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The catastrophic Iran deal has been signed, what will the arab countries who oppose it do now

Iran’s neighbors must decide whether to get a bomb themselves.
BN-JJ796_3arab_J_20150714190925 U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud in 2014. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday blasted the Iran nuclear deal as an “historic mistake,” which should give Congress pause but by itself won’t be enough to defeat the pact. As crucial to the debate will be whether the Arab nations of the Middle East speak out against it or play their usual double game of fretting in private while mumbling or staying silent in public.

The prospect of a nuclear-threshold Iran newly fortified with cash from sanctions relief has to be terrifying for its Sunni Arab neighbors. Traditional Persian imperialism combined with Shiite revolutionary fervor make for a fearsome regional threat, especially with President Obama signaling U.S. retreat from the region. Iran is now the most important foreign influence in Baghdad, and its Shiite militias are more powerful than Iraq’s army. Iran will have far more resources to spend arming its Shiite and other proxies in Lebanon, Syria and Yemen.

Listen to Syria’s Bashar Assad, who called the Vienna accord a “major turning point” for Iran and congratulated Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in a message saying, “We are confident that the Islamic Republic of Iran will support, with greater drive, just causes of nations and work for peace and stability in the region and the world.”

For months the Gulf Arabs have signaled their unhappiness with the Iran talks, asking visitors in private what Mr. Obama could possibly be thinking. Out of character, they’ve also spoken more in public. Prince Alaweed bin Talal, a Saudi royal (and once a major shareholder in the Journal’s owner, News Corp. ), told us in November 2013 that “for the first time Saudi Arabian interests and Israel are almost parallel” over Iran. He all but said the Saudis could purchase a nuclear bomb off the shelf from Pakistan given the close ties between the countries.


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