America’s victory over Iraq did much more than reconfirm its global military supremacy. That victory has decisively transformed the Persian Gulf’s security dynamics and Washington’s relationship with its allies there.
The United States has greatly downgraded its overall presence in Saudi Arabia and moved virtually its entire regional military presence to the Emirates and Gulf monarchies: Qatar, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Oman, and Kuwait. They have become and will presumably remain the central focus and partners of the U.S.’ military presence in the Gulf.
By demonstrating its enormous military and power projection capabilities and its readiness to attack proliferators unilaterally Washington has gone beyond confirming its role as guardian of Gulf security to redrawing the map of Gulf security. America now provides an umbrella under which regional governments can begin to address issues that have hitherto challenged them, e.g. border disputes between them and visible experiments in limited democratization and a regularization of impending and potentially threatening succession issues in many of the Gulf kingdoms.
In that context, there is evidently rising interest among Gulf states and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in participating in defense programs with the U.S. The GCC wants to be part of the global ballistic missile defense system led by the United States, placing them under America’s missile defense umbrella. They are looking to acquire the new Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missile (PAC-3).
The U.S. victory over Saddam Hussein has essentially eliminated any threat of external conquest by a local power aspiring to hegemonic status in the Gulf. Iran is now the only power that might have an indigenous capability and interest to threaten the stability of the Gulf states within the foreseeable future. Tehran clearly understands what U.S. military power could and would do if it attempted any aggressive moves in the Gulf, even if it were possible for it to go through Iraq. Thus the Gulf states should enjoy a period of substantial security from external military threats for the foreseeable future.
This nation’s ability to project and sustain military power in the Middle East, extend its reach to hitherto inaccessible areas like Central Asia and the Caucasus and ensure the free flow of oil from the Persian Gulf requires staunch allies such as the GCC states. For their part, the GCC needs the security and political support Washington and the West can provide these moderate nations. The GCC and the United States are destined to be allies for the foreseeable future.
Find Archived Articles: