Israel Is Lying: Arab States Not Opposed to Iran Nuclear Deal
Addressing a conference on Tuesday, June 9, 2015, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed that heads of Arab countries in the Middle East region agree with him that a nuclear deal with Iran will not stop Tehran from getting an atomic weapon. Adding that he is not the only voice in the Middle East against a final deal between the world powers and the Islamic Republic over Iran's nuclear program, Netanyahu said though he is often “portrayed as the nuclear party pooper,” he has talked to Israel's neighbors, and that "nobody in this region believes this deal will block Iran's path to the bomb.” Although positions proclaimed by governments are sometimes different from the policies they implement in practice, Saudi Arabia has officially hailed a final deal over Iran's nuclear program. In his meeting with the United States Secretary of State John Kerry in March 2015, the former Saudi foreign minister, Saud Al-Faisal, lauded efforts made by the member states of the P5+1 group of countries to find a political solution to Iran's nuclear case. He also expressed hope that the group would reach a successful agreement with Iran that “dissipates the doubts and ensures not shifting to a military program that threatens the region and the world.” He also announced Riyadh’s support for the right of all countries in the region to “the peaceful use of nuclear energy according to IAEA standards, requirements, and inspection.”
In another development, the Reuters news agency published a report on April 6, 2015, in which it gave a summary account on a statement released by Saudi cabinet with regard to a final nuclear deal with Iran. In that statement, Saudi cabinet welcomed any form of nuclear deal with Iran, which would guarantee peace and stability in the region and the world and ensure a Middle East free of nuclear weapons.
Tehran and the P5+1 group of world powers – five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany – are facing a deadline on June 30, 2015, to achieve a comprehensive agreement on Iran's nuclear program which seeks to impose limitations on the country’s nuclear program in return for suspension or removal of sanctions against Iran. So far, all evidence points to the fact that nuclear negotiations are moving in a positive direction. The main question, however, is why Israel has always been beating the war drums and tried to obstruct any kind of nuclear agreement on the basis of the win-win formula between Iran and the P5+1 group, while claiming at the same that his opinion is shared by some Arab countries in the region?
It seems that the problem that Israel and Netanyahu have with a possible nuclear deal with Iran can be analyzed better by taking into account the following three points:
1. First of all, if Iran maintained its nuclear capability on the basis of a mutually agreed formula, this would potentially change the regional power equation in Iran's favor.
2. Secondly, normalization of relations between Iran and the outside world, especially with European countries and the United States, will increase Iran's economic potentials and ultimately boost the country’s ability to support its regional allies.
3. Thirdly, by demonizing Iran, Israel is actually trying to appear as a victim, thus doing its best to justify suppression of the Palestinian people while highlighting Iran's alleged role in fomenting crises in the Middle East.
The main problem with Israel is that even if the formula agree upon by the two negotiating sides in the Swiss city of Lausanne on April 2, is once again confirmed through a final agreement, which is expected to be reached before the end of June 2015, it would greatly boost Iran's standing in the Middle East. On the other hand, removal of sanctions and elimination of tensions in relations between Iran and the West will greatly increase Iran's capacity to support its regional allies. Even if Israel could get along with Iran's nuclear capabilities under supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in a verifiable manner, it would still be undoubtedly more concerned about strengthening of Iran's economic might as a result of the removal of sanctions, which will turn the Islamic Republic into an economically capable country. Israel wants the Iran issue to continue to remain an urgent matter in order to use it as an excuse for the continuation of Tel Aviv’s suppressive policies against Palestinians. It wants to use this excuse to continue rejecting the independence of Palestine, deflect international attention from the suppression of Palestinian people by directing that attention toward Iran and its nuclear issue, and on the other hand, appear as the main victim of a possible nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 group.
Although Saudi Arabia and some other Arab states in the region are not happy with possible détente between Iran and the West, which will increase political clout of Iran in the region, and are also suspicious of Iran's policy in such countries as Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon, available evidence shows that on the whole, their proclaimed and implemented policy is to welcome a final agreement over Iran's nuclear program. So far, even a single official document that would indicate opposition of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and other Arab countries to the nuclear deal with Iran has not been leaked and those countries apparently believe that the verification by international community of the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program is in line with their interests. Even the aforementioned official statement by Saudi Arabia’s cabinet took indirect aim at Israel by implying that Arab states in the region do not tolerate a nuclear Israel in the Middle East. As a result of these facts, the remarks made by Netanyahu to the effect that some Arab leaders in the region share his opinion on a final agreement on Iran's nuclear program is only a lie and an effort to end his regime’s isolation in this regard and buy legitimacy for Israel.
Associate Professor of International Relations at University of Isfahan, Iran