Wary silence from Arab countries over Iran deal

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

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

Arab leaders worry that the deal, under which Iran is beinggiven relief from sanctions in return for curbs to its nuclearprogramme, signals a thaw in the 30 years of hostility betweenTehran and Washington which will give Iran more regional clout.

"I am afraid Iran will give up something on [its nuclearprogramme] to get something else from the big powers in terms ofregional politics. And I'm worrying about giving Iran more spaceor a freer hand in the region," said Abdullah al-Askar, chairmanof Saudi Arabia's appointed Shoura Council, a quasi-parliamentthat advises the government on policy.

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

At the time he spoke, Saudi Arabia had yet to give anyofficial response, and Askar stressed that he was giving hispersonal views. Other Sunni-ruled Arab states also had yet torespond on Sunday.