Migration as Diplomacy: Labor Migrants, Refugees, and Arab Regional Politics in the Oil-Rich Countries
International Labor and Working Class History
GB : Cambridge University Press
103 - 121 p.
labor migration, Middle East
This article explores the political dynamics of labor migration in the Middle East. It seeks to explain the politics of Arab population movements by looking at historical trends in regional integration and contends that migration to the oil-rich countries, including refugee flows, has been the key factor driving Arab integration in the absence of effective institutions and economic integration processes. To account for the influence of this largely forgotten factor, the article looks at the formal and informal institutions that have shaped massive labor flows from the 1970s onward. It offers historical evidence pointing to the role of migration in Arab regional integration by looking at free circulation of Eritrean refugees and migrants in the Arab region using oral history and administrative archives. Linking labor migration, refugee movements, and regional politics, the article introduces the concept of “migration diplomacy” as an analytical framework and argues that the politics of regional integration can be better understood when looked at through the lens of migration.