Gulf states no longer want to isolate Iran.
'Everywhere you turn, it is the policy of Iran to foment instability and chaos," Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned Gulf dignitaries in Bahrain last month. But in reality, everywhere you turn, from Qatar to Saudi Arabia to Egypt, you now see Iranian leaders shattering longstanding taboos by meeting cordially with their Arab counterparts.
The Gulf has moved away from American arguments for isolating Iran. American policymakers need to do the same.
The states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) are accommodating themselves to Iran's growing weight in the region's politics. They remain key parts of America's security architecture in the region, hosting massive US military bases and underwriting the American economy in exchange for protection. But as Saudi analyst Khalid al-Dakheel argues, they are no longer content sitting passively beneath the US security umbrella and want to avoid being a pawn in the US-Iranian struggle for power. Flush with cash, they are not interested in a war that would mess up business.
That's why America's attempt to shore up containment against Iran increasingly seems to be yesterday's battle. On Dec. 3, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad addressed the GCC in Doha, Qatar. It was the first time an Iranian leader had addressed the alliance, which was formed in 1981 against the Iranian challenge.