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Thursday, March 05, 2015

In case you didn't notice, it's not just about Israel

Israel is not the only US ally that is concerned about developments in the negotiations over Iran's nuclear capability. In case you hadn't noticed, the Gulf States are not exactly jumping for joy either (Hat Tip: Eli Tabori).
The Israeli prime minister’s public confrontation with President Barack Obama over the U.S. administration’s pursuit of a nuclear bargain with Iran may have drawn all the spotlight this week. But America’s other key allies across the Middle East—such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates—are just as distraught, even if they lack the kind of lobbying platform that Benjamin Netanyahu was offered in Congress.
“A lot of the Gulf countries feel they are being thrown under the bus,” said Mishaal al-Gergawi, managing director of the Delma Institute in Abu Dhabi and a prominent Emirati political commentator. “The Gulf thought it was in a monogamous relationship with the West, and now it realizes it’s being cheated on because the U.S. was in an open relationship with it.”
Trying to assuage such concerns, Secretary of State John Kerry flew Wednesday to Saudi Arabia. There, he is slated to discuss with King Salman and foreign ministers of other Gulf nations their worries that the nuclear deal may enable Iran to dominate the region. 
Even before the revolution, Iran tried to dominate the Gulf, laying claim to Shiite-majority Bahrain and seizing disputed islands claimed by the U.A.E.
Taking advantage of the Obama administration’s attempt to pivot away from the region, Tehran in recent years asserted its influence in Baghdad and solidified its control in Damascus and Beirut. Last month, pro-Iranian Houthi Shiite militias seized power in Yemen’s capital San’a and ousted that country’s U.S.-backed president.
The Sunni Arab nations led by Saudi Arabia that are engaged in proxy conflicts with Tehran in Yemen, Syria, Bahrain and Lebanon view this confrontation as an existential zero-sum game—and interpret any American opening to Iran, and any relaxation of the economic sanctions that have hobbled Iran’s ability to project power, as succor to the enemy.
“Some of these countries are more worried about the consequences of the deal, about how it will change the balance of power in the region, rather than the actual contents of the deal,” explained Ali Vaez, Iran analyst at the International Crisis Group think tank. These fears are overblown, he said: “The reality is that the U.S. may have a tactical overlap in its interests in the region with Iran, but strategically it sees the region in a very different way.”
That may be true, but this tactical overlap has already created strategic consequences in the crucial battlefields of Syria and Iraq, cementing Iran’s sway in both nations.
 Read the whole thing. Will the Gulf States decide that 'my enemy's enemy is my friend'?

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