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Iran’s Interregional Dynamics in the Near East

Edited By Banafsheh Keynoush

Few regions in the world are as torn by conflicts as the Near East, in which Iran plays a central role. Opportunities to engage with Iran are abundant, but they are squandered when regional states address immediate conflicts in which Iran is only one part, despite its prominent role. Iran’s Interregional Dynamics in the Near East provides a comprehensive guide to broaden our understanding about Iran and its regional neighbors. By analyzing how Iran’s neighbors view their ties with the country, this volume reveals why Iran is less successful in expanding its regional influence than what is commonly assumed. This is the first book of its kind to be written exclusively by authors from and working in the Near East region who came together at a roundtable funded by and convened at Princeton University. As the moderator of the roundtable, the editor of this volume invited the authors to contribute chapters to this timely book. The book explores a wide range of topics to describe the complex relations between Iran and other states in the Near East including Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iraq, Syria, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Jordan, Lebanon, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Oman. The volume is designed to inform politicians, world leaders, scholars, senior policy makers, and graduate students, and it provides an accessible guide to undergraduate students, junior scholars, and the general public.

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4. Kuwaiti Views of Iran (Hamad H. Albloshi)

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Hamad H. Albloshi

When Kuwait gained independence in June 1961, Iran was one of the first countries to establish diplomatic relations with it. This budding relationship enabled Kuwait, a small state, to build contacts with the most powerful country in the Gulf region, and better manage the tensions with Iraq over its efforts to annex Kuwait. Since this period, Kuwait’s views of Iran have shifted over time, reflecting the multiple phases of a complex relationship, including Iran’s Islamic revolution in 1979, Kuwait’s invasion and occupation by Iraq in 1990–1991, and Gulf developments since the declaration of a global war on terrorism by the United States in 2001.

Broadly speaking, Kuwaitis have viewed Iran with skepticism and negativity. More specifically, domestic events in the face of shifts in the Gulf regional sub-system since 9/11 have triggered debates in Kuwait on how to formulate an understanding about Iran and its role in regional events. Kuwaiti views on Iran reveal an expectation that Tehran should build peaceful relations with its neighbors, despite Iran’s strong sense of national pride and regional ambitions that lead to an over-assertive foreign policy.

Prior to the Iranian revolution, Kuwait was willing to accept Iran’s regional standing as a powerful state to the extent that the country protected the regional status quo, which rested on a close partnership between the Gulf monarchies and the West. But the revolution’s anti-status quo agenda that overthrew the Pahlavi dynasty triggered Kuwait to embrace calls for...

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