“The Obama administration is scrambling for reassurances it can present this month at a Camp David summit meeting to persuade Arab allies that the United States has their backs, despite a pending nuclear deal with Iran. Officials at the White House, the Pentagon and the State Department have been meeting to discuss everything from joint training missions for American and Arab militaries to additional weapons sales to a loose defense pact that could signal that the United States would back those allies if they come under attack from Iran. Over mahi-mahi at the Pentagon two weeks ago, Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter polled a select group of Middle East experts for advice on how the administration could placate Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, all of which fear the nuclear deal, according to several attendees………………..”
First (of all): it is not an “Arab” fear of the nuclear deal. Ask most Arabs from Baghdad through Amman to Algiers and Tetouan, ask 250 million of them and they will not express any fear of this deal. Arabs have lived with a nuclear and aggressive Israel for decades without expressing any fear of it either.
Second: a part of the small minority of all Arab who live on the Persian-American Gulf express disapproval of the nuclear deal (not counting the majority of the population who are South Asian expat laborers). Many of them don’t know its details and look at it from a sectarian view and in some cases whatever their government propaganda tell them.
Third: the rulers of the GCC Gulf states are not afraid of the “nuclear” deal either. They are worried about expanding Iranian influence in Iraq and Syria and Lebanon, and potentially in Yemen. A legitimate worry. Only about three of them (only about three regimes) are also afraid of lifting the Western blockade from the Iranian people which will strengthen their economy.
Fourth: These three (or four) regimes are pretending to be afraid of a nuclear deal only as a bargaining chip: the same position as Benyamin Netanyahu takes. The last time Iran attacked a neighbor was almost three hundred years ago. When was the last time Iran was attacked by a neighbor? In 1980, by Baathist Iraq with active help from others in the neighborhood. The Baathists used WMD in that war.
Fifth: the mullahs don’t directly attack a neighbor, unlike Baathist Iraq (attacked Iran and Kuwait), unlike Saudi Arabia (attacked Yemen at least three times: 1930s, 2009, 2015 and attacked Kuwait once in 1920). Even so, the Persian-American Gulf is clogged with powerful Western navies that can deter any conventional attack.
Sixth: Even if we ‘buy’ the claims about Iran’s nuclear program. When was the last time a country used nuclear weapons in ts own neighborhood? Is there a regime so stupid as to contemplate doing that, across its border? Are there regimes audacious enough to use it as an excuse to keep an economic blockade on a neighbor?
No doubt Mr. Obama knows all this, or he should know it when he sits down with his guests. Which also makes one wonder: why not also invite Netanyahu to Camp David, since he claims the same worries and concerns? Then Mr. Obama can have his catharsis with both. It should be fun: Likudniks and antisemitic Wahhabis singing Kumbaya at the camp.
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum