GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

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Title of Paper:
The Regional Role of Iran and its Impact on the Arab Gulf Countries Security
Paper Proposal Text :
In the aftermath of signing the nuclear agreement between Iran and the western countries, the international community divided into two attitudes: The first, which is adopted by the western countries in general and by the US in particular, sees the agreement as a starting point for establishing regional stability, which means in turn, world stability. The second which is adopted by the GCCs and some Arab countries sees that the agreement enhances the negative role of Iran towards the issues of regional security in general, and towards the GCC in particular. The incidents, that took place after the agreement, proved that the second attitude was correct, especially with the tensions in Iran-Saudi relations, in early 2016. The tension means that Iran still represents a challenge to the GCCs, and that Iran has ambitions to become a dominant leader in the region.
This raises three questions: First, what is the regional environment for Iran-Gulf relations? Second, what is the impact of Iran’s new relation with the West on the regional Gulf security formula? Third, what are the options for the GCCs towards the regional politics of Iran?
This is what this paper tackles as follows:
First: the regional environment of Iran-Gulf relations:
It is not correct to analyze the Gulf-Iran relations from a dual perspective. It is, however should be analyzed through the regional and the world environments which provide the relations with Iran to develop in this direction, and impose restrictions. Regionally, the GCCs is circled with regional crises, in which Iran has a fundamental role, such as Yemen’s crisis, which led the GCC to militarily intervene in it, to avoid bleak security repercussions on the gulf countries’ national security, especially with the limited role of Egypt and other crucial countries. On the other hand, the regional crises, such as Syria, have led to the appearance of 2 axes (Damascus-Tehran-Russia) against (US-Turkey-NATO), This is a fact which Tehran considered as an opportunity for imposing its regional politics.
On the international level, the US politics that began to go backward from the region is one of the most prominent changes. Martin Indyk, the former envoy for Barak Obama in Middle East, has summarized this idea as saying: “US was in crossroads, either to formulate a regional order with Iran, or against it”. In addition to that Iran tried to make use of the current international dispute between the US and NATO on the one hand, and between US and Russia on the other hand, through employing balances that can enhance Iran’s regional role with the Syrian crisis which led to destroying the boundaries between the regional and the international security.
Second: the impact of Iran-West relations on the regional security:
The GCCs have relations with Iran, due to the geographic landscape and with the western countries due to interests. Hence, any development in the Iran-western relations, either positively or negatively will affect the GCCs in general, taking into consideration 2 things; first is the continuous issues of dispute between Iran and the GCCs in general, and the Saudi Arabia and Bahrain in particular; second, is the change in the US politics which has started with the gradual withdrawal from the region and only resorting to managing crises instead of solving them. Then, if Iran regained its relations with the west, in general, and with US, in particular, this will change the traditional equation in territories in general, some of which are of international importance, such as the Gulf territory which include 8 countries (GCCs, Iraq, and Iran). The interactions between these countries and the world powers are governed by 3 powers: intervention powers (all the foreign powers that has interests in the territory such as the US), and the adversary powers (Iraq in the past, and Iran, now), and the balancing power (the GCCs). It is noted that the coherent interaction between these 3 powers was the main component upon which the Gulf security was based, through decades, except during 3 crises, that are the Iraq-Iran war, Iraq invasion to Kuwait in 1990, and US invasion of Iraq in 2003. This means that after signing the nuclear deal, and with Iran starting to practice a bigger regional role, the GCCs might inevitably play the role of a double-faced power. This is what is tackled in details in the following section.
Third: The GCCs options towards the regional politics of Iran:
Taking into consideration the regional and international reality, the option of direct military confrontation between Iran and one of GCC countries or all of them, becomes farfetched. That is because Iran’s politics are based on the theory of deterrence with doubt and no- initiation of assault. On the other hand, any confrontation with the GCCs will recall a confrontation with the US which has announced, more than once, its commitment towards the Gulf security. Hence the GCCS has only 2 options:
The first option: A continuous Iran-Gulf dispute:
Each party will seek to practice its, military, economic, or political, pressures on the other party. However this current dispute and its future, is still pertained to the regional and international environments, along with the opportunities provided and challenges imposed for both parties, by these environments, especially with the current tension in the regional neighborhood of the GCCs (Yemen, Syria, and Iraq) on the one hand, and with the politics of the US during the last year and its aim to keep the status quo as it is, on the other hand.
The second option: A Gulf-Iran dialogue:
The content of this option is included in the answer to an important question; that is, are the GCCs able to go against the theory of “the balance of powers” which govern the regional interactions in general, and deal with what it considers a “challenge”, that is Iran. In fact, if we agree that the GCCs will accept the dialogue, then it is necessary to determine main issues, so that the dialogue can be productive. These issues are the basics of the dialogue, the parties to be included, its timespan, its targets, and the degree of Iran’s commitment to the results of the dialogue. If the GCCs and Iran agreed on establishing a dialogue to tackle and reconcile on the issues of dispute, then the question raised would be: “what is the mechanism that will force Iran to implement the understandings, and what are the GCCs option if Iran does not abide by its commitments according to the dialogue results? This is what the next section tackles in details.