As is known, Iran is the largest country in the Gulf region, but Iran’s role in this region is often disputed by its neighbors. Tehran has problems with almost all its neighbors in the Gulf. With a request to comment on this issue we turned to Dr. Kenneth Katzman is a senior analyst of Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Persian Gulf Affairs at the Congressional Research Service.
What do you think is the importance of Iran for the Gulf region?
Iran perceives that it has a historic right to a major say in Gulf security arrangements, because it is a long established civilization with a large coastline on the Gulf and a powerful military capability. Iran perceives that Saudi Arabia and its Sunni allies are collaborating with the United States to exclude Iran from any say in Gulf affairs, and Iran is employing various policy tools to earn itself a major say in the region. These tensions certainly include the difference between Shia Iran and the Sunni Arab states, but is not limited to merely a Sunni-Shia or Arab-Persian narrative.