Stability and Instability in the Gulf Region in 2016

A Strategic Net Assessment

The Gulf has long been an unstable and constantly changing region—but the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003; the region-wide upheavals that began in 2011; the rise of ISIS in late 2013; the Yemeni civil war that began in 2013; and the massive drop in petroleum prices and revenues that accelerated in 2015—have combined to increase risk at every level. The Burke Chair at CSIS has prepared a new analysis that addresses all of these variables in ways that cover key trends and risks for the entire Gulf region—and separately for each Gulf country.

This analysis is entitled Stability and Instability in the Gulf Region: A Net Assessment and a working draft is now available on the CSIS web site at

Contents of the Report

The Table of Contents and the titles of its charts, graphs, and maps are shown below:


Request for Help in Revising This Working Draft

It should be clear that no analysis can keep pace with the ongoing fighting and problems in politics, governance, economics, and arms race—particularly at a time when terrorism and irregular warfare play a steadily growing and more unpredictable role. This net assessment does, however, attempt to address the underlying problems and pressures shaping the risks in the Gulf region and each Gulf country using official data and data from key international institutions like the UN, World Bank and IMF. Where possible, it also attempts to quantify key trends.

This working draft will also be updated over time. Comments, corrections, and suggested additions will be most helpful. Please send them to Anthony H. Cordesman at

Other Related Burke Chair Reports

This report also draws heavily on other Burke Chair reports which contain far more data in specific areas than can be presented in a summary net assessment—some of which make use of a new risk assessment model developed by Dr. Abdullah Toukan. These reports include:

A more detailed analysis of the military forces in the Gulf region is also available. This is entitled The Arab-U.S. Strategic Partnership and the Changing Security Balance in the Gulf: Joint and Asymmetric Warfare, Missiles and Missile Defense, Civil War, Non-State Actors, and Outside Powers . It is available in book form from Rowan and Littlefield at, and a downloadable PDF is available at


Photo credit: AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images