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Diplomatic cables leaked in 2010 revealed Arab leaders singled out Iran as the greatest threat to regional stability, yet refuse to speak publicly, telling US diplomats in private, they would face domestic troubles if they were seen as siding with the West against a Muslim country.On 4 January 2016, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain severed diplomatic ties with Iran.Recently the countries are beginning to enjoy closer relations again and have engaged in many joint economic ventures.
During the early days of the Iranian Revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini endeavored to bridge the gap between Shias and Sunnis by forbidding criticizing the Caliphs who preceded Ali.
When the United States attacked Iraq in the Gulf War of the early 1990s, it unintentionally promoted Iran's political influence in the Middle East. The most significant factor was the United States administration's decision to invade Iraq in 2003, which led to the fall of Saddam, a Ba'athist leader with pan-Arab sympathies who was determined to balance Shi'a Iran's regional influence.
With the deposition of Saddam, Iran found a major obstacle to its expansion removed.
This gave Iran a good chance to emerge as a major player in the Middle East.
As Richard Haass stated in 2006, "Iran will be one of the two most powerful states in the region. The influence of Iran and groups associated with it has been reinforced." Iran could find allies in Arab world comprising Syria, Lebanon, Kuwait and Iraq.
This diplomatic and economic isolation intensified during the Iran–Iraq War in which almost all neighboring Arab states, except Syria, supported Iraq logistically and economically.