This analysis is aimed at both empirically highlighting the centrality of the Gulf monarchies and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in Arab transitions, and analytically explaining their seemingly contradicting roles. It will start, therefore, with a close look at the initial reactions of the Saudi kingdom specifically, which appeared to strongly lead what was referred to as "a counter-revolutionary role". Then it will move on to address how the Gulf monarchies were keen to keep the wave of public revolts out of their area, which was manifested in their efforts to crack down on the Shiite-led revolts in Bahrain; and finally how they extended what is widely deemed as selective and controversial assistance to both Arab countries in transition and other Arab countries not experiencing transitions. Generally, the analysis will explain how GCC states’ policies are largely driven by the interest of maintaining the political stability of their own monarchies and that of the region at large. But it will also highlight how such policies and actions can be derived from prestige and status affirmation.
Sally Khalifa Isaac, Associate Professor of Political Science, Cairo University