The Gulf states and the attack on Iran
The Kuwaiti defence minister said in a statement that his country will not permit the United States the use of Kuwaiti territory in support of any strike against Iran. This is a statement worth paying attention to, says Al-Quds al-Arabi in its lead editorial, because of what it says and what it doesn't say. The first thing that occurs to one, says the editorialist, is that this seems to imply that a US strike on Iran is now a settled thing, and that discussions are going on with the states of the Gulf centering on the question of participation and/or support.
And the second question that occurs to one on hearing this is the question of the degree to which the Kuwaiti government will be able to reject an American request in this regard, given that there are defence treaties between Kuwait and the United States, and moreover Kuwait owes the expulsion of Iraqi forces to the United States.Pre-2003, Saudi Arabia said it was closing the AlKharj base and wouldn't participate in any attack on Iraq, but afterwards we learned that not only was the country used to mass American troops (two bases in NW Saudi Arabia near the border were used by the troops that were to occupy Baghdad),but that the Saudi ambassador in Washington, Prince Bandar, learned of the invasion plan even before the US Secretary of State Colin Powell learned of them.
The Kuwaiti attitude is a serious one, and it shows the clear opposition to any US military adventure against Iran, given what that could mean by way of changing the structure of the region and bringing about enormous destruction. But we have to remember that one-quarter of the surface area of Kuwait has been converted into a military camp that is the base for tens of thousands of American troops, and we know that the states of the Gulf that are host to US bases, including Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrein, and Saudi Arabia, have no power to intervene in how these bases are used, in fact they aren't permitted to find out what goes on within these bases, which are like states within a state.
What is certain is that these types of statement by Gulf authorities (and there have been similar statements by the Qatar authorities), stressing lack of support for any attack on Iran, are intended to reassure Iran, and to win its love, because it is clear that any Iranian retaliation will target American bases and oil installations in the Gulf.
We do not believe that the small states of the Gulf, which are protected by the United States under strategic defence treaties, will have any ability to permit or not permit any specific use of their territory in the event the United States desides to strike Iran to take out its nuclear reactors and their infrastructure. Which doesn't mean they aren't entitled to express their point of view to try and placate Iran, given that words generally don't cost anything.