Saudi King Salman .
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers could lead to increased Arab action to counter the expansionist Shi’ite regime, before it attains nuclear weapons.
It may or may not have been a coincidence that the Sunni regional powers’ united military action to counter the Iranian-backed Houthi rebel forces in Yemen occurred as the Iranian nuclear talks reach zero hour, but, either way, it sends Iran a warning message not to interfere with Arab affairs.
Interestingly, US backing for the Saudi-led alliance in Yemen could have been “a harsh blow” for Iranian leaders and “could cement the Iranians’ belief that the US can never be trusted and that Tehran must obtain all of its demands,” said a report by MEMRI (the Middle East Media Research Institute) on Tuesday.
In any case, Arab states in the region are sitting on the edge of their seats, waiting for results from the talks.
Simon Henderson, the Baker fellow and director of the Gulf and Energy Policy Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told The Jerusalem Post
that the Saudi hope is that there will be no deal.
“This will show that the negotiations have been a waste of time and the US has been fooled.”
Henderson speculates that if there is a deal, “the Saudis will seek to match Iranian nuclear skills.”
And if the deadline is again pushed back, he added, “the Saudis will seek to expose and counter Iranian skullduggery in Yemen, Iraq and elsewhere.”
From the point of view of Gulf states, “a nuclear agreement means that the Sunni Arab states will take security measures into their own hands, as they are demonstrating with Storm of Resolve,” said the associate editor of the UAE Gulf News in an article on Tuesday.
Supporting the proposition of a more forceful Arab policy against Iran, Saudi Defense Minister Prince Muhammad bin Salman told a visiting congressman this week that the Saudis need more weapons in order to deal with Iran.
After meeting with the defense minister for more than an hour, US Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Florida), part of a congressional delegation to the Middle East, asked the 35-year-old Saudi defense minister on Monday about the nuclear talks.
The defense minister bluntly told Buchanan, “Iran can’t be trusted.”
“He questioned why we would be negotiating with the Iranians when they are responsible for growing tension in the Middle East,” said the US congressman.
The prince said that “the Saudis would also like more military assistance from the US to combat Iran’s growing influence in the region.
“I asked the prince what he thought about the discussions between the US and Iran, and he responded that he doesn’t think the United States is taking the threat posed by Iran seriously,” Buchanan said.
Mordechai Kedar, director of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Islam (under formation) and a research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University, told the Post that Sunni states are not waiting for a nuclear deal to act aggressively; they already are, as we see in Yemen.
“Even if there is no deal, the Saudis and the other Sunni states do not trust [US President Barack] Obama, and they suspect that he will ease the sanctions on Iran unilaterally, even with no agreement,” argued Kedar.
There is already a naval blockade on Yemen by the Egyptian and Saudi navies, and the kingdom’s troops are about to invade Yemen, noted Kedar, adding that there is a possibility of clashes between Saudi and Egyptian warships and Iranian ones that are resupplying the Houthis.
Regarding a possible reaction to a nuclear Iran, he pointed out that “Saudi Arabia will buy a nuclear bomb from Pakistan shortly after Iran has such a bomb.”
In addition, Iran will try to ignite unrest within the Shi’ite communities in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, not to mention that in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and even Europe, there are existing Sunni- Shi’ite tensions, which could be inflamed.