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Subject: The Gulf and South Korea – Political Relations and Strategic Options in a Developing Scenario

Date: 2015-11-08 10:52
Hit: 35695[vote_start]
The Gulf and South Korea – Political Relations and Strategic Options in a Developing Scenario
Dr. Kim JInwoog - Drector, Korea Research Institute for Military Affairs

1. Introduction

Gulf region has been considered historically to be the overlapping area of interests between occidental and oriental countries. Still, there is the presence of competence among the major powers in Gulf region. The area has had a particularly strategic and geographic position in the world as it ruled and organised trade in the old days. Many great highways joining the ancient countries passed through this area so that Gulf region was able to become a meeting place, or crossroads of three continents: Europe, Asia, and Africa. From time immemorial, many caravan routes from the orient passed through some part of this region to the good seaports of the eastern end of the Mediterranean in which ships carried their cargoes to all the maritime occident. The travelers, traders, and armies of Babylonia, Assyria, Egypt, Syria, Greece, Parthia, Rome, Osman Turkey, Britain, and now USA successively swept over this area. Nowadays, Gulf region is facing a new era of citizen democracy, capitalism, and industrialisation.
South Korea has three main reasons of its concern on Gulf reason: first, oil dependence, the second, construction business and lastly its potential market for defence industry. Gulf is still important to other countries mainly because of oil reservoirs. Gulf economy is not diversified and complementary yet, there is little regional trade. It accounts for 53% of the world’s oil reserves, with Saudi Arabia alone responsible for 19% of the total. Economic growth in the Middle East has relied almost solely on oil reserves for the last sixty years. However on the basis of known reserves, it is estimated that oil will run out by about 2050. So the Gulf is slowly preparing for the post-oil era and it needs much more infrastructure for development.
South Korea has one of the largest construction companies involved in the Gulf region. South Korea’s construction technology including nuclear power plant has far developed especially in security area and it has strong personal network with the current leadership of the Gulf States. So, the construction business between the two will increase more than before as oil revenues decline because of Gulf exploring new directions for growth to sustain and develop the region.
Another interest of South Korea in the Gulf is the potential market of defence industry. The process of normal developing scenario of nation building essentially requires the military buildup. Military in Gulf is currently dominated by five major groups of military forces: the Southern Gulf states – Iran and Iraq, outside power - the United States, non-state actors like the various elements of Al Qaida, the Mahdi militia, and lastly various tribal forces. These forces are evolving in many ways. Iran presents a major threat in terms of asymmetric and proxy warfare, as well as a growing missile threat and a potential nuclear threat. The growing political unrest and instability in the region are creating new internal security threats, for instance instability in countries like Yemen. Domestic instability could cause new threats that spread over the Saudi and Omani borders. The threat of terrorism has so far been contained somehow, but it still remains. Moreover, concern on terrorism has driven many regional states to make major increases in their paramilitary, security and special operation forces. Military operation and military acquisition are therefore much inter-dependent among the involved countries. If the Gulf is trying to develop its own military operation and plans military build-up without being intervened by major powers, South Korea would be a good partner for them.
The global partnership shifted the paradigm from aid to development effectiveness by recognising the role of aid as a catalyst for development and emphasising the results that make development happen on the ground. South Korea has emerged as an agenda-setter in the field of international cooperation for development. The G-20 Seoul Summit in November 2010 laid a solid foundation for Korea to quantum leap in the area of development cooperation. This paper examines the future relationship between South Korea and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, and explores the possibilities of strategic options in a developing scenario. The paper suggests three strategic options for South Korea to develop its relations with Gulf in a sustainable and healthy manner. First, account must be taken of the bottom-up nature of the revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya so the role played by popular demonstrations is important. Korea should, for this reason, promote its relations with the Gulf at the social level. Second, South Korea should also support the top-down process which is underway in the current leaderships in the region, following a step-by-step process. Democracy is not a simple political change. It involves economic, social and cultural dimensions – it is a life-altering process that South Koreans have experienced since the establishment of the country in 1948. The experience of South Korea in the last 60 year will, therefore, be very helpful for the Gulf as an historical example. Thirdly, it suggests security cooperation and defence acquisition in so far to create an operational framework in the future.

2. Prerequisite Ethics of Strategic Options

Two prerequisite ethical questions should be considered for strategic options in a developing scenario. The first question is: ‘is the option effectively beneficial for the interest of the people?’ The second: ‘is the option fully efficient for the development of the Gulf countries?’ If these questions are not asked in a process of building-up a country with strong democracy, economy, and also military, justice would be collapsed and people would be exploited. There will be continuous power competitions in Gulf region in the process of nation building of each country. If any politicians or businessmen of mutual countries in the region are not righteous and wise, Gulf countries might face same tragedy again which Korea has experienced 60 years ago. Considering this, Korea’s experience might be a historical example for the process of developing scenario of the Gulf in that respective.

a. Effectiveness for Interest of the People

‘Effectiveness for interest of the people’ could be understood under the Korean history context. There are so many political figures but it is hard to find who really practiced the ‘effectiveness’ not for themselves, but for their people. I believe this ‘effectiveness’ is important principle in Gulf and South Korea’s relations to proceed their productive and reciprocal relations for their own people. Korea had a political figure called Kim Gu who tried to reconcile the leaders of North and South Korea in latter half of the 1940s and set a good model for cooperation among different political groups. Based on his philosophy, I argue that Gulf and South Korea should follow the principle of interest of the people to see stable and progressive relations.
Korea had been one country for one thousand years and has had one language, culture and religion. It was divided into two countries on August 15, 1945, when Korea was liberated from Japanese rule. Even though Korean people did not want their country to be divided, it was bifurcated by the United States and the Soviet Union as well as political leaders maneuvered by super powers. If there were no outside intervention after the liberation, Korean people would have established one Republic. Mr. Menon, the then chairman of the United Nations Temporary Commission on Korea (UNTCOK), argued “The independence of the whole of Korea must be guaranteed to Korea as an integral unit. Our commission does not recognise the 38th parallel. It is only interested in it as a political anomaly which must be removed. In our eyes, Korea is one and indivisible” But Korea was divided according to the interests of major powers and Korean War broke out in 1950 - just two and half years after liberation - killing a million of innocent people. It has happened frequently in history, what has been done in Korean Peninsula at that time and is still continuing even now.
Most of the Gulf countries are in a transition period from Kingdom to republic government. Korea also used to be a Kingdom before it was under the Japanese colonial rule. It had started from the society of Kingdom to become civil government and industrialised state. Historically, Korean people were against the imperialist and colonialist from big powers. Big power bullying the small and strong power bullying the weak are also the enemy of Korean people. International political struggles were occurred outside of Korea, however, they affected Korean Peninsula a lot and it finally faced tragic situation (here, a war). There was Kim Il Sung in North Korea maneuvered by the Soviet Union, there was Rhee Syngman in South Korea embraced by the United States. There was another political leader Kim Gu, who opposed the division of Korea before the establishment of two governments. Kim Gu strongly opposed to such provisions as trusteeship. But despite his desperate effort, Korea was divided and then he accepted the trusteeship. Initially, Kim Gu strongly objected the terms of the trusteeship, however, he accepted them. What was his rationale? It was just ‘effectiveness for interest of the people.’
Kim Gu considered whatever the trusteeship or division matter to be one of the means. It was of utmost importance for him that people can live in peaceful environment. He took a flexible attitude depending on the circumstances under such firm philosophy without losing the ultimate purpose - peoples’ interest. What he cherished the most is neither the political system nor the unification of the North and South Korea, but only the ideas of embracing people and the belief that there should not be any more bloodshed. The true patriot is a representative of the interests of national security and someone who realises the real meaning of peoples’ interest. So he/she does not mind change in any subordinate decision at different stages. What he pursued was the pure patriotism, the real loving of the people of Korea and the value of the emphasis on security interests of the people. It was not based on partisan political interests. Every country has the right to choose their own social system according to their own will and the right to maintain their independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity. He argued no country has the right to carry out aggression, subversion, control or interference against another country. The affairs of a country should be governed by its own people.
Kim Gu has recognised security failure in the peninsula; the failure in the security benefit of the people and peace. He pondered over what was better for the security interests of the people. He met Kim Il Sung in North Korea and Rhee Sung Man in South Korea with an aim of establishing one state in the Korean peninsula. And he judged if division is inevitable, trusteeship could be better for security interests of the people. He differentiated the goal from the means finely. What is the goal and what is the means for the goal? The goal is definitely people’s interest. Ideology such as communism or capitalism and political systems are just means, which can be flexibly chosen. Because of partisans such as Kim Il Sung and Rhee Sung Man, the goal was reduced to the means at the Korean War and peoples’ real security interest was lost when a million people were killed to protect ideologies and political systems. However, the liberation what Kim Gu has shown us in the process is now very thought-provoking example. His flexibility was not simply ‘flexibility’, however, it was his consistency for the people’s security interests and the benefit of the people in the peninsula.
Decision makers in Gulf countries might be located in similar trouble. Therefore, Kim Gu’s philosophy is still valid in this situation. The interest of people in the region should be put in the first place and leaders carefully follow the way to keep their people’s security and interest. I argue that only when this philosophy is considered, the strategic options in a developing scenario would be found successfully.

b. Efficiency for the Development

All of the Arab States of the Gulf have significant revenues from oil and gas and they have small population, with the exception of Saudi Arabia. These conditions have raised their per capita incomes above those of neighboring countries. To meet the labor shortages, they host large numbers of temporary non-citizen migrants from South Asia and Southeast Asia. In the past there were a significant number of immigrants from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen. Most of the states are hereditary monarchies with limited political development. Only Bahrain (Majlis al Watani) and Kuwait (Majlis al Ummah) have legislatures, comprising of elected and popular members. The Sultanate of Oman also has an advisory council (Majlis ash-Shura) which is elected and also popular. In the UAE—a federation of seven monarchical emirates, only the Federal National Council has a function of an advisory body, but now a portion of its members are elected from a small electoral college nominated by the seven rulers. In Qatar, a new system of an elected national parliament has been mooted and it is written into the new constitution, however elections are yet to be held.
In these political situations, a question is required to answer: ‘are the relations between Gulf and South Korea efficient for the development of the country or will they be used for corruption by some politicians?’ It is a very important question. South Korea has fought against these inefficiency and corruption. There used to be multitude of political strife between the parties and the people for many years to get rid of bad connection. Korean experience of political strife against the inefficiency and corruption would provide the Gulf with some example and case studies to build up the countries in the Gulf. In the issue of Gulf development, there are apparent contradictions of opinions and it is required to move beyond the agenda-setting and discourses framed in the dominant Anglo-American approach.
South Korea has poor natural resource endowment. It has tiny domestic market but excellent and well-educated labor. It did not follow the normal steps of development as Western countries experienced. It has created its own way of development tailored to Korean ecological and environmental situation. It is called ‘labor-intensive manufactured export strategy’. The manufacturing sector accounted for 14.3 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 1962, and it increased to 30.3 percent in 1987. Commodity trade volume was 480 million dollars in 1962, but it also increased to 127.9 billion dollars in 1990. GDP grew from 2.7 billion dollars in 1962 to 230 billion dollars in 1989 and a trillion dollars in 2007.
The most significant factor in rapid industrialisation was the adoption of an outward-looking strategy in the early 1960s. The growth of second industrial sector was the prime stimulus to Korean economic development. In 1986, manufacturing industries accounted for 30 percent of the gross domestic product moved from ‘home and traditionally man-made production’ to ‘plant production with the modern mass-production technologies’. It increased the production of commodities and sold them in foreign markets and turned the proceeds back into further industrial expansion. There are many possibilities between the Gulf and South Korea to share the experience, technology and the management for developing scenario. But they should be efficient for the development of the country, not to be used for corruption by some politicians.

3. Top-down process of Developing Scenario of the Gulf with Korean cooperation

Democratisation should be the essential area of Political Relations and Strategic Options in a Developing Scenario between The Gulf and South Korea. There could be two ways of democratisation in Arab countries. One is bottom-up road as we see in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya by the peoples’ demonstration all of sudden, the other one is top-down process by the current leadership in other Arab countries. One thinks even if a regime change is realised by the people’s demonstration, it will also take long time to get bona fide democracy. Because Democracy is not a simple political change but it is economic, social, cultural and peoples’ mind, life changes as it was observed in South Korea. South Korea in the last six decades has marched to become an ideal democratic, developed country in politics, economy, society and culture. South Korea changed politics from conservative party to ten years of liberal regime and now is watching another ten years of conservative regime again. In 1960, South Korea Gross National Product (GNP) was 79 dollars, lower than Latin America, and also lower than some of African countries and even to North Korea. As of 2012, sixty years later than that time, South Korean reached GNP 20,759 dollars and it was almost 300 times growth. Comparing to North Korea GNP 1,074 dollars at same time, there are 20 times difference. South Korea’s export has recorded 600 billion dollars last year, became 10th economic power in the world. In societal sphere, one of social activist was elected by Seoul citizen for the Mayor of capital city Seoul. If you say democracy in cultural respect, Korean culture including pop music, food, and tourism is getting more popular globally.
What made the huge development in Korean democracy and economy? Hongik Thought would be one of major factors. It is the founding principle of ancient Korea in BC 2,333 and is still shaping the ideology of Korea education constitution. It literally means ‘widely benefited’. When compared to Jeremy Bentham’s utilitarianism, ‘the greatest happiness of the greatest number’, Hongik Thought also includes educational, social, cultural and emotional happiness. Why the daughter of dictator has been elected for President of Korea last year? Her father, former President Park, ruled with an iron fist in 1960s and 1970s not for his own benefit but for Hongik; the happiness of the people.
The main reasons of the Arab revolutions might have risen from religious discrimination and curtailments of minorities’ rights. The apparent contradictions in the revolutions require the observer to move beyond existing frameworks established by the dominant Anglo-American scholarship in the region. Korean ways of development based on Hongik thought may have some relevance for the GCC countries in this regard. This may provide a good basis for the long-term relationship between the Gulf region and South Korea for developing scenario.
Hongik Thought, the idea of the utopia as it relates to nature, individuals, and society, is shown through the founding ethics of the Korean nation. It is found in an ancient story of gods which is the first record of nature and of civilization in Korea, the relationship between man and woman, and the appearance of a desirable community. The Thought shows the view of god, the descending of the god of heaven, the construction of the city of god, and the immortal god of the heaven. It is not humanism simply to benefit human beings, rather than the thought of unification between god and human being. Hongik Thought says that God opened the world of human being and made it a reality. That is to say, being enough to the world is a possibility, not a completion. It is not that God simply longed for the human world, but was the good will of God to realise the divinity in the human world that God wished to help the people. It means that God saw the possibility in humans to realise his good will. The meaning of Hongik Thought is firstly based on divinity (possibility) and secondly, aims to improve the quality of human life (condition), and thirdly, realises the divinity in human beings (completion). Finally, the individuals who realised the divinity in themselves is Hongik man and they are considered to be socially ideal.
The happy life of human beings cannot be formed by the relativity between humans since human beings cannot accept love and because they possess never-ending desires. Hongik Thought is based on the accurate recognition of the unlimitedness of human desires. The ideology and standard of governing are the purity and absoluteness of golden rules as the fairness of a pair of scales. Thus, the ideology of Hongik man was intended to be the absolute and ultimate world as a level of the divine world through the sanctification of human beings, as opposed to simply a human world devoid of any sort of divinity. Since ancient times, Koreans have given gratitude to the spirits and God, and have strived to create the city of God in which they would be blessed. Moreover, the thought of Hongik man was not just for a specific people, nation, or class, but it shows the universal harmony of the spirit of peace, the ideal that Koreans have pursued, and the will of God that Koreans believe in. The thought of Hongik man is the ultimate ideology that mankind has pursued and is full of suggestions to the modern people who are at a crisis of being placed under the adverse influence of the humanistic relativism.
This thought is very much advisable for the Gulf for the democratisation by the process of Top-down approach. The process would be leaded by current leadership based on Islam religion and the culture: ‘All the praise is Allah’s, to whom belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth. His is all the praise in the hereafter, and He is the All-Wise, the All-Aware’ There are significant common ground of cooperation between the Gulf and South Korea for strategic options of developing scenario in the respective of political thought.
In the process of development in South Korea there has occurred the gap between the urban areas and the rural areas. All the people have moved to metropolitan and the situation of rural area became worse and worse. In that situation, ‘Saemaul Movement’, which was later called ‘New village movement’, was started in the rural areas. New Village Movement was the political initiative launched on April 22, 1970 by South Korean president Park Chung Hee to modernise the rural economy of South Korean. The idea was based on the Korean traditional communalism called Hyang-yak (향약) and Doorae (두레), which provided the rules for self-governing and cooperation in traditional Korean communities. The movement initially sought to rectify the growing disparity of the standard of living between the nation’s urban areas, which were rapidly industrializing, and the small villages, which continued to be mired in poverty. I have witnessed the serious gab between the poor and the rich in Arab countries when I joined Gulf War in 1991. This movement could be very much advisable for Arab counties to accomplish the equity of the people. Diligence, self-help and collaboration were the slogans to encourage community members to participate in the development process. The early stage of the movement focused on improving the basic living conditions and environments whereas later projects concentrated on building rural infrastructure and increasing community income.
The movement promoted self-help and collaboration among the people, as the central government provided a fixed amount of raw materials to each participant villages for free of charge and entrusted the locals to build whatever they wished with them. The New Community Movement did much to improve infrastructure in rural areas of South Korea, bringing modernized facilities such as irrigation systems, bridges and roads in rural communities. The program also marked the widespread appearance of orange tiled houses throughout the countryside, replacing the traditional thatched or choga-jip houses. Encouraged by the success in the rural areas, the movement spread through factories and urban areas as well, and became a nation-wide modernisation movement. Hongik Thought was initiated by the Founding Father of Korea, Dangun, and The New Community Movement was started by President Park. So, both are the typical top-down way of development in South Korea. South Korea and Gulf may cooperate to set-up the top-down way of democratisation in this respect.

4. Bottom-up process of Developing Scenario of the Gulf with Korean cooperation

We have gotten some lessons from Arab Revolution. Firstly, structural contradiction has broken the status quo not by incremental evolvement but by even hair trigger. Secondly dynamic energy of that breaking status quo was diffused to same structural and contextual political entity. Thirdly new communication technology such as SNS linked to the Political consciousness and people’s demonstration are changing the Arab countries now. The typical problems of the Arab revolutions could be featured mainly in terms of the weakening of some secular principles and curtailments of women and minorities’ rights through the intervention of Islamist groups. These apparent contradictions of the revolutions demands a dialectical and historical approach to understand Arab scenario and to move beyond the problems of analytical categories often used in the dominant Anglo-American scholarships on the region. So it would be necessary to overcome, firstly, the problems of Anglo-American scholarships incompatibility of Islam and Democracy, secondly, Binary understanding of religion and secular, thirdly, Orientalism and historical ignorance and prejudice on Arab world, fourthly, Colonial, Imperial interest and Geopolitics.
Among the many Third World countries that belatedly embarked on modernisation, South Korea is a rare example of success. South Korean democracy began as late as 1945 when the nation was liberated from by Japanese colonial rule, but has nevertheless progressed remarkably. Today, democracy in South Korea operates more successfully than in any other Third World country. Despite of the great achievements, the historical conditions for South Korean democracy were not favorable at the beginning. Rather, the conditions were extremely difficult because of the existence of a ‘strong state’ which had been built in modern Korean history. There are states that maintain highly religious position in the countries of the Gulf. Korean experience would be very useful and helpful for them to democratise and modernise the state.
In South Korea, first of all, the strong state originated from an anti-communist state with strong coercive power, which was founded in post-colonial era on the basis of the strong colonial state. As the Cold War intensified immediately after national liberation, Koreans experienced the ideological, political conflicts between the left and right during the post-liberation period and the subsequent Korean War, and those experiences created a political environment in which a strong anti-communist state could easily take root in South Korea. Furthermore, the strong state was even more strengthened by the fact that the anti-communist state was succeeded by a developmental state under dictatorial regimes, which resorted to extreme coercion and governmental competence in order to promote the compressed economic development.
After the Korean War the authoritarian rule under dictatorial regimes could last over a long period of time in South Korea. However, their authoritarian rule caused protesters to join the democratisation movement. The more their rule was strengthened and extended, the more the democratisation movement spread. In addition, the profound social changes resulted from the successful compressed industrialisation further increased demand for democratisation. Consequently, confrontations continued between the dictatorial regimes’ authoritarian rule and the democratisation movement’s resistance, and those confrontations recurrently caused massive clashes between both parties. Exemplary cases include the 1960 Revolution, the Gwangju Uprising in 1980, and the June Democratic Uprising of 1987. In the end, the June Democratic Uprising put an end to authoritarian rule and paved the way for democratisation. In this respect, South Korean democracy can be called ‘democracy by movement’ at least with regard to the period preceding the transition to democracy in 1987.
After ten years from the democratic transition in 1987, Kim Dae Jung was elected President of South Korea in the 15th presidential election held in December 1997. The emergence of the Kim Dae Jung government was a very meaningful event because it was the first regime change through democratic process, and also because the regime change witnessed the peaceful transfer of power from the ruling to opposition party. In the 1987 presidential election held during the process of democratic transition, Roh Tae Woo, who had been nominated by the Chun Doo Hwan regime, could win because candidates from democratic opposition parties were divided. In this sense, the democratic transition of 1987 was only a formal one, and the substantial transition to democracy came after a decade with the victory of the democratic opposition party in the 1997 presidential election. During the following decade, the Kim Dae Jung government and its successor government led by President Roh Moo Hyun fulfilled a number of tasks of democratic reform. First of all, the Kim Dae Jung government actively promoted the ‘Sunshine Policy’ in the post-Cold War atmosphere. It improved inter-Korean relations, and also removed some detrimental aspects caused by anti-communism in South Korean society to a considerable extent. In addition, the Kim Dae Jung government achieved remarkable progress in human rights improvement, as exemplified in the foundation of the National Human Rights Commission. The Roh Moo Hyun government was also active in carrying out various tasks of democratic reform against corruption and authoritarianism.
Democracy in South Korea has rapidly developed in a short period of time, and in particular, democratisation movement forces have made the greatest contribution to the development of democracy by their devoted efforts. The great contribution was made not only by prominent leaders, but also by countless victims and ordinary people. Many ‘democratic patriots’ had to sacrifice their lives for the cause of democratisation, and numerous anonymous people shed blood, sweat and tears to join the democratisation movement in one way or another. In this respect, discussions on the development of South Korean democracy could be useful for Bottom-up process of Developing Scenario of the Gulf with Korean cooperation.

5. Military Buildup in the Gulf with Korean Cooperation

Lately South Korea has signed Agreement on Cooperation for Defense and Logistics with several Arab countries such as UAE, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and some other countries in secrecy. South Korea so far has exported military clothing, communication devices and transportation vehicles to Iraq, and small military appliances, bullets and shells, components of the package for small rifles and military simulators to UAE and Saudi Arabia. Arab countries need high-tech weapons which require high operational precision to get accustomed to the desert environments. At the first international exhibition of Defense and Logistics in Iraq, there were eighteen South Korean defense manufactures among total 33 international companies. It shows how South Korea is interest in exporting defense products to this area. South Korea has contracted with UAE about the co-development of UAV at IDEX 2013. South Korea was largely dependent on the United States to supply its armed forces, but after the participation Vietnam War in the 1970s, its military brought US weapon technologies and began to manufacture many of its indigenous weapons.

The rising threats from asymmetric and proxy warfare, nuclear weapons, internal security threats, and terrorism make it eager to build up the military in Middle East. Most countries have limited war fighting experience, but several have force elements that have considerable experiences in given missions. The Southern Gulf states have large military resources, and many countries are making massive arms purchases. At the same time, many elements of their forces have limited real-world effectiveness, and the Southern Gulf states have only made limited progress towards collective and integrated defense. They are, however, making a major effort to improve their effectiveness and interoperability, as well as their ability to work with the US, Britain, and France to deter and contain Iran. The growing divisions between Sunni and Shi’ite in the region could trigger the emergence of new non-state elements. The GCC States seek to build up their defence forces according to a common conception. They have unified operational procedures, training and military curricula. They also endeavor to accomplish compatibility of their military systems. Moreover the armed forces of the GCC States carry out joint military exercises with the Peninsula Shield Force, as well as joint air and sea maneuvers.
Most Southern Gulf states seem to have resolved many past border and territorial disputes. Some tensions still exist, however, because of Qatari, Omani, and the Emirati fears of Saudi “dominance.” Oman and Saudi Arabia are both concerned over the growing instability in over Yemen. The lingering tensions between Bahrain and Qatar have largely ended, but Bahrain is now caught up in a major internal security struggle, and tensions between its ruling Sunni elite and Shi’ite majority. Kuwait has its own internal tensions as well concerns over the development of oil and gas resources in areas near Iraq. In the wake of sectarian unrest in Bahrain, Saudi-led intervention in the country, and rising tensions with Iran, there also is increasing talk of deeper political integration amongst GCC member states, the end goal being a political union that resembles the European Union. First proposed in December 2011 by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, such a union is envisioned to include Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the UAE, and Oman. Only Bahrain’s leadership, however, has moved forward with the notion enthusiastically.
Peninsula Shield Force was materialized with Bahrain’s protest movement in March 2011. As protests escalated, Bahrain’s government invited security assistance from other neighboring Gulf Cooperation Council countries. The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry’s (BICI) report found that there was a general breakdown and deterioration in the state of safety, security, law and social order during the events in Bahrain in 2011 as elements of the protest movement crossed the threshold from peaceful protest to full blown riots. It also found that groups of vandals and gangs of individuals armed with knives, swords, and other weapons were reported in many of Bahrain’s cities and villages where specific groups were targeted and were seriously assaulted. Due to the country’s vulnerability at that point, the Peninsula Shield Force, part of the mutual agreement signed October 1982 among GCC Countries were activated to insure the integrity of Bahrain’s territorial borders. Their operations were limited to preparing to assist the Bahrain Defense Force (BDF) against any confrontation by any foreign armed intervention and in protecting and securing vital locations in the country. Peninsula Shield Forces did not participate in any operations involving confrontations with Bahraini civilians or engage in any form of riot control. Furthermore, The Commission did not find any evidence of human rights violations committed by these units deployed in Bahrain starting on 14 March 2011.
Procurement paths still differ significantly across the Southern Gulf. There is little standardisation or focus on interoperability in air forces and major land weapons. The UAE has focused on developing its fleet of fast naval interceptors to bolster coastal piracy deterrence and maritime anti-terrorism. In contrast, Saudi Arabian naval development has focused on developing a mix of large and medium surface assets with the intention of developing blue water capabilities. The potential threat from Iran is, however, pushing the Southern Gulf states to improve national forces, and to create far more integrated and interoperable forces within the GCC. Ministers are due to report on proposals for such improvements at the June 2012 Ministerial and provide more detail plans in December. The GCC states are beginning to create missile defense forces to deal with Iran’s growing missile forces, and naval and air forces to counter Iranian capabilities for irregular warfare in the Gulf and in the Gulf of Oman. They are also adjusting their forces to face the risk of a lasting power vacuum in Iraq. The Southern Gulf states are also making major arms purchases to modernise their forces. Saudi Arabia is upgrading its air force and the Saudi Arabian National Guard (SANG), and it is also improving its capability in special operations and counter-insurgency.
In South Korea, since the 1980s, policy of indigenous military weapons and homeland defense-oriented militarisation efforts has promoted much military equipment production and technology. In the 1990s it has boosted exportation and its international trade. Those are T-155 self- propelled artillery to Turkey; K11 air-burst rifle to United Arab Emirates; Bangabandhu class guided-missile frigate to Bangladesh; fleet tankers for the navies to Australia, New Zealand, and Venezuela; Makassar class amphibious assault ships for Indonesia; and KT-1 plane fighter trainer for Turkey and Indonesia. It is also core components of other countries’ advanced military hardware/modern aircraft such as F-15K fighters and AH-64 attack helicopters used by Singapore and Japan, whose airframes built by Korea Aerospace Industries in a joint-production deal with USA Boeing and Jointly produced the S-300 air defense system of Russia via Samsung Group, and facilitated the sales of Mistral class amphibious assault ships to Russia produced by Korea STX Corporation. So the Gulf and South Korea will be a good partner in weapon-systems acquisition and military operation because they want to develop its own military power without being intervened or dominated by external powers.

6. Conclusions

It is valid to say that the stability of the international system hinges on the balance of power among major powers and/or whether these states can build cooperative relations. International relations of the 21st century, however, are too complex to rely solely on major powers. Economic imbalances between advanced and developing nations, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), terrorism, cyber threats to security, and climate change – all these are issues that the concert of great powers alone cannot resolve. The world today hence calls on the so-called “middle powers” to play a more proactive role in filling in the lacunae of “great power politics.”
When we observed the Arab situations we need to move beyond what has previously been undertaken in this field of studies. Perspectives on security in the past have been focused mainly on what role Western powers can and will play in upholding the security of the Gulf. While that dimension remains important, there is a need to consider the security roles which the main Asian powers could seek to play over the coming decade. Looking over the overall scenario of relations that may develop over the medium- to long-term, this paper has suggested the directions of the cooperation between South Korea and GCC countries. I suggested three specific approaches for the political relations and strategic options in a developing scenario between Gulf and South Korea. One is political cooperation in the process of top-down way of developing; the other one is political cooperation in the process of bottom-up way of developing and the last one was the possibility of defense cooperation as a potential reciprocal opportunity for both. This paper has placed the emphasis on the prerequisite ethics of strategic options for attracting contributions from the Gulf perspectives and South Korean perspectives.
The growth in the role and strength of middle powers in the international system, as well as South Korea’s evolution to become a traditional middle power, presents an opportunity for change. The Korean peninsula has for a long time been the preserve of great power interest. For the first time in history, the Korean peninsula is not a lesser power occupying a strategic pivot, contested by major powers, but rather a middle power occupying a strategic pivot, contested by major powers. By definition, this changes the security dynamics of East Asia. Traditional middle powers are states that are capable of pursuing policies independent of major powers. They are powers which through their influence can focus resources on niche issues and gain support of, and even influence major powers.
It has recently been observed that there are structural contradictions in Arab countries which can trigger substantive change – i.e. change of a kind which is not incremental or stemming from gradual evolvement. Such change could disrupt political entities. Furthermore, new communication technology such as SNS has enhanced political consciousness among citizens, leading to public demonstrations. The root of the Arab revolutions is located in the weakening of secular principles and the strengthening of Islamist movements. The apparent contradictions inherent in the revolutions demand a dialectical and historical approach to understanding the Arab scenario. It is necessary to move beyond the existing viewpoints that have been projected by the dominant Anglo-American scholars. Comparatively Oriental countries have developed their own democracy and welfare of the people through the long history. South Korea has also had conflicts and impacts between the western way of development and Korean unique traditions. However, in the last six decades, South Korea has become a democratic and developed country in respect to the advancement of the political, cultural and economic environments.
Korea’s presidency of the G20 presented an opportunity to bring development issues to the table. With its vivid memories of development successes and failures, Korea pushed for a development agenda and multi-year action plan, including a pledge to duty-free, quota-free market access for low-income countries. The initiatives could make the G20 Summit a much more inclusive and relevant event for the entire world as it can bring more than 173 non-member countries into the G20’s boundary. In the bigger and freer frame of international order and its boosted self-esteem, South Korea is ready to actively make new stage of relations with Gulf region.


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