The Iran news dominating the US press today is the revelation of the NIE findings that Iran froze its nuclear program in 2003. That's obviously interesting and important. But - perhaps related, perhaps not - most Arab papers today are headlining the surprising and controversial performance of Iranian President Ahmednejad at the GCC Summit meeting in Doha - described in most as the first Iranian President to address the GCC since it was formed in 1981. This was not uncontroversial. Tareq Alhomayed, editor of al-Sharq al-Awsat (which often reflects official Saudi thinking), notes caustically that the GCC was formed to meet the Iranian threat, and nothing has changed with Ahmednejad - who should not have been invited at all. The UAE's foreign minister said that Iran asked to be invited, and Qatar passed on the request - though al-Sharq al-Awsat quotes another unidentified Gulf official saying that they had not known he would be there.
After several years of rising tension between Iran and the Gulf state and American attempts to contain Iran with a counter-alliance of "moderate Sunni Arab states", Ahmednejad's appearance certainly does raise eyebrows. Ahmednejad downplayed contentious issues such as Iran's role in Iraq and its nuclear program, instead offering a 12 point plan for an ambitious new regional security alliance - essentially, a GCC + 1 arrangement incorporating Iran into the existing Gulf security architecture - and for greater economic cooperation and investment with new joint economic institutions. (Buried in the reporting focused on Iran was the note that the GCC did not act on the rumored plan to sever its reliance on the American dollar).
While Ahmednejad's appearance has to be seen as something of a diplomatic coup in the face of US-led efforts at containment, it's unlikely that the initiative will go anywhere right now. The most contentious issues (Iraq, the nuclear program) were largely ignored. Al-Hayat quoted an anonymous Gulf official as seeing nothing new in the call for greater cooperation and no answers on the contentious and worrisome security issues. Other officials dismissed the ideas as "utopian" and unrealistic. Al-Jazeera reports that Kuwait welcomed the Iranian initiative, but wants to see concrete actions and responses to outstanding controversial issues. The UAE delegation was unhappy with Iran's participation because of their outstanding dispute over three islands in the Gulf, and Al-Arabiya reports that the final declaration says that unfortunately the contacts with Iran had no positive results with regard to that point. Ahmednejad's reference to the "Persian" rather than "Arabian" Gulf reportedly ruffled some feathers. Still, the more conciliatory line taken by al-Sharq al-Awsat's former editor and current directory of al-Arabiya Abd al-Rahman al-Rashed is worth noting - he suggests that the GCC states could help protect their current $100 a barrel oil windfall by bridging the conflict between the US and Iran.
Overall, it seems to me that the main significance of Ahmednejad's appearance is the appearance itself, and what it might signify about the future of the containment/confrontation strategy, not any concrete or immediate results from his proposals. I'd be interested to hear from Gulf or Iran analysts about how this is playing and developing - comment away!