Cooley, John K.
June 1979
Foreign Affairs;Summer79, Vol. 57 Issue 5, p1017
This article discusses the implications of the new alliance between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), as of June 1979. Start by examining the role of Palestinians and of Shi'a populations in the neighboring Gulf states, the economic consequences of the new orientation of Iran and its immediate military effect on the Arab-Israeli conflict and for present and future conflict in the Gulf Area. Unquestionably, the Iranian revolution and embrace of the PLO have galvanized both the Palestinians and the Shi'a minorities living on the Arab side of the Gulf. Both communities live in considerable numbers in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. The first and most obvious economic consequence of the Iran-PLO alliance was the cessation of Iran-Israel trade and the cutoff of Iranian oil to Israel. The military impact of the Palestinian-Iranian alliance takes a number of forms, ranging from the Arab-Israeli military balance to the protection of the Strait of Hormuz and the related possibility of a renewed outbreak of the Dhofar rebellion in Oman. Turning now to Saudi Arabia. Some of its concerns have already been suggested, what happens elsewhere in the Gulf could hardly fail to have serious repercussions within Saudi Arabia and in terms of Saudi interests, which include the preservation of a strong U.S. protecting role. But there are even more specific ways in which the new alliance between the Iran of Ayatollah and the Palestinians affects the Saudi situation. In sum, the change from the Iran of Shah to an Iranian regime allied with the Palestinians and supporting totally the hard-line Arab position toward Israel has had a profound and multifaceted impact on the whole Gulf situation. Already the present U.S. administration has been forced to respond by new measures of military aid to North Yemen and now by a modest program in Oman. But the problems have only begun to unfold.


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