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Institute of Middle East: Gulf nations are actively arming themselves

For many years already, the situation in the Persian Gulf region has been unstable due to both internal contradictions and external interferences, says an article by the Institute of Middle East.

The key factors causing instability in the region are growing extremism, the ISIL, the complicated situation in Iraq, the Iranian nuclear program, the armed conflict in Yemen as well as religious contradictions between Sunnis and Shias, growing population and unemployment, tribal mentality in most of the Gulf monarchies, Yemen and Iraq and, most importantly, the continuing rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

One more negative factor is the steady decline in the prices of oil - the core of most of the Gulf economies.

Each of the abovementioned factors may cause a conflict with quite unpredictable consequences.

Most of the Gulf monarchies have strained relations with Iran. They fear its growing military strength and, first of all, its nuclear program, and also, its influence on their Shia communities.

Most of them welcomed the deal signed by Iran and six powers on July 14. Saudi Arabia said it was glad to hear such news but needed time to examine the deal in detail.

The key concern of the Arab monarchies is that the Vienna deal may cause a meltdown between Iran and the United States. The Americans assure their Arab allies that they are still committed to oppose Iran’s destructive policy and to build security in the region. But the Arabs don’t trust them.

Meanwhile, most of the region’s nations are actively arming themselves. Their aggregate army amounts to 1 million (Iran having 523,000, the Gulf nations 328,000 and Iraq 177,900). The military spending is also growing. Since 2010, it has almost redoubled from $86.686bn to $148.295bn, with the leaders being Saudi Arabia ($80.762bn) and Iran ($15.705bn).

In 2007-2014, the Gulf nations bought arms worth $25bn. This notwithstanding, they are still unable to guarantee themselves against external challenges. This is why despite their disagreements with the Americans, they keep asking them for help. As regards Iran, it relies on its own resources.

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