The Role of External Powers: Global Actors (Part I)
The Gulf region is undergoing a series of profound changes at national, regional and international levels. It is at a pivotal moment in its history when the balance of power amongst external powers is transitioning from a predominantly US-dominated order to a multipolar one in which global powers, such as China, and regional powers, such as Russia, Turkey, India and Brazil are beginning to shape and influence the region. This chapter argues that since the Obama presidency (2008–2016), the US has strongly signalled that it is no longer willing to play the role of sole external security provider and, in doing so, has left a vacuum. It examines the exact nature of the US change in policy, its wider implications for the region and, at the same time, the thickening of relations between China and the Gulf. The chapter addresses the question whether China’s developing economic relationship, which is promoted through the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) will lead it to play a more muscular political, diplomatic and military role in the near future.