7th APRIL 2015 - Vol.XXXVIII No.018
Local News

Fears as US closer to nuclear deal

REGIONAL security experts have sounded the alarm over Iran's nuclear ambitions as a deal with the US appears to edge ever closer.

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Riyadh yesterday to give his reassurances that Washington was not seeking a so-called "grand bargain" with Iran, in reference to wider political and security co-operation - adding that a nuclear deal would be in Gulf interests.

However, UAE-based Gulf State Analytics senior adviser Dr Theodore Karasik told the GDN that GCC states were right to be concerned.

"There has been for years this idea that the US will align with Iran in a West-Shi'ite alliance," he said.

"This was seen prominently in the US occupation of Iraq to create a Shi'ite crescent.

"Now if there is a nuclear agreement, a so-called 'grand bargain', Washington will no longer be supportive of Gulf fears over Tehran.

"Instead, America may cut back completely on its support to Saudi Arabia and others in order to start the pivot to the east, meaning a greater military presence in East Asia."

National Unity Assembly central board member Abdulla Al Huwaihi agreed with Dr Karasik that an underhand deal was being cut between the US and Iran.

"The overall situation in the region is worrisome and the stance of the US has been vague at best," said Mr Al Huwaihi.

"Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Syria and Egypt cast a shadow of doubt suggesting a hidden agenda.

"The problems in these countries seem to be warning of something negative waiting in the wings for the Arab world and that US policy for the region is to divide it ethnically and on sectarian basis."

Shura Council foreign affairs, defence and national security affairs committee chairwoman Sawsan Taqawi was also concerned that Iran possessing nuclear capacity would pose a global threat.

"This represents a threat to global security, not only the security of the Gulf," she said.

"Iranian obstinacy in refusing to disclose details of its reactors, adds to the fears of the Gulf and other Arab nations.

"There is definitely a strong suspicion about Iran using its nuclear power for non-peaceful purposes, and Arab nations are wary of Iranian expansion in the region, especially its penetration in Yemen, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and other countries."

However, Bahrain-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) non-proliferation and disarmament programme director Mark Fitzpatrick dismissed the fears as "groundless".

"The fear that the US will abandon long-standing Arab friends in the Gulf in order to have a dalliance with Iran is groundless," said Mr Fitzpatrick.

"In the event that a deal is reached on Iran's nuclear programme, it will not result in rapprochement between Iran and the US.

"Too many other issues divide them, including Iran's support for Hizbollah and other groups that employ terrorist tactics, its antagonism toward Israel, its support for Assad's cruel repression and its meddling elsewhere in the region."

The IISS expert also noted that any deal with Iran could in fact be a security benefit to Gulf states as it would give them a better idea of what Iran was up to.

[email protected]

Picture - Page 12

click on image to view the digital edition