Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 01/2010

Iran, the United States, and the Gulf: The Elusive Regional Policy

Marina Ottaway

November 2009

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace


Any effective U.S. diplomatic approach to Iran must involve other countries in the Gulf, but Washington will not succeed if it continues to strive for an anti-Iranian alliance. While an overall security arrangement including all Gulf countries is not possible at this stage, a normalization of relations between Iran and its neighbors is an important and attainable step for reintegrating Iran into the international community, Marina Ottaway concludes in a new paper. Gulf countries can help engage Iran in negotiations, but messy and often significant divisions between them complicate efforts to normalize relations. Ottaway analyzes Iran’s relationship with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries—Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman—as well as Jordan, Israel, Egypt, and Iraq.