The New York Times reports that the Arab Gulf states "have begun a rare show of muscle flexing, publicly advertising a shopping spree for new weapons and openly discussing their security concerns."
These states, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, and Qatar, "normally prone to squabbling," the Times writes, are now "[emphasizing] their unanimity against Iran's nuclear ambitions." This is because, the Times says, they "see themselves as the likely first targets of an Iranian attack."
Emile el-Hokayem, a research fellow at the Henry L. Stimson Center, told the Times that the Gulf states are telegraphing a message to the world with this new openess. "The message is first, 'U.S., stay involved here,' and second, 'Iran, we will maintain a technological edge, no matter what.'"
Aside from today's news that Iran is ahead of some experts' estimates with respect to its program to enrich uranium (seen as the first step in creating a bomb), Iran's recent military maneuvers in the Strait of Hormuz have also alarmed its Arab neighbors. This is the waterway through which two-fifths of the world's oil supply moves and all of these Arab Gulf states depend on a stable flow of oil for their very survival.
The U.S. recently sent a second aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf, in addition to an increased number of minesweeping vessels. The U.S. denies that any kind of military strike against Iran is imminent.
The indication is that the Bush administration is hoping that more punitive sanctions backed up by the possibility of force will in the end be enough to persuade the regime in Tehran to abandon any ambitions it might be entertaining regarding a nuclear bomb. An ambition the Iranians insist is not part of their scheme.