The Gulf and the Arabian Peninsula

  • Jan 7, 2013

    The US faces major challenges in dealing with Iran, the threat of terrorism, and the tide of political instability in the Middle East.  Following visits to the Gulf and discussions with top US, Gulf, and European officials by Burke Chair Anthony Cordesman, the Burke Chair at CSIS in Strategy is issuing an updated edition of its study on Iran’s military threat in the Gulf, titled “The Gulf and the Arabian Peninsula.” This new edition builds on previous Burke Chair reports, including:

    The Gulf and the Arabian Peninsula” examines in detail the Iranian military threat in the Gulf, as well as US-Gulf security cooperation with the Southern Gulf States. The report is written by Anthony H. Cordesman and Robert M. Shelala II, and is available on the CSIS web site at

    It examines the growing US security partnership with Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE – established as the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). It analyzes the steady growth in this partnership that has led to over $64 billion in new US arms transfer agreements during 2008-2011.

    It also examines the strengths and weaknesses of the security cooperation between the Southern Gulf states, and their relative level of political, social, and economic stability. The study focuses on the need for enhanced unity and security cooperation between the individual Gulf states. It finds that such progress is critical if they are to provide effective deterrence and defense against Iran. Improve their counterterrorism capabilities, and enhance other aspects of their internal security.

    The study includes numerous charts and tables, and has the following contents:



    Enhanced US Partnership with the Southern Gulf States    4

    The Strengths and Weaknesses of Gulf Partners    9

    Southern Gulf Alignments with the US    10

    The Impact of the Divisions Between the Arabian Gulf States    13

    The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and Moves Towards Federation and Unity    14

    Movements Towards Enhanced Cooperation    15

    GCC Relations with the US    16

    GCC Relations with Iran    17

    Movements Towards Greater Unity and “Federation”    20



    Demographic Trends    23

    Sectarian, Ethnic, Tribal and Regional Divisions    30

    Resource Trends    33

    Economic Trends    38

    The Need for Country-by-Country Case Studies    42

    SAUDI ARABIA    43

    Saudi-Iranian Competition    47

    Tensions Over Saudi Shia    48

    Tensions Over Energy Resources    51

    Tensions Over the Hajj    51

    Tensions Over Bahrain    52

    Tensions Over Terrorism and Covert Operations    53

    Tensions Over Iraq    55

    Tensions Over the Iranian Nuclear Program    57

    Tensions Over Middle East Competition    57

    Saudi Arabia’s Security Relations with the US    59

    Policy Implications for the US    62

    KUWAIT    66

    Kuwait’s Relations with Iran    69

    Kuwait’s Relations with the US    72

    Political Divisions Within Kuwait    78

    Policy Implications    80

    BAHRAIN    81

    Bahrain’s Sunni-Shia Crisis    84

    Bahrain’s Relations with Iran    88

    Bahrain’s Relations with the US    89

    Implications for US Policy    92

    OMAN    96

    Oman’s Relations with Iran    99

    Oman’s Relations with the US    100

    Policy Implications for the US    102

    QATAR    104

    Qatar’s Relations with Iran    107

    Qatar’s Relations with the US    110

    Implications for US Policy    111

    UAE    114

    UAE’s Relations with Iran    117

    UAE’s Relations with the US    122

    Implications for US Policy    124

    YEMEN    126

    Yemen’s Relations with Iran    129

    Yemen’s Relations with the US    131

    Implications for US Policy    135


    Planning and Interoperability    139

    Create a GCC Force Planning Exercise    139

    Create a Standardization and Interoperability Committee and Staff    140

    Create a Technology and Procurement Committee and Staff    140

    Create a Working Group on Arms Control    140

    Command, Control, Communications, Computer, Intelligence (C4I), Sensor, and Battle Management (BM) Systems    140

    Create a fully integrated air and surface-to-air missile control and warning system    141

    Create a fully integrated maritime surveillance system    141

    Create a Joint Intelligence Center    142

    GCC Net Assessment Group    142

    Building Common Training and Exercise Capacity    142

    Survey training facilities to determine how to make best use on a GCC-wide basis    142

    Focus on key contingencies    143

    Preparing for Missile and WMD Threats    143

    Areas For Improved Planning and Dialogue    143

    Plan a Joint, Integrated Missile Defense System    143

    Focusing on Other Key Mission Areas    144

    Iraq, the Iraqi Border, and the Kuwaiti “Hinge”    144

    Yemen Border Security and Threats    144

    Mine and Anti-Submarine (ASW) Warfare    145

    Strait/Gulf of Oman/Indian Ocean/Red Sea/Horn of Africa    145

    Improving Internal Security Efforts    145

    GCC Identity Cards, Passport Data    145

    A GCC-wide Intelligence Effort for Counterterrorism and Dealing with Popular Unrest    146

    GCC Internal Security Center    146

    Common Counterterrorism Training    146

    Common Police and Crowd Control Standards and Training    146

    GCC-wide Rapid Reaction Forces for Counterterrorism and Dealing with Violent Unrest    147

    Encouraging Stability Through Economic, Educational, and Social Measures    147

    Education    148

    GCC Domestic and Foreign Labor Policies    148

    Setting Common Social and Economic Standards/Goals    148

    Building Dignity, Trust, and Faith in Government Integrity    149


    GCC Development Report    150

    GCC Survey    150

    GCC Jobs Creation Program    150

    GCC Housing Program    150

    Improving Energy and Infrastructure Security: Passive Defense    150

    Creating More Effective Cooperation with Power Projection Forces Outside the GCC    151


    Scenario I – Conflict Over the Iran Nuclear Program    153

    Scenario II – Continued Tension Short of Conflict    153

    Other recent studies in this series include:

    U.S. and Iranian Strategic Competition: The Sanctions game: Energy, Arms Control, and Regime Change - Examines the impact of sanctions on the Iranian regime, Iran’s energy sector, and the prospects for regime change in Tehran.

    Iraq After US Withdrawal: US Policy and the Iraqi Search for Security and Stability - Examines the role Iran has played in Iraq since 2003, and how the US has tried to counter it.

    U.S.-Iranian Competition in the Levant: Parts I & II – Examine the changing military balance in the region;  US and Iranian interests in Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, the Palestinian territories, Egypt and Syria; and the internal stability of each state in a time of political upheaval.

    The United States and Iran: Competition involving Turkey and the South Caucasus - Analyzes the US and Iranian competition over influence in Armenia, Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia.

    Competition in Afghanistan, Central Asia, and Pakistan
    - Examines the important role Iran plays in the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan, and how the US and Iranian rivalry affects Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Central Asia.

    U.S. and Iranian Strategic Competition: The Impact of China and Russia
    - Examines the complex and evolving relationships between China, Russia, Iran and the US.

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Anthony H. Cordesman