The official reaction of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to the July 14, 2015 announcement of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 brought to the surface the disagreements among the GCC member states over this issue. Most of the Gulf states, with the exception of Saudi Arabia, issued official declarations in response to the announcement of the deal, sending congratulatory letters to Iran's leaders expressing hope that the agreement would aid regional stability. In contrast, the Saudi response, issued by an unnamed senior official to the official Saudi news agency SPA, noted the announcement's importance but threatened that the country would react harshly were Iran to use its resources to undermine regional stability.
The disagreement among the GCC states also emerged in a column by Ghassan Al-Imam in the London-based Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat criticizing the GCC member states that hastened to congratulate Iran and that, he said, had been duped by Iranian Foreign Minister Jawad Zarif's statements. Claiming that only Saudi Arabia was acting to rein in Iran in the Arab region, he urged the GCC states to show Arab solidarity with the Arab peoples who had been harmed by Iranian policies - such as the Syrians - instead of relying on the U.S. which, he stated, had "backed down from the demands by[both] the Arabs and the Europeans to put an end to the Iranian nuclear program."
Below are the main points of his column:
Ghassan Al-Imam(Image: Aawsat.net/writers)
"The Arabs have no nuclear bomb, but they do have nuclear scientists, who can form a scientific committee that will examine and evaluate the technical and physical details in the nuclear agreement that the U.S. claims will delay, by at least a decade, Iran's ability to obtain a nuclear bomb...
"I remain unpersuaded by all the official Arab declarations that the ayatollahs of the theocracy[Iran] will undertake not to manufacture a bomb during the years of the international embargo, and that they will not use it against both the 'apostates' and the believers in the region...
"I have not read the agreement's 159 pages, so I do not know whether it has secret diplomatic annexes [pertaining to] the arrangement of regional affairs among the U.S., Iran, and Israel. I was not taken in by the sly smile of the 'makeup artist'[Iranian Foreign Minister] Zarif, who 'made up' the Arab faces during a round of visits to the Gulf states, when he announced that the [Arab] principle of 'one's neighbors before one's own home'[i.e. before Iranian interests] will govern Iranian policy, in order to distract the Arabs of the East and of the Gulf from the 'catastrophes' of the nuclear agreement...
"The Arabs are rubbing their eyes and ears. They were left to eavesdrop during the Iran-West nuclear talks, and heard the U.S. and European leaders demanding that Iran stop heating up[sic] nuclear fuel and delivering it to Russia; that it stop manufacturing intercontinental ballistic missiles; and that it refrain from threatening the Gulf and penetrating the Arab East. [They heard these leaders say that] if they [the Iranians] did not, the U.S. and Israel would destroy the Iranian nuclear industry.
"After the [application of] Arab makeup to the nuclear agreement...the [GCC] foreign ministers hastened to congratulate Iran on the agreement...Saudi Arabia was the only Arab country that expressed reservations about the nuclear agreement - [but]with no formal declarations against it, in order to preserve minimal diplomatic coordination between the Gulf states...
"On the ground, the Saudi response to the nuclear agreement came in Yemen. Contrary to expectations, Saudi Arabia was victorious, with Allah's support, over the Iranian intervention, that had nearly resulted in a complete Houthi takeover of Yemen and the establishment of an Iranian proxy regime that would allow it to control the southern entry to the Red Sea and would use the Houthis as an Iranian Trojan horse on Saudi soil...
"Saudi diplomacy may possibly turn to an [additional] difficult [but] noble mission, and will again attempt to bridge the disputes between the smallest of the Arab states (Qatar) that is distracted by its struggle with the largest of the Arab states (Egypt),[from engaging] in serious mediation of Arab and regional disputes.. What could possibly facilitate this mission is to stop viewing the Muslim Brotherhood [MB] as the greatest danger to the regimes of the Gulf states. In my opinion, the arrest of the 'elders' of the office of the MB General Guide - among them the ousted president Muhammad Mursi - and the death sentence handed down for all of them, led to the emergence of a young leadership that filled the vacuum in the MB leadership, by [advocating] a more extremist policy and [showing] greater readiness for violent and terrorist activity against the Egyptian state.
"One of the nuclear agreement's 'impressive achievements' is the announcement of the renewal of the Iranian initiative to solve the Syria crisis...The initiative, which has been bolstered by the American recognition of a nuclear Iran, seeks to impose Iran as a foreign and uninvited partner in Arab national security, to consolidate the rule of Bashar [Al-Assad]'s collapsing regime, and to continue to exterminate Arab Sunni Syrians if they do not agree to remain subjects who have obligations[but] who have been deprived of all rights.
"Iran has completely lost control of the situation on the ground in Syria. What is happening now is that Arab Syria is being divided into Turkish, Kurdish, and 'Alawite Shi'ite pockets. Iran is annulling Lebanon's parliament, government, and presidency- possibly in preparation for adding a Lebanese-Shi'ite pocket to the pocket of a Shi'ite Persian/'Alawite state that will stretch from Damascus through Homs to the Syrian coast, along Lebanon's northeastern border - which has already been eradicated because of Hizbullah's involvement in carrying out crimes [together] with the Syrian regime.
"Saudi Arabia recognizes and is aware of these facts on the ground. All those who hastened to welcome the nuclear agreement should commit to minimal Arab diplomatic solidarity, trust themselves more, and rely on themselves.
"This [must be the answer to]the defeatism of the Obama administration, that backed down from the demands by [both] the Arabs and the Europeans to put an end to the Iranian nuclear program, and to strip Iran of the ability, in the immediate or distant future, to produce a new tragedy like Hiroshima."
See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6107, "In Gulf Press, Fear And Criticism Of Iran Nuclear Agreement: Obama Is Leaving The Middle East A Legacy Of Disaster," July 15, 2015.
Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), August 10, 2015.