Has one largely publicized consequence of the saber and nuclear power rattling of the Iranian government been the emergence of a new counter-Iran conventional power balance in the Gulf? In an article on RealClearWorld, Michael Knights, a Boston-based Lafer fellow of The Washington Institute, specializing in the military and security affairs of Iraq, Iran, and the Persian Gulf states, argues that it has.
Here’s the beginning and end of his piece:
In a September 7 interview with al-Jazeera, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates stated, “The more that our Arab friends and allies can strengthen their security capabilities, the more they can strengthen their cooperation, both with each other and with us. I think this sends the signal to the Iranians that the path they are on is not going to advance Iranian security, but in fact could weaken it.” His comments reflect a dawning realization in the face a growing Iranian nuclear threat: that a new conventional military balance is slowly emerging in the Persian Gulf.
And his conclusion:
Fostered by bilateral planning assistance from the United States via the Gulf Security Dialogue, GCC militaries are making rapid advances and may eclipse Iranian capabilities in the Gulf within ten years. By 2015, for instance, the combined forces of the UAE military will likely be able to prevent Iranian naval operations in UAE territorial waters and EEZs, seize and hold Iranian-held islands, and intercept some Iranian missile and air attacks on the UAE in the event of a conflict.
Whether the UAE or other GCC states have the intention or resolve to resist Iranian pressure is another matter, but building defensive capability is an important tool in fostering self-confidence in U.S. regional allies. For the United States, the lesson is to sustain its focus on GCC military development and to ensure that affordable and sustainable security assistance initiatives continue to receive the attention and the funding they deserve.
Now read it from beginning to end.