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Basra, southern Iraq and the Gulf: challenges and connections

Coates Ulrichsen, Kristian (2012) Basra, southern Iraq and the Gulf: challenges and connections. Kuwait Programme on Development, Governance and Globalisation in the Gulf States research papers (21). London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK.

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The gradual reconstitution of state control and legitimate political authority in Iraq presents local and regional actors with a range of new challenges at a time of considerable tension in the Arab world. The Iraqi polity gradually began to re-cohere in 2008 following the traumas of the US-led invasion in 2003 and the sectarian civil war between 2005 and 2007. As this process gathered momentum, an array of new, and unresolved existing, issues threaten to undermine the fragile veneer of stability in Basra and southern Iraq. These include the nature of the domestic and regional ties and networks of individuals and organizations binding Basra both to the rest of Iraq and to its broader Arabian/Persian Gulf hinterland. Hence the challenge for policy-makers in Iraq and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states is how to smooth Iraq’s re-entry into regional affairs following two decades of isolation and mutual mistrust, and three decades of conflict and under-development. This paper examines the challenges and connections between Basra, southern Iraq and the Gulf. It begins with a historical assessment of the flows of people, goods and ideas during the formative period of state-building and consolidation in the region. The creation of national boundaries and identities disrupted traditional patterns of trade and generated new fault-lines. Oil, and a contentious boundary dispute between Iraq and Kuwait, sharpened these tensions and culminated in the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in August 1990. The 1991 Gulf War and subsequent decade of containment likewise culminated in the 2003 US-led occupation of Iraq. The second section of this paper analyses the occupation of Iraq and the multiple causes of state failure and proliferating violence in Basra. This and the final section on future challenges explore the domestic and regional issues that complicate the ongoing processes of reconstruction and recovery in southern Iraq and its relationship with its regional hinterland. These include flaring tensions with Kuwait, enduring friction with Saudi Arabia, and the volatile geopolitics of regional insecurity more generally in the light of the new pressures generated by the Arab Spring.

Item Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2012 The Author
Divisions: Middle East Centre
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JZ International relations
Date Deposited: 12 Feb 2014 15:23
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2023 23:27
Projects: Kuwait Programme on Development, Governance and Globalisation in the Gulf States
Funders: Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences

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