Gulf States’ Policies on Syria

The outbreak of the Arab Uprisings in 2011 provoked Gulf countries to adopt unprecedentedly assertive policies in the Middle East. The majority of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states enthusiastically called for the overthrow of the Assad regime in Syria, seeing an opportunity to roll back Iranian influence in the region. But as the conflict drew on, these countries’ different priorities and calculations became apparent.

This report analyzes the shifts that have occurred in GCC countries’ policies on Syria throughout the last five years of conflict. For some smaller GCC countries, the concerns about increasing instability in the Middle East has outweighed their desire to see regime change in Syria. Others that have invested most in factions of the Syrian opposition believe that they can only achieve their interests by increasing their involvement in the conflict.

Will Todman
Deputy Director and Senior Fellow, Middle East Program