The coalition war against Iraq was a boon to Iran and precipitated its move to integrate itself with other countries of the region. This is a stabilizing development although future GCC-Iranian relations will likely come up against the brick wall of bilateral security arrangements between the GCC states and the United States.
Iran will express disapproval in strong rhetorical terms, but because it, too, needs to improve relations with the United States and since the decisive military victory against Iraq is likely to prove an effective cautionary legacy to those daring to challenge U.S. interests, there may be less substantive Iranian opposition than might be expected.
Pride plays an important part in a government's behavior. Iran had been under siege since the creation of the Islamic republic, much of it deserved but some undeserved. Now that it can play a constructive role in the region's affairs, it would be short-sighted of the United States to fail to recognize that Iran seeks to restore its national pride by playing an important role in the formation of a postwar security structure. From the U.S. perspective, it would be short-sighted of Washington to thwart such a development, as long as this does not clash with vital U.S. interests.
The tension between U.S. and Iranian interests hinges on the price of oil and on political issues such as the Palestinian question. Yet, an Iran that no longer seeks to overthrow Washington's friends in the region increasingly becomes an Iran that the United States can do business with. Although far from an ideal government from the U.S. perspective, Iran is at least no longer the destabilizing force it once was. And, if its government is able to appear cohesive, and is no longer conducting a contradictory foreign policy, the United States will be able to cooperate with Iran.
No one will argue that the formation of a postwar security structure will be easy. Despite the success in countering Saddam's aggression in Kuwait, there is little indication that tensions in the region will disappear. Egypt and Iran clashed verbally and a dispute between Qatar and Bahrain arose after complaints by Qatar that its vessels had been harassed by Bahraini gunboats. Qatar and Saudi Arabia also renewed their border dispute.
Although most security structures are designed to ensure cooperation among regional states against an outside attack, the greatest