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Insecure Gulf: the end of certainty and the transition to the post-oil era

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Kristian Coates Ulrichsen
Columbia University Press (June 2011)

Increasingly long-term, nonmilitary challenges have remade security concerns in the Persian Gulf. The protection of food, water, and energy, the management and mitigation of environmental degradation and climate change, demographic pressures and the youth boom, the reformulation of structural deficiencies, and the fallout from progressive state failure in Yemen all require a broad, global, and multidimensional approach to achieving security in the Gulf.

While traditional threats from Iraq and Iran, nuclear proliferation, and transnational terrorism remain robust, new challenges could potentially destabilize the redistributive mechanisms of state and society in the Arab oil monarchies. Insecure Gulf explores this new reality, specifically, the relationship between traditional and recent security issues within the changing political economy of the Gulf Corporation Council states.

  • Dr Kristian Coates Ulrichsen is deputy director of the Kuwait Research Program on Development, Governance, and Globalization in the Gulf States at LSE.

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'Insecure Gulf provides the first detailed assessment of the developments in the Persian Gulf subregion in the post-oil era. It is one of the few books of its kind not to be obsessed with the area's energy riches, and in highlighting the uncertainties of a future from which oil income may not provide sufficient protection, it warns of the subregion's impending demographic, economic, and environmental crises. Sympathetically written and meticulously researched, Kristian Coates Ulrichsen draws our attention to the dangers of a perfect storm in which domestic challenges could combine with externally induced security or economic shocks, exposing these societies to crises of such magnitude that their very sociopolitical foundations would be tested. A must read.'
Anoush Ehteshami, Durham University

'Kristian Coates Ulrichsen's absorbing book is rich in detail and profoundly incisive. Brilliant in its analysis and masterful in scope, it tackles the most important and toughest questions on security in the Gulf region. Fascinating, fluently written, and insightful, Insecure Gulf offers a genuinely original perspective to this important subject. A compulsory and highly engaging reading'
Steven Wright, Qatar University

'A fascinating, gritty, and state-of-the-art overview of the security environment in which the resource-rich Gulf states must now operate, whether they like it or not.'
Christopher Davidson, author of Abu Dhabi: oil and beyond

'Insecure Gulf offers a broad-ranging yet consistently cogent survey of the major trends threatening the stability of the Arab Gulf states at present and in the future. It highlights not only the concrete, material challenges confronting regimes in this part of the world but also the ideational dynamics shaping the interpretation and prioritization of strategic realities. Additionally, the book accomplishes all this while remaining accessible to nonspecialists. An enlightening tour d'horizon.'
Fred H Lawson, Mills College

Insecure Gulf