The Geopolitical and Strategic Importance of the Persian Gulf
10th, January 2013
The Middle East region, including the Persian Gulf region play an important role in the world affairs, since the discovery of vast oil reserves in these regions. This discovery rendered them the most unstable regions of the world. The Persian Gulf is vital to the region’s economy, due to its vast oil reserves as well as its strategic positioning. Conflicts in this area remain unresolved, and date back to the past centuries. A number of external powers are involved in these conflicts, which result in violence, and are motivated by religious and ethnic differences, as well as resources (Sajedi, 2009).
The countries located near the Persian Gulf include Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, and the United Arabs Emirates. Being the largest holder of oil reserves and natural gas, the coastal areas around the Persian Gulf therefore, experience an increase in the number of related industries, in addition to economic competition. This presence of crude oil and other natural gas resources, therefore, makes the countries adjacent to the Persian Gulf play a critical role in the world’s economy. These valuable natural resources have made the area very critical from the geostrategic point of view (Anderson, 2000).
Today, the global demand of oil and natural gas resources keeps increasing. This therefore, makes most world countries to be dependent on the world’s most unstable and hostile regions in the Persian Gulf region. Specifically, Asian countries face an increased demand for oil, same to other world regions, including both developed and developing nations. This has resulted in nations establishing political ties with the nations around the Persian Gulf as a way of manipulating their acquiring of oil and natural gas, which are becoming scarce today (Barnes & Jaffe, 2006).
The states around the Persian Gulf alone hold an estimated 55 percent of the world’s total crude oil reserves. This area also produces close to 45 per cent of the world’s total natural gas, and this is expected to increase in the coming years. This makes these states to be important as the world’s economy and development is dependent on oil. Largely, the access of oil in this region is paramount to most western countries, as these are among the greatest drivers of the global economy and development. Given there is a high probability that this area has more untapped oil reserves, both the local players in the area as well as major international players realize that the political instability facing the area needs to be resolved to pave way for greater economic development of the region. Because of this, different powerful countries have stakes in the area as they seek for means of controlling the large oil reserves (Barnes & Jaffe, 2006).
In the contemporary world, the Persian Gulf is the source and center of all the conflicts in the Middle East. The two most powerful states in the Persian Gulf region are Iran and Iraq, which have had strained relationship since the period in the Second World War. This poor relationship persisted even when Saddam Hussein came into power. The United States of America is an external player that has great influence in this area, especially in the period after the Soviet Union had disintegrated. As a result, the United States had a great influence in both the first and second Gulf Wars in 1990 and 2003. In addition, Iran has become a power and political icon in the area after the collapse of the Soviet Union and defeat of Iraq after the First Gulf War. The political superiority of Iran was evident during the Lebanon conflict in 2006, when it immensely supported Hezbollah during the conflict (Barnes & Jaffe, 2006).
Conclusively, the Persian Gulf and its sub-regions has led to development of political relations among nations today. The strategic positioning of the Persian Gulf also plays a role in the exploitation and access of oil by other international players. The United States and Iran are the most important states that would initiate ways and develop policies that would ensure that the Persian Gulf region, including the states in the region restore their political stability. This way, regional security will be enhanced, as well as constant oil production and supply to consumer countries.
Anderson, W. (2000). “The Middle East: Geography and Geopolitics.” London: Routledge.
Barnes, J. & Jaffe, M. (2006). “The Persian Gulf and the Geopolitics of Oil.” Survival, 48
Spring (1), 143-162
Sajedi, A. (2009). “Geopolitics of the Persian Gulf Security: Iran and the United States.”
Islamic Policy Research Institute (IPRI). IX (2), 77-89.
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