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Iran Deal Opponents: Arab Leaders

Arab leaders’ critiques have been mostly private, but a few have gone on the record.

Malak Chabkoun, Syria specialist at Al Jazeera Centre for Studies in Doha, Qatar: “Iran has been handed even more leverage in the region, and if recent events linked to Syria, Yemen and Palestine are any indicator, Iran plans to continue using non-peaceful means in maintaining and expanding its influence in the Arab world. Most importantly, the nuclear deal has a much a greater implication than the financial boost it will give Iran: rather than encouraging it to opt for peaceful resolutions in the Arab world, the deal has legitimised Iran’s regional activities under the guise of avoiding war with the US.” (Iran deal does not mean peace in the Middle East, Al Jazeera, August 24, 2015)

Imad Al-Din Adib, columnist for the Egyptian daily Al-Watan: “The greatest powers have signed an agreement that reduces and slows Iran’s nuclear uranium enrichment [but] does not halt it, in return for $120 billion [to] Tehran. [….] once its 10-year duration is up, [the agreement] allows [Iran] to produce a nuclear bomb in the 11th year. Iran, after 26 months of grueling negotiations, has sold ‘air’ to the superpowers. [….] It is as if they told Iran: Take 120 billion [dollars] and do as you please.” (Egyptian Columnist Compares Iranian Nuclear Agreement To Munich Agreement, Middle East Media Research Institute [MEMRI] Special Dispatch No. 6111, July 21, 2015)

Walid Jumblatt, Lebanese Druze leader: “This deal was signed with the blood of hundreds of thousands of Syrians who were killed to pave the way for this agreement. [….] It was concluded on the ruins of the Arab world, which has descended into chaos and darkness at a time when regional and international players are content to watch Arab blood wasted as they seek only their interests!” (How Turkey really feels about the Iran deal by Cengiz Çandar, Al-Monitor, July 20, 2015)

Abdulrahman al-Rashed, former general manager of Al Arabiya News Channel and former editor-in-chief of the Saudi newsoaoer Asharq al-Awsat: “The Iranian regime is like a monster that was tied to a tree and finally set loose in our region. This means we are on the threshold of a new, bloody era. Verbal promises from Washington will not be enough, and Iranian pledges will not reassure us. The countries of the region have only one choice: to expect the worst-case scenario. [….] Tehran does not intend to drop its aims of expanding its regional dominance and destabilizing neighboring countries, taking advantage of the lifting of sanctions, which will facilitate the transfer of funds and the purchase and shipment of arms. Tehran intends to destabilize the region in order to impose submissive regimes.” (Thwarting Iran’s regional dominance by Abdulrahman al-Rashed, Al Arabiya, July 17, 2015)

Prince Bandar bin Sultan, Saudi prince and former ambassador to Washington: “America’s allies in the region’s intelligence all predict not only the same outcome of the North Korean nuclear deal but worse – with the billions of dollars that Iran will have access to. It will wreak havoc in the Middle East which is already living in a disastrous environment, in which Iran is a major player in the destabilization of the region.” (Saudi prince: Iran deal worse than one with N. Korea, Al Arabiya News, July 16, 2015)

Also quoting Prince Bandar, “The nephew of King Salman warned in Lebanon’s Daily Star that the deal would allow Iran to acquire a nuclear bomb and would ‘wreak havoc in the region’.” (Iran deal will cause Middle East havoc, Saudi prince warns, Times [U.K.], July 17, 2015, and Saudi Prince Bandar: The U.S. nuclear pact with North Korea failed. The Iran deal is worse. by Adam Taylor, The Washington Post, July 16, 2015)

Saudi royal-family-owned newspaper: “Western governments will be under great pressure to make the deal succeed and therefore turn a blind eye to many of Iran’s destabilizing policies as well as Tehran’s blatant interference in the domestic affairs of its neighbors. Moreover, the West will also have to neglect Tehran’s support of extremist militias [….] Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states can only welcome the nuclear deal, which in itself is supposed to close the gates of evil that Iran had opened in the region. However, the real concern is that the deal will open other gates of evil, gates which Iran mastered knocking at for years even while Western sanctions were still in place.” (Iran nuclear deal opens the gates of evil in the Middle East by Salman Aldosary, Asharq al-Awsat, July 15, 2015)

Saudi daily Al-Yawm, editorial: [The agreement] “actually strengthens Iranian nuclear facilities; gives Iran time to develop its nuclear weapons undisturbed; lifts the economic sanctions [on it]; enables it to spread the culture of hatred, sectarianism, and death to neighboring countries; and provides Iran with money to fund this destructive plan and spread division among the people… This agreement has given Iran the legitimacy, the strength, and the funds to develop nuclear weapons. This means that the agreement has strengthened the option of war and has made peace impossible, because the Iranian regime uses its strength, its resources, and its ties to spread wars, division, and destruction. The Iranian nuclear agreement will embolden Iranian to destroy the world, make its military nuclear reactors more immune to international inspection, and make the new impending arms race inevitable, so long as the West gives Iran a free hand on the nuclear issue and gives it all the capabilities and gifts [that it needs] to further threaten the region and the world.” (Al-Yawm (Saudi Arabia), July 15, 2015, In Gulf Press, Fear And Criticism Of Iran Nuclear Agreement, Middle East Media Research Institute [MEMRI] Special Dispatch No. 6107, July 15, 2015)

Randa Taghi Deen, Lebanese journalist in Saudi press: “This agreement and the lifting of the sanctions will serve members of the [Islamic] Revolutionary Guard [Corps] who provide state funds to [Iran’s] agents in Lebanon, chiefly Hizbullah; to the Assad regime; and to pro-Iranian Iraqi militias… Iran’s money will not reach its people that thirst [for it], but will feed adventures outside Iran and also the destabilization of the Middle East.” (Al-Hayat (London), July 15, 2015, In Gulf Press, Fear And Criticism Of Iran Nuclear Agreement, Middle East Media Research Institute [MEMRI] Special Dispatch No. 6107, July 15, 2015)

London-based Qatari daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi editorial: “[The agreement] will redefine [Iran’s] status as a superpower in this vital and volatile region, and [will make it] a member of the superpower club, after attaining legitimacy for its nuclear program in the heart of an environment that is crumbling along racial and sectarian lines.” (Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), July 14, 2015, In Gulf Press, Fear And Criticism Of Iran Nuclear Agreement, Middle East Media Research Institute [MEMRI] Special Dispatch No. 6107, July 15, 2015)

Ahmad El Assaad, chairman of the (secular Shi’a) Lebanese Option Party: “the [Iranian] regime is about to receive 150 billion dollars, through the [nuclear] deal. This regime wants to give massive financial support to any regime or militia that is intrinsically linked to it, and first and foremost, to Hizbullah, which is the spoilt brat of the Iranian regime. Furthermore, this regime will try to establish ‘franchises,’ as it did with Hizbullah, and as we are seeing today with the Al-Sadr group in Iraq or the Houthis in Yemen, in order to meddle more and more in the Arab world, and later, throughout the entire region.” (Future News TV, July 21, 2015,  translated by Middle East Media Research Institute [MEMRI], Clip 5021 & transcript, July 15, 2015)

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