Some fear nuclear deal with Iran may intensify sectarian tensions in Middle East

Critics warn deal helps legitimize the government of Iran even though it is fomenting unrest in Syria, Yemen, Bahrain, Lebanon and Iraq: “The Iranian threat was never just about the bomb, it is Iran’s extremist ideology."

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November 26, 2013 05:01
3 minute read.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei at NAM Summit.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei at NAM 390. (photo credit: REUTERS)

The axis of Iran, Hezbollah and Syria, as well as Shi’ite-ruled Iraq basked in glory Monday over the deal reached between world powers and Iran over its nuclear program. The deal signaled a transformation of the regional strategic landscape in their favor.

Hezbollah lauded the success of the nuclear deal between its patron Iran and world powers.

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“What was achieved through this agreement is a major victory for Iran and to all the people of the region and it is a defeat for the enemies of these people,” Hezbollah said in a statement.

“[It is] a model victory and world class achievement which the Islamic state adds to its record which shines with victories and achievements.”

According to Yigal Carmon, the president of the Washington based Middle East Media Research Institute, the deal changes the geo-strategic reality in the Middle East, granting it hegemony over other powers in the region.

What the US administration gave Iran in exchange for the deal “is something much more grave than a nuclear bomb,” said Carmon, a former chief counterterrorism adviser to prime ministers Yitzhak Rabin and Yitzhak Shamir. He pointed out that its real victory is its recognition as a nuclear threshold state.

“The Iranian threat was never just about the bomb, it is Iran’s extremist ideology which calls for ‘death to America,’ and ‘death to Israel,’ and engaged in insurgencies in neighboring countries,” he said adding that it also commits terrorist attacks abroad, “including an attempted terrorist attack in the heart of Washington.”

We are witnessing a “major change of historical proportions that is being led by the current US administration,” he said.

The sense from Iran and its allies is that the deal implicitly recognizes Iran’s nuclear right to enrich uranium and it essentially opens the door for Iran to continue its rapprochement with the West.

Furthermore, the deal helps legitimize the government of Iran even though it is fomenting unrest in Syria, Yemen, Bahrain, Lebanon and Iraq, as well as using terrorism worldwide to promote its Islamic revolutionary agenda. These issues were not dealt with in the agreement.

Analysts believe that the deal comes at the expense of traditional US allies in the region, namely Israel, the Gulf states and Egypt.

Comments by some Arab states praising the deal could be viewed as more of a move meant for self-preservation.

They realize who the rising power is.

Salman Shaikh, the director of the Brookings Doha Center in Qatar told The Jerusalem Post, “My assessment” is that the agreement will “heighten the sense of uncertainty” and “lead to an intensification of the conflict in the region.”

“The Middle East resembles a pressure cooker about to blow,” Shaikh warned.

Carmon believes that US President Barack Obama has a vision, which he presented in his 2009 addresses in Ankara and Cairo, in which the US ceases to be an “imperialist” power with bases in the region and protecting the status quo of dictatorial regimes.

“Rather,” Carmon explained, “he wants a US that aligns with the peoples and revolutionary movements, over the head of current regimes that have been US allies for many years.”

He cited the US support for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt as an example.

“What is happening now is that old alliances are being compromised and losing their importance as the US moves to accommodate new ones such as Iran,” said Carmon.

“I believe that many in Israel will find it a scary development since the traditional pillar of the alliance between the US and Israel is based on shared values and interests,” and this is being put into question by the hope of a new alliance with Iran, he said.

“How can these shared values and interests continue to exist while America is reaching out to a country which continues to work for the annihilation of Israel,” asked Carmon.

Further, the fact that the deal was preceded by months of secret negotiations that began when former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was in power, he said, demonstrates that the approach towards Iran “was not based on the election of [President] Hassan Rouhani, but on the ideology of Barack Obama.”

Reuters contributed to this report.


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