Gulf Security Initiative

The Importance of the Gulf Region to Global Security and Global Governance

The Persian Gulf is the preeminent location for the world's most prized strategic resource. In a world of increasing globalization, industrial and high-tech development, and the rise of major Asian states such as China, India, and Malaysia, the Gulf harbors the world's largest concentration of oil resources, is a major center for natural gas production, and still leads the world in its ability to extract, process, and transport oil. Security analysts and petroleum experts alike have determined that even if Russia, Central Asia, and other regions and countries were to massively increase their extraction and processing capabilities, the explosive growth of Asian economies would still require a majority of supplies from the Gulf region. Because of these worldwide trends, developments within the Gulf are an issue of not only regional security and US national security but also of global security and global governance.

The Stanley Foundation's Gulf Security Initiative (GSI) seek to outline alternative policy strategies for building a stable, secure, prosperous, and just security order within the Gulf region. To find practical policy solutions for enduring regional security challenges, the GSI program will construct, maintain, and enlarge bilateral and multilateral dialogues within the Gulf—and between regional actors and outside powers from Europe, Asia, and North America. Dialogues will include commissioned papers, workshops, and conferences to explore the possibilities for constructing a new, alternative, multilateral framework for security in the Gulf for the 21st century.

Track 2 discussions will involve experts and officials from the United States, Europe, Asia, the Gulf Arab monarchies, Iran, Iraq, and (when possible) neighboring states such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkey, or Jordan.

As part of this mandate, the Stanley Foundation's Gulf Security Initiative will try to integrate the existing global nonproliferation regimes and norms with the security demands of states within the Gulf. In particular, the Gulf initiative will explore the "demand side" of the proliferation equation by focusing on the threat perceptions and threat assessments of regional powers.

Future Program Plans

The Stanley Foundation's Gulf Security Initiative is attempting to change US policies toward a more balanced approach that includes US-Iranian détente and the construction of a more cooperative Gulf security environment that respects the national interests, sovereignty, autonomy, and domestic cultural values of every state in the region.

Toward these ends, we are undertaking four sets of activities in 2005:

MEP Journal Arabic Translation

In January 2004, the Stanley Foundation held an open Track-2 dialogue in Dubai, UAE, on sensitive regional security issues with participants from GCC states, Iran, Greece, the United Kingdom, Germany, and the United States. The nonattributed conference report and commissioned analytical papers were published in a special fall issue of Middle East Policy journal, which can be viewed at http://www.stanleyfoundation.org/initiatives/gsi/journals.php.

We have also translated this special fall issue of the MEP journal into Arabic, and we are embarking on a series of ambitious "Gulf and the Levant outreach tours" from January to March 2005 to brief leaders and experts in the region on our findings and recommendations. These tours will involve stops of two to four days in key cities throughout the Middle East, including GCC states and Iran.

GCC Working Group

We will be convening a "GCC Workshop" in Dubai on May 28-30, 2005, with participants from all six GCC countries, key European countries, and the United States. This dialogue will not include any current serving Western officials, nor will it feature any participants from the Levant, Yemen, Iraq, or Iran. All US and European participants will be either former officials or independent experts. Our hope is to construct a relaxed environment for a frank, honest, and productive dialogue on movement toward a more ideal Gulf security framework—including changes in US policy away from pure counterproliferation and coercive diplomacy and toward more comprehensive and balanced diplomacy.

GCC Global Conference


We are planning a larger event in Dubai on September 3-5, 2005, that will involve the same GCC participants, Europeans, and Americans—but which will also have at least one expert or official from Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Jordan, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, the Arab League, Pakistan, India, China, and Japan. The goal of this conference will be to cast Gulf security as a "global governance" issue, due to the importance of the region's resources for the global economy. By recasting Gulf security as a global security issue—rather than a purely US national security or "war on terror" issue—we hope to draw out ideas for a more stable, predictable, and prosperous Gulf for the 21st century.