Dr. Mattair presented a paper at the Gulf Research Center's 1st Annual meeting at Cambridge University, held from July 7th through July 11th 2010. The following is an abstract of the paper.
GCC States are concerned about the results of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, which eliminated their traditional buffer against Iran, marginalized Sunni Arabs, created civil violence that could spill over into their countries, and opened Iraq to inordinate Iranian influence. The United States is trying to promote political compromise, security and an all-inclusive government prior to withdrawal, but has limited influence. GCC leaders are distressed that their advice against this war was ignored, and will resent the United States if it leaves disorder behind. GCC states are concerned about Iran's increased influence in the Levant, Iran's influence over Shia communities in GCC states, Iran's military forces, and potential Iranian nuclear weapons. They have had unsuccessful contact with Iran and criticize the U.S. and Israeli military threats, economic sanctions, and U.S. diplomatic strategy. The United States is not likely to use military force in the mid-term, but its strategy of pressure is not likely to change Iran's behavior. Containing Iran can rest in part on U.S.-GCC defense relations, including a U.S. nuclear umbrella, even though GCC states are distressed about U.S. policy, are careful about military spending, and see China and India as more important oil consumers and rising world powers. GCC efforts to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict were not supported by the Bush administration, and they have been urged to make more concessions by the Obama administration. Despite Obama administration mistakes, it understands how U.S. national interests are jeopardized by this conflict and it has not failed yet. GCC leaders are combating extremism and terrorism, and want to increase cooperation with the United States. They emphasize that the Palestinian issue fuels extremism and increases its threat to their governments and their relations with the United States. There is prejudice in the United States against GCC states, but government officials see GCC states as anti-terrorist partners. There is also mutual recognition of the importance of economic relations even as these relations change. The United States has not explored the possibility of a "grand bargain" with Iran, and can try to construct one in a way that enhances GCC security, but this will require U.S. success in achieving Arab-Israeli agreements that include creation of a Palestinian state.