With the Middle East in the throes of momentous popular uprisings and its future up for grabs, America’s long-standing concerns about the Islamic Republic of Iran have only grown more acute. U.S. officials, as well as their Arab and Israeli counterparts, now worry not only about Tehran’s continued nuclear defiance but also its efforts to try and shape the popular unrest that has unsettled and unseated Arab regimes throughout the region.
Up until now, Washington has focused on two methods, broadly speaking, to contain Iran’s regional influence and check its nuclear ambitions. First, it has focused on political and economic coercion, in the form of numerous unilateral, multilateral, and United Nations sanctions resolutions. Second, it has provided significant military aid to Iran’s Arab neighbors. In Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq, and the Persian Gulf, Tehran and Washington have been engaged, sometimes directly but more often via proxies and allies, in an often-violent struggle for regional power and influence.
In the tiny United Arab Emirates (UAE), a quieter, but no less fateful, battle between the United States and Iran has long been afoot in the spheres of commerce, diplomacy, and intelligence. Located just 35 miles from Iran across the Strait of Hormuz, the UAE is unique in that it combines vast networks of trade and personal relations with Iran with a close strategic relationship with Washington. Consequently, it has come to play a critical, albeit of… >>>