The Best of the Worst

Why Iran's Enemies Support the Nuclear Deal

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry listens while Oman's Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi (L) speaks during a meeting of foreign ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in Doha, August 3, 2015. Brendan Smialowski / Reuters

On August 3, the Gulf States publically threw their support behind the Iran nuclear agreement. With some reluctance, Qatari Foreign Minister, Khalid al Attiyah, remarked in a press conference with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that the nuclear deal “was the best option amongst other options in order to try and come up with a solution for the nuclear weapons of Iran.” Qatar is currently chairing the Gulf Cooperation Council, which also includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

But what the Gulf states say in public is one thing and what they actually believe is another. The Gulf States’ animosity toward the Iran deal has not gone away. Two days after the agreement was signed in Vienna on July 14, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, a former Saudi ambassador to the United States, wrote in an opinion piece for the Arabic news site Elaph that the deal would “wreak havoc on the region.” He argued that the terms of the deal made it less secure than the 1994 nuclear agreement with North Korea, which fell through in 2003 and is generally seen as a lesson against negotiating with rogue nations. Al Sharq al Awsat, a newspaper owned by a member of the Saudi royal family, recently warned that “the agreement would open the gates of evil in the Middle East.”

Qatari Foreign Minister Khalid bin Mohammad Al-Attiyah in Doha, Qatar, August 3, 2015.

Brendan Smialowski / Reuters

The Gulf States remain deeply apprehensive about the agreement’s ramifications for their security and standing. For one thing, they are worried that Washington’s rapprochement with Iran will come at the expense of their own alliance with the United States. They are also concerned that the agreement will embolden Iran, especially in its support of rebel Shia groups such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthis in Yemen, as well as Syrian President Bashar al Assad. The Saudis fear that in the future, the United States may refrain from pursuing policies that oppose Iran’

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