The Shift to Soft Power Politics

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The Arab world has witnessed a shifting from hard power, which really means weaponry and armies, to soft power, which really means money and influence. The traditional armies, or the source of hard power, in the Arab world were in Syria, Egypt and Iraq but they are now consumed in internal strife. Harvard professor Joseph Nye coined the term “soft power” which illustrates power shifting from hard properties of the above mentioned countries to the soft properties of money and resources from countries in the Gulf. Properties that also prove to be helpful in influencing action or decision making. Long before the nation state, the cities of the Gulf received talent, skill and economic aid from the traditional Arab states that are now drowning in times of revolution, violence and turmoil. For centuries, in fact, the Kiswa, or the black drapes of the holy Kaaba in Mecca were supplied by Baghdad and Cairo or even Sanaa, as well as Istanbul. Those countries were locked in battles of soft power over the holy city back then. Where there was once money flooding in from the countries that are now in disarray, the Gulf, with its exorbitant wealth, seems to be the power broker of the Middle East these days. This simple shift to soft power politics has made all the difference, and now the Gulf, with all of its work towards making relationships, finds itself on the opposite side of an Iranian-US alliance that needs to deal with Sunni terrorists in Iraq. Read more about how this came to be at CNN News.




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