The West and the Iranian Nuclear File

The important role the Sultanate of Oman plays in the settlement of the Iranian nuclear file was illustrated by some of the Wikileaks that pointed to several secret meetings that were held in 2009 between the Americans and the Iranians on the coast of Muscat. This initial understanding between the United States and Iran is a cause for concern for the leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Iran and the Gulf differ over a myriad of issues, including 1) Iran's occupation, in 1971, of the three UAE islands, Greater and Lesser Tunbs which are close to the Strait of Hormuz, and Abu Musa which is rich in natural resources; 2) the situation in Iraq after the US occupation in 2003, where the Gulf backs the Sunni tribes and militias against the Iran-backed Shiites; 3) the balance of power in Lebanon, abuzz with political sectarianism; 4) the armed conflict in Yemen, where Iran supports the tribe of al-Huthi while Saudi Arabia hosts former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh and maintains the upper hand on the country's border and security situations; 5) the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, towards which Iran is leading an "Axis of Resistance", adopting resistance strategies, while the Gulf, along with Egypt, Jordan, and the other countries known as the "Axis of Moderation", adopts strategies of negotiations; 6) and, last but not least, the sharp disagreement over the Arab Spring, heightening, first and foremost, by the situation in Syria. It is worth noting that Qatar's agenda deviates in some of its positions on some of the aforementioned files from those of the Gulf states.

All of these are causes for the Gulf's apprehension of the negotiations between Iran and the United States, which aims at resolving the nuclear issue, after the Security Council's sanctions on Tehran failed to break the will of the Iranians and their national aspiration for nuclear capabilities.

Some commentators foresee a likely change, materializing in the near future, in the relationship between the US and the Gulf, according to which the US might go to the Iranians for resolution of the outstanding issues in Iraq, especially after the strengthening of the US shale oil in the world market. However, the US-Gulf relationships can not be reduced to the "oil for arms" equation, or so others will say.