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Beyad, Mohammed Mehdi (2022) Visions of the Gulf: The Discourse of Arab-Iranian Rivalry and the Geopolitical Imaginations of Ba’thist Iraq and Pahlavi Iran. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This thesis aims to explore the ways in which the Iranian and Iraqi states articulated and represented Gulf regional politics from the late 1960s to the mid-1970s. In recognising the limited amount of work looking at the role of discourses and ideas in the international relations of the Persian Gulf, this study hopes to add to our understanding of the geopolitics of the region at a moment of great transformation. The late-1960s-to-mid-1970s period saw Gulf politics become localised due to a number of major shifts which empowered local states with greater regional roles and responsibilities. With the departure of the British, the decision of the US not to directly replace them and the decline of the Egypt-Syria axis in the aftermath of the 1967 War, the hub of West Asian power moved to the Gulf. Amidst this opening, Iran and Iraq, as two key states with strong claims to regional leadership, represented the Gulf’s geopolitics with reference to notions of Arab-Iranian difference and rivalry. In conceptualising geopolitics as a discursive practice and not merely a material geographical matter, this thesis shows that the discursive and ideational regimes constructed by Ba’thist Iraq and Pahlavi Iran at this time were mutually-anathematising and mutually-marginalising, hierarchising, othering and inferiorising along “Arab-Iranian” lines. The thesis makes use of discourse analysis, read alongside the geopolitical and foreign policy practices of the two states at the time, with reference to primary material in the form of interviews, speeches, private conversations, and diplomatic correspondence. The thesis shows that bound up with the geopolitical imaginaries of the two states were notions of belonging, legitimacy, security, ownership and leadership, strongly tied up with domestic politics and considerations. Indeed, this is one instance where the domestic/international divide becomes markedly blurred, and geopolitics and nation- and state-making intimately related.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses
Supervisors Name: Arshin Adib-Moghaddam
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 28 Jan 2022 13:33

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