Israel’s tough stance on the renewal of the nuclear agreement echoes the GCC countries attitude, with possibly different responses and tactics to deal with this regionwide crisis. The GCC sextet perceive the same risk despite their different positions on Iran’s nuclear capabilities.
For the Gulf states, it is not just about a potential nuclear threat. It is about the impact of the agreement itself on Iran’s regional behavior.
If we recall the beginning of the debate on the negotiations to revive the nuclear agreement, we all know that the Gulf states called for, similar to the six-party talks with North Korea, expanding the talks to include regional neighbors and other issues, such as Iran’s missile program and Iran’s regional policy, on a single calendar - seeing them as indivisibly linked.
We can conclude that an agreement on the resumption of the nuclear deal will mean about a hundred billion dollars flowing into the Iranian treasury, much of this money to be used to finance Iranian sectarian militias and regional arms in Yemen, Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, the Palestinian Authority, and so on.
This simply means an increasing threat to the national security of other regional players, such as the Gulf States and Israel. In the hubbub of international events, the missile attacks by Iranian drones on vital and strategic facilities in Saudi Arabia and the UAE must not be forgotten.
In this context, we also reflect on the ongoing threat to Israel’s national security posed by Iranian-backed organizations.
The bottom line is that the Gulf States and Israel are not worried about the deal itself.
They are not reluctant to enter into an agreement with Iran for the simple reason that regional security and stability are the basis for the economic renaissance that these countries are experiencing as they seek to strengthen a culture of coexistence, renounce violence, and build peace.
The Iranian regime is known to be pursuing a regional expansionist project, the features of which are obvious to all.
So the main problem with Iran is its behavior, not its means.
Specifically, we are talking about the destabilization of the Middle East. Since the nuclear capabilities Iran seeks are the mainstay and strategic leverage for such behavior in the region, it consequently faces strong resistance at the regional level. The Iranian regime is known to be pursuing a regional expansionist project, the features of which are obvious to all.
The presence of nuclear weapons will exponentially aggravate the aggressiveness of the Iranian regime. It will stymie a confrontation with this expansionist policy. Confrontation with a nuclear expansionist power, as the only way to contain it, is fraught with extreme dangers.
The problem with successive US administrations is that they have been committed to preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. That in itself is a good thing. But as we all know, the agreement signed in 2015 and any formula to revive it will not achieve that goal, merely focusing on delaying or eliminating the threat for a period of months or even several years.
It will neither prevent it once and for all nor put an end to Iran’s nuclear ambitions. So we are really between bad and worse. Clearly, the US does not want to go into a decisive confrontation with Tehran.
This hypothesis is no secret anymore, but a reality that Iranians know and act upon. To those who deny it, recall Tehran’s behavior during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, when the Iranian regime gave its full support to the US only to escape its wrath and misunderstanding. To say that the Iranians planned what is happening now is a stretch.
The US strategic mistakes that made Iraq a gift to Iran were probably unforeseeable. The Iranians at the time were really wary of their archenemy being on their border. Washington does not want a confrontation whatsoever with Iran or any US presence in the Middle East.
That is a given, despite attempts in recent months to prove otherwise. It would be a mistake for any regional actor to imagine that the US could risk a direct military confrontation in the next few years, whether to protect itself or even its strategic interests.
Its ignoring the legitimate fears of regional countries is all the more reason to doubt the viability of existing strategic alliances with the US, which have so far failed to certify their reliability, and to adjust the course of or even restructure these alliances according to new insights and fundamentals.
Dr. Salem AlKetbiis a UAE political analyst