This CRS report focuses on "threat perceptions and U.S.-Gulf Security Cooperation," domestic stability in the Gulf, and counter-terrorism cooperation. "The U.S.-led war to overthrow Saddam Hussein virtually ended Iraq's ability to militarily threaten the region, but it has produced new and un-anticipated security challenges for the Persian Gulf states (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates). The Gulf states, which are all led by Sunni Muslim regimes, fear that Shiite Iran is unchecked now that Iraq is strategically weak. The Gulf states strongly resent that pro-Iranian Shiite Muslim groups and their Kurdish allies (who are not Arabs) have obtained preponderant power within Iraq. This has led most of the Gulf states, particularly Saudi Arabia, to provide only halting support to the fledgling government in Baghdad and to revive the focus on U.S. -Gulf defense cooperation that characterized U.S.-Gulf relations during the 1990s. […] Domestically, all of the Gulf states are undertaking substantial but gradual economic and political liberalization to deflect popular pressure and satisfy U.S. calls for reform. However, the reforms undertaken or planned do not aim to fundamentally restructure power in any of these states. The Bush Administration advocates more rapid and sweeping political and economic liberalization as key to long-term Gulf stability and to reducing support in the Gulf states for terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda. The Administration is funding civil society programs in the Gulf states - funding that is not necessarily welcomed by the Gulf leaderships - but is also promoting the bilateral free trade agreements that most of the Gulf leaders seek. The Bush Administration is also working to improve post-September 11 cooperation with the Gulf states against Al Qaeda. Some Gulf states allegedly tolerated the presence of Al Qaeda activists and their funding mechanisms prior to the September 11 attacks."
CRS Report for Congress, RL31533