There was trepidation surrounding last week’s summit between the United States and its partners in the Persian Gulf — Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Despite long-standing relationships, there is considerable nervousness stemming from the progress of nuclear negotiations between Iran and the West. Fortunately, however, hope prevailed over fear. Nevertheless, concerns remain about the results of Iranian nuclear talks and other governments must remain sensitive to the anxieties of Gulf states.

The negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 (Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the U.S.) aim to cap Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, but those talks have the potential to transform Middle East politics. An internationally accepted agreement will signal Iran’s legitimation in regional politics. The lifting of economic sanctions — even if only partially at the outset — will provide Iran with resources to underwrite more ambitious diplomacy. The Gulf states, whose governments are Sunni, worry that Iran, a Shiite state, will advance its own model of Islam and deepen sectarian divides throughout the Middle East.

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