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Conflict and Cooperation in the Persian Gulf: The Interregional Order and US Policy

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For decades, the regional order in the Gulf was shaped by a triangle formed by Iran, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia. If one of them gained too much weight, the other two tried to compensate. Yet the 2003 Iraq War has created an entirely new situation since the indefinite US presence has virtually transformed the triangle into a square. Yet in reality this impression is misleading because Iraq's role has actually been usurped by the United States. This has resulted in a new, artificial triangle comprised of the US, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. Strangely enough, within this new triangle, external, or at least non-Arab powers, i.e. the US and Iran, are the most powerful actors, even hinting at the emergence of a bilateral system. Nevertheless, history, tradition, and geography would suppose a renaissance of the traditional triangle. Washington would probably not object to an Iraq acting as its strategic partner in the region as imperial Iran did in the 1970s.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2007

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