Sunni Arabs: Iran Deal Opens the 'Gates of Evil'
by Jonathan Spyer
The response in the Arabic-speaking world to the conclusion of a deal between the P5+1 countries and the Islamic Republic of Iran over the latter's nuclear program has divided along familiar lines.
Among pro-Iranian elements, such as President Bashar Assad of Syria and Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, the news of the deal has, predictably, been met with jubilation. Assad described the agreement as a "historic achievement" and a "great victory."
Sunni Arab concerns have focused less on the terms of the deal than on its strategic implications.
Among Sunni elements opposed to the advance of Iran, concerns have focused less on the nuclear elements of the deal – that is, whether it will effectively halt Iran's march toward the bomb. Instead, attention has centered on the deal's implications for Iran's push for hegemony in the Middle East, and its interference in and subversion of regional states as part of this effort.
An editorial by Salman Aldosary, in the Saudi-owned Asharq al-Awsat newspaper, summed up these concerns in the following passage:
Western governments will be under great pressure to make the deal succeed and therefore turn a blind eye to many of Iran's destabilizing policies as well as Tehran's blatant interference in the domestic affairs of its neighbors. Moreover, the West will also have to neglect Tehran's support of extremist militias, such as Iraq's Popular Mobilization forces, also known as the Hashd al-Shaabi, that have gradually become almost part of Iraq's military. Iran has established a policy based on the equation of fighting terrorism with terrorism amid deafening silence from the West.
Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states can only welcome the nuclear deal, which in itself is supposed to close the gates of evil that Iran had opened in the region. However, the real concern is that the deal will open other gates of evil, gates which Iran mastered knocking at for years even while Western sanctions were still in place.
From this perspective a particularly notable and dismaying aspect of the deal is its removal of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps and its Quds Force commander, Maj.-Gen. Qasem Soleimani, from the list of those subject to sanctions by the West.
The ending of sanctions will enable Iran to massively increase aid to its long list of regional clients and proxies.
The ending of sanctions on the IRGC, and more broadly the likely imminent freeing of up to $150 billion in frozen revenue, will enable Iran to massively increase its aid to its long list of regional clients and proxies. Iran today is heavily engaged in at least five conflict arenas in the region.
The Iranian creation and proxy Hezbollah in Lebanon is the dominant political and military force in that country. The organization depends on Iranian support, training and funding to maintain this position.
Read more: www.meforum.org