Wary silence from Arab countries over Iran deal

By REUTERS
November 24, 2013 14:00
1 minute read.

Iran's nuclear deal with global powers was met with wary silence from Arab states on Sunday, with Iran's only two Arab friends Iraq and Syria welcoming the accord but others keeping their opinions to themselves.

All Arab countries apart from Syria and Iraq are ruled by Sunni Muslims who mainly regard Shi'ite Iran as a foe and have been deeply uneasy over the prospect of any rapprochement with the West that would benefit Tehran.




Arab leaders worry that the deal, under which Iran is being given relief from sanctions in return for curbs to its nuclear programme, signals a thaw in the 30 years of hostility between Tehran and Washington which will give Iran more regional clout.




"I am afraid Iran will give up something on [its nuclear programme] to get something else from the big powers in terms of regional politics. And I'm worrying about giving Iran more space or a freer hand in the region," said Abdullah al-Askar, chairman of Saudi Arabia's appointed Shoura Council, a quasi-parliament that advises the government on policy.




"The government of Iran, month after month, has proven that it has an ugly agenda in the region, and in this regard no one in the region will sleep and assume things are going smoothly," Askar said.




At the time he spoke, Saudi Arabia had yet to give any official response, and Askar stressed that he was giving his personal views. Other Sunni-ruled Arab states also had yet to respond on Sunday.



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