The dynamics of the Arab regional order since the Kuwait crisis 1990-91 : is there an Arab system that governs inter-Arab relations?
This thesis identifies that there has been a change within inter-Arab relations since the Kuwait Crisis in 1990-91. It asserts that the ensuing crisis unravelled the Arab system and brought about an end to the discourse of pan-Arab nationalism. Moreover, this crisis served to bring out the real discourse within inter-Arab relations: only the state's self-interest determines the foreign policy of Arab states,\not their belonging to Arab institutions or an Arab nation. However, as I shall argue, despite the continuous presence of the Arab League, the Arab system was diminished by the KC. In this context, two parallel issues demonstrate the diminishing of the system: one is the marginalisation of Iraq, and the other is the peace process between the Arab states and Israel. In both cases, the United States has acted as the 'powerful regulator' which has determined the Stand der Dinge (order of things) of the region. This thesis will also argue that Arab states in both cases had no choice but to conform to regional mechanisms determining the dynamics of the two aforementioned developments. The presence of the United States in the region was demonstrated by the ousting of Iraq from Kuwait, since which time the United States has become the main actor and a regional unit in the emerging system. However, for the US to remain so and to keep its interest in the region safe, it has had to rely solely on force. This thesis, therefore, will illustrate the nature of the new Middle East regional system, showing that the structure of the emerging Middle East system since 1990 has been dominated by the use of force. Iraq invaded Kuwait by force, it was ousted from there by force; the sanctions on Iraq were kept in place by force, and the Israeli occupation of Arab lands remains by force. Finally, the system was brought into full consolidation by force demonstrated by the Operation Iraqi Freedom in March-April 2003.