The Impact of Sectarian Conflict in Syria on Iran-Gulf Relations

  •  Saleem A. Salih Al-Dulaimi    
  •  Mohammad Kamal    
  •  Dalal Mahmoud Elsayed    


Iran-Gulf relations are a confusing maze of complexities and contradictions. Iran’s voracious aspirations have been manifest in more than one act and place. The 1979 Revolution created a pervasive atmosphere of anxiety and fear in the Gulf region of that revolution’s ideological expansion into the Gulf states, especially those countries in which Shiites form important parts of their societies. In the Iran-Iraq war 1980, on the other hand, the Arab Gulf states supported Iraq against Iran as it was a proxy war to protect the Arab Gulf states, and Saddam Hussein, nevertheless, ended up occupying Kuwait in 1990. And then the Iranian-Gulf relations took a new turn at the time of both presidents Hashemi Rafsanjani and Mohammad Khatami, who adopted an open approach to the Gulf countries. However, those relations worsened when Ahmadinejad came to power as he started to export the revolutionary thought to the Gulf countries and extended the Iranian influence to Iraq after 2003, to Syria in the aftermath of the revolution that erupted in Syria in 2011 and to the Gulf Cooperation Council states, especially in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain. All this comes at the expense of the Gulf states, particularly Saudi Arabia, which is keen to maintain its influential role in the face of Iranian encroachment in Syria, through the support of the Syrian revolution, which seeks to overthrow Iran's ally in Damascus, Bashar al-Assad. Therefore, this study is trying to find an answer to this question: how has sectarian conflict in Syria impacted the Iranian-Gulf relations?

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