Impact of nuclear deal on Saudi Arabia!
-Dr. Abdul Ruff
US President Barack Obama, as he sought support from his countrymen over the issue, told Americans today that the agreement reached between Iran and six major powers to limit its sensitive nuclear activities will make America and the world safer and more secure. “That’s why we’re going to seize it today – and keep America a beacon of hope, liberty, and leadership for generations to come”, Obama added.
Iran’s deal with USA and other major powers should make Saudi and entire Arab world genuinely happy while Israel would naturally feel cheated by USA and but would also refuse to accept the “defeat”. Of course, Israel has reasons to cry and shout as much as it wants because it had hoped that the deal would not take place and Iran-West relations would strain further leading to terror attacks on Iran.
While many Arab leaders, including UAE President Sheikh Khalifa, were quick to welcome the historic deal bringing Iran back into the international fold, Saudi Arabia’s silence spoke volumes. Although it welcomed the deal, it still stressed the need to continue the sanctions on Iran for its “support of terrorism” State-run Arab newspapers were even more critical of the deal. The “Riyadh” warned that the lifting of sanctions will allow Iran to “persist in its expansionist policies and extend their influence in the Arab region” and “spread conflict” – a theme that has become the Saudi narrative. “Saudi Arabia will not allow Iran to take advantage of this deal.” They say so.
The nuclear deal has left the Saudis scrambling to make as many battlefield gains in neighboring states as possible before sanctions are lifted over the next year, potentially leaving Iran flush with more than $100 billion in unfrozen funds and new revenues – resources they say Tehran will use to expand its proxy wars.
The US led western successful nuclear that will lift tough sanctions on Iran that would help Iran, almost starving for years owing to western sanctions, to emerge now strong, economically, diplomatically and politically. The nuclear deal also would help promote and streamline Iran’s ties with Western powers, especially USA which in turn would rebuild relationships with Islamic world and will also enable Iran to expand its influence in the region through diplomacy and negotiations.
However, Saudi Arabia seems to be planning to turn the tide against its other regional rivals in Yemen and Syria before Iran makes an economic recovery. The military component of the Saudi offensive might include the use of Special Forces on the ground in Yemen, and a potentially widened use of Saudi and allied Sunni air power in Syria.
Arab world looks to beyond the nuclear deal. The Saudis are cultivating better diplomatic ties with Russia and China would be a strong indication of how the Iran nuclear deal could impact the regional order in the Middle East. Riyadh will now put substantial resources and effort into its own diplomacy to expand its influence beyond the US and Europe – namely with Russia and China. Saudi kingdom wants Russia and China to lessen their support for Iranian-backed Shiite proxies in Syria and Yemen.
The shift began in the lead-up to the nuclear deal, with Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman making a high-profile visit to St. Petersburg in June and inviting Russian President Vladimir Putin to Riyadh. “After four decades, we are finally realizing the importance of world powers beside the US – and this is the key to ending the Iranian-supported conflicts in the region,” the Saudi military official said.
Yemen is the red line for Saudi Arabia. We will see military escalations in Yemen in the coming days in order to prevent what Saudi sees as an Iranian foothold in the Gulf, The first priority for Riyadh’s new offensive is Yemen, observers say, where it has been embroiled in a mostly ineffectual but deadly four-month campaign of airstrikes to secure a foothold for the pro-Saudi government of Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, currently in exile in Saudi Arabia. Pressured by the Iranian deal, Riyadh is set to dispatch dozens of Special Forces to Yemen to take part in a ground fight to capture and secure the southern port city
Once the Saudi-led coalition makes headway in Yemen, Riyadh and its Sunni allies will shift their focus to Syria, where Iran has dispatched an estimated 7,000 troops and is providing billions of dollars in annual support to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. Riyadh is willing to use air power to provide cover for the anti-Assad Free Syrian Army, which currently receives funding and arms from the Saudis, and to target “Hezbollah and Iranian targets.” US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter to announce a trip to Riyadh designed to allay the House of Saud’s fears and avert any military escalation.
Since King Salman assumed the throne in January, the desert kingdom has spearheaded a coalition of nine nations against Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. The coalition’s aerial bombing campaign has left more than 2,600 people dead since it began in March. Saudi Arabia also has set aside differences with Qatar and Turkey over Syria policy.
Saudi Arabia, concerned by the nuclear deal between Iran and international powers, is charting a new and unusually robust course aimed at checking what it sees as the Islamic Republic’s expansion of influence across the Middle East. Under King Salman, the Saudis have pursued a robust course of action in Yemen, cooperated with allies on Syria, and revealed they have even talked secretly to Israel about their common foe, Iran.
Perhaps, the most telling sign of Saudi displeasure with Iran is the recent revelation that Saudi Arabia and Israel have been holding secret talks since the beginning of 2014 to discuss their common enemy.
There was a widespread assumption across much of the Middle East that the Obama administration placed its desire to reach a nuclear deal with Iran above the interests of its traditional regional partners.
US officials, however, argue that Iran’s leaders face domestic pressure to use the sanctions relief to rebuild the shattered economy rather than fund expansionist policies across the region. Obama‘s statement defending the deal makes it clear it would promote peace between West and Islamic world, peaceful environment in the region and elsewhere.
The Saudi misgivings over Iran are misplaced and exaggerated. “The Saudis are basically challenging us in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon, but we are not challenging Saudi Arabia in those countries because we don’t see them as a threat,” he says. The six Arab countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council, Hadian adds, “have the support of a superpower, all the weaponry, the oil resources … why do they seem to feel vulnerability?” the Saudis and their allies in the Arab Gulf fear that a cash windfall from the lifting of sanctions following a nuclear deal will embolden Iran to pursue an aggressive foreign policy agenda in the Arab world.
The Saudi-led campaign in Yemen has failed to defeat the Houthis, who remain in control of the capital, Sanaa, and the port city of Aden in the south. In Syria, there are indications that the Assad regime could withdraw in the coming months to a more defendable line that incorporates Damascus and the coastal region, posing a tougher obstacle for Syrian rebel groups and potentially leading to a de facto partition of the country.
Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran are in constant competition for influence in the region, via proxy conflicts in Iraq, Syria, and most recently Yemen. Israel exploits the Sunni-Shi’a divide.
Arab world would have easily forgotten what Iran had pledged to willingly share its nuclear achievements with Arab world. That is the display of generosity and magnanimity on the part of Iran towards fellow Muslim nations in West Asia.
Unlike Arab world, Israel cannot forget that because pledge and it has reasons to feel a fish out of water now. It is not because Iran would emerge as the nuclear competitor in the region but because Saudi and Iran would come closer; not only Iran can help Arab world and cultivate good relations with them, but above all, the deal naturally brings Iran closer to USA and EU – a proposition that annoys Tel Aviv and Mossad agents in Washington more than Iranian future nukes. True, Iran had been an ally of USA until the Iran-Iraq war.
Israel and Saudi Arabia have no diplomatic relations. The Saudi government does not recognize the state of Israel and their disputes over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remain unsolved. Yet, the two countries recently discussed how they are both focusing on the Islamic Republic. For a long time Israel was the only country in the region constantly expressing concern over Iran, mainly about its nuclear program. But since the beginning of the Arab Spring in 2010, Saudi Arabia has started to publicly share concern with Israel.
Israel sees Iran’s nuclear program as a threat to its own nukes, while, Saudi Arabia is unhappy with possible, unfounded Iranian “expansionism” in the Middle East. Israel and Saudi Arabia see Tehran’s nuclear negotiations with the UNSC5+1 group (China, Russia, France, Britain, and the United States plus Germany) as a sign of a more powerful Iran. Many Arabs feel Israel and Saudi Arabia would join forces to fight Iran.
It not just Israel which has got the only nukes in West Asia that was opposed to any possible nuclear deal between Iran and Western nuclear powers , but even Saudi Arabia has nurtured similar ambitions, demands.
Iran is not a rogue state as it has been claimed by the enemies of Iran but it has a duty to defend its legitimate interests without meaning anything against Arab nations.
Saudi Arabia needs to reset its foreign policy priorities and try to shed its anti-Iran ideology nurtured on some assumptions and move closer to Iran. That would benefit both as well as Islamic world.
Today’s anti-Islamic world and its anti-Islamic media, spreading Islamophobia and other profitable theories, unity among Muslim nations is the paramount need of the time. Both Saudi Arabia and Iran must seize the opportunity for the sake of defending Muslims, Islamic world, and Islam from the enemies of Islam.
Muslims and major nations of Muslim world alone can save themselves. Others cannot be expected to guarantee peace in Islamic world.