The politics of war and revolution in the Persian Gulf
Conflicts of the late 1970s through the Gulf War of the 1990s have demonstrated the significance and fragility of the Persian Gulf, an area that contains over 60 percent of the world’s reserves of oil. Because of the importance of these oil reserves, every conflict in this region becomes an international event. While the collapse of the Soviet Union has reduced U.S.-Soviet tensions it has created new problems for the world and the Gulf region.
Political, economic, and religious interests of the region overlap oil interests to create complex regional issues. Basic problems such as the problem of national identity and political legitimacy have remained unresolved and have taken a back seat to oil interests. For the most part, the Arab states have resisted the forces of democratization that have been sweeping the world and have remained monarchies. They use their oil wealth to maintain their power, reinforce tradition, and crush or dominate their political rivals. The relative stability of these states is attested by the fact that of eight Persian Gulf states, only Iran and Iraq have experienced revolutions during this period.