Remember at the beginning of Obama’s presidency when he made that huge out reach to the Muslim world? Based on their reaction the Iran deal an important part of that Muslim world, Saudi Arabia may want to reach back to the US president and smack him across the face.
Amongst the mistakes the mainstream media has been making about the P5+1 deal with Iran is that the only U.S. opposition comes from Republicans (tell that to NJ Senator Menedez, a Democrat) and the only opposition outside of the U.S. comes from Bibi Netanyahu. The truth is the Israeli political system reminds me of a circular firing squad on a bad day. There are eleven parties with seats in the parliament (Knesset) and most of them think that Bibi Netanyahu is the devil. Yet every single party is against the Iran deal.
Outside of Israel the Sunni gulf states hate the deal as much if not more than Israel. In Saudi Arabia the ruling monarchy fears Shia Iran will try to overturn its rulers. They stopped trusting the U.S. when Obama drew the red-line in Syria and then punted.
The government’s official reaction to the deal was a terse statement that welcomed any agreement that would ensure Iran could not develop a nuclear arsenal, but stressed the importance of tough inspections and the ability to reimpose sanctions quickly.
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In private, however, Saudi officials fear an Iran released from international pressure and economic sanctions will have more freedom and money to back allies across the region who are opposed by Riyadh.
A Saudi official on Tuesday told Reuters he feared the agreement would make the Middle East more dangerous if it gave too many concessions to an Iranian government that Riyadh blames for turmoil in Yemen, Syria and Iraq.
Meanwhile, a Saudi official said Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers on Tuesday will make the Middle East a “more dangerous part of the world” if it comes with too many concessions, signalling Gulf Arabs’ deep unease at the agreement.
The lack of official responses from Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies reflected huge nervousness about a deal set to end the pariah status of Iran, already Riyadh’s main rival for influence across the Middle East, and unchain its economy from crippling sanctions.One Saudi diplomat described the agreement as “extremely dangerous” and said it would give a green light to his own government to start a nuclear energy programme.
Most of the dirty work in Saudi Arabia was done by the press.
Saudi Arabian media attacked Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers on Wednesday, with cartoonists depicting it as an assault on Arab interests and columnists decrying the focus on Tehran’s atomic plans instead of its backing for regional militias.
A cartoon in Asharq al-Awsat, a pan-Arab daily close to King Salman’s branch of the ruling family, showed a trampled body marked “Middle East”, with a placard saying “nuclear deal” sticking from its head.
The top-hatted and turbaned silhouettes of America’s Uncle Sam and an Iranian cleric ran across the body hand in hand, portraying a widely voiced concern that Washington’s quest for a deal means it has realigned with Tehran at Arab expense.
Many In Saudi Arabia are concerned that the Iranian deal was an indication of Obama siding with the Shiites over the Sunnis.
In al-Jazirah daily, columnist Jasser al-Jasser wrote an article headlined “A terrorist Iran instead of a nuclear Iran”, alluding to his fear that the deal would simply allow Tehran to back Shi’ite Muslim militias and militants.
A concern that such Iranian involvement in Arab countries was feeding the sectarian conflict that allowed Islamic State to thrive was evident in a cartoon in the Saudi daily al-Watan, also owned by a branch of the ruling family.
It showed an Iranian cleric with a malignant facial expression turning the spigot on an oil pipeline marked “nuclear deal”, from which dollar bills were pouring into the mouth of a masked militant labelled “terrorism”.
In a column on the front page of al-Hayat, another Saudi-owned Arab daily, Ghassan Charbel also linked the deal to Islamic State, but he argued that it was shared fear of the group that had prompted Iran and the United States to agree.
“A third man contributed to achieving the agreement without showing up or calling for it. His name is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi,” he wrote, referring to the militant group’s self-declared caliph.
This is Obama’s real (and only) foreign policy achievement negotiating a deal so awful, it’s bringing together Saudi Arabia and Israel.