Manama: Analysts in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have sounded a loud cautionary note, saying that the first-step nuclear deal struck in Geneva between Iran and the six world powers could spell ominous developments in the region.
“We are and we should be concerned because what will happen is that Iran and the West will now reach an accord on how to divide their influences in the Gulf,” Jaber Mohammad, a Bahraini political analyst, said. “A nuclear Iran will be more confident and bolder in its attempt to boost its expansionist policy and to increase its influence in the region. It already has a lot of leverage in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon and it is working on Bahrain and Yemen, countries that are neighbours of Saudi Arabia. We have every right to feel concerned. The West does not have such feelings because they are not within the Iranian reach and they are thinking mainly about lucrative contracts,” he said.
Ahmad Juma, a political activist, said that the agreement would not last and that it would not be able to weather the test of time and the complexities of the region.
“This is a very odd agreement that is rather focused on tactical goals and objectives,” he said. “It has been brokered by countries that want to achieve their tactical interests without really looking at long-term strategies. That makes it odd,” he said.
Ahmad, also a columnist in a local daily, said that the accord at the same time showed that the Gulf countries were weak.
“Instead of crying today over what is happening, the Gulf countries should have been ready to confront such a development. After all, the move by Iran and the 5+1 powers has been in the making for months and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) should have been ready for it. They should have built themselves into a stronger alliance, a union as King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz said back in 2011,” he said.
The GCC, established in 1981, groups Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
King Abdullah at the Riyadh summit in December 2011 called for moving from the phase of alliance to the phase of a union within a single entity.
The six member countries welcomed the call, but while some said they were ready to implement it, others called for some time to look into the details.
“The GCC countries should not now resort to deploring the deal or crying over it, but should instead work together to form a political, economic and social force that can resist any attempt that target its short-term and long-term interests,” he said.
Several Gulf citizens argued they knew both Iran and the US “well enough to have concerns about what could happen in the region.”
“Iran has since the early 1980s sought to export its revolution as is stated in its constitution,” a Gulf analyst said. “They have been doing that, like building their nuclear capabilities, under all presidents regardless of whether they were perceived or promoted as conservatives or reformists. The US is of course looking after its interests. In 1979, they dropped Taiwan to start relations with China. In 1990, they did not oppose Syria in its expansion towards Lebanon because they needed Damascus at the time. Nothing can guarantee they will not do something similar in 2013 or 2014 that would be detrimental to the GCC countries.”
Hours after the announcement of the deal in Geneva, the GCC countries did not issue official comments.
In London, Prince Mohammad Bin Nawaf Bin Abdul Aziz, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the UK, said that his country would not “sit idly by” if world powers failed to halt Iran’s nuclear programme.
“We are not going to sit idly by and receive a threat there and not think seriously how we can best defend our country and our region,” Prince Mohammad told the Sunday Times. “Let’s just leave it there, all options are available,” he said in the interview he gave before the deal was announced.
According to reports, the options could include Gulf states becoming drawn into a nuclear arms race through close cooperation with other countries.