Will U.S. Deal with Iran Make Israel and Saudis Become Allies?


So the U.S. (by which we mean Germany, France, England, Russia, China, and the U.S.) and Iran are striking a deal about nuclear development in the Peacock Kingdom and U.N. sanctions.

One odd byproduct? An aligning of interest between Israel and Saudi Arabia, which are hardly friendly to one another. Yet both countries—along with a number of other Sunni-majority states in the Middle East—are absolutely opposed to the United States cozying up to Iran.

The Saudis now fear Obama may be tempted to thaw ties with Tehran by striking a deal to expand inspections of its atomic sites in return for allowing Iranian allies to go on dominating Arab countries such as Lebanon, Syria and Iraq. That such a bargain has never been publicly mooted from within the Obama administration has not stopped Saudis voicing their concerns.

"I am afraid in case there is something hidden," said Abdullah al-Askar, chairman of the foreign affairs committee in Saudi Arabia's advisory parliament, the Shoura Council. "If America and Iran reach an understanding it may be at the cost of the Arab world and the Gulf states, particularly Saudi Arabia."

More here.

As Ed Krayewski noted earlier today, Israel—or at least its elected leader, Benjamin Netanyahu—is apoplectic at the deal. And as Matt Welch wrote, hawkish elements in the American GOP are trying to wrap any deal with Iran in the mantle of appeasement and Munich Redux. Given that a majority of Americans are interested in seeing the United States play a more limited role in disputes around the globe, it's going to be tough sledding for hawks to push the idea that we need to be bombing Iran even as we negotiate with the country. Funny how a decade-plus of failed foreign wars have made everyone but neocon hawks rethink U.S. foreign policy, isn't it?

Which isn't to say that Obama is a good spokesman for American interests. He's a trigger-happy character himself, who tripled troops in Afghanistan, tried to stay in Iraq past the original withdrawal date (something he's succeeding at in Afghanistan incidentally), unconstitutionally dispatched American forces over Libya, and was all set to bomb Syria until wiser, cooler heads won the battle of public opinion.

And then there's John Kerry, our secretary of state. As Hawkeye Pierce once said of Col. Henry Blake, the hapless commander of the good ol' fashioned M*A*S*H 4077 in that awful TV series that lasted five times longer than the Korean War, I honestly believe John Kerry could get held up via the mail. 

Is Iran a trustworthy negotiating partner? Kind of a weird question coming from people in a country that was bugging the phone of Angela Merkel and other allies, but no, Iran isn't trustworthy. Which doesn't mean you don't negotiate with them—it just means you trust but verify, as Reagan counseled with the Soviets.