The Arab Sunset

The Arab Sunset

The Coming Collapse of the Gulf Monarchies


Since their modern formation in the mid-twentieth century, Saudi Arabia and the five smaller Gulf monarchies — Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) — have been governed by highly autocratic and seemingly anachronistic regimes. Nevertheless, their rulers have demonstrated remarkable resilience in the face of bloody conflicts on their doorsteps, fast-growing populations at home, and modernizing forces from abroad.

One of the monarchies’ most visible survival strategies has been to strengthen security ties with Western powers, in part by allowing the United States, France, and Britain to build massive bases on their soil and by spending lavishly on Western arms. In turn, this expensive militarization has aided a new generation of rulers that appears more prone than ever to antagonizing Iran and even other Gulf states. In some cases, grievances among them have grown strong enough to cause diplomatic crises, incite violence, or prompt one monarchy to interfere in the domestic politics of another.

It would thus be a mistake to think that the Gulf monarchies are somehow invincible. Notwithstanding existing internal threats, these regimes are also facing mounting external ones — from Western governments, from Iran, and each other. And these are only exacerbating their longstanding conflicts and inherent contradictions.


As a proportion of GDP, the Gulf monarchies’ purchases make them the biggest arms buyers in the world.

The existence of substantial Western military bases on the Arabian Peninsula has always been problematic for the Gulf monarchies. To their critics, the hosting of non-Arab, non-Muslim armies is an affront to Islam and to national sovereignty. Their proliferation will likely draw further criticism, and perhaps serve as yet another flashpoint for the region’s opposition movements.

Among the largest Western installations in the Gulf is al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar, which owes its existence to the country’s former ruler, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani. In 1999, al-Thani told the United States that he would like to see 10,000 American servicemen permanently based in the emirate, and over the next few years, the United States duly began shifting personnel there from Saudi Arabia. Today, al-Udeid houses several thousand U.S. servicemen at a time and has also served as a forward headquarters of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), a U.S. Air Force expeditionary air wing, a CIA base, and an array of U.S. Special Forces teams. Nearby Bahrain hosts the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and the entire U.S. Fifth Fleet, which includes some 6,000 U.S. personnel. The United States recently downsized its force in Kuwait, but four U.S. infantry bases remain, including Camp Patriot, which is believed to house about 3,000 U.S. soldiers and two air bases.

The United States plans to further expand its regional military presence in the near future. As CENTCOM recently announced, the country will be sending the latest U.S. antimissile systems to at least four Gulf states. These are new versions of the Patriot anti-missile batteries that the United States already sent to the region and are meant to assuage the Gulf rulers’ fears of Iranian missile attacks. Tellingly, the announcement did not reveal exactly which states had agreed to take the U.S. weapons. Yet analysts widely assume that the unnamed states are Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, and the UAE.

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Shared by Noor Salik

5 thoughts on “The Arab Sunset

  1. They are satrapies, creation of Western Imperialists and stooges of Zionists.

    Dr. Syed A. Ehtisham

  2. TF USA Affiliates!

    First we should read the article “The Arab Sunset” in Foreign Affairs.
    The article has lot of information about Arab Monarchies.
    It talks about Arab monarchies, Iran, Israel and USA.

    All nations by definition are supposed to safeguard and enhance their own national interests.
    USA has to sell arms because American jobs depend upon arms sale.
    Israel has to safeguard its own survival. Muslims have to think what is in their own self interest.

    Then most important question is Muslims of the present day world are UMMA or they are a NATION.
    What is the difference between UMMA and a NATION?
    UMMA may be an antiquated concept in modern times.
    NATION may be a modern political concept.

    TF USA affiliates are intellectually obligated to discuss these issues.
    Until the issues are discussed openly, the concepts never get clarified at individual as well as at group level.

    These are complex issues. No individual can claim a monopoly on truth and false, right and wrong. Two contradictory views/opinions cannot be right at the same time.
    We need to discuss what are objective criteria of right and wrong.

    There are lot of points/issues which deserve our attention.
    The discussion can be expanded only if thinkers jump in the intellectual fray.
    If you are just an observer, it is OK but it is not enough.

    We have healthy intellectual and cultural legacies.
    We have to stop being the victim of “Conspiracy Theories”.
    We should start thinking analytically and find the valid, verifiable solutions to present day problems.

    Collectively we are effective strategic thinkers, we have to learn how to become effective analytical thinkers. There is a big difference between strategic thinking and analytical thinking.
    Strategic thinking is only goal oriented.
    Analytical thinking is goal as well as truth oriented.

    These statements are jut opinions. All opinions are subject to change.
    Only belief systems are not subject to change.
    Belief systems are static.
    Analytical thinking is a dynamic process. It is always WIP (Work in Progress).
    Belief systems are not evidence based. No data is needed for a belief system.
    Analytic thinking is evidence based. Verifiable data is required.
    Belief Systems are linked to Supernatural phenomenon.
    Analytical thinking is linked to Natural phenomenon.
    Belief Systems impose restrictions on human mind. A believer is permitted to think about creation (Universe). A believer is not allowed to think about creator (God).
    Analytical thinking does not impose any restriction on human mind.

    [My this statement can be disturbing for you.
    If it is then the job is done or at least it is initiated]

    Noor Salik

  3. Its a very long sunset. It is as if we were on a pole of this earth where days are six months long. Monarchy in the twenty first century is like TB still left in some remote parts of the world or polio not eradicated, and since overwhelming majority of kingdoms are where Muslims live, must have something to do with the intermarriages that are practiced in these societies and cousins marry each other and hence possible retardation en mass
    (With due apology of course to affiliates who are married to their cousins and I must mention that it is practiced in my family too and I too almost married my cousin – so just joking). Coming back to the plaque, that is monarchy (not going off on a tangent), that is yet to be eradicated from our Muslim countries which is deliberately left in place by the powers that matter, to control the resources needed. Every where else the lecture on democracy is delivered where there is no need to gain control of resources by controlling one person or one family. Existence of monarchies is a big fat shame on the people, sorry, subjects who tolerate kings. These retarded subjects must realize that Western powers will not come to their rescue as they are there exactly to keep the monarchies alive and buying their oil and the money they paid to buy oil comes back to them by selling them (Arabs) arms – to kill each other.

    That was for the sunset of monarchies, now the question of Ummah & Nation raised by Noor Sahib – what Ummah, when did this thing exist? I don’t find any unity due to common religion (meaning Ummah concept) starting right after the advent of Islam. The divide created for succession right after the death of Hz. Mohd. continues to this day and with same, if not more, intensity. Who doesn’t know the blood shed between Umayyad and Abbasids continuing and now Saudi Arabia and Iran are still at it. It is another false pride
    (this concept of Ummah) of Muslims like the false glory days of Harron al Rashid or the retarded Ottoman Sultans busy killing their brothers or putting them in “Golden Cages”, or the Mughals killing brothers, jailing fathers and burying wives in the walls….. the only place I ever heard this “Ummah” was in the sermons of moulvies, praying year after year on Eid Khutaba for Ummah, making my ears bleed.


    • Babar Sahib’s comments are to the point. In fact the Arab dilemma is totally different from the one presented by the Foreign Affair. The whole article reflects the West’s exploitation of the Arabs by supporting those monarchs who are working as their agents. I am trying to put together an article starting from the roots of Arab Sunset, Arab Spring and the possibility of Arab Sunrise enigma.

      As far as Babar Sahib’s point about Muslim Ummah is concerned, it is true that this concept is out dated. It lasted until the first two caliphs and after that World of Islam got divided into many schism and then in many villayat. However, this concept remained in the limelight until the time of Amir Mu’awiyah, who honored the Charter of Medina and acted upon it. Though it had started dying after the death of the 3rd Caliph, the shahdat of Hz Imam Hussain and his whole family put this concept as well as the Charter of Medina to an end. It is only Wahhabian dream of re-inventing the concept of Ummah which was introduced by the Prophet while signing the Charter of Medina. The concept was to give a unified title to a host of tribes which came under the banner of the Prophet and thus was written as Muslim Ummah.

      After the first World War, Muslim world was divided into nations. A modern concept of Ummah is best interpreted by Russell, Bernard Lewis, Samuel Huntington and many other as Islamic Civilization. Today most of the writers and scholars use the word Islamic Civilization instead of Muslim Ummah.

      Mirza Ashraf

      • Kings, princes, presidents in the mideast and muslim context are variations on the same theme: autocrats with an unchallenged sense of entitlement.. Wrap it up in religion, the ancient divide of sunni vs shia, arab vs irani, tribalism and you start to get a sense of the stew stirring the masses. The so-called muslim ummah is at a historical crossroad. The epoch of petro dollar wealth is being frittered away by greed without a hint of planning for the future. The countries of the Islamic world are stripped of positive energies and conceive of life only in the narrowest sense of both religious and human potential. Historical precedence offers little relevance to a bad situation that is not going to get better any time soon.

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