Analyzing and forecasting the Gulf Cooperation Council's geopolitical environment

Donald Trump and Washington’s Arab Gulf Allies

By Dr. Peter Harris
March 7, 2017

The presidency of Donald Trump has great potential to bring about significant changes in global affairs. Throughout his candidacy, Trump railed against so-called “globalism” while advocating an “America First” posture that would unabashedly place the country’s narrow self-interests above the concerns of friends, allies, and trading partners. Trump styled himself as an iconoclast, someone who could be relied upon to bring a new approach to almost every facet of U.S. foreign relations, including trade and investment policy, alliance commitments, support for international organizations, nuclear proliferation policy, and respect for international law and human rights.

The impending transformation of U.S. foreign policy undoubtedly poses a number of challenges for the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states – if, that is, the promised revolution materializes. But it would be wrong to assume that the Trump presidency will be devoid of opportunities for Arab Gulf leaders. On the contrary, there is good reason to believe that the next four years could be somewhat propitious for the GCC members’ core interests – even if any optimism must be tempered with a heavy dose of caution.

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Dr. Peter Harris is an assistant professor of Political Science at Colorado State University.