Analysts: Nuclear Deal Strengthens Iran as Regional Power
A new AP report revealed that the United States and Iran held secret, high-level, face-to-face talks, which paved the way for the nuclear deal that was settled between Washington and Tehran this past weekend in Geneva.
Israeli Prime Benjamin Netanyahu was only told of two secret summer meetings by President Obama before speaking the following day at the UN General Assembly, where the Israeli PM called a potential nuclear agreement the “deal of the century” for Iran. The U.S. President, however, had not informed Netanyahu of previously held meetings in March between Iranian and American officials.
In response to the historic nuclear deal, Saudi Arabia accused Western allies of deception. In a report in the Telegraph on Monday, a senior advisor to the Saudi royal family, Nawaf Obaid, stated that “we were lied to, things were hidden from us,” in regard to Washington not directly briefing its oil-rich ally. “The problem is not with the deal struck in Geneva but how it was done,” added Obaid.
The Saudi government said in a statement, however that, “this agreement could be a first step towards a comprehensive solution for Iran’s nuclear program, if there are good intentions.”
It is a pretty big if for some analysts, and according to Dr. Eldad Pardo of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the deal doesn’t actually deal with any of the real problems. “This is an interim agreement – it seems nice but it leaves all the problems for later just like the Oslo process,” Dr. Pardo told Tazpit News Agency.
“It isn’t clear what this deal is for; it seems like a compromise for Iran. A nuclear weapon has been the life project of Khamenei’s Iran and Iranian ideology has consistently stated that the U.S. should stay out of the Middle East. Whether this will change or not, is a huge gamble,” Dr. Pardo told Tazpit.
Indeed, Dr. Pardo sees that much more is at stake for the Middle East with Iran cementing itself as a regional powerhouse. “Iran controls now all the territory from Afghanistan to the Mediterranean, with Iraq, Lebanon, and now Syria falling under its control.”
Indeed, in 2008, according to a report in The Guardian, the commander of Iran’s elite and powerful al-Quds Force, a branch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, Major General Qassem Suleimani, sent a text message to then-U.S. General David Petraeus, which read: “General Petraeus, you should know that I, Qassem Suleimani, control the policy for Iran with respect to Iraq, Lebanon, Gaza and Afghanistan.”
Suleimani today commands the al-Quds Force and is responsible for Iran’s overseas operations, running Hezbollah and backing Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad as well as supporting Syria’s Assad regime with logistics, finances, and soldiers.
Both the al-Quds Force commander and the current Iranian president report to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who as the country’s top decision maker has blessed the current nuclear deal. The Ayatollah has the final say over Iran’s nuclear program and recently described Israel as the “rabid dog” of the region.
Even the former U.S. ambassador to Iraq and Afghanistan, Ryan Crocker, who was among the small group of Americans invited to meet with the new Iranian president Hassan Rouhani during his September visit to the UN has his doubts. In an interview with Dallas News on November 8, Crocker stated that “Nothing convinces me that they [the Iranians] can be trusted. I have no idea if they can be trusted. We should be taking nothing on faith. There’s got to be action.”
On the other end, Iran has no faith in the American administration. The Iranian news agency, Fars, reported in early November that Khamenei during a speech in honor of National Day of Resistance Against Global Arrogance, stated that hostilities between the U.S. and Iran would continue even with a nuclear agreement and that U.S. concern with Iran’s nuclear program was an excuse. “You cannot trust an enemy who smiles,” Ayatollah Khamenei stated of the Americans.
In a public letter on the Fars news site following the nuclear deal, Iranian President Rouhani wrote to Ayatollah Khamenei, declaring that Iran had achieved global respect in terms of its nuclear activity.
“I thank the God almighty, that in the beginning of the administration of hope and prudence, the children of your revolution, in difficult and complex negotiations, were able to prove the rights of the Iranian nation in nuclear activity at the international level…and the rights of enrichment of Iran was acknowledged by the world powers.”