Analysis: US Rushing Iran Deal, Selling Out Allies
According to US-based analysts, America is ignoring its allies to rush a deal and ease sanctions on Iran at the Geneva nuclear talks, in doing so turning its back on its allies Israel and Saudi Arabia. Analysts note the move raises the specter of a Middle East nuclear arms race.
Speaking to AFP Sunday, Hussein Ibish, a senior fellow at the American Task Force on Palestine, said of Iran nuclear talks in Geneva that the US was "maybe trying to go a little too far, too fast...induced by the Iranian enthusiasm."
The latest round of talks in Geneva fell apart Saturday, with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius being credited with preventing a bad deal. Negotiations are set to be reconvened in the same location on November 20.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has repeatedly criticized the proposed deals, saying Sunday that they remove sanctions while leaving Iran capable of restarting its nuclear program at any time and rapidly producing a nuclear weapon.
Responding to Israeli concern, US Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday expressed US caution in approaching the nuclear talks and insisted there is US commitment to Israel's security. However, Israel is not the only US Middle Eastern ally concerned over a quick deal with Iran.
Ibish said that Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states "seem to be concluding, with alarm, that the US is morphing from the guarantor of regional stability to a broker of unsatisfactory and tenuous agreements with regimes that should be confronted or contained." He added that Gulf states are "starting to ask the question 'Why does the US seem to be developing a panel of rewarding its enemies and punishing its friends?'"
Iran has been hard hit by sanctions that have, among other things, frozen overseas assets worth several billion dollars. However, recent proposals indicate that those sanctions may be lifted soon.
Patrick Lawson of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, offering analysis in mid October, noted that US President Barack Obama could potentially relieve sanctions on Iran even without approval from Congress, if he was ready to pay the political price.
Referring to the precedent of former President Bill Clinton, who complied with European objections and prevented application of the 1996 Iran and Libya Sanctions Act, Lawson concludes that if Obama's "administration deems it necessary to erode sanctions in order to reach a nuclear deal, reducing enforcement and eschewing action against the many new front companies Iran is constantly creating would do the trick."
Gulf analyst Simon Henderson recently spoke with the Washington Institute about the Iran nuclear talks, as well as Israeli and Saudi concerns.
He remarked that reports of Saudi Arabia acquiring nuclear technology from Pakistan have some truth to them, and that a deal on Iran could lead to a Middle East nuclear arms race, since such a deal would show that the US "isn't prepared to use its leverage to ensure a non-nuclear world."
Henderson's analysis can be seen in this video: