Iraq: The View from the GCC



Today, as after Saddam’s fall, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states are largely reactive players in the battle for Iraq’s future. Even as GCC states have grown more assertive in other parts of the Middle East and North Africa, conditions in Iraq—especially as concern Iran’s role there—have left Gulf leaders wary. Despite the GCC’s strong interests in Iraq, rulers have judged that the current environment offers high risk and little chance of reward, and have diverted resources accordingly.

This report analyzes Gulf states' policies towards Iraq before and after Iraq's 2014 leadership transition. Riyadh in particular has retreated from efforts to wield practical influence in Iraq. Hopes briefly raised by the ouster of Nouri al-Maliki gave way to reinforced mutual suspicion. Other Gulf states have pursued divergent approaches to Iraq based on their varying perceptions of opportunities and threats, but Kuwait alone has pursued a strategic state-to-state relationship with Iraq.