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Foreign policy making in the small Gulf states: state formation processes, ideas and identities in Kuwait and Bahrain

Alsayed, Wafa (2019) Foreign policy making in the small Gulf states: state formation processes, ideas and identities in Kuwait and Bahrain. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This dissertation seeks to answer the question of why the relatively similar Arab states of Kuwait and Bahrain adopted differing foreign policies in the early years of their independence in the 1960s and 1970s. While Kuwait adopted an actively pan-Arab, progressive and anticolonial foreign policy, Bahrain shied away from strong Arabist positions and Third World politics and instead enthusiastically engaged with Western powers. Through a theoretical approach combining historical sociology and constructivism, this dissertation seeks to go beyond the dominant realist framework to examine the role of internal historical dynamics in influencing foreign policy. It argues that the difference in these states’ foreign policy behaviour resulted from their respective processes of state formation, which led to the emergence of divergent identities that informed their foreign policy positions. In each case, the dynamics of state-society relations, British and Arab influences and state institutional development led to the emergence of distinct ideational discourses that ultimately shaped these states’ respective foreign policies. This study is comprised of three steps. First, it investigates the histories of state formation in the two Gulf states, demonstrating how they have pursued distinct paths in consolidating authority and governing society. Second, it explains how the unique circumstances behind their establishment and subsequent processes of state building led to the formation of distinct sets of identities on the levels of both state and society. Third, it traces the relationship between these histories and identities and the positions adopted by Kuwaiti and Bahraini decision-makers in the 1960s and 1970s.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2019 Wafa Alsayed
Library of Congress subject classification: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JF Political institutions (General)
J Political Science > JZ International relations
Sets: Departments > International Relations
Supervisor: Dodge, Toby

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