Qatar and the Gulf Crisis: A Conversation with Kristian Coates Ulrichsen (S. 8, Ep. 17)

Kristian Coates Ulrichsen talks about his latest book, Qatar and the Gulf Crisis: A Study of Resilience, with Marc Lynch on this week’s podcast. In his book, Coates Ulrichsen offers an authoritative study on the Qatari leadership and population’s response to the 2017 economic blockade from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt.

Coates Ulrichsen said, “I wanted to look at how Qatar had responded [to the blockade] because the initial assumption, especially in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, was that Qatar would fold; they would get their way, there would be a power play. Even though it’s never clear what exactly they wanted from it. But Qataris were able to respond very quickly and to rapidly reconfigure a lot of their economic and trading arrangements and also to defeat the crisis politically.”

He goes on to explain, “On the 6th of June, the day after the blockades began; President Trump tweeted in apparent support…So from an Emirati Saudi point of view, initially it seemed to be going to plan. What I think they miscalculated was the fact that the White House is not the US government and no one individual can shift an entire set of bureaucratic institutions and interests. And of course Qatar is home to the forward headquarters of Central Command, of CENTCOM, and has a very close and long U.S. economic and strategic relationship as well.”

“I think it was probably a hope from the blockading states in 2017 that the blockade would get international support and this was one of the manifestations of its failure that almost no international partners signed on to it. Several other regional states in the Middle East and parts of Africa initially downgraded ties with Qatar but most of them since have resumed. But from an international point of view, there was virtually no support for the blockade at all,” said Coates Ulrichsen.


Kristian Coates Ulrichsen, Ph.D., is a Baker Institute fellow at Rice University for the Middle East. Previously, he worked as senior Gulf analyst at the Gulf Center for Strategic Studies between 2006 and 2008 and as co-director of the Kuwait Program on Development, Governance and Globalization in the Gulf States at the London School of Economics (LSE) from 2008 until 2013. Coates Ulrichsen’s articles have appeared in numerous academic journals, including Global Policy and the Journal of Arabian Studies. He also writes regularly for the Economist Intelligence Unit, Open Democracy, and Foreign Policy, and authors a monthly column for Gulf Business News and Analysis. Coates Ulrichsen holds a doctorate in history from the University of Cambridge.


Music for this season’s podcast was created by Feras Arrabi. You can find more of his work on his Facebook and Instagram page.

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