Occasional Papers

The Center for International and Regional Studies publishes original research on a broad range of issues, including international relations, political science, economics, and Islamic studies, among others. Papers dealing with issues of relevance to the Persian Gulf and the Middle East region are preferred. We invite manuscript submissions for the CIRS Occasional Paper series throughout the year. CIRS Occasional Papers are registered under ISSN 2072-5957.


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CIRS Occasional Papers

Occasional Paper

To cite this publication: James Onley, "Britain and the Gulf Shaikhdoms, 1820-1971: The Politics of Protection," CIRS Occasional Paper no. 4 (Doha, Qatar: Center for International and Regional Studies, 2009).

This article examines Britain’s protection of Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the Trucial States (United Arab Emirates), and Oman during the era of British hegemony in the region: 1820–1971. It argues that Britain’s role as guardian of the Persian Gulf, beginning in 1835, was not imposed coercively, that Britain largely conformed to local expectations of a protector’s duties and rights, and that its record in Eastern Arabia was far better than its record elsewhere in the Middle East. It begins with an overview of regional insecurity before the Pax Britannica. It then examines why Britain came to defend Eastern Arabia and the advantages and disadvantages that entailed for the local rulers. It explains the legal status of the Gulf shaikhdoms and Oman resulting from their treaties with Britain and their close relationship with the British Empire. It also discusses Britain’s post-war attempts to develop these states, the nature of Anglo–American relations in the region, and the growing challenges to Britain’s position in Eastern Arabia in the 1950s–60s. It provides a new account of Britain’s withdrawal from the Persian Gulf, showing how Britain introduced defense arrangements that remain in place forty years on. It finishes with a reflection on Britain’s legacy in the Gulf today. 

Fixing the Kingdom: Political Evolution and Socio-Economic Challenges in Bahrain

To cite this publication: Steven Wright, "Fixing the Kingdom: Political Evolution and Socio-Economic Challenges in Bahrain," CIRS Occasional Paper no. 3 (Doha, Qatar: Center for International and Regional Studies, 2008, 2010).

Bahrain has entered into a more ‘progressive’ phase of its history under King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. Various parliamentary and legislative restructuring, in addition to discernable changes within civil society, have taken place. Yet genuine socio-economic challenges remain on the horizon, which may pose risks to the political order. The reforms were drive by a recognition that far reaching political and economic changes were needed in order to combat the risk of a return to the widespread riots that Bahrain was plagued with during the late 1990s. The focus of this study is to show that internal power politics within Bahrain’s ruling elite largely explain the manner in which the reforms have been implemented in the initial years of King Hamad’s reign. A key aspect of this was a desire by the King to enhance his autonomy vis-à-vis the Prime Minister through a populist mandate. This study also surveys key social and political developments in Bahrain and illustrates some of the important challenges which remain within the Kingdom.

Occasional Paper

To cite this publication: Renee Richer, "Conservation in Qatar: Impacts of Increasing Industrialization," CIRS Occasional Paper no. 2 (Doha, Qatar: Center for International and Regional Studies, 2008, 2009).

Industrial development in the State of Qatar is taking place at an unprecedented rate. Such development is putting the environment at the risk, threatening ecosystem services and biological diversity. While Qatar is currently developing the legislation, regulatory bodies, and management agencies for successful ecosystem management and conservation efforts, the full implementation of these protective measures has yet to be achieved. This is in part due to a lack of scientific expertise and trained personnel as well as the early stage of environmental development in the country. While strides have been taken by the State of Qatar, the question remains whether they can be implemented in a timely fashion to ensure that current and future development projects support the country’s goal of sustainable development. 


To cite this publication: Patricia Weiss Fagen, "Iraqi Refugees: Seeking Stability in Syria and Jordan," CIRS Occasional Paper no. 1 (Doha, Qatar: Center for International and Regional Studies, 2007, 2009).

Over two million Iraqis are refugees in the Middle East, living in difficult conditions, primarily in Jordan and Syria. Their unresolved plight and their still largely unmet needs constitute a humanitarian crisis. Their presence has had an impact on the two countries where they are concentrated and, by extension, on the region as a whole. Although long hosts to Palestinian refugees, the countries of the Arab Middle East have not been major refugee destinations in recent decades and this report raises questions about the limited regional response to a major refugee flow. At this point, most Iraqis and their hosts hope for a quick and peaceful end to the insecurity that has precipitated the flight, but events in Iraq raise serious doubts that their hopes will soon be fulfilled. Some Iraqis are hoping for resettlement in the United States and other countries of the west, a hope thus far available only to a very few. The report raises questions about the apparently limited ability of the US and other countries to mobilize a major resettlement effort similar to those that took place during the Cold War. More fundamental to the lives of the vast majority of the Iraqi refugees, it calls on the international community to launch a more robust humanitarian response that will assist and protect the Iraqi refugees while addressing the legitimate economic, political and security concerns of Jordan and Syria as hosts to such large numbers of refugees.