U.S. and Gulf States Must Coordinate Iran Policies

U.S. and Gulf States Must Coordinate Iran Policies

The Arab Gulf States and the United States are adopting increasingly contradictory positions on Iran. Each side seems bent on undermining the other, potentially leading to precisely the outcome that each side is trying to prevent. Here's how.

There is a strong tendency in the Gulf Arab states to try to co-opt adversaries. The most famous example may be King Abdul Aziz ibn Saud's propensity for marrying the daughters of rival tribes of the Arabian Peninsula in the early 20th century, but there are many others. The United Arab Emirates exists as a country in part because the richest emirate, Abu Dhabi, both subsidizes the other emirates and exercises a light hand over federal rule. The Saudi government responded to radicals' 1979 takeover of the Grand Mosque in Mecca in part by pouring money into the religious establishment, not only despite of, but indeed because of seemingly lukewarm support among leading clerics for the Saudi royal family. Just last spring, when Qatar brokered a Lebanese peace deal, rumors flew that the Qataris had paid off the adversaries. A well-placed Lebanese source told me that wasn't true at all; instead, the Qataris had created a $5 billion investment fund and offered to let Lebanese leaders become partners -- provided that the leaders resolved their differences under Qatari tutelage.

Money is not the Gulf states' only tool, but it is a powerful one. Vital to its effectiveness is the idea that wealth be used not for a one-time payoff but as the beginning of an annuity. A one-time payment is merely a bribe, but creating a longer-term partnership is an investment in future good behavior -- not just for years, but for decades.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.