Counter-Terrorism: Arabs, Iranians, Nukes and Religion


May 9, 2006: The Arab Gulf states are expressing concern to the United States about its handling of the Iranian nuclear power issue. They have told the U.S. that they will support continued diplomatic initiatives to resolve the crisis, and even economic sanctions. But they are unwilling to support military action, unless it is strongly endorsed by the U.N. Security Council.

The leaders of the Gulf states fear that excessive pressure on Iran, or precipitous military action, may result in serious domestic problems on the Arab side of the Gulf. The ruling classes of most of these states are Sunni. In Oman the Ibadi sect is dominant. But there are often substantial Shia populations in these states. Kuwait is 25-percent Shia; Bahrain, 75-percent; Qatar, 10-percent; the UAE, and Oman, 5-percent (all figures are essentially "official" estimates). While some of the Gulf Shia look to domestic religious leaders, or even to Iraq's highly revered Gand Ayatollah Sistani, most of them are followers of the late Iranian hard line religious leader Kohmeini. The Sunni rulers on the west shore of the Persian Gulf have been trying to appease their Shia minorities, and have been having some success. In addition to passing out more jobs and other goodies to the Shia, everyone is reminded that the Iranians are not Arabs, and have, for thousands of years, been a threat to the Arabs in the region (who, in terms of sheer numbers, do not outnumber the Iranians by a whole lot.)

But if the Americans, and other outsiders, attack Iran, then the Iranians will have some success in calling for "Shia unity." This would manifest itself most dramatically as terrorist attacks. The Sunni Arabs dominate the military and police in all the countries with Shia minorities, but that won't be enough to stop some of the terror operations in defense of Iran.


Article Archive

Counter-Terrorism: Current 2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 



Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close