Now that the Iranian regime has the wind at its back after gaining international legitimacy and, soon, unfrozen funds, from the removal of sanctions from the deal on Tuesday, it can be expected to double down on support for its proxies in sectarian conflicts throughout the Middle East.
A stronger Iran will translate into a more robust Hezbollah in Lebanon, Houthi movement in Yemen, and Shi’ite forces in Iraq and Syria, and increasing sectarian strife fueled by Shi’ite minorities or Iranian agents throughout the Arab world.
For example, with Iran controlling two Arab states bordering Jordan (Iraq and Syria), the kingdom has become a suitable target for expanding unrest and Tehran’s influence.
Jordanian media reported earlier this month that the country’s security forces had arrested an Iranian operative allegedly planning a terrorist attack in the kingdom.
In the Gulf, Sunni-ruled Bahrain, which hosts the US Fifth Fleet, has experienced sporadic turmoil since mass protests in 2011 led by majority Shi’ites demanding reforms and a bigger role in government – an uprising put down with military help from Saudi Arabia.
More of such uprisings could be forthcoming.
Arab Sunnis are not going to take Iranian escalation in Syria, Yemen, Iraq or elsewhere lying down, and are likely to respond by supporting opposing Islamists or other allied forces and push for their own nuclear option before Iran gains the capability.
Jihad el-Khazen a leading columnist at the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper, wrote an article on Wednesday titled, “Very Wanted: Arabic Military Nuclear Program.”
The world powers’ deal with Iran “comes at our expense [and] requires the start of this Arab nuclear program,” he said.
Ayman al-Hammad, writing in the Saudi Al-Riyadh newspaper on Wednesday, said the deal “can be considered as a green light” for the development of a Gulf nuclear program, led by the Saudi program in order to achieve deterrence and maintain a balance of power.
“This is a very bad deal for the Middle East, worse than imagined,” Middle East researcher Ali Bakir told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.
Bakir, who wrote an article in the Qatari Al-Arab newspaper on Tuesday predicting the Iran deal would probably lead to more wars in the region, said the accord is “wishful thinking” and based on “false hopes.”
The agreement will not prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons and will not cause it to change its behavior in the region, he asserted.
While US President Barack Obama said the deal will prevent war, Bakir said that the opposite is more likely to be the case – more wars.
“Many Arab governments do not trust the Obama administration and certainly not the Iranian regime,” he continued.
SOURCE: ARIEL BEN SOLOMON
The Jerusalem Post