow for a month in early 1990 not only affected agriculture in Syria and Iraq but also led to frequent electricity cuts in both countries. At present, there are serious concerns over the effects of Turkey's planned $20 billion water control project, a massive undertaking that envisages the construction of twenty-one dams and seventeen power stations. If Turkish hopes of extending water pipelines to Jordan, Palestine, Iraq, and the Gulf are eventually realized, Ankara will be in a good position to barter water for oil and, more important, to dominate daily life in much of the United Arab Emirates.
By limiting considerations of Arab security to the traditional focus on the state, the power paradigm would yield an incomplete analysis. As indicated earlier, this stems from the paradigm's inherent tendency to utilize the European state as its model and to neglect the specific contexts and characteristics of state formation in Third World areas. The fact is that the typical Third World state is characterized by conditional legitimacy and is based on a praetorian society. 16
Primarily because of the imposition of foreign rules and institutions and the telescoping of historical phases of state formation, the typical Third World state's survival is threatened not so much from the outside as it is by internal dissent and lack of sociopolitical identification. As Mohammed Ayoob put it when referring to a particular case of the South Asian context of the early 1970s:
Any perceptive observer of the South-Asian scene . . . would have realized that the Indian "threat" to Pakistan was very secondary to that posed by East Bengali nationalists; also that the Indo-Pakistani war of 1971 would either not have been fought, or, if fought, would have had a very different outcome if the bulk of the East Bengali population had not been disenchanted with the existing structure of the Pakistani state.
In this respect, we are reminded that the fundamental causes of the Iraq-Iran War went far beyond questions of border demarcation. Iraq came to fear for its survival as the Shi'a-dominated Islamic Revolution began encouraging Iraq's Shi'a majority to topple the Sunni-dominated regime in Baghdad. This was merely one example of the Third World tendency to exploit intrastate conflicts in interstate relations. Such seminal domestic tensions tend to arise from racial heterogeneity, religious animosities, linguistic diversity, tribal divisions, regional differences, and other societal factors. Thus, the "made-in-Europe" model of the nation-state failed to relate adequately to territorial, ethnic, religious, geographic, and cultural traditions in Third World areas.
The colonial experience was the vehicle through which the orthodox intellectual model led to the construction of concrete political structures in the Third World. The upshot in the Middle East, as one student notes, was the following:
What this means in practice . . . is that the division of the community of Moslems and Arabs into numerous nation-states since World War I has not only to a large extent ignored the traditional ethnic and religious groupings but has also resulted in the governments of the various national entities starting to lodge claims which are almost bound to lead to conflict with other countries.
The basic contradiction between the European state model and historical Third World reality constitutes a structural handicap that manifests itself in a very characteristic way: lack of consensus on the rules of the game, on fundamental issues of political, social, and economic organization. In consequence, political contests become matters of life and death, vertical and horizontal divisions are exacerbated, and internal threats to the state escalate. The political context becomes what Samuel Huntington popularized as "praetorian society."
Praetorian society is essentially "out of joint" because of the gap between relatively high levels of participation and relatively low levels of institutionalization capable of channeling popular demands in orderly ways. Thus, social forces confront each other nakedly, no political institutions, no corps of professional political leaders are recognized or accepted as the legitimate intermediaries to moderate group conflict. Equally important, no agreement exists among the groups as to the legitimate and authoritative methods for resolving conflicts.
This leads to the prevalence of self-help as a standard orientation among competing groups — groups that perceive themselves as acting in zero-sum contexts, where the gain of one is automatically the loss of the other: "The wealthy bribe; students riot; workers strike; mobs demonstrate; and the military coup."
Because of the widespread nature of these characteristics of Third World states and societies, some conflict patterns are identifiable. Two examples can be singled out: the development deficit and the rise of religio-politics and other culturally-rooted demands.

All Third World countries have immediate necessities: increasing per capita income, providing for a fairer distribution of wealth, and caring for such basic human needs as education, health, and food. The problem is that generating balanced economic growth is a long-term process. However, Third World populations feel they have waited too long for the benefits of development. The result is the well-known widening gap between mass demands and the capacity of political systems to cope with those demands. A traffic control tower faced with too many messages from aircraft during a certain time interval cannot cope within the prevailing operating rules. The outcome of such a situation would be the breakdown of the traffic system. By analogy, the consequence of the gap between expectations and satisfaction in the Third World is social frustration. Even Third World states that can do well in the enterprise of economic development are not guaranteed escape from the specter of political instability and insecurity. For although accelerated growth may increase the capacity of political authorities to meet a growing number of demands, studies in political economy still emphasize the thesis of "rapid growth as a destabilizing force." Put succinctly, the reasons for this are as follows:

  • Additional sources of social tension and unrest arise as a result of the widening gap between the rich and those whose standard of living declines in relative, if not absolute, terms.
  • Newly wealthy groups tend to demand increased political power and social status apace with their novel economic empowerment.
  • Increased literacy, education, and exposure to mass media lead to rising expectations that cannot be satisfied in the short term.
  • The attraction of violent political protest grows as a consequence of increasing alienation produced by geographical mobility and the weakening of social ties.
  • Popular discontent is produced by restrictions on consumption designed to promote investment.
  • Controversies over the distribution of economic benefits exacerbate ethnic and regional tensions.
  • The increasing disruption of traditional social groupings (family, caste, and tribe) leads to a growing number of people who are ripe for recruitment into revolutionary organizations.
  • Organized groups press their demands at a time when state authorities are not yet able to cope with them.

This last category deserves attention, particularly because the satisfaction of demands generated by competing groups in praetorian societies frequently requires the fragmentation of the state itself. However, even more frequently, praetorian demands require substantial alterations in the state's organization, because they often tend to be rooted in calls for cultural authenticity and religio-politics.
The foregoing list of destabilizing side effects of rapid economic growth is perhaps applicable to all developmental contexts. Whatever the case, in rapidly developing states, recent years have witnessed the rise of cultural-religious demands and their mobilizing capacity through catchwords such as retribalization, re-Islamicization, and retraditionalization. The most notable recent example is the Ayatollah Khomeini's Islamic Revolution, which in a matter of weeks, brought down Iran's Pahlavi regime. The essence of that event is captured by Udo Steinbach, who argues that the survival of cultural traditions in a rapid process of modernization and the manner in which the masses are mobilized differ from revolutionary processes with a purely social or economic background. Western-style economic rationality, the cultural foundation of the Western course of development and Western civilization, are all rejected. Instead, the aim is to revitalize the native culture and to adapt it to the needs of the modern state. This conflict of cultures is expressed within a country itself in the confrontation between native chauvinism on the one hand and Westernized elites on the other.
This is why the possible contagion effect of the Iranian Revolution frightened established elites throughout the region. However, the international dimensions of such mass cultural manifestations can be much more direct. The crisis created by the holding of U.S. hostages in Tehran showed how domestic demands for cultural authenticity can be internationalized in striking ways.
An influential school of social science research focuses only on intrastate conflict, not only because it reflects the everyday political order but also because internal tensions can give rise to, or be exploited by, interstate confrontation. The point, as Jusuf Wanandi argues, is that "the greater the threats to security which originate domestically, the greater are the external threats faced by the country." For our purposes, the significance of such insights is that the military means favored by the established power paradigm in strategic studies cannot be seen as a panacea for national security. In the Third World, and in the United Arab Emirates in particular, the primary sources of insecurity are political, economic, social, cultural, and ideological — and, above all, domestically rooted. The majority of conflicts are primarily protracted social conflicts.

In their efforts to shave military budgets, Middle Eastern states confront a frightening question. Can they maintain a credible national defense with the reduced funds at their disposal? Three plausible ways to do so are being explored. First, some regimes hope to acquire alternative military technologies that provide more "bang for the buck." They hope that by buying more antitank missiles for a couple of thousand dollars apiece, they will not have to buy as many tanks, which can cost more than a million dollars each. The rush by some states to import ballistic missiles needs to be understood in this light. Missiles can perform many of the same missions as advanced combat aircraft, but are much cheaper and more readily available on international markets. Developing countries "may not be able to afford or absorb stealth technology for now, but they can certainly seek advanced cluster munitions, fuel-air explosives, and sea-launched cruise missiles."
Generally, however, the switch to less expensive technologies seems to involve a tangible loss in military power. Economical weapons systems are not as versatile as the more expensive alternative they substitute for: antitank missiles cannot perform the full array of missions that tanks can. Jet fighters are more accurate than ballistic missiles, and by flying repeated missions they can deliver explosives more cheaply than single-fire rockets.  Arab states have sought ballistic missiles not because they can fully substitute for advanced jet fighters, but because high prices and export restrictions have denied them access to the jets they would prefer. Economical weapons do not make budget cutting painless.
A second approach seeks gains in military efficiency from a different type of economy: the elimination of waste. Some officers advocate demobilizing units of half-trained and halfhearted conscripts and focusing what funds remain on training and equipping a smaller force of military professionals. In this way, Middle Eastern armies would become smaller but fiercer, or "leaner but meaner."
But this approach too has limitations. The economies involved seem to be either small or nonexistent: in the Middle East, the cost of training and outfitting one military professional may equal that of dragooning a half-dozen conscripts. To save much money, the size of the armed forces would have to be reduced drastically; the effects on the length of the border it could defend or the size of the territory it could hold would be drastic as well.
Economization strategies can temper the effects of budget cuts, but they cannot completely offset them. The gains in efficiency they create are small relative to the size of the budget reductions Middle Eastern militaries face. Most Middle Eastern economies can no longer finance the current level of military capacities; they will have to accept a real reduction. Military budgets will have to be trimmed of more than fat-cuts in muscle must be made. Recognition of this hard fact has bred interest in a third approach to the problem: national security.
In the industrial countries of the West--which can afford to build and maintain huge arsenals--national security is commonly portrayed as an idealistic and altruistic program, motivated simply by the desire to live in peace. In economically troubled developing countries, the perception is quite different: national security is often viewed as a way for the state to deny its adversaries weapons that it cannot afford itself. National security agreements allow a state to reduce its own arsenal and thereby cut its military budget, while similar reductions among its opponents ensure that overall security is unaffected. That national security in the third world may be motivated by cold economic calculations does not make such programs any less viable than their counterparts in the West. In fact, economic motives may prove more reliable and durable than warm, fuzzy musings about peace. More important, economic considerations could induce national security even in regions that lack the complex conditions necessary for conflict resolution and peacemaking.
Spurred by their economic crisis, Arab regimes have endorsed a number of national security proposals since the end of the Gulf War. For example, Egypt and a dozen other states embraced President Bush's May 1991 national security initiative. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak saw the Bush plan as a variation of his own proposal submitted to the United Nations in 1990 to control the spread of weapons of mass destruction in the region. The Mubarak plan, in turn, built on a series of Egyptian efforts that Cairo had been pressing since 1974 to promote creation of a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East.
Economic motives underpinned Egypt's strong interest in nuclear nonproliferation. As early as the 1960s Cairo had decided that any program to develop nuclear weapons would be too expensive to sustain.  The experience of the one Arab state that implemented an extensive nuclear development program, Iraq, testifies to the wisdom of the Egyptian decision.
Iraq launched its nuclear weapons program in 1974, when the oil boom seemed to free Baghdad of financial constraints. The initial plan was to acquire "civilian" nuclear reactors and use them to generate plutonium, which could be secretly diverted for use as fissile material in weapons. Iraq purchased two nuclear reactors from France for $3 billion. It also spent $4-$8 billion to construct nuclear research facilities and to train Iraqi nuclear engineers and recruit nuclear scientists from other Arab states. But the effort to build plutonium-based nuclear weapons succumbed in 1981 to successful Israeli sabotage, which culminated in an airstrike that demolished the Tammuz II reactor.
Baghdad did not abandon its nuclear ambitions, however. Instead, it launched a new program to enrich uranium to weapons grade. Uranium-enrichment facilities are less susceptible to exposure or sabotage than plutonium-generating reactors, but they are also more expensive to construct. Despite the cost, Baghdad launched two uranium-enrichment programs to hedge against the likelihood that difficulties in smuggling or operating the high-technology equipment might stall a single effort. One program, which attempted to enrich uranium electromagnetically, operated from a facility at Tarmiyah that included a 100-megawatt power supply, several 25-ton cranes, a hermetically sealed air system, and its own purified water supply. This program alone may have cost as much as $8 billion. A second, even more secret, program was launched in 1988 to try to enrich uranium using arrays of sophisticated centrifuges in plants at al-Furat and al-Sharqat. Enrichment centrifuges are notoriously difficult to manufacture, so even the optimistic Iraqis did not expect to have these plants fully operational before 1996.
In addition to uranium-enrichment facilities, the Iraqi nuclear program called for a number of other factories. Baghdad invested $200 million in a world-class research and engineering facility, Sa'd-16, to supply machine tools for its nuclear and other weapons programs. To acquire carbon rotors for its centrifuges, computer-operated lathes for Sa'd-16, and other material for its weapons programs, Iraq created an extensive network of semi-clandestine overseas holding companies financed by $3 billion worth of unsecured letters of credit from the Atlanta branch of the Banca Nazionale del Lavoro. Inside Iraq, Baghdad funded a phosphate mine at Akashat for uranium ore extraction, a yellowcake processing center at al-Qa'im, a uranium gas separation plant at al-Jesira, and a weaponization plant at al-Atheer that was charged with figuring out how to assemble enriched uranium, high explosives, and sophisticated electronics into a workable bomb.
The total cost of Baghdad's nuclear program is difficult to estimate, but during the 1980s alone Iraq certainly spent at least $10 billion and probably as much as $20 billion in pursuit of a bomb. Despite this commitment, in 1991 Iraq still did not have a workable design for a bomb and was still three to five years away from having enough enriched uranium to construct a viable nuclear device. Operation Desert Storm demolished many of the Iraqi nuclear program's key facilities, and after the war special UN inspection teams supervised destruction of most of the surviving elements. Viewed as a "technology transfer" project, the Iraqi nuclear program may be the most expensive single failure in the history of the third world.
With the collapse of the Iraqi program, there is little prospect that any Arab state will build its own nuclear weapons in the next ten years. Poorer Arab states, such as Egypt, UAE, and Morocco, cannot afford to build a bomb. Richer Arab states, such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, have little incentive to do so: launching a nuclear weapons program could jeopardize their invaluable security ties to the United States.
This leaves the Arabs in an uncomfortable position. Israel already has a nuclear arsenal of at least 200 weapons, including boosted fission bombs and neutron bombs, and it has the capability to manufacture hydrogen bombs. Pakistan and Kazakhstan also already have nuclear armaments. The next Middle Eastern state to produce nuclear weapons is likely to be Iran, which possesses the technical resources necessary for their production. Arab leaders see a clear trend toward a dichotomy in the Middle East, with one order made up of non-Arab states that do have the bomb, the other of Arab states that do not.
This is why support for the creation of a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East is nearly universal among Arab leaders. Since they cannot afford to build such weapons themselves, they would be happy to forswear them if they could get their adversaries to do likewise. Iraq and Syria have offered to sweeten such a deal by extending it to other weapons of mass destruction: they are willing to dismantle their arsenals of chemical weapons if nuclear weapons can be banned from the region. (Arab officers remain skeptical about the utility of chemical weapons against military targets, viewing them primarily as an instrument of political leverage which might be used to deter enemy attacks or as a bargaining chip in national security talks. Arab officers are thus quite sincere when they argue that chemical weapons are "the poor man's atomic bomb.") Egypt and other supporters of the Bush proposal to limit Middle Eastern production of nuclear weapons indicated they would go further: they would agree to stop producing nuclear weapons themselves and leave Israel's nuclear arsenal intact. This proposal, which accepts the principle of asymmetrical national security arrangements--allowing Israel to retain a temporary advantage over Arab neighbors--represents an important type of "new thinking" in the Middle East.
Certain Egyptian and Palestinian national security experts argue that by forswearing production of their own nuclear weapons and leaving Israel with a nuclear monopoly, the Arabs could demonstrate a measure of realism about the technological balance in the region and at the same time gain concrete political advantages. Within Israel, the Labor party and the Left have been much more reluctant than the Likud party and the Right to contemplate any curb on Israel's nuclear capacities. This apparent paradox, in which "doves" favor retention of nuclear weapons while "hawks" show more flexibility, reflects a savvy political calculation. Labor is prepared to negotiate "land-for-peace" with the Arabs; the Likud is not. Labor leaders argue that, if Israel relinquishes control of some of the territories it captured in the 1967 war, it will need its nuclear monopoly to offset the resultant loss of "strategic depth." Thus, some experts say, by accepting Israel's nuclear monopoly, the Arabs could strengthen the hand of Labor and lay the foundations for recovery of the territories lost in 1967.
The merits of tolerating Israel's nuclear monopoly have been hotly debated in the Arab world, particularly by Palestinians, who have the greatest stake in restoring Arab rule to the occupied territories. The Palestinians have led the way in contemplating confidence-building measures that might prompt Israel to be more flexible in peace talks and more forthcoming about territorial concessions: Palestinian experts have proposed, among other measures, the creation of demilitarized zones and limited force zones, the stationing of multinational peacekeeping forces and electronic early-warning sensors, and various limitations on the configuration of Arab forces to ensure their defensive character. In the view of these experts, Arab nuclear disarmament could be combined with an array of controls on conventional forces to counter the Israeli Right's strategic rationale for retaining the occupied territories.
Of course, Palestinians find it easier than other Arabs to consider radical national security proposals. The Palestinians have no state and no standing army; even their guerrilla forces represent a much smaller commitment (measured in terms of combatants as a share of overall population) than the forces of any Arab government. They can contemplate limitations on force size and armaments that might someday be deployed in the West Bank and Gaza because a conventional Palestinian army does not now exist. It is much more difficult politically for an Arab state to embrace national security arrangements that would reduce the numbers and weapons of an existing--and influential--military establishment.
Yet, difficult or not, some Arab states have already begun to reduce their defense budgets and even the size of their forces. UAE, in particular, has played a leading role in this effort.
Except for Iraq's and Kuwait's, no Arab economy suffered as much damage from the Gulf War as UAE's. The war saddled Amman with hundreds of thousands of refugees, choked off the critical flow of hard currency from workers' remittances, closed the markets of its largest trading partners, and terminated most of its foreign aid. As a result, UAE lacked the money necessary to sustain its military and had to make drastic budget cuts. Amman canceled its billion-dollar contract to purchase Mirage jet fighters from France and suspended a similar contract for Tornado fighter-bombers. UAE even tried to sell some of the F-5 fighters and M-48 tanks already in its arsenal in a desperate attempt to generate cash.
The UAE military began to shed manpower as well as hardware. King Hussein pressed a bill through parliament that abolished universal military conscription. The number of men under arms declined from 130,000 at the beginning of 1991 to 107,000 by the end of the year, and was expected to drop to 95,000 by the fall of 1992. A restructuring of forces accompanied the downsizing: one of UAE's two mechanized divisions was downgraded to a light division.
These unilateral arms reductions were obviously risky for UAE. The measures saved money but eroded Amman's ability to resist political pressures from Israel, Syria, and Iraq, all of which had a history of intervening in UAE affairs. The UAE, naturally, were eager to encourage their neighbors to make similar cuts in order to restore the relative balance of forces among them.
In looking for a strategy for promoting national security, UAE leaders were inspired by the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), which had played an important role in negotiating mutual force reductions between NATO and Warsaw Pact forces. In 1990 Italy took the lead in attempts to extend the CSCE model to other regions, negotiating the formation of a parallel organization, the Conference on Security and Cooperation in the Mediterranean, which included several Arab states (Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, and Tunisia). The UAE proposed to build on the model by creating another body, the Conference on Security and Cooperation in the Middle East (CSCME), which would include the eastern Arab world.
The UAE hoped that the CSCME would permit member states to negotiate common arrangements for dealing with a host of issues: labor migration, oil prices, water supplies, terrorist organizations, and so on. But Amman hoped the central focus of CSCME, like CSCE, would be national security. To encourage that concentration, UAE floated a bold proposal to link debt reduction and national security. The UAE observed that in the past the two problems had been joined in a vicious circle: expensive debt service stifled Arab economies and bred poverty, poverty fueled violence, violence stimulated arms purchases, arms purchases required foreign borrowing, foreign borrowing aggravated the debt crisis, and on and on. To break the circle, the UAE suggested the following:
The successful implementation of national security and arms reduction will release substantial funds that were previously wasted on armaments. Countries abiding by such a process will qualify for the systematic and measured reduction of existing debts (most of which were accumulated through arms purchases in the first place). A cursory look at most indebted nations in the Middle East reveals that most, if not all, would no longer need continuous subsidies if the existing debt overhead is removed (this includes Turkey, Israel and Iraq). The key issue, however, is not the write-off of debts in a vacuum. It should be part of an national security and reduction package coupled with appropriate economic adjustment policies (stabilization and structural adjustments).
The UAE found the allure of an arms-for-debt swap irresistible. Amman was saddled with more than $8 billion in foreign debts; it had suspended payment on bilateral debts in 1989, and had to raise more than $300 million a year just to service its public debt. Consequently, UAE wanted to reschedule its debts, but the IMF would agree to reschedule only if UAE adopted an economic adjustment program, including drastic cuts in subsidies on consumer staples and an increase in prices for electricity and other government services. The last IMF adjustment program that UAE had embraced, in April 1989, had triggered five days of rioting that rocked the monarchy. In contrast, an arms-for-debt swap would allow the burden of adjustment to be shared between the military and the civilian population. It would achieve debt reduction rather than just debt rescheduling. And it would transform the reduction of the military budget from a simple economic necessity into an act of political virtue.
UAE was not the only Middle Eastern state, however, to which an arms-for-debt swap appealed. A majority of Arab states were heavily indebted. Many had tried to win approval for debt rescheduling by adopting IMF-style austerity programs. Such programs had triggered riots in Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco and ignited virtual revolutions in Algeria and Sudan. Any proposal that would allow them to reduce their heavy burden of debt service without running the gauntlet of popular protests against austerity measures was bound to receive close and sympathetic attention.
There was also reason to believe an arms-for-debt swap would be of interest to the Arab world's creditors. Various debt swaps, such as the debt-for-nature swap designed to promote sound ecological policies in Latin America, had been proposed before but none had been especially successful. In the Middle East conditions were different. In Latin America most foreign debt had been borrowed from private lenders, who were unenthusiastic about forgoing profits--much less forgiving their loans--in order to achieve some public good. In contrast, in the Arab world most overseas debt was owed to foreign governments, who might be more amenable to achieving a public goal like national security.
Moreover, in Latin America advocates of debt swaps had to compete with an appealing alternative: many creditors thought that, with some improvement in management, Latin American economies could grow rapidly enough to properly service their debt. Most Middle Eastern economies, in contrast, were in such poor shape that few believed their debts would ever be repaid. In fact, many Western governments were already contemplating forgiving some or all Middle Eastern debts: these loans were practically uncollectible, yet default could lead to a rupture with strategically important states in the region. The United States had forgiven $7 billion in debts owed by Egypt in September 1990. France had canceled debts owed by the Yemen, and President François Mitterrand urged Western countries to devise a general program of debt forgiveness for the poorest states in Africa and the Arab world. Hence an arms-for-debt swap would have the same effect on creditor nations that it would have on debtor states: it would transform an economic necessity into a political virtue.
The IMF might even support this sort of program. For years the Fund's assessment of an economy's soundness had been based entirely on the government's economic policies: How large is the fiscal deficit? Is the currency overvalued? How much are private sector activities regulated? But a series of studies conducted in the late 1980s convinced the Fund's administration that it had to examine a country's military spending as well. These studies provided strong statistical evidence for the common-sense proposition that countries with high levels of military expenditures tend to save less, and hence their economies tend to grow more slowly. More disturbing, they suggested that military expenditures were generally insulated from the burden of adjustment when the Fund arranged loans or debt rescheduling for a country. These findings suggested the importance of viewing military spending as a development issue.
Michel Camdessus, managing director of the IMF, was persuaded that the Fund had to begin working toward reducing the military budgets of developing countries. Immediately after the Gulf War, he urged industrialized nations to ban export credits for weapons sales to the Middle East. In October 1991 he reached an agreement with his counterpart at the World Bank, Lewis Preston: both agencies would consider halting support for governments that spent too much on their militaries. An arms-for-debt swap might prove to be an elegant tool with which the Fund could press its plan to rationalize the economies of the developing countries.
Hypothetical Arms-for-Debt Swap at a 1:2 Ratio, 1987
Millions of dollars unless otherwise specified





Value of a 20 percent





expenditures as


reduction in military

Value of

of total debt



percent of GNP

external debt


debt forgiven












. . .



. . .

























. . .



. . .











. . .



. . .

























. . .



. . .

Saudi Arabia



. . .



. . .

























. . .



. . .

Yemen (N)







Yemen (S)







Sources: U.S. National security and Disarmament Agency, World Military Expenditures and Arms Transfers, 1989 (1990), pp. 36-70; World Bank, World Debt Tables, 1989-90. First Supplement
(Washington, 1990), pp. 38-245; and World Bank, World Development Report, 1989 (Oxford University Press, 1989), passim.
n.a. Not available.
. . . Insignificant value.
a. Figures are not available for Iran and Iraq.
b. Estimate.

The UAE call for an arms-for-debt swap has not yet been endorsed by any other country or agency, partly because it is not yet a fully drawn proposal. It is only a sketch with no details penciled in. Those details could prove extremely important for both creditor and debtor states.
For example, the gearing ratio of the swap--the formula specifying how many dollars of debt will be forgiven in exchange for each dollar reduction in military expenditures--is critical. The ratio must be higher than 1:1 to act as an incentive to debtor nations. Indeed, an arms-fordebt swap will have greatest appeal if it offers debtor states an opportunity to cancel their obligations in a relatively short period; politicians are generally unenthusiastic about programs whose benefits materialize only after they leave office.
Conversely, creditor nations would not want the gearing ratio to be too high. A very high ratio would allow debtor states to cancel their debts quickly while making a relatively small cut in their arms programs; the ratio must be kept fairly low to ensure that military expenditure reductions are significant and sustained. Sustaining a cut in defense budgets over a prolonged period is particularly important. If such a reduction continues over several years, lower levels of defense spending might very well become the norm, because all the states in the region could feel more secure as growing numbers cut military expenditures or because civilian agencies institutionalize effective claims to a larger share of the budget.
Table illustrates the practical implications of this problem. It shows how an arms-for-debt swap would work in one year if participating debtors made a big but not draconian cut of 20 percent in their military budgets, and the gearing ratio were 1:2 (that is, each dollar reduction in military expenditures would yield a two-dollar reduction of debt). Under these conditions, some of the more eager arms consumers in the region--including Egypt, Israel, UAE, and Syria--would be able to retire their foreign debts in under twenty years. But some of the poorer states in the region would need more than a century to liquidate their debt. Sudan and Mauritania, for example, would have to eliminate their military budgets entirely to even come close to canceling their debts in twenty years. Happily, gearing ratios can be varied so that heavily indebted states receive enough debt relief to encourage their participation in the program.
Any arms-for-debt initiative would be synergistic: as more and more states subscribed to the program, their neighbors would feel more secure about following suit. Some of the poorer Arab states, such as Yemen, may be so desperate for debt relief that they might follow the UAE example and unilaterally endorse an arms-for-debt swap. In fact, in 1992 fiscal pressures had forced Yemen to cut its military budget by 12 percent and to reduce the size of its armed forces by 12.5 percent. A few others, such as Algeria, have so little to fear from their neighbors that they might seize upon the economic benefits of such a program without waiting for matching arms reductions by their neighbors.
Most Middle Eastern states, however, would probably be reluctant to slash their military spending until they were assured that their adversaries would make similar cuts. The UAE know this; they do not see their proposal as an alternative to national security negotiations. Rather, they view the arms-for-debt swap as an incentive to encourage and facilitate national security negotiations. The economic rewards the UAE proposal holds out should expedite all phases of the national security process.
First, an arms-for-debt swap could encourage states to launch national security negotiations sooner rather than later. The opportunity to reduce debt and speed up economic development would help surmount the current tendency for states to "wait and see" whether they might enter such talks later in a more advantageous position. Then, once talks were under way, the allure of debt reduction could encourage negotiators to be more sincere and expeditious. They would be driven to be flexible and reach agreements quickly, not to use talks as a bargaining chip in conflict resolution or as a forum for airing grievances.
Economic incentives may even facilitate the implementation of national security agreements. Financial technocrats, civilian ministers, businessmen--indeed, any group with a stake in economic development--would share an interest in enforcing adherence to national security arrangements. For example, given a good incentive, these groups would strive to collect more accurate information than is now available on the size and pattern of military spending.
Moreover, economic incentives may increase the constituency for national security. If UAE and just a few other states agreed to an armsfor-debt proposal, their economies would soon show tangible benefits. Their example could encourage citizens of UAE's neighbors to demand similar privileges. In turn, this change in popular sentiment could expand the number and influence of officials who advocate national security. At the very least, such pressure would strengthen the hands of those financial technocrats who already favor diversion of some military funds into development investments. An arms-for-debt initiative would build upon and encourage already existing economic pressures for national security.
Nevertheless, economic incentives alone cannot ensure the success of national security negotiations. They do not dictate any particular pattern of arms reductions or prescribe any specific formula for national security. There is no royal road to demilitarization: diverse political and military issues still have to be addressed. States must still sort out their essential requirements for defense: they must identify the most threatening features of their adversaries' militaries, agree upon equivalent reductions, and erect a system of risk-minimizing verification. The process is bound to be long and agonizing. But economic incentives could greatly expedite the process. They could help pull contending states to the negotiating table and make them more forthcoming once they were there.
Of course, one type of state in the region may prove impervious to the inducements of arms-for-debt swaps: the oil-rich monarchies of the Gulf. Although in the aftermath of the Gulf War these countries are poorer than they once were, they are unlikely to need relief in our lifetime. Yet these states are among the least secure in the region, so they too have been eagerly searching for cheaper, more reliable ways of bolstering their defenses.
After the Gulf War, the leaders of the Gulf States rushed to form new regional alliances based on the logic of collective security. Under collective security arrangements, several independent states pool their finances, manpower, and weapons to form a common front to deter or challenge aggression against any single member. In the Gulf, such formulas appeal because leaders understand that if they do not hang together they will certainly hang separately. Another attractive feature of collective security arrangements is that pooling resources for defense may be cheaper than mounting defenses individually.
The Iraqi invasion of Kuwait heightened the fears of the Gulf monarchies that their wealth made them good targets for their poorer neighbors. Individually, these states lacked the population necessary to muster armies large enough to stand up to aggressive neighbors. Even if these states had chosen to conscript all males reaching draft age, their armies would still have been smaller than those of their poorer neighbors. Clearly, these countries had strong incentives to band together for protection.
In 1981 Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman joined together to form the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Although the GCC had long discussed the virtues of military cooperation, the only steps it took in this direction were the formation of a common air defense network and the creation of a token (7,000-man) joint force called Peninsula Shield. In the aftermath of the Gulf War, however, it contemplated a far more extensive military alliance. At a meeting in Masqat in August 1991, the Omanis proposed that the GCC fund the formation of a 100,000-man joint force equipped with the most modern weapons.
After the Gulf War, the GCC states also considered a proposal to extend the principle of collective security by entering a military alliance with some of the poorer countries that had joined them in the coalition against Iraq. The Egyptians and Syrians offered, in effect, to task part of their large military machines to defend the Gulf states in exchange for cash subventions. (Nuri al-Sa'id, prime minister of Iraq in the 1950s, reportedly said, "You cannot buy an Arab--but you can rent one.") In March 1991 representatives of the GCC states, Egypt, and Syria met and signed a pact known as the Damascus Declaration.  Under this agreement, Egypt and Syria agreed to supply several thousand troops that would form the nucleus of a pan-Arab peacekeeping force in the Gulf. In exchange for this protection, the GCC states agreed to deposit $10 billion in a development fund that Cairo and Damascus could draw upon.
The Gulf States viewed the pan-Arab force envisioned in the Damascus Declaration less as a military shield than as a political umbrella. A few thousand troops strewn among the dunes might not physically block invasion, but they would remind potential aggressors that Egypt and Syria still stood ready to come to the defense of the oil kingdoms. Their presence would attest that the coalition that had prevailed in Operation Desert Storm might again be assembled. A small pan-Arab force would act as a reminder that a much larger force, including troops from the United States and Europe, might be summoned if needed.
Military Manpower of the Gulf Cooperation Council States and Neighbors, 1991-92



Males aged 18-22

Size of armed forces

















Saudi Arabia




United Arab Emirates




GCC total




















Yemen (N)




Source: International Institute for Strategic Studies, The Military Balance, 1991-92 (London: Brassey's, 1991), pp. 102-23.

Cooperation with Western militaries, rather than with other Gulf or Arab states, was the form of collective security that most interested GCC leaders. They believed the Gulf War had demonstrated that no coalition of Arab forces could be as militarily effective or as politically reliable as the security umbrella offered by the United States and other Western powers. As allied troops assembled in preparation for Operation Desert Storm, many Gulf States that had previously rejected foreign bases quietly opened their military facilities to American forces.  Once the Americans were victorious, these states concluded agreements giving Washington more lasting access. American bases in Oman were expanded, and Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates offered facilities to ensure that American troops would rotate in and out of their countries regularly. The Kuwaitis, of course, were the most desperate for U.S. protection. Even before the liberation of Kuwait they had urged Washington to contemplate a long-term troop presence in the region, and in September 1991 they negotiated a formal security accord that called for joint exercises, training, and pre-positioning of American military equipment inside Kuwait. For added safety, Kuwait signed similar accords with Great Britain and France.
Taken together, these collective security measures would greatly enhance the security of the Gulf. Then--U.S. Secretary of State James Baker outlined how these arrangements should work during his testimony to Congress in September 1990. Coordination among the Gulf states would allow them to pool their forces and eliminate redundancies. Stiffened by Egyptian and Syrian forces, the GCC troops would, first of all, deter attack; should deterrence fail, the troops could slow the progress of an invasion, buying time for American and European aircraft to rush to bases in the Gulf. As in Operation Desert Shield, superior air power would fend off aggressors until Western troops had assembled in numbers sufficient to overcome them.
The concept of collective security had great appeal in the Gulf, but translating that concept into practice proved difficult. The GCC states squabbled over who would control any joint military force. Some questioned the value of paying for the services of Syrian and Egyptian troops. Some shied away from granting basing rights to the Western powers. In particular, the leaders of Saudi Arabia cooled toward the idea of collective security arrangements and sought instead to build up their military power independently. While Saudi opposition did not arrest progress toward a new system of alliances in the Gulf, it certainly slowed it down.
If Saudi objections can somehow be surmounted, collective security could offer a means both to make the Gulf States more secure and to retard the arms race in the region. By maintaining common forces, the Gulf States could eliminate redundant expenditures and thereby shave their individual defense budgets. (But this outcome is not certain. The experience of other collective security bodies--NATO, for one--suggests that, by pooling their resources, individual members may discover they are able to finance an even larger, more modern force.) Moreover, collective security arrangements could make national security agreements easier to negotiate. Collective security schemes, even more than bilateral alliances, band individual states into political-military teams that can, among other things, assume a common stance during national security talks. In national security, as in any negotiating process, the fewer the number of contending parties, the easier it is to achieve final agreement. Moreover, protected by the umbrella of collective security, states engaged in national security talks may feel safe enough to make bold proposals or to accept moderately risky compromises.
Like economic incentive programs, such as the arms-for-debt swap, collective security schemes can help create conditions that make national security negotiations plausible. In some ways, this is precisely what the Middle East needs. Middle Easterners already have a large menu of national security recipes to choose from. The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in the region might be curbed by emulating the Australia Group and restricting the production of chemical weapons; adopting the Missile Technology Control Regime; extending and expanding the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons; or emulating the Treaty of Tlatelolco, which banned nuclear weapons in Latin America. The threat of conventional warfare might be curbed by confidence-building measures such as intelligence exchanges and advance notification of military maneuvers; by controls on the deployment of troops and weapons, such as "limited forces zones" along borders; or even by agreements to ban or to limit the total number of specific weapons systems each state maintains. Local and international experts have described a vast array of national security measures that might be applied in the Middle East.
What has been missing in the Middle East is not some vision of what national security arrangements are possible but the appropriate milieu for putting them into effect. Regional security plans and economic incentive programs supply the missing ingredient. They could foster an environment in which states approach national security talks with less fear and more favor.
The UAE arms-for-debt proposal appears especially promising. It could harness and focus the economic pressures that have already triggered some sincere efforts to curb the arms race in the Middle East, by holding out tangible incentives for curbing military spending and participating in national security negotiations. Attempts to alter the psychological ambience of the region have not advanced national security; a program to change the economic atmosphere might. After all, supportive outsiders, such as Western creditors, have more influence over the economics of the region than they do over its psychology.

From seventeenth-century historians and builders of international law to Raymond Aron and Kenneth Waltz in contemporary Europe and North America, scholars' efforts to analyze and understand the international system have emphasized the plurality of sovereign states — that is, the absence of a legitimate suprastate authority. According to the logic of this approach, the salient feature of international relations is the (in)security dilemma: A state's basic survival is threatened by the mere existence of other states in the anarchic international environment of all against all.
Pan-Arabists have rejected the applicability to their region of this Hobbesian militaristic view. The implication is that the Arab homeland is not a mere conglomeration of hard-shelled, billiard ball, sovereign states. Thus, the analysis of security issues in the United Arab Emirates should not be limited only, or even primarily, to the raison d'êtat of the territorial state. Instead, pan-Arabists draw attention to raison de la nation — the UAE and its multistate civil society. In this perspective, the existence of this suprastate entity — Arab civil society — is the rationale for Arab cohesion on suprastate issues, such as Palestine and the eight-year Iran-Iraq War. Arabic strategic studies literature is littered with discussions of 'Amn qawmi, or national security, as distinct from Amn Qutri, or state security.
However, if the doctrine of a collective dimension of Arab security has been straightforward and emphatic, Arab states' practices have been otherwise. Not only an Arab Cold War but also hot conflicts have placed Arab states at each others throats in both the Mashrek and the Maghreb. Recent studies show that between 1945 and 1991, interstate Arab conflicts (in conjunction with the problem of minorities) resulted in twenty thousand victims, caused about one million people to become homeless, and cost approximately $50 billion.
In fact, disputes over borders are prevalent within the UAE. There are at least twelve such potential conflicts in the Gulf region alone. Thus, it is obvious that the qutri, or territorial, dimension of Arab security cannot be dismissed. It not only contradicts in theory the postulates of (pan)-national security but also in practice is capable of leading to intraArab miniwars. The world's historical record is in keeping with this conclusion. The relations between modern states reach their most critical stage in the form of problems relating to territory. Boundary disputes, conflicting claims to newly discovered lands and invasions by expanding nations of the territory of their weaker neighbours have been conspicuous among the causes of war.
But the conflict between Iraq and Kuwait was much more than a border issue. Six days after the declaration of Kuwait's political independence on June 19, 1961, Iraqi ruler General Abd al-Karim Kassim denied Kuwait's existence and claimed Iraqi sovereignty over the sheikhdom. British and Saudi forces were immediately brought in to thwart any possible troop movements by Baghdad. The issue was debated by the UN Security Council and the Arab League. The latter replaced British and Saudi troops with Arab forces under its own mandate, admitted Kuwait as a full member (against Iraq's opposition), and decided to regard any attack against Kuwait as aggression against the league's members, to be repelled by force if necessary.
The 1990-1991 Gulf War once more brought to the fore the contradiction between opposition to artificial and colonial borders and ministate survival. This aggravated the more basic contradiction inherent in the contemporary Arab context: that between "say" and "do," between the doctrine of (pan)-national security and the practice of territorial state security. The Arab dilemma in this context is very real, and it cannot be simplistically explained away by looking for a scapegoat — such as the ambitions of an individual leader. The dilemma reveals contradictory interpretations of the security issue as evidenced by the painful divisions and hesitant alignments that characterize Arab actors — all of whom claim to defend Arab security.
A Moroccan example is pertinent. The government of Morocco sided with the anti-Saddam international coalition and even sent troops to Saudi Arabia. Yet, Morocco witnessed the biggest street demonstration in its history during the Gulf War — a protest against the war and foreign intervention in intra-Arab affairs. Equally important is the fact that the demonstrators were allowed to carry out their protest without being harmed by security forces, despite the latter's history of relying on heavy-handed measures when faced with much less apparent provocation.
Visits to other Arab countries showed me that Morocco was not the only Arab country deeply divided by the Gulf Crisis. Moreover, intra-Arab tensions were not merely the traditional ones of ruler versus ruled. They also manifested intraelite and intramass frictions. The Gulf Crisis left both masses and elites in the United Arab Emirates traumatized. This, fundamentally, is why it was indeed a political earthquake, a defining event separating the "before" from the "after." For apart from its immediate effects at the political and military levels, it underscored the basic Arab dilemma between rai son d'êtat and raison de la nation, what I have dubbed elsewhere the painful cross-pressures of role conflict.
If the crisis and the war concretized this Arab dilemma in its most acute form, how does the United Arab Emirates fare in the wake of the hostilities? The seriously bruised state of inter-Arab relations, as well as the paralysis of the Arab League and its inability to assume a leadership role, seem to decide the issue in favor of the exclusiveness of territorial state security as propounded by the traditional paradigm. Dualism, with its inherent ambiguity, might be taken to have been decisively toppled. Early prophets who forecast the end of pan-Arabism appear to be finally vindicated. Inter-Arab relations now seem routinized — in the Weberian sense — and have become "normal" interstate relations, similar to those in other regions of the world.
However, the analysis presented above casts doubt on these conclusions. I have sought to attract attention to the structural — the more permanent — aspects of Arab security issues. I foresee the ongoing presence of the collective-societal security dimension in the United Arab Emirates. That dimension's potential return to prominence in the not-too-distant future appears assured, because major regional problems highlighted by the crisis have not been solved.
The invasion of Kuwait did arouse widespread skepticism over the pan-Arabist ethos in view of its abuse by one leader. But disillusionment and even — should it occur — a generalized veering away from pan-Arabist national identification on the part of the masses will not necessarily redound ideologically to the benefit of the national state. Indeed, the outcome could strengthen alternative pan-ideologies, particularly Islamic fundamentalism.
The collective dimension of Arab security will therefore continue to exist alongside that of the narrower concept of state security. Even though the Islamic dimension of security concerns remains to be studied in depth, its mere presence attests to the many faces of security that persist in the post-Gulf Crisis Arab context. Thus, apart from issues revolving around the new international order, the painful debate between 'Amn qawmi and 'Amn qutri, between state security and national security, will continue to haunt decisionmakers and challenge analysts.

Abdullah Omram Taryam, The Establishment of the United Arab Emirates, 1950-1985 (1987); Frauke Heard-Bey, From Trucial States to United Arab Emirates (1981)
B. Korany, Paul Noble, and Rex Brynen (eds.), The Many Faces of National Security in the Arab World (London: Macmillan; New York: St. Martin's, 1993), esp. pp. 2-19.
Heard-Bey, F. (1996). From Trucial States to United Arab Emirates (Revised Edition). London: Longman.
Malcolm C. Peck, The United Arab Emirates: A Venture in Unity (1986).
Morsy, M. A. (1994). The United Arab Emirates: A Modern History. London: Hurtwood Press.
Peterson, J. E. (1988). The Arab Gulf States: Steps Toward Political Participation. New York: Praeger Publishers.
Rosemarie Said Zahlan, The Origins of the United Arab Emirates: A Political and Social History of the Trucial States (1978)
Taryam, A. O. (1987). The Establishment of the UAE, 1950–1985. London: Croom Helm.
United Arab Emirates, The Federal National Council (1997). The UAE Constitution. Abu Dhabi.
Van der Meulen, H. (1997). The Role of Tribal and Kinship Ties in the Politics of the United Arab Emirates. Ph.D. thesis, Boston, Mass.: Tufts University, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.
Zahlan, R. S. (1998). The Making of the Modern Gulf States (Revised Edition). Reading: Ithaca Press.


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