By Yoram Ettinger–
Irrespective of Western attempts to portray Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, Jordan and Egypt as supporters of the Iran nuclear deal, leaders of these countries, and especially the House of Saud, consider the accord a colossal, lethal threat. They see it as a reckless, short-sighted and self-destructive policy, which will initially plague the Arab world and subsequently the Western one, including the U.S. — “the Great Satan” as the ayatollahs call it.
While Saudi leaders are restrained in their official reaction to the Iran nuclear agreement, they voice their authentic concerns and assessments via the House of Saud-owned media, which has traditionally served as a convenient venue, providing the element of deniability, sparing diplomatic inconvenience.
During a recent visit to Capitol Hill, I was told by legislators in both chambers, on both sides of the aisle: “While Israel is concerned about Iran’s nuclearization, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states are panicky.”
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed, the House of Saud-appointed general manager of Al Arabiya TV and former editor-in-chief of the leading Saudi daily Asharq Al-Awsat, dismissed U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s assertion that “once fully implemented, the Iran deal will contribute to the region’s long-term security.”
According to the daily voice of the Saudi king, the ayatollah regime “is like a monster that was tied to a tree and has been set loose. We are on a threshold of a bloody era … expecting the worst-case scenario. … Tehran does not intend to drop its aims of regional dominance and destabilizing neighboring Arab countries. The lifting of sanctions will facilitate the transfer of funds and the purchase and shipment of arms . … Tehran will become more dangerous.”
Asharq Al-Awsat opinion page editor Mshari Al-Zaydi highlights a constructive alternative to the current Iran nuclear deal: the preconditioning of any benefit to the ayatollahs on a drastic transformation of the nature of their regime. The confidant of the House of Saud stated: “The real problem lies in the nature of Iran’s rulers and the money that will flood the coffers of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard. It will cause more strife in Arab countries. … Iran’s constitution calls for funding and arming militias loyal to Iran within Arab and Muslim countries. Washington will soon realize the consequences of their Iranian adventure.”
At this junction, in an increasingly globalized world, and against the backdrop of the ayatollahs’ apocalyptic “Death to America” worldview and close ties with North Korea, Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador, the commercial, energy, national and homeland security consequences of the Iran nuclear agreement transcend the Persian Gulf, the Middle East and the Arab world. The implications of the game-changing agreement extend to the Western world, impacting Latin America, Mexico and every congressional district in the U.S.
In 2015, Kerry is attempting to assuage the concerns of the American people by portraying Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif as moderates. He fails to note that they were handpicked by the ayatollahs, happily serving as their mouthpieces, due to their mastery of taqiyya (Islam-sanctioned double-talk and deception, especially when dealing with “infidels”). Upon concluding the current negotiation, Kerry praised Zarif, Iran’s charmer-in-chief, as “a tough negotiator and a patriot,” adding, “We approached these negotiations with mutual respect.”
During the 1990s and until the eruption of the civil war in Syria, Kerry was a member of a small group of senators who considered Syrian President Hafez Assad and his son and successor Bashar Assad — otherwise treated as pariahs by the West — to be moderate, constructive, potentially pro-U.S. and trustworthy. He prodded Israel to cede the strategically critical Golan Heights to Syria. Kerry was a frequent visitor to Damascus, asserting on March 16, 2011: “My judgment is that Syria will change as it embraces a legitimate relationship with the U.S. and the West and economic opportunities that come with it.”
Kerry considered PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat a messenger of peace, embraced the anti-U.S. Muslim Brotherhood, dumped Egypt’s pro-U.S. President Hosni Mubarak, turned a cold shoulder toward the country’s current pro-U.S. President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, and referred to the violently intolerant Arab tsunami as the Arab Spring, “the new Arab awakening,” transitioning from tyranny to democracy, the Facebook revolution and the reincarnation of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King.
Refuting Kerry’s hope-driven policy, Amir Taheri, a senior Asharq Al-Awsat columnist and a leading expert on Persian Gulf politics, underlined Persian Gulf reality: “The assumption that the Rafsanjani/Rouhani faction is interested in reforms is far-fetched. … In the third year of Rouhani’s presidency the number of prisoners of conscience has almost doubled along with the number of executions; political parties and trade unions remain banned; more publications have been shut than under Ahmadinejad; exporting terror has intensified with a 32% rise in the budget of the Quds Force, which controls Iran’s terror network. … Kerry is chasing a dangerous fantasy: helping a regime in deep crisis regain its bearings and do more mischief at home and abroad.”
Echoing Saudi concerns that the Iran nuclear agreement dramatically bolsters the rogue ayatollah regime, precludes a regime change and erodes U.S. posture of deterrence, the veteran columnist adds: “The deal strengthens the radical hardliners in Tehran, who believe that they have carte blanche to pursue their imperial dream. … diplomacy has made the world a much more dangerous place.”
The U.S. power projection, which is essential for global stability, is further undermined when Obama evokes former President John F. Kennedy’s Test Ban Treaty with the USSR — an adversarial, nuclear superpower, deterred by mutually assured destruction — to market the nuclear deal with Iran. Iran is a medium-size conventional power, a rogue, non-compliant, apocalyptic regime, not deterred by MAD, seeking capabilities to devastate “the arrogant, infidel, Great Satan.” While Kennedy’s policy constrained the bullish policies of the USSR, the Iran nuclear deal fuels the ayatollah’s bullishness, significantly enhancing their financial and military capabilities, thus intensifying global instability.