Expert Looks Into Persian Gulf Dynamics

Expert Looks Into Persian Gulf Dynamics Expert Looks Into Persian Gulf Dynamics

Attempts by some Persian Gulf Arab states over the past few decades to undermine Iran have failed as it has emerged as one of the most influential regional players, a former diplomat said.

Hossein Mousavian said after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Iran presented itself as a new power with an Islamic political system, which prompted the wary Arab states to found the (Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council, comprised of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman and Qatar.

The international relations expert said their often covert and at times overt attempts to halt the spread of Iran's influence in the region from providing backing to former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq 1980-1988 war to supporting the "harsh" sanctions against Tehran over its nuclear program have proved ineffective.

"Nevertheless, this approach of seeking to pressure and isolate Iran has had the opposite of its intended effect. After 36 years, Iran is now one of the most powerful and stable countries in the Middle East, with vast regional influence and credibility," Mousavian wrote in an article published by Al-Monitor on Friday.

"The [P]GCC emphatically supported former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein's 1980 invasion of Iran, providing him with billions of dollars and supporting an oil war against Iran, even as his army rained chemical weapons on Iranian as well as Iraqi civilians."

Members of the [P]GCC adopted so hawkish a stance toward Iran that they even tried to push the West to take military action against the Islamic Republic under the pretext of the nuclear issue, the former nuclear negotiator said. Mousavian said the bloc's failure to curtail Iran's power has led the group to adopt "more erratic, risky policies", which could ultimately result in the breakdown of the alliance.

"Nowhere is this more evident than in Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition of mostly Arab states has found itself entangled in an open-ended conflict. If the [P]GCC continues on its current trajectory — lacking in reform and involving aggressive intervention in the region — the durability of the council itself will arguably be threatened. The union could collapse altogether."

Despite backing from the West and their struggle to confront Iran's regional influence, [P]GCC member states have suffered instability, he added. "The United States' main Arab allies have proven to be unsustainable and vulnerable. This innate fragility was evident in [P]GCC states during the Arab Spring, which saw a popular uprising in Bahrain violently suppressed by Saudi Arabia and unrest in other [P]GCC countries."

  Steps to Ease Tension

Efforts to address current tense relations and promote "constructive engagement" could involve Iranian steps to ease Persian Gulf Arab governments' security concerns, Mousavian suggested.

"In open and friendly meetings, the [P]GCC and Iran as well as Iraq should explicitly put all their concerns about one another out into the open and work to resolve their differences through the establishment of a regional system" for cooperation.

"Such an arrangement would be a long-term solution … (that) would also fill the vacuum created by the United States' exit from the region."