A View of the Future: US Relations with the Gulf

By Scott Morgan

Let’s be Clear! Right now the United States has an image problem in the Persian Gulf courtesy of the Obama Administration. The Gulf States, notably Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, have concerns about Iran and they fear a growing lack of commitment by Washington to their concerns.

Is there any evidence to back up the fears of Riyadh and Abu Dhabi? In the eyes of these States they feel that the Administration did not provide enough support to prevent the ouster of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak - who happened to be one of the most important allies of the US in the Region, the Fiasco resulting from the failure to enforce the Red Line regarding the Syrian Chemical Weapons Program; the Lackluster Support for the Syrian Rebels that are not Jihadists and, finally, the acceptance of a Greater Iranian Role in the Region.

Right now, despite the conflict in Yemen and the collapse of Oil Prices, the Saudis feel that they are capable of addressing any Conventional Threat from Iran. In fact, it is felt that the Saudi Intervention in the Yemen conflict - and even the previous intervention in Bahrain - appear to show an effort by Riyadh to conduct an assertive Interventionist Policy independent of the Objectives of the United States.

If the Saudis Feel this way then the next questions have to be what happens if Iran acquires Nuclear Weapons? And the Possibility that they won’t. Already they have made overtures to Russia to explore potential Cooperation in the case the US decides it is not in the National Interest to defend the Free Flow of Oil. At this time, Officials in Riyadh maintain that they have no better option than to rely on the US for their Security.

So should the US and Saudi Arabia hedge their bets by offering protection for the Kingdom under the Missile Defense Shield? We should, but if we change the question to "will we?" then the concept becomes murkey. If this happens, if Military Action against Tehran is required for violating the JCPOA or if they wait for the punishments to expire and then decide to move to get the Bomb, will there be a AUMF? This should be planned for.

There is a chance that Iran will reap the Economic Benefits and not need the Bomb. But if that is the case then why wasn’t the Ballistic Missile Program included in the talks? Developing this Technology has been a source of revenue for Iran for decades. There is a fear that Pakistan could provide the ability for Iran to break the agreement for Political Gain. If the actions of the ISI and dealing with the Taliban - in both Pakistan and Afghanistan - and supporting Islamist Groups in India are evidence about how Pakistan acts, then the question of when not if this occurs has to be considered.

There is another avenue that could be used. If Iran continues on its bellicose road of Policy then could the Saudis develop even closer ties with Israel? There has been quiet talks behind the scenes between the Mossad and Saudi Intelligence. How could this relationship continue to grow? Could an effort to support or defend the Kingdom change the Calculus in the Palestinian Situation or even in Lebanon? These will be some interesting questions for the strategists to chew on…

(Image: Map of Gulf States - SpLoT)

[The views expressed in this publication are solely those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Dissecting Society]


  1. Iran can reap the benefits and still get the bomb as a deterrent. I believe they already have one and so do the Saudis and the Israelis. Should be interesting to see how it will all play out from now on.

  2. Hey Morgan,

    "Could an effort to support or defend the Kingdom change the Calculus in the Palestinian Situation or even in Lebanon?"

    It has already changed it. Saudi Arabia's less aggressive rhetoric in Friday's Paris Peace Summit is testament to that, and the fact that the US watered down the diplomatic language resulting in a bland document with equally bland statement regarding the Palestinian issue shows how irrelevant the "cause" is becoming. The Palestinian leadership miscalculated the situation and did not foresee the geopolitical changes. So, yes: the Iranian framework is already yielding interesting fruits; nevertheless, it is important to contain the Persians.

    Great job.



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