Following the January 16, 2016 publication of the International Atomic Energy Agency report verifying that Iran has met its commitments under the JCPOA, nuclear-related sanctions on Iran have been lifted, and $100 billion in Iranian assets has been unfrozen. In response, many writers have published articles in the Gulf press stating that the West is deluding itself by thinking that Iran's behavior will now change for the better. These writers warned that Iran will continue to fund terror organizations across the world and to seek to destabilize its neighbors in order to bring down their regimes, and that the infusion of billions of dollars will only help it do so. They also said that the Iranian regime and its affiliates, first and foremost members of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), are the only ones who will profit and benefit from these funds, while the Iranian people will continue to live in poverty and oppression. One writer even called the U.S. "a cheating, lying ally undeserving of a minimum of trust," and stated that its insistence on bringing Iran back into the international fold is aimed at igniting the Middle East in order to justify a permanent U.S. presence there.
Conversely, a Kuwaiti writer expressed hope that the lifting of the sanctions will lead to strengthening of the moderates in Iran, and called on the Gulf states to immediately launch an open dialogue with them, for the good of all the peoples in the region. This, he said, is preferable to squandering huge sums on weaponry and on a war that no one will win.
The following are translated excerpts from the articles.
Qatari Writer: Those Who Believes Iran Has Changed With The Lifting Of Sanctions Are Deluding Themselves
Dr. Abd Al-Hamid Al-Ansari, a Qatari writer and intellectual and former dean of the Shari'a and Islamic Studies faculty at the University of Qatar, wrote in the Kuwaiti daily Al-Jarida that the lifting of the sanctions on Iran will not make Iran a more decent and honest state, but a more violent one: "All those who are betting that this [Iranian] regime will become more decent and will return to the fold of the international community as a normal state... are deluding themselves. The Western countries and the U.S., that are betting on the removal of the sanctions and the ending of the embargo strengthening the reformist forces and bringing about the longed-for change, are completely ignoring the nature of this regime... [This regime] cannot exist without interfering [in other countries], because if it did not do so, it would lose its religious and doctrinal legitimacy.
"Evidence that the [Iranian] regime cannot change or become decent or normal is the fact that its appetite for ballistic weapons only increased after the sanctions were lifted, and that its interference in the region has become more violent, after the [show of] smiles by [Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad] Zarif and the optimism of [Iranian President Hassan] Rohani."
Cartoon In Bahraini Daily: "The billions that Iran regains will become explosives" (Source: Akhbar Al-Khaleej, Bahrain, January 24, 2016)
Saudi Writer: Kerry's Illusions That The Region Will Now Be Safer Will Not Change Reality
Mashari Al-Zaydi, columnist for the Saudi London-based daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, wrote that U.S. President Barack Obama, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, and the entire West are deluded if they thought that the situation in the region would improve following the lifting of the sanctions: "Will our region become safer and more stable after Europe and the U.S. lift the sanctions on Iran? This is the essential question in the story. As far as President Obama's staff is concerned, first and foremost Secretary of State John Kerry, this will indeed happen with Iran, after the signing of the decision to lift the sanctions...
"John Kerry, the godfather of the JCPOA, said at a meeting with his Iranian bridegroom Foreign Minister Zarif that [the agreement] was the result of steps taken since last July, and that as a result of it 'the U.S. and its friends and allies in the Middle East and worldwide are now safer.' [Also,] EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said that [this agreement] will strengthen stability and peace in the region...
"[But] the agreement, as has already been said again and again, is flawed in structure, since it restricts the problem of Iran to the nuclear issue, and [disregards] its destructive political conduct in the region, which is the main problem. Proof of this is that Iran has remained loyal to this destructive path, both before and after the announcement of [the JCPOA's Implementation Day]. Moreover, the U.S. Treasury Department has [even] placed new sanctions on Iran because of its test-launches of ballistic missiles...
"In truth, there is no need for panic, because Obama and all those beside him have built this agreement on castles in the sand, and the wave of reality that will come will wash them away. This is because Khomeinist Iran can be only what it is , and Kerry's and Mogherini's delusions will not succeed in changing the geographic, demographic, and historic facts in the Middle East."
Bahraini Commentator: With The Billions It Receives, Iran Will Again Fund Terror Organizations
Sa'ied Al-Hamad, a Bahraini media figure, writer and political commentator, warned in the Bahraini daily Al-Ayyam that the Iranian regime would use the unfrozen billions to continue funding terror. The Iranian regime, he said, has never hidden the fact that it funds terror organizations operating in neighboring countries, and neither is it hiding it now; furthermore, even Secretary of State Kerry acknowledged this.
Al-Hamad wrote: "About the funds that Iran will regain following the lifting of the sanctions, Kerry said, 'I believe that some of these funds will reach the IRGC or other bodies, some of which are classified as terror organizations'... A senior Iranian official told the Times ... that the IRGC, especially [its] Al-Qods [Force], will profit from the new fortune that will come with the lifting of the sanctions, and that the IRGC and the Qods Force represent the main ammunition of Iran in the region. He used the military term 'ammunition' explicitly, [the meaning of which] is not obscure to any reasonable person. Another Iranian official [said]: 'When you are rich, you can better help your friends.' He did not clarify who these friends were, and left it for observers and those concerned to figure out - but [understanding] this demands little effort or brains.
"The Iranian regime does not hide the massive funding that it has allocated in the past to militias, groups, and organizations that it planted in neighboring countries, which have carried out sabotage and terror operations in order to bring down those regimes and to pave the way for the turban-wearers in [the Iranian holy city of] Qom, to fulfill their dream, and to reestablish their Safavid empire. This is the ideological [Iranian] dream, which cannot be denied.
"The Iranian people is perhaps the only one that knows and understands that the lifting of the sanctions and the return of the billions will not help it, because these [funds] have been divvied up and allocated to elements that will benefit from them even before they reach Tehran... [The Iranian people] will emerge emptyhanded, and its rejoicing at the lifting of the sanctions and at the return of the billions was disproportionate to the magnitude of the event, because it knows the path of the 'one and only leader' [Iranian Supreme Leader Ali] Khamenei and knows to whom these funds will be directed..."
The terror organizations including Hizbullah, Assad, the IRGC, Al-Qaeda and Shi'ite militias, that will benefit from the unfreezing of Iranian assets (Source: Al-'Arab, London, January 24, 2016)
Kuwaiti Writer: Billions Will Flow To The IRGC; The Iranian People Will Continue To Be Oppressed And Impoverished
Similar statements were made by Kuwaiti writer 'Abdallah Al-Hadlaq, who, in an article in the Kuwaiti daily Al-Watan, accused the Iranian regime, particularly the IRGC, of plundering Iran's economic resources while the Iranian people "is bowed under the yoke of oppression and poverty." He argued that this will not change even after the sanctions are lifted and billions of dollars are unfrozen: "The fascist Persian Iranian turbaned regime that rules Tehran... interferes in every single matter, and deposits the country's resources in the hands of those with whom it is pleased, or those who guarantee its continued existence, primarily the Persian Revolutionary Guards. When the sanctions on Iran are lifted, and the billions return to it, the people, who is bowed under the yoke of oppression and poverty, knows that it will receive a mere pittance from it, and that the situation will remain the same or even grow worse.
"In terms of economic resources, Iran is considered wealthy, even very wealthy... But this wealth is not reflected in the lives of its residents; only the tiniest fraction of it reaches their pockets... The men of the Persian regime and the IRGC are the unrivalled leaders of the [economic] battle - while the sanctions have hurt all Iranians, they have greatly benefited the IRGC, because after foreign firms left Iran, much of what they had been doing was taken over by the Persian IRGC, allowing it to increase its influence in the country and to take over the billions belonging to the Iranian people...
"The issue of lifting economic sanctions on Iran once again brings up the main question: Will things change? The answer of all those who follow [this issue] indicates that things will indeed change - in greater profit for these same [already wealthy] elements and for the Persian IRGC, which hold the [most important] economic junctions, and will partner the foreign investors on most new projects. The profits of those who already stand to gain will increase, and as for the poor - they will become even more impoverished and miserable in the face of an accursed revolution that consumed its own sons, and then their resources. The unfrozen billions will help strengthen the fascist Iranian Persian regime's ability to support, fund, and sponsor global terrorism and the satanic and evil plans of the land of the Persians - Iran."
Bahraini cartoon: "Iran after sanctions are lifted" (Source: AkhbarAl-Khaleej, Bahrain, January 26, 2016)
The burning Middle East pays the price of U.S.-Iran relations (Source: Al-'Arab, London, January 15, 2016)
Kuwaiti Commentator: "The U.S. Is Nothing But A Cheating, Lying Ally Undeserving Of A Minimum Of Trust"
In a scathing article in the Kuwaiti Al-Rai daily titled "John Kerry, Your Loyalty Is Less Than Zero," Mubarak Muhammad Al-Hajri accused the U.S. of insisting on bringing Iran back into the global arena in order to ignite the Middle East; this, he said, serves American interests: "U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has come to the Gulf region many times to warn of the increasing Iranian power [there], and to clarify [to the Gulf states] that the U.S. will not be able to protect them, using various baseless pretexts and excuses [to demonstrate this]. Naturally, the Gulf states are not as na├»ve as the Americans think, and have tired of the games played by the American diplomats and of the psychological warfare that they are constantly waging [against them] - to the point that even a simpleton far from the air and filth of politics can clearly see that the U.S. is nothing but a cheating, lying ally undeserving of a minimum of trust.
"[The U.S.'s] policy and statements that contradict each other leave us no choice but to expect an Iranian return to the international community, sponsored by the U.S. - despite its black record of supporting terrorism in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Bahrain, Argentina, and other regions that have not escaped the Iranian regime, and despite its human rights violations and its oppression of domestic minorities and the opposition, and other shameful things of this kind. But the U.S. insisted on bringing Iran back into the global arena, as it disregards international peace and security...
"Once, the Gulf Cooperation Council [GCC] states were considered to be not independent and the weakest link in the Middle East - but they have managed, admirably, to reverse this equation... and now they are in charge and enforce their [own] decisions despite U.S. ire.
"The White House diplomats do not want to hear this harsh truth, in light of Iran-U.S. harmony. The unfrozen $100 billion will not go to the Iranian people, but rather to the militias and gangs loyal to the Iranian mullahs, to spark more sectarian wars and conflicts [in the Middle East] and to spread chaos and instability [there]. It is this that the U.S. wants, since this is absolutely in line with its agenda, which has transformed the Middle East into a collection of tension[-filled] hives so as to justify its permanent presence there."
Kuwaiti Writer: Needed Immediately: Political-Economic Reconciliation With Iran
Taking a different tack than the others, Kuwaiti writer Hassan Al-'Issa, in the Kuwaiti daily Al-Jarida, expressed hope that the lifting of sanctions would strengthen Iran's moderate forces and deescalate tensions in the region. He called on the Gulf states to immediately launch a dialogue with Iran, with the aim of gaining political-economic reconciliation that would benefit all the peoples of the region: "The lifting of the international sanctions on Iran, and its entry in force into the oil export market, rub salt on the wounds of the [Gulf] Cooperation Council states, which are drowning in the mighty torrent of their increased [oil] production and the lack of a demand, at a fair price, for their orphaned goods. However, as an Omani official said, beyond this pessimism lies some optimism, in that the lifting of sanctions could bring about a kind of peaceful atmosphere in our burning region, and because the status of the moderates in the [Islamic] Republic of Iran... will grow stronger vis-├á-vis the extremist forces... having proven the seriousness of their policy in dealing with the extremists, and successfully extricating Iran from the sanctions.
"Should there be open talks between our countries and Iran in order to emerge from the war that is being conducted in Syria and Yemen by means of proxies, we would stand to gain much, since the excuse for the massive expenditure for armament would become invalid, and we could be saving that money and spending it in the right places to serve our peoples instead of channeling it to the pockets of the arms-dealer cliques. Those who stand the most to gain [from such talks], even more than us, are the two peoples, Syrian and Yemeni. The tragedy of Syria has gone on for a long time and could go on even longer, so long as both sides in the struggle [i.e. Saudi Arabia and Iran] believe that they can achieve a decisive victory - while reality proves that such civil wars always end with no winner and no loser, as happened in Lebanon.
"In Yemen, Iran could agree to [adopt the policy of] its moderate wing... according to which there is no point in inciting the Houthis, and no solution except in agreement among all the Yemenis, from all sects and tribes. We must acknowledge that what is happening now is first and foremost a war of attrition waged against Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states that are subordinate to it...
"Let us look inward to our Gulf, and open the window of dialogue and reconciliation - because political-economic reconciliation [with Iran] is not a luxury but rather an urgent necessity that cannot be postponed or delayed."