KIRICHENKO V.P. The Shia Factor in Relations Between the Arab Countries of the Persian Gulf and Iran


Vladimir P. Kirichenko

Candidate for a Degree, Institute of Oriental Studies,

Russian Academy of Sciences

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Rozhdestvenka St., 12, 107031 Moscow, Russian Federation, 

Abstract. The author studies the influence of the “Shia factor” on the relations between Iran and the Gulf Arab countries. In most countries of the Persian Gulf, there are Shia communities that constitute a significant part of the population. After the Islamic revolution of 1979 relations between Iran and most Arab countries have become particularly tense. In the 1980s, the Gulf monarchies also became wary of exporting the Islamic revolution in their countries. This was due to the fact that, being inspired by the success of the co-religionists in Iran, the Arab Shiites became more involved in politics. It should be noted that the way the Arab Gulf countries treat the Shiites in the region is influenced by the fact that Iran and the Arab Gulf countries compete for political and economic predominance in the region. Often the Shia Muslims are discriminated by the authorities of the Arab countries, and are regarded as the so-called “fifth column” of Iran. In the author’s opinion, the policy of oppression of the Shia Muslims in the Persian Gulf monarchies not only worsens the political situation in these countries, but also complicates relations with neighboring Iran. This policy is not constructive. Moreover, the mythical “Iranian threat” does not go to any comparison with the threat posed by the Islamic State. According to the author, although after the execution of the Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr in Saudi Arabia at the beginning of 2016 Iran’s relations with Arab countries became even more strained, the further escalation of the conflict is not in the interests of Iran. Especially now, at the initial stage of removing sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program, the military operations against the Shiites in the Arab countries may slow down the process. As for Saudi Arabia, in the event of the outbreak of hostilities Riyadh may seriously damage relations with the United States. This is because Washington sees no benefits in involving Saudi Arabia, its biggest ally in the region, into another armed conflict in the region.

Key words: Shia communities, Persian Gulf, Arab countries, Iran, international relations.

Лицензия Creative Commons 

The Shia Factor in Relations Between the Arab Countries of the Persian Gulf and Iran by Kirichenko V.P. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. 

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