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The Gulf Between Them: What Arab Gulf Countries Can Learn from Iran’s Approach to Iraq

Author: Nussaibah Younis

Affiliation: European Council on Foreign Relations, European Institute of Peace

Organization/Publisher: European Council on Foreign Relations

Date/Place: May 5, 2021

Type of Literature: Policy Brief

Word Count: 9987



Keywords: Iraq, Iran, Arab Gulf states


This policy brief offers the European perspective on the engagement of the Gulf countries with Iraq. It views Iran’s favorable relations with Iraq as a threat to stability in the region. This is further aggravated by the hesitancy of the Gulf countries to work with Iraq due to its slow bureaucracy and the fear that their investments will be directed towards failure by the Iran-backed politicians. This widens the schism between Iraqi civilians and Gulf countries. Iran’s extensive ties to Iraq, be it cultural, economic, political or security, makes Iraq’s existence inherently intertwined and dependent on the relationship. However, Iran also disrupts the sovereignty of the Iraqi state due to this relationship. That leaves an opportunity for the Gulf countries to establish a more favorable relation without infringing on Iraq’s sovereignty. By doing so, Europe foresees Iraq to be able to play a better regional role as a mediator and also make it politically and economically stable. The primary goal of engaging with Iraq should not be confronting Iran but to integrate the country better in the region. In the long-run, this would pay off economically and politically. 

By: Sahar Sadiq, CIGA Research Intern



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