The GCC-Iran rapprochement appears to proceed apace, despite US efforts to tighten sanctions. Yesterday Mahmoud Ahmedenejad had a well-publicized phone chat with Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah about regional developments, and also found the time for his first-ever phone conversation with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. UK based Palestinian scholar Khaled al-Hroub wrote an interesting piece the other day in the UAE's al-Ittihad outlying the good strategic rationale for the emergence of a "Gulf-Iranian security order." In a piece which ran in both al-Ittihad and the Saudi al-Sharq al-Awsat, the Kuwaiti Saad bin Tufla al-Ajami wrote proudly a few days ago about his country's decision to send its Foreign Minister to Tehran after Bush's visit, to demonstrate that Kuwait and the Gulf will pursue their interests, which might not be American interests. Just some more data points in support of the argument that the Gulf and other Arabs do not seem to be where the US is, or would like them to be, on the Iran question these days.
Meanwhile, al-Jazeera's coverage over the last couple of weeks lends little support to the thesis that it has been neutered into a pro-American station. During Bush's visit to
Iran the Gulf [typo corrected; though wouldn't a trip to Iran have been something?], it sent a team to Tehran and aired an interview with Iran's Foreign Minister and a somewhat spectacular interview with Ahmedenejad. That accords well with the "new GCC line on Iran" thesis, not so much with the "pro-Americanization" thesis. And while I haven't been able to watch much Arab TV the last couple of days, at least some Arab media watchers are saying that its coverage of the current Gaza crisis has been the most thorough and effective, covering it heavily even as most Arab TV stations acted as if nothing unusual were happening. That's what one would expect from al-Jazeera, but not from the alleged "new al-Jazeera." Neither of these is decisive proof of anything, but they are suggestive.