Iran's new friendship with Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states and Egypt
There seems to be growing friendship between Shia Iran and its Sunni-dominated neighbours.
Traditionally, the Gulf states are seen as being on the side of the USA.
Martin Walker reminds us that "There are... long-standing border disputes over islands (and this means over oil and gas rights) in the Gulf. And Iran's revolutionary regime has long scorned the pro-Western sheiks as pampered heirs of outdated feudalism, their regimes ripe for revolution." Iran's new Gulf friends
But, things seem to be changing.
1. The dollar is falling and this worries the Arabs.
2. The USA has created havoc in Iraq and this worries the Arabs.
3. Palestine continues to suffer.
4. There are even those who fear that the eventual aim of the USA and Israel is to break up Saudi Arabia and other Moslem states.
During 2007, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states and Egypt seem to have decided to become much more friendly with Iran.
1. In early 2007, "the parliament of Bahrain, an island state that hosts America's Fifth Fleet, passed a non-binding motion banning the use of its territory for any attack on Iran." - Friendlier hands across the Gulf
2. "Gulf states are willing to set up a body to provide enriched uranium to Iran, Saudi Arabia's foreign minister is reported to have said." - BBC NEWS World Middle East Gulf states 'offer Iran uranium'
3. "Bahrain itself recently signed a deal to import Iranian natural gas." - Friendlier hands across the Gulf
4. "Dubai has become a vital lifeline for its vast neighbour (Iran). As many as 400,000 Iranian expatriates now live in the UAE, with nearly 9,000 part-Iranian-owned firms registered with the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Iran is the main destination for exports from Dubai." - Friendlier hands across the Gulf
5. "Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has told Gulf Arab leaders that Iran wants economic and security pacts with the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC). Mr Ahmadinejad was speaking in Qatar, where he is attending a GCC summit - the first Iranian president to do so." - BBC NEWS World Middle East Iran proposes Gulf security pact
6. "Egypt... has sent a high-level delegation to Tehran for the first time since that country's Islamic revolution in 1979." - Egypt and Saudi Arabia make new overtures to Iran
7. "Saudi Arabia ... invited Mr. Ahmedinejad to participate in the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, a first for an Iranian leader since the 1979 revolution." - Egypt and Saudi Arabia make new overtures to Iran
Some people believe that elements of the US government approve of closer ties between the Arabs and Iran.
According to Emad Gad, an expert on regional politics at the Al Ahram Center, a government-linked think tank in Cairo: "Qatar could not have invited Ahmedinejad to the GCC without an understanding with the Americans. I don't think Egypt would be sending a diplomat without some sort of green light either. All of this is part of a strategy, and I think it's an American strategy as well, to keep the freeze on the nuclear program while creating a friendlier climate." - Egypt and Saudi Arabia make new overtures to Iran
This is possible.
But, it is also possible that, secretly, many Arab leaders have given up on the Americans.