Iran nuclear deal: Why Arab Gulf states are offering a sweetener

Six years after denouncing the Iran nuclear deal, Arab Gulf states are encouraging their regional competitor to return to the agreement and are embarking on a separate diplomatic push to generate Tehran to abandon both its nuclear pursuit and its interference in Arab states. Indeed, the Gulf states believe they have the most to offer Iran to entice it to compromise.

Behind their shift in thinking are the perceived failure of the U.S. policy of “maximum pressure” on Iran, a consuming war in Yemen, and concerns that current instability not only threatens the Gulf states’ national security, but is bad for business.

Why We Wrote This

For many reasons, Arab Gulf states have dramatically shifted their thinking about Iran. Suddenly they may have the most to offer Tehran to help bring about compromise on a nuclear deal.

The Gulf states’ consensus list of demands from Iran include the de-escalation of Sunni-Shiite sectarianism, ending Iran’s supply of ballistic missiles to its militia proxies, and halting its pursuit of weapons-grade uranium.

In return, Gulf states are offering an assortment of relief measures and trade and investment opportunities that could rule to the speedy arrival of tens of billions of dollars into economically devastated Iran, with potentially hundreds of billions more long term.

“What Arab Gulf states want and what they can offer is well known,” says Emirati political analyst Abdulkhaleq Abdulla. “At the end of the day, the important question is: What does Iran want from us?”

AMMAN, Jordan

As talks inch forward in Vienna between the West and Iran over reviving the accords constricting Iran’s nuclear program, a breakthrough may come from an doubtful place: Arab Gulf states.

Six years after denouncing the nuclear deal negotiated during the Obama administration for failing to address Iran’s activities in the vicinity, the states are encouraging Tehran to return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

To do so the states, some of whom like Saudi Arabia have waged proxy wars with Iran, are embarking on a separate diplomatic push to generate Tehran to abandon both its nuclear pursuit and what they see as its interference in Arab states.

Why We Wrote This

For many reasons, Arab Gulf states have dramatically shifted their thinking about Iran. Suddenly they may have the most to offer Tehran to help bring about compromise on a nuclear deal.

In their push for regional dialogue and cooperation, Arab Gulf states believe they have the most to offer Iran to entice the hard-line government to compromise at the negotiating table.

Behind the Gulf Arabs’ shift are several considerations: the perceived failure of the Trump administration’s yearslong “maximum pressure” policy toward Iran, with which the Gulf states were aligned; a consuming war in Yemen; and concerns that current insecurity and the risk of conflict not only threaten the Gulf states’ national security, but are bad for business.

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