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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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5. Iran’s Relations with Bahrain, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates (Nursin Ateşoğlu Güney, Banafsheh Keynoush, and Visne Korkmaz)


Nursin Ateşoğlu Güney, Banafsheh Keynoush, and Visne Korkmaz

Iran’s relations with the three smaller Gulf Arab states of Bahrain, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are characterized by varying levels of accommodation and confrontation. The resulting lack of significant progress in these ties has granted few opportunities for constructive diplomatic engagements with Tehran. Iran’s Gulf territorial disputes, sectarian challenge, and nuclear and missile programs have led the three Gulf Arab states to view it as a threat. They see Iran as a country that challenges the regional status quo, which rests in part on Gulf-US security ties. This outlook has encouraged Bahrain, Oman, and the UAE to side with their other fellow Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar, at times reluctantly, to contain Iran.

In international relations theory, the interests of small states in comparison to middle powers like Iran are seldom considered. It is a given that small states retain modest capacity to affect system-wide events on a global level or their impact on the regional sub-system. But recent literature in the field challenges this outlook.1 Small states are quick to adjust to their inherent vulnerabilities that shape threat perceptions and behavioral patterns in their foreign policy conduct. In the process, they build competitive advantage in international relations and in their regional ties by acquiring material gains and adopting identity-driven policies to advance interests.2

In the Gulf region, small states have built relative...

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