Hard and Soft Power in Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Policy in the Second Half of the 21st Century. The Case of Bahrain and Yemen
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Uniwersytet Śląski w Katowicach
Publication date: 2020-06-24
Stosunki Międzynarodowe – International Relations 2016;52(1):189–210
At the beginning of the second decade of the 21st century Saudi Arabia plays the role of regional power in the Middle East and aspires to the role of hegemon in the Persian Gulf subregion. It perceives the Islamic Republic of Iran as its most serious rival in achieving this status. The two states do not engage in direct conflict but have become entangled in rivalry in the form of proxy wars (the case of Bahrain in 2011 and Yemen in 2015). Pursuing its interests and foreign policy goals towards the Middle East, Riyadh, however, uses instruments that are not always consistent with the standards of international law. This has been especially clear in the second decade of the 21st century, which for the Middle East has become a decade of escalating instability and intraregional disputes and conflicts. Given this, Saudi Arabia’s use of hard power constitutes a direct reaction to threats to its state security and interests. Consequently, soft power, which is a policy more relevant to an age of peace, stability and relative security, lost any justification in Riyadh’s policies towards the country’s immediate neighbourhood by becoming ineffective.