Mohammed Ayoob writes: The impact of the Iran nuclear deal is unlikely to be limited to the nuclear proliferation arena. While the question whether the deal has prevented Iran from ever developing nuclear weapons capability or has merely postponed the inevitable by a few months or years will continue to be debated, one should not ignore the wider strategic consequences of the agreement for several reasons.
First, it has the potential of introducing a sea change in the relationship of the United States that could unfetter Iranian diplomatic capabilities that can be used in pursuit of its broader regional goals. This is the reason why Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies have reacted so harshly and negatively to the agreement. If things proceed down the path of an Iranian-U.S. rapprochement in the context of a war weary American public opinion, Riyadh can no longer automatically depend upon U.S. diplomatic and military support against Iran in its competition for power and influence in the Persian Gulf.
Second, it has demonstrated unequivocally that on vital strategic issues in which U.S. and Israeli interests diverge Washington does possess the residual political will to make hard decisions in the teeth of Israeli opposition, something that analysts of all hues had doubted for a long time. This may signal the beginning of the unraveling of the prevailing myth that U.S. policy toward the Middle East is shaped in Tel Aviv and not in Washington. It also explodes the myth that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is an all-powerful force when it comes to fashioning U.S. policy toward the Middle East. Its consequences, therefore, go beyond the Iranian nuclear issue and are likely to impact public perceptions in the United States and abroad regarding the deadlock over the Palestinian issue and the likely direction of U.S. policy on the unending Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This explains Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s uncompromising hostility toward the Geneva agreement even at the expense of doing grave damage to Israeli-U.S. relations. [Continue reading…]
One of the paradoxes of the practice of railing against power — be that the power of the Israel lobby, or government, or corporations — is that those who persistently issue such warnings can be reluctant to acknowledge that such power has limits.
Thus in the current situation there are those who will insist that sooner or later Congress, on the command of AIPAC, will impose new sanctions and destroy the agreement Iran. Or, that due to pressure from Israel and Saudi Arabia the current agreement will expire without a permanent agreement being reached.
Both of those scenarios are certainly possibilities but my sense is that what this weekend’s agreement reveals is that the opponents of U.S.-Iranian rapprochement are manifestly swimming against the international tide.
The neocon trolls, beguiled by their own apocalyptic rhetoric, are convinced that the evil Islamic republic, hellbent on its pursuit of nuclear weapons, can pursue no other course. Yet what all the evidence makes clear is that Iran’s leaders — like those of any other state — are acting in accordance with what they perceive as their own interests and currently they see those interests best served by improved international relations.
The lesson here is about flexibility. Those with the skill to hold on to power are often more pragmatic than their opponents.