Secretary of State John Kerry met with Saudi Foreign Minister Al-Jubeir on Thursday and promised the U.S. will help Mideast allies defend themselves against any Iranian-supported unrest,” resulting from the P5+1 deal agreed to on Tuesday. The Saudi government is not “buying the deal” despite the offer of protection.
The Associated Press is reporting:
Kerry said he’d travel to the region Aug. 3 to brief American allies on the deal. He vowed to push back against Shiite Iran if it supports extremism — a concern of the Gulf’s Sunni monarchies.
The Saudi minister gave a polite but tepid response.
Saudi Foreign Minister Al-Jubeir said he supports a deal that prevents Iran from reaching nuclear weapons capability, includes tough inspections and quickly re-imposes sanctions if Iran cheats. He said his country was still examining the deal and would need time to get questions answered.
Not mention was the Saudi monarchy stopped trusting U.S. “protection” when Obama drew the now infamous Syrian red-line in August of 2012 and then punted a year later.
Iran and Saudi Arabia are competing for leadership of the Muslim world. The Sunni Islam Saudi Arabian monarchy fears the Shia Islam Iranians will employ terrorists in an attempt to overturn the Saudi government.
The foreign minister’s statement delivered after the Kerry meeting echoed his government’s official reaction to the deal made on Tuesday. However Saudi officials’ private responses were much different than the public ones:
Meanwhile, a Saudi official said Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers on Tuesday will make the Middle East a “more dangerous part of the world” if it comes with too many concessions, signaling Gulf Arabs’ deep unease at the agreement. (…) A Saudi diplomat described the agreement as “extremely dangerous” and said it would give a green light to his own government to start a nuclear energy program.
There have been reports that the Saudi government has approached another Sunni state, Pakistan who already has developed nuclear weapons technology, to purchase some nuclear bombs.
The Saudi press has done most of the dirty work of attacking the P5+1 deal. While the Saudi media is privately owned, they are subsidized and regulated by the government and the kingdom’s Basic Law states the media’s role is to educate and inspire national unity. In other words the anger directed toward the Iran deal in the media is reflective of the monarchy’s feelings.
Saudi Arabian media attacked Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers on Wednesday, with cartoonists depicting it as an assault on Arab interests and columnists decrying the focus on Tehran’s atomic plans instead of its backing for regional militias.
A cartoon in Asharq al-Awsat(above), a pan-Arab daily close to King Salman’s branch of the ruling family, showed a trampled body marked “Middle East”, with a placard saying “nuclear deal” sticking from its head .
The top-hatted and turbaned silhouettes of America’s Uncle Sam and an Iranian cleric ran across the body hand in hand, portraying a widely voiced concern that Washington’s quest for a deal means it has realigned with Tehran at Arab expense.
Many Saudis are concerned that the Iranian deal was an indication of Obama siding with the Shiites over the Sunnis.
In al-Jazirah daily, columnist Jasser al-Jasser wrote an article headlined “A terrorist Iran instead of a nuclear Iran”, alluding to his fear that the deal would simply allow Tehran to back Shi’ite Muslim militias and militants.
A concern that such Iranian involvement in Arab countries was feeding the sectarian conflict that allowed Islamic State to thrive was evident in a cartoon in the Saudi daily al-Watan, also owned by a branch of the ruling family.
It showed an Iranian cleric with a malignant facial expression turning the spigot on an oil pipeline marked “nuclear deal”, from which dollar bills were pouring into the mouth of a masked militant labelled “terrorism” (below).
The reaction in the Saudi Arabian media indicates that the House of Saud’s feeling about the P5+1 deal is not as politely “wait and see” as indicated by their officials’ public statements.