As U.S. and Iran Seek Nuclear Deal, Saudi Arabia Makes Its Own Moves

The talks themselves are already changing the dynamics of regional politics as Saudi Arabia, Iran’s chief regional rival, acts against Iranian-backed groups in Yemen, Syria and Iraq.

Comments: 186

  1. The problem has been and is Saudi Arabia, a sectarian inflaming country I find truly frightening for peoples of the Middle East. Of course, we do not recognize the inflaming nature of the Saudi government.

  2. And apparently you don't recognize the inflaming nature of the Iranian government either. What is it about "Death to America; death to Israel" that you don't understand? Or Hezbollah and its 30 years of terror including the murder of 234 unarmed US Marines simply trying to help save lives as part of a UN peace keeping mission during a brutal civil war in Lebanon? Or the Buenos Aires bombing massacre of a Jewish community center? Or Iran-supported Hamas?

  3. How informed are you abut mullahs and how they run their regime?

  4. The slogans--just slogans. Even Iranians don't take these rent-a-mob demonstrations seriously. The right-wingers in Iran give them a sandwich if they show up.

    Hezbollah--Iran has no effective control over Hezbollah and has not since 1990. Iran had absolutely nothing to do with the killing of the marines in Lebanon.

    There is no concrete evidence that Iran had anything to do with the Buenos Aires bombing--only innuendo and smoke.

    Hamas receives less than 20% of its financial support from Iran. The bulk of their support comes from the Arabian peninsula.

  5. Too much is made of recent developments between Saudis and Iran. It isn't new.

    Saudi Arabia was this same way with the Shah of Iran, when he was a US ally with US preference over them. The Shah was fairly aggressive right back at them. Their relations were sometimes just bad, and worse the rest of the time.

    The Saudis backed Saddam against the Shah. They fought with the Shah's proxies in Yemen. Those are not new things today, they are more of the same as it has always been.

    They also confronted each other about Bahrain (majority Shiite but near the Saudis), and some of the Emirates, and split those outcomes.

    The big fear of the Saudis now isn't losing specific conflicts to Iran, it is losing the favor of the US back to Iran.

    There were many good reasons why the US favored Iran over the Saudis. Some still apply. Many issues the US has with Iran are worse with the Saudis.

    The same is true for Israel. Israel was outraged over sale of AWACS and F-15s to the Saudis, at a time when it made no protests about Iran getting F-14s with our latest missiles. The Saudis have a ballistic missile base, and it is aimed at Israel. The Saudis don't have a nuclear weapons development program, but they do have the delivery system in place, and would need only to buy the warheads from Pakistan, which has already designed them for the same missiles and the Saudis really have already paid too. That was once a major pre-occupation of Israel, and would be again as soon as Iran is resolved.

  6. How do you know the Saudi missile base is aimed at Israel?

    The enemy of my enemy is my ally.

  7. As I have commented previously, it is encouraging that other countries in the Middle East are joining in some kind of effort to defeat terrorism, and restore the Middle East. I hope they do not give up and go back to the old ways........

  8. Countries that finance and provide other support for suicidal terrorists shouldn't have nukes.

  9. You're referring to Saudi Arabia, I presume, font and financier of all islamic terrorism. I'd throw in Israel as a terrorist threat, but it already has its nuclear arsenal.

  10. The shortsightedness of pretending that Iran was only a concern of Israel's is now manifest with the moves taken by Egypt and Saudi Arabia. It was all foreseeable, but our policy in the region appears to be premised on the delusion that if you accommodate bad actors with hard concessions in exchange for promises of good behavior, they will miraculously come around. The evidence against the Iranians (if you ignore their continuing rhetoric of incitement) was their crushing of the 2009 Green Revolution and the evidence against the Palestinian Arabs (if your ignore their continuing rhetoric of incitement) was their turning Gaza into a terror base after Israel's withdrawal in 2005.

  11. Are you saying that we should not negotiate with Iran? What is the alternative?

    I'll take Iran and the Houthis over Saudi Arabia/ISIS/Al Qaeda any day.

    If you think the crushing of the Green Revolution is sufficient cause to not provide any concessions to Iran (and perhaps bomb it?) then how should we deal with Saudi Arabia? A country that has such a repressive regime that a Green Revolution is not even possible there (not to mention the fact that they are the main sponsors of AQ, the Taliban, and Isis - and the people who actually flew into the twin towers)? I'm waiting for your friends in the GOP to tell us we should impose strict sanctions on Saudi Arabia. Given that the Saudis are bosom buddies with the Bushes, I'm not holding my breath. All this saber rattling by conservatives about Iran is not only war mongering, but rank hypocrisy.

  12. "It was all foreseeable, but our policy in the region appears to be premised on the delusion that if you accommodate bad actors with hard concessions in exchange for promises of good behavior, they will miraculously come around. "

    The bad actors are the ones you are defending, the ones that are helping our enemies like Al Qaeda, Nusra Front, ISIS. If our enemies are not YOUR enemies, then you are not on our side.

  13. I for one am delighted that the Arabs are finally putting their money and more importantly their military forces to strike down these radical elements in Yemen. It's their neighborhood and they should be the ones to stand up and fight for it. It's high time that America let them fight their own battles.

  14. The Houthis are Zayidis who ruled Yemen since the 9th Century only having been ousted 30-40 years ago with the help of Egypt. They are hardly rebels and hardly new to Yemeni history.

  15. "The Americans seem nonchalant about this, like, ‘This is your sectarian problem, you deal with it..."

    No, for decades America has been waiting you to get off your butt, and do something besides make yourself rich off of oil and buy military hardware then treat them like toys. This is in your back yard so, by definition, it is your problem. You should be taking an interest in it. No one can fault you for engaging in the noble act and doing what you know to be right (i.e. fighting terrorist who say join us or we will kill you).

  16. Except that they are not fighting terrorist groups, they are financing them.

  17. How can a deal with Iran "open up the Saudi appetite and the Turkish appetite for more nuclear programs" any more than no deal?

    No deal at all allows them to do whatever they like, but a deal presumably puts some sort of limit on what they can do.

  18. America tilts towards the Iran/Iraq/Shia alliance one day and then moves in the opposite direction towards Saudi Arabia/Sunni/ISIS/Syria alliance the next day. This could by the method in the US's madness.Let them kill each other off, it seems to be saying.

  19. Even if it's that crazy better them than us, no?

  20. Well, if the Saudis get too far out of line we will just have to get the republican Senators to write them a good stiff letter!

  21. To be honest, Sen. McScreech has "good friends in the Syrian Free Army" and the selfies to prove it; so our loudest Senator will likely just send a text and a cute baby animal pic to his friends that include Al Nusra. Those 47 Traitors are the gift that keeps on giving.

  22. With sincere due respect to all who have worked on this most difficult issue, it has been impossible from the outset. As we now see plainly, while the 'important' countries are willing to allow Iran a deal of commerce in exchange for highly restricted nuclear ambition for a period of time, its neighbors are clearly not. When Saudi Arabia attacked Iran's latest puppet in Yemen it sent a message that the nuclear negotiations are worthless. If Iran keeps its 'breakout potential' the Saudis will seek and secure the NBomb during the period that the Iranian's are supposedly not permitted to do so. No one believes that once the Saudi's go down that road that the Iranians will simply sit back and lose the mideast arms race. Does anyone really believe that the Iranians will do nothing while Israel takes possession of two additional nuclear submarines and the new Arab axis extends its control? In exchange for commerce? Radical Islam vs. western commerce a question that the Ayatollah will answer how?? We can make the Israelis be quiet with our billions in aid. How will we keep the Saudis quiet?

  23. Catstrophising while offering no clear path or strategy only plays into the hands of those who would use fear to control us. Additionally, by labeling everyone as villians (Israel "bought off" by what, or who, and possessing nuclear submarines?) while conjuring up fictitious no-win apocalyptic scenarios only serves to heighten the rhetoric of those who would seek us harm by allowing ourselves to loose our own cool. This is a time for tempered emotions lest we become that which we fear most.

  24. The negotiations with Iran is a grievous mistake in that any legitimization of Iran's nuclear capabilities simply legitimizes nuclear proliferation throughout the region. It's obvious, or should be, that the Arab states, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, will match Iran's capabilities. The Iranian nuclear deal, if one is achieved, will quite likely be marked as the most negatively consequential event of the first half of the 21st century.

  25. So, Saudi Arabia and Arab nations are willing to unite and work with Al Queda against Iran or any Shiite group, but did zilch against ISIS.
    The blood-thirstiest, most power hungry actors we've seen have not been out of Iran.
    Yet this article is painted as poor Saudi Arabia. Not buying it.

  26. Meanwhile, the most immediate threat to the continental United States comes from North Korea. Bibi and the Republicans could care less about the North Korean nuclear weapons and the weapons projection program because the South Korean Lobby is small and Israel is too far away. The Japanese Prime Minister, also, isn't jumping up and down, running to Congress telling us what to do.

    North Korea is an actual "existential threat" to all Koreans and Japanese. But, reading American newspapers, you'd think Israel owns the patent on "existential threats". Americans have also faced significant and harrowing "existential" nuclear threats from the USSR and now Russia for decades.

    All these threats are real, not hypothetical. Bibi and the usual neocon suspects want us to believe that hypothetical and contingent threats against Israel are worse than actual threats against everyone else. Iran is not only more than a decade behind North Korea's ability to weaponize and project, but the CIA and NIE have bluntly stated that Iran has no nuclear weapons program today. None. Zero.

    Some Republican's obsession with Israel is causing them to take their eye off the real threats to their own people in the United States. They obviously don't care about our own national security. They only care about creating dust-ups in the middle east to satisfy large political donors and inner anger.

    They should consider a change in their diet. Less Bibi and more America would be a good start.

  27. We don't get any oil from North Korea. Wake up.

  28. How did Obama, Kerry and Hillary not foresee this? Do they not understand the dangers of giving groups like ISIS access to nuclear weapons? So, Obama's solution to a nuclear arms race in the middle east is to give everyone access to bombs? I guess that is fair, right? All about fairness even if everyone ends up worse off ... Or dead.

  29. You really are hysterical. Now the President is allowing isis access to nuclear weapons. Is that the nonsense from fox news this week.

  30. Lina Khatib is quite correct; an engaged Iran will be more cooperative than an Iran out on an island on its own. Yet partly because of Iran's own irresponsible behavior, it is trusted less in most of the Arab world than is Israel. Iran must do more on its own to reduce this distrust, and quickly, as the fires of sectarian warfare in the area are only getting hotter.

  31. The damage worldwide by the manchurian candidate himself, obama, will take years, if not decades, for the next president to fix.

    Ukraine, syria, the mideast, cessation of the iranian nuclear weapons program, and most importantly, rebuilding the confidence of our allies that as a nation it is not our policy to abandon them as obama has so frequently done.

    Obama has much to answer for, as does chuck schumer, who thinks he can hide under the radar as a major democrat but being in NYS, does not get a pass with respect to supporting israel. Where has schumer been while obama has sold out israel?

  32. Saudis and Persian Gulf states spends billions upon billions of dollars buying the latest arms available, and yet all they are good at is creating and sponsoring barbarian mercenaries such as Daesh and Al Qhaedeh in Yaman and so on to do their dirty fighting for them. They are terrified at doing any combat themselves. Up to now they have been buying their security through US. Now that they feel US is abandoning them, they are trying to buy their security through Turkey, Egypt and Pakistan. They are basically worthless on their own.
    And the reason US is abandoning the Persian Gulf states is they know they are the financial backbone of terror groups such as Daesh and after reviewing the situation our intelligence services know without a doubt that they are huge part of the problem and that id we want to defeat Daesh and AlGhaedeh we have to confront them. I imagine they have confronted them with these issues and that's why they are panicking now.

  33. "A regional power can lead, they do not have to wait for America,” Mr. Khashoggi [of Saudi Arabia] said, “and if the issue is moral or justified, American[s] will get on board.”

    In the Middle East, I can think of almost nothing more helpful to the formulation of American foreign policy than this approach. Leadership in dealing with religious factions at cross purposes must come from those close to the situation - geographically and culturally. When America tries to lead, recent history is all too clear that unintended consequences - almost all of them bad - supersede whatever original intentions we may have had.

    Religious zealots, warlords, and repressive regimes seem determined to battle each other in the region. Do we choose to support bad actors by combating those who seem even more despotic or medieval at the moment? - not the best use of our limited resources! If there is a cause so righteous as to merit yet more American lives and treasure, we have yet to identify it.

    Our most effective engagement will be measured not in armaments, but rather in humanitarian relief for the long-suffering victims of religious & sectarian power struggles in the region. It's the right thing to do not only for the people there but also for our own foreign policy and international reputation.

  34. We should stay out of this, and let them work it out on their own. The sunnis have been trying to crush the Shi'ahs for centuries and were nearly successful
    until the collapse of the Turkish empire in the early twentieth c.. For US interests there is very little to choose between an Islamist Republic, and an Islamist Kingdom. Between the two, the kingdom is the more fanatical.

  35. If the Iran deal gets derailed then Saudi Arabia stands to gain. They need have no fear of cheap Iranian oil driving down prices on the barrel. This whole hullabaloo has very little to do with Iran eventually having the nuclear bomb. Saudi Arabia wants Iran to be slammed with trade sanctions, so they can keep their oil revenues, and there is nothing more to it.

  36. Saudi Editor: "One participant in the coalition was the Nusra Front, the Syrian arm of Al Qaeda, a terrorist group in the eyes of the West. But members of the jihadi coalition “are the ones who captured Idlib, it is an important development, and I think we are going to see more of that,” Mr. Khashoggi said. “Coordination between Turkish and Saudi intelligence has never been as good as now.”

    Ergo, Saudi Arabia and Turkey are providing resources, intelligence and coordination for an arm of Al Qaada that captured a city in Syria.

    At this point, Al Qaada sounds like girl scouts in comparison with Isis. But this is the first time I've heard it reported in the NY Times that Al Qaada responsible for 3,000 deaths on 911, triggered a foolish war in Iraq causing 3,000 US soldiers' death, cost 1 trillion and counting, tens of thousands wounded warriors with physical injuries and PTSD, that Al Qaada. Al Qaada against whom the Patriot Act and DHS were created. That Al Qaada that led the US to commit torture, conduct Abu Ghraib atrocities, Guantanamo Bay, that Al Qaada ... is supported by the Saudis. They admit it.

    The Saudis and Iranians deserve each other and should be given the opportunity to battle it out. The West can assist with no fly zones, humanitarian missions and refugee settlement relief. We can't possibly justify shedding our blood and draining our coffers to referee these sectarian and nationalistic conflicts.

    No amount of oil is worth this bankrupting of our values.

  37. Our values were bankrupted long ago, thank you.

  38. The Saudis have sat back and watched conflict in the Middle East without involving themselves militarily leaving the United States or others to do the dirty work. The factions they do support are despicable such as the Al-Nusra Front, terrorists that are an infection on the Syrian landscape. Besides their oil the Saudis do little to ease my mind. If they don't want the P5+1 to reach negotiated treaty to limit Iranian nuclear aspirations then they need to offer an alternative not just complain and point their finger like the letter writing GOP.

  39. You know the only possible way to stop nukes is to invade and take out the regime. Iran will get nukes. The remaining countries will too. This pretend deal has only made matters worse.

  40. This tells you how far US leadership has sunk to the point where some of our staunchest allies now have a go it alone approach to getting things done for their own survival and maybe that's the Obama plan all along, sit back and let things get so bad and massacres happening daily that nations have to jump in themselves. If that is the case, it would have been nice to be told that, but if it isn't, then we are in big, big trouble, because a mass civil war in Syria, Iraq and Yemen is only going to spill over into Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt and we'll be stuck with the mess it creates for decades.The one underlying theme for all of these troubles is the radical Islamic theology being preached by the mullahs in Tehran which is causing sectarian strife and fueling the radicalization of countless Shiite devotees to engage in jihad. The sooner we solve the Iran regime change riddle, the better the region will be.

  41. All the so called Islamic terrorists are funded and supported by Saudis and Persian Gulf states. Just like most of the 911 attackers were Saudis. At least know your enemy.

  42. The last thing we want is a "mess for decades" because we already have one of those.

  43. Saudi Arabia and its Wahabi sect is the ideology that has created the Jihadists in the Taliban, ISIS and AQ. Rather than supporting this cult, we should oppose them.

    The Saudis are a virus that has to be stopped. It was Saudis who were in 9/11, If we can make a deal with Iran that will fix up the arabs. Prior to the irannian revolution, Iran was our ally and it will be again

  44. Well, the Saudis are not holding today in their prisons, an American pastor,
    so my vote goes with the Saudis...

    President Obama, I hope you are not forgetting about American Pastor Saeed Abedini imprisoned in Iran, jailed simply because of his Christian faith.

    Obama has been talking a good game about getting him out of jail, but it has been two and half years of "talk" per Obama.

    Not sure why this is such a low priority for this administration.

  45. You mean the daily death to America is a cry for friendship?

  46. One must assume that the White House is acting in what it perceives to be America's interests.

  47. You mean not sacrificing American lives to keep Muslims from killing one another is a good idea?

  48. Yes, let's not question the judgement of our President who said "Done deal" in Yemen, called ISIS no big deal - "JV", hit the "reset button" with Putin and then fell asleep at the switch, blamed what happened in Benghazi on an American video, drew a "red line" for Assad then did nothing, allowing Putin to step in and grandstand, withdrew the troupes from Iraq prematurely (which opened Pandora's box there) and just had a Rose Garden reception for Bergdahl's parents who Susan Rice described as someone who served with "honor and distinction. Yes, by all means, let's trust THEM. Or maybe Obama is just throwing a hail Mary pass with Iran in the hopes that he might, MIGHT, have something, anything, that he can crow about. But from the looks of it, this too will be a total disaster. Maybe worse than a total disaster...

  49. I absolutely agree with everything Brooklyn just wrote. Unfortunately at this crucial moment in history the US has an amateur President and an ineffectual Secretary of State. What a disaster for a once great force in world history.

  50. "Through Egypt, a major beneficiary of Saudi aid, the kingdom is backing plans for a combined Arab military force to combat Iranian influence around the region."

    That was not the stated purpose of the unified force, although it can be easily deduced that Arab countries are weary of Iran's expansionist tendencies based on recent events in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. No, the stated goal is the originally proposed alliance by President El-Sissi of Egypt. That is to stop the spread of terrorism based on religious extremism as practiced by Al-Qaeda and its sisters, including Daesh (IS/ISIS). This is only one aspect of it. The proposal includes re-education and crackdown on inflammatory religious sermons pushing young people to fight based on erroneous interpretations These terrorist organizations are easily dispersed through out the Middle East. Having unified fast-acting forces will help to put a stop to that spread.

    It is no secret that Saudi Arabia and the GCC are indeed worried about Iran acquiring a nuke, perhaps even more so than Netanyahu's Israel. If Iran does eventually make nuclear weapons then everyone in the region will feel defenseless if a regional war were to break out.

  51. “The Americans seem nonchalant about this, like, ‘This is your sectarian problem, you deal with it,’ ” Mr. Khashoggi said. “So the Saudis went ahead with this Yemen operation.”

    And

    ” said Gamal Abdel Gawad Soltan, a political scientist at the American University in Cairo. “The U.S. is much less trusted as an ally, as an insurance policy towards the security threats facing the governments in the region, and so those governments decide to act on their own.”
    “The U.S. is much less trusted as an ally, as an insurance policy towards the security threats facing the governments in the region, and so those governments decide to act on their own.”

    So, the NYT reports, the Obama administration policyless foreign policy is not misunderstood by the locals.

    Many commenters and hacks suggest the policyless policy is secretly about a grand alliance with Iran. Putting aside, Iran doesn't agree,

    Hahahahahah. What a bunch of jokers.

    Await the next clueless lecture on LBGT rights in Crimea from the policyless policy Obama brain trust, with more encoragement of Japan having a military ready to intervene in Asia.

    Clowns.

  52. "The operation “proved that a regional power can lead, they do not have to wait for America,” he said.

    That's great because I for one would prefer if every country in the Middle East waited indefinitely for America to get involved

  53. Is there a Saudi-led Arab alliance to defeat ISIS? No.

    Is there a Saudi-led Arab alliance to defeat Al Qaeda? No.

    Is there a Saudi-led Arab alliance to democratize and liberalize repressive states like, oh, Saudi Arabia and Egypt? I bet you can figure that one out on your own.

    Meanwhile, Iran is actually fighting against ISIS and Al Qaeda.

    The links to the Houthis are not clear, nor is it clear that the Houthis are a bad turn for Yemen. The Houthis have fought against ISIS and Al Qaeada.

    So which is more important to the US? Maintaining a happy Saudi monarchy with hardly any rights for women or religious minorities, a monarchy that supports the extremely conservative Wahabi branch of Islam? Or doing something about ISIS and Al Qaeda?

  54. dont be fooled, Iran is in this all for itself....Its Irans fault that ISIS came into being in the first place by helping maliki grab power in Iraq all for Sunnis only, and by supporting Assad in Syria, creating an opportunity for ISIS in both countries....yeah we know you hate the Saudis, but try not to let your love of Iran cloud the facts.

    If you want to blame anyone, you need to go back a little more and blame the US and Bush specifically for invading Iraq against all advice and unleasing the pandoras box.

  55. If our seeking a deal with Iran is what it took to get the Saudis involved with the problems of their own region we should have pursued one a long time ago. If Tehran and Riyadh finally duke it out in Yemen (or elsewhere) the U.S. will be the big winner.

  56. Israel also wins big when Iran and Saudi Arabia, or simply Shia and Sunni, are at each other's throat. When they fight each other, the focus is off Israel and the US.

  57. Unless they wind up nuking it out.

    Then what?

  58. I wonder if our talks are just a stalling action to allow others to prepare. We should not do anything besides a multinational no fly zone. It is time for the Mideast to mature and settle its own problems.

  59. The last paragraph really concerns me:
    The operation “proved that a regional power can lead, they do not have to wait for America,” he said, “and if the issue is moral or justified, American will get on board.”
    Sad case is, if a cause was moral or justified, America, in the past would always take a leadership position. The current administration has subjugated our position to one that makes our allies hope we will "get on board".

  60. Where have we taken the leadership position? Both World Wars saw us as latecomers. Same thing for Korean and Vietnam wars. Get a grip on your facts. We've 'led' only once recently, and that was in the 2nd Iraq invasion. Because we wanted to make a point. Point well taken. Everything else has been a reactive response.

  61. It's about time an American President developed a more balanced long term approach to the Middle East. It's smart not to put all your eggs in one basket, and its smart not to support only Sunni dominated Arab Countries. Iran is not going anywhere. It's going to be there for a very long time. It wasn't always our sworn enemy. The people there are still quite friendly towards the US. We should try to make them have a stake in a stable more balanced Middle East. Israel is going to have to grow up and start acting like a mature State instead of a protected client. The future will thank us even if the flack from politically minded opponents will be thick.

  62. Never in my 64 years have I been forced to consider whether or not our president had my security and well being in mind as he prances about the world stage.

    Until now.

  63. and just what country or organization is now coming to get us.

  64. No agreements, military or financial support to any Country that sponsors terrorism. That should be the cardinal rule governing talks with either Iran,
    Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, Russia, or Israel.

  65. Originally Obama wanted to help kick Assad out of Syria.
    Then, ISIS was the JV.

    But, now the President's foreign policy is a bit more nuanced,
    we are in a defacto alliance with the Saudis fighting the Shiites in Yemen and in another defacto alliance with the Iranians fighting Sunnis in Syria and Iraq.

    Low or no priority for Obama is the Kurds or Christians in the Middle East.

    And, we are in negotiations for Iran to have a nuclear bomb in ten years

    Here's a little wisdom for Obama
    ( I know he only gets his info when he reads it in the paper)

    The Islamic doctrine of taqiyya permits Muslims to deceive non-Muslims. Islamic prophet Muhammad himself regularly lied to his infidel enemies, often resulting in their murder (such as the case of Ka‘b ibn Ashraf). He also proclaimed that lying was permissible in three contexts, one being war. Moreover, throughout the centuries and due to historic circumstances , taqiyya became second nature to the Shia -- the sect currently ruling Iran.

    Then there is the fact that Islamic law takes circumstance into account. When Muhammad was weak and outnumbered in Mecca, he preached peace and tolerance (hence why Meccan Suras appear peaceful); when he became strong in Medina, he preached war and went on the offensive (hence why Medinan Suras are violent and intolerant). This dichotomy -- reach peace when weak, wage war when strong -- has been Islamic modus operandi for centuries.

    We are the infidels.

  66. Of course the Obama Administration is acting in the best interests of the US interests and the President is trying very hard to avoid and curtail further war and killing that is in on body's best interest. Notwithstanding that the US after the war on terror at home, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other number of other places has no resources to continue the menace of war. The Islam problem if various religious factions in particular the centuries old deep rooted animosities between the Sunni and Shia factions , who are bitter enemies. The worst for the Middle East region is geed of money, power and oil revenues to compete in the western fundamentally flawed economic system and the megalomaniacs so called monarchies, kingdoms .
    The bottom line is that western type so called hypocrite democracy, that neither the US or UK practice, is one big facade.

  67. The same characters that oppose the Iran Nuclear deal are the ones who started the Syrian civil war. They have more than 200k civilian blood on their hands, and their views should be irrelevant.

  68. If a nuclear arms deal is made with Iran, then Iran will eventually acquire a nuclear weapon; Saudi Arabia will do the same; Egypt may follow as well; and the hugely negative impact of these events on the region and the world at large will rest on the shoulders of Barack Obama and John Kerry. It will be the job of the next U.S. president to figure out a way to undo this deal, assuming Kerry continues to capitulate and a deal is signed.

  69. Actually without a deal they will have a better chance of getting a nuke. Your comment makes no logical sense.

  70. If we pulled out of there tomorrow (and we should) It would make little difference in the long term. These folks have been fighting each other for centuries, when we leave they will go back to the same. Unfortunately, we have sold and given them much more destructive ways to go about it. I'll be pleased, but surprised, if one of them doesn't fire off a nuke in the next 10 years.

  71. Christians and the west have been fighting for centuries too, dont act as if you are any better, you have a terrible record yourself, and they have not been fighting as much as western christians have in history. The World Wars are just a recent event, but Europe has been at each others throats forever.

  72. The world must not succumb to the petrochemical nationalism and monopoly. Market needs the company of political freedom.

  73. These small-state hegemonic moves should give Iran even more impetus for a signed solution for limiting Iranian nuclear development to peacetime uses. I would serve as a model for the Turks, Saudis, and Egyptians down the road. And it must have both strict, delineated sanctions and toothsome incentives. These few hours can well be the President's defining moment in foreign policy, achieving what so many of his predecessors only dreamed about. The biggest political beneficiary besides Obama. Kerry. His modest star will go supernova.

  74. you AMERICANS should know that our politician will never ever sign any contract which limit our nuclear development. we really prefer boycott rather than limiting nuclear developments.

  75. Maybe, maybe not, the president is crafty as a fox, letting the Arabs deal with their own problems.

  76. Your statement would ring true, only if Iran, Turkey, Afghanistan, Pakistan (and many other countries) were Arab!

  77. Incredibly and blatantly, US keeps supporting a fundamentalist regime that is responsible for spreading extremism through funding, indoctrination and repression. It also send most of the 9/11 bombers, tortures its own citizens, is the anti-thesis of freedom and equality and the list goes on forever. All this support in the name of "regional stability" and "pushing back Iran". It's only a matter of time until the Saudis turn on US, just like Mujahideens turned on US after Soviet left Afghanistan. US should avoid mistaking narrow tactical victories for longer term strategic gains.

  78. The region is spinning out of control. Egypt, Turkey and Saudi Arabia are teaming up to form an anti-Iranian front. Iran is sending it proxies to Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and Iraq. The US has lost control over these unfolding events.

    We all know that words mean nothing in the Middle East. In this part of the world, treaties are only worth the paper they are written on. The only thing that matters is power and how that power is wielded.

    Saudi Arabia greatly fears Iran. If the Saudi's are even partially convinced that Iran seeks an atomic bomb, they will pursue one themselves. They understand that what is said and agreed to between the US and Iran cannot guarantee their safety.

    An alliance between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan is most troubling as Pakistan already has the bomb. Saudi Arabia has enough money to buy Pakistan and the bomb with it.

    The Saudi's are using their vast economic resources to shape the region on their own. What they lack in military might can be purchased from others in the region.

    We can't rely on the Saudi's and they can't rely on us. In fact, no one over there can rely on anyone or anything except power.

    The way this situation is unfolding, the Times will soon have many job openings for war correspondents.

  79. Here is the mystery. Saudi Arabia is launching attacks in Yemen. launching attacks in Syria that will inhibit control of ISIS and threatens to develop a nuclear bomb.

    So who is the aggressor? Why Iran of course!!!

    Our great friends the Saudis are just pursuing nice peaceful wars and extending their influence peacefully into Yemen, Syria and Iraq, whereas Iran is pursuing terrible evil wars extending its influence into the same territories.

    Of course, Iran has no troops and no military equipment in Yemen, and Iran is fighting on the same side as the United States in Iraq and Syria, but wow, they are really the main danger whereas the peaceful warmongering Saudis are just trying to calm things down with their air strikes and attacks.

    This is how the United States has gotten itself twisted in knots by pursuing a foreign policy from teh 1970s. Like a blind, drunk lumbering elephant, the U.S. keeps repeating its past ineffective policies because it can't change direction.

    Rapprochement with Iran would break the ties of the past, but we just can't give up on our buddies in Saudi Arabia. We now produce as much oil as they do, so we don't even need their oil any more, but old friendships die hard, even when our friends are behaving worst than our enemies.

  80. Im always ready to make deals with people and countries that want to kill me.
    Sounds logical to me!

  81. As we did with the Soviets many times. Thank God. Who else do you make deals to reduce weapons with?

  82. Obama is not only bucking Israel but also the the Arab nations. Great strategy. Another foreign policy achievement.

  83. We don't need Israel and the Arab nations can start taking care of themselves. Saudi Arabia has now stepped up to the plate. Good for them. Let's see if the spoiled brat vassal state of Israel can do the same.

  84. I agree - they have been draining th US for far too long. Let them work out things for themselves.

  85. Iran said today that the enriched uranium stays in Iran and not instead sent to Russia. You don't suppose Putin had a hand in this last minute reversal?

    When Iran had their protests, Obama did nothing to try to encourage regime change. Yet later was happy to take out Quadaffi, oust Mubarak, and call for the ousting of Assad. He also has refused to deal with Egypt since taking out the MBH. He refused to help Jordan when they last visited and he pretty much has ignored the Saudis. His plan all along was to reinvent that region by shifting power from Sunni to Shia by empowering Iran. Remember Obama promised Putin if elected again he would be more flexible. What did that mean? Obama trusted Putin and has found out the hard way Putin detests him. BTW, Putin put that in a letter regarding the invasion by Obama of Libya. Putin hated that. This all seems to be about hate. Hate based on religion, regional, and most definitely individual hatred that is causing world chaos. The US lack of leadership has allowed Iran and Russia, the two best buds, to expand power. Maybe this was no accident.

  86. Obama did not take out Qaddafi, as he was killed by Libyans, and France is the country that went screaming into Libya to drop their bmbs under President Bling Bling.

  87. The odds of this working out are a 100 to 1. If the US pulls this off they'll write books about it.

  88. Rather planning the book prior to a last second title amendment, WWIII: How it all started.

  89. There are several facts which should dictate US policy in the Middle East. One is the Sunni/ Shiite schism, and the other is our limited power in the region.
    Given this reality, since sectarian enmity cannot be negotiated, and we will not ( I hope) reinvade , our options are limited at best.
    Why can we not face this reality and, until the long generational changes occur ,( ex. N Ireland) just take one small step at a time?
    Americans have always been impatient and thus ,usually,foolhardy in seeking instant gratification or solution of complicated problems. We can't seem to solve the problems of our own Civil War after 150 years, so why do we expect through our intervention, to solve the problems which arose 1500 years ago over the succession of the Prophet?

  90. "With another major aid recipient, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia is also expected to step up its efforts to develop a nuclear bomb (...)"

    To "develop"? You mean, to send some folks over to Pakistan to pick up a few?
    I'm sure your reporter knows the history and present facts of that matter better than "...efforts to develop..." seems to say.

  91. The new Saudi Arabian king rushed into Yemen in the hopes it would provoke Iranian hardliners to kill the deal with the United States.

    Saudi Arabia and Israel are tag teaming the United States. This has nothing to do with nukes. Nukes are a pretext. This is all about money and influence. Saudi and Israel want to starve the Persian economy so that the small despotic, oil kingdoms can have more power and influence relative to the Persians.

    It's truly a modern, medieval siege against the Persian people. They want to lay this siege into perpetuity. That is their end game. There is no nuclear agreement Iran could agree that would placate the Saudis and Israelis. The nuclear rhetoric is a farce, just like the two-state solution was an Israeli farce for over a decade.

    Saudi Arabia and Israeli don't want Iran's oil to come onto the market. Saudi Arabia and Israel don't want the Iranian government revenues and power to increase as a result of better trade relations with the world. That's why sanctions are at the heart of this matter, not nukes. The Israelis and Saudi were demanding that Obama continue the sanctions even after any agreement, for at least two to five years.

    How is that an agreement? Think about the insanity of that position. This is their official position and the official position of major "American" lobbyists fronting for Israel and Saudi Arabia.

    It's about the sanctions, not the nukes. The CIA and NIE admitted Iran has no nuclear weapons program.

  92. With respect, where do you come up with this stuff?

    I must say it does give a whole new dimension to the Jewish conspiracy theory!

  93. A concert of interest between the Israelis and the Arabs against the Persians is not only easily observable but it's also written about frequently. A "conspiracy" is simply an tacit agreement between two or more people/entities. Billions of conspiracies take place everyday for various small and large purposes. However, "Jewish" doesn't enter into the equation, unless you think Israelis represent all Jews. Bibi does. I don't.

  94. The US had to take sides at some point - Sunni or Shiite? Apparently we have made our decision. Too bad for Israel since they are the loser in this. But really, what has Israel done for us, or for anyone other than the settlers, lately? This is realpolitik, no time to be sentimental.

  95. What have you done for anyone of any real importance, Scott?

  96. Israel the loser? No, you are the loser. Gaza was resolved this summer via what Egypt decided. America was out of the loop. Yemen just occurred without your knowledge because, according to Richard Engle, the Arabs did not trust America not to tell Iran.

    You are out of the loop and someone will come in - like China. Don't you get that you are losing influence and thus power in the Gulf?

    Americans are so unbearably arrogant. Do you think as Rome became irrelevant they also had no consciousness of it?

  97. Speaking of doubling down on a delusion. Another bystander who believes they have sorted it all out.

  98. I can't add to this. Your reporting is always exceptional and highly educational. Thank you very much

  99. "One participant in the (Saudi-led) coalition was the Nusra Front, the Syrian arm of Al Qaeda, a terrorist group…”

    Let’s see if I have this right: Iran is extending its influence in the region and this must be countered. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is helping al Qaeda overthrow Assad in Syria. Would this be any form of “influence” or “meddling” which should be “countered,” or is only Iran’s influence worrisome, while the prospect of Syria going the way of Libya is not an issue?

    What a coincidence that Saudi concerns mirror those of the Israeli state, and that the House of Saud regards Iran as far more dangerous than nuclear armed Israelis. Recently, a 9/11 hijacker implicated Saudi Arabia in the Sept. 11 terror attacks, but investigation of his claims seems to be a non-starter. Why?

    And why is Iran the bad guy behemoth, while the Saudis are the sheriffs rounding up the posse? The Saudis despise and repress Christianity and have sent troops to Bahrain to enforce brutal Sunni minority rule over Shiites.

    Alawites and Christians face mass murder if the Saudi-backed Nusra front conquers Syria. Should this be a focus of our concern? Apparently not.

  100. Let's not forget Saudi's hands in creating terrorists in Egypt, Chechnya, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Africa, Indonesia . . .

  101. This days, it's funny how every little actor in the Middle East wants to tell the U.S. how it should conduct it's national security affairs. Maybe it's about time the U.S. raised it's voice and said just shut up and listen!

  102. We have not, cannot and will not win a war being led by American's in...let's see, Korea, Vietnam, or the Middle East. History, so far, says that is correct! We have to make, and/or, lead those in the Middle East to become involved in solving their own problems. It is most important to us to not be the proxy army of the world. We do not win those wars. We have not won those wars. time for a new direction. Will it work? Who knows? Is it worth a try? Absolutely, yes!

  103. Two facts:

    1) Iran became much stronger during GW Bush presidency. The Iraq war was incredibly helpful for Iran to spread its influence and power in the region.

    2) Iran has become much weaker during Obama presidency. The intensified U.S. led sanctions over the last six years have absolutely crippled Iran.

  104. So does the Pan Arab forces train their pilots to fly planes into the enemies buildings, and thereby collapse the buildings.

  105. Obama and his team are geniuses. It's about time the Arabs take care of their own problems rather than lean on us and making us the bad guys.

  106. Obama and his team geniuses? You can't be serious - or that naïve - or that stupid! Our involvement in the affairs of the Middle East is growing by the day. And our apparent alliance with Iran, in helping them to further develop their nuclear program is only going to lead to the U.S. becoming even more embroiled, in what will soon become an all out sectarian war in that region, far worse than anyone can even imagine. And you think that these people are "geniuses'? Amazing!

  107. "If Iran were less of a pariah, it would have more to lose, argued Lina Khatib, director of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut. “An engaged Iran is a less threatening Iran...”

    This same argument was employed by the left wing arguing for an Israeli pullout from the Gaza Strip. After all, it was argued, if Gazans were controlling the territory themselves, why would they have any incentive to continue shooting missiles at Israel? If they were handed control and responsibility, what possible incentive would they have to invite destruction upon themselves?

    They say that experience is the best teacher. For many people, sadly, that seems not to be even remotely the case.

  108. Gazans were never given control, not over their seas, their air, their borders, and an trade embargo ("the diet") was in effect the entire time. You need a better example.

  109. What a tangled web we have woven, and all with the best of intentions. In attempting the wise goal - and it IS in our nation's interest - of rapprochement or detente over nukes with Iran, a Shia nation, we have made our Sunni allies Saudi Arabia and Egypt feel insecure. So those Sunni allies sent their jets (some of them likely paid for or sold by us) to zap tumultuous Yemen, an Iranian ally! Once again, we have not sorted out the mind-boggling complexity of just whom, exactly, we are cozying up to and sleeping with and the consequences of all these foreign affairs before we stick it so precipitously into another hot mess. (Viet Nam, Iraq, Afganistan ring any bells?)

    What happened to the insights of our "old and affectionate friend" (as he styled himself) George Washington, offered in his 1796 Farewell Address? Washington recognized that there would be times when America will need to defend itself in his Address. But where do get we get the notion that we are entitled to "knee jerk" lethal force in one country one day, and then in an adjacent country the next, or sometimes send the drones against different "enemies" who may be fighting each other, or who may even have been our ally only a few weeks before? The phrase "foreign entanglements" never actually appears in the 1796 address but that is where we have ended up, and to our detriment. Check it out for yourself at http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/washing.asp

  110. Reading this, one has to wonder if the Obama administration spent the last two months bad-mouthing Israel's prime minister only to throw us off the bigger picture. I support their goal of seeking a more stable Middle East and preventing a nuclear Iran. But one cannot avoid the recurring feeling that this administration has no strategy or vision beyond this single agreement.

    It is fashionable now to encourage us to focus on American interests. At the end of the day, what will this deal accomplish? Iran will still consider us the Great Satan, and all our historic allies will trust us less, understandably so. And we will still have to rely on hope to be sure that there is no secret Iranian bomb. How is this in our interests? How does this make us a stronger country?

  111. Why don't the US take Pakistan's nuclear weapons out, won't that be the long term solution?

  112. Touche!

  113. As the US has, perhaps irreparably, weakened its commitment to and relationship with, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Israel and Egypt, independent action is inevitable. There will be an atomic arms race between Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran, with the attendant risk that much of this technology will fall into the hands of terrorists. President Obama has moved the red line and moved it again and the "deal at any cost" with Iran, a deal which is abhorred by all of the United States' former allies, makes it clear that the US word is not to be relied upon. I voted for Obama two times and I never imagined that he would leave such a terrible legacy of danger and betrayal behind.

  114. "a deal which is abhorred by all of the United States' former allies."

    Absolutely false. All of our closest European allies support a deal even more lenient than demanded by Obama.

  115. The US has never been trusted. It has always been played in that region by ALL countries. There are no true allies. Saudi Arabia cannot be trusted IMO, given everything that has gone on, and it is better to have a strong Iran to balance out the arabs.

  116. Who are the US allies? The Saudis who sponsor fundamentalists and terrorists across the world? Or Israel that spies on the US and has been an occupier for over 50 years?
    Is Iran the bad guy because they held 52 Americans hostage where no one was killed? Or was that a reaction for deposing a democratically elected government and imposing a puppet dictator?
    Allies are not forever.

  117. And who says we can't make every one there happy! Or maybe it's just time to run away screaming.

  118. Everybody seems to forget about Russia, and the rumblings in Pravda about Russia putting boots on the ground to battle ISIS. Who's side do they come down on?

  119. Pravda can be outrageously propagandist, but If Russia fights ISIS on the ground then it will be in Syria and for the benefit of Bashar Al Assad. Russia is not only interested in Syria. Iran has always been a favorite of Moscow. And recently Egypt, after being snubbed by Obama for kicking the Muslim Brotherhood out of Egypt, signed contracts with Russia for 2 nuclear power plants, and S-300 missile defense system among many other things. They have plans for trade and industrial joint ventures.

  120. Obama and Kerry are being played like a cheap violin and they don't have a clue at all. Iran controls these talks not America. America is being dragged along just look at this we are basically the Air Force for them in Iraq. We are being laughed at in our face. Come on America wake up don't you realize that any deal has to be passed by the Ayatollah Ali Khamanei not Hassan Rouhani. He is the leader that chants "Death to America" and burns your flag how can you trust that guy. If you do you are the biggest naive person on the planet.

  121. Not a single church or synagogue have been attacked in Iran, whereas in the lands governed by our so-called allies, either they don't exist, or they have been attacked regularly.

    We have come to realize we are backing the wrong axis. We will act in our own self interest and will change alliances if need be.

  122. My impression/perception, call it what you will, is the any agreement with Iran, the chief exporter of terrorism in the world today, will not be worth the paper that it is printed on. Far better to end the hot air, maintain all sanctions accompanied with commensurate warnings. Iran will probably achieve a nuclear weapon anyway so make it very painful to do so, being the pariah that they are, rather than facilitating the madness.

  123. Saudi Arabia is, and has always been, out of the loop! This is what happens when you have an abundance of money and scarcity of culture!

  124. The Saudis should not listen to or trust the Obama administration. They should act quickly and big by destroying the Houthis and their Iranian advisors. After that they and their Arab allies should go after the Assad regime in Syria and get rid of all Iranian influence in Syria and Lebanon. They can also limit Iranian influence in Iraq by supporting the Kurds and the Sunnis to partition Iraq.

  125. On the face of it, I'd argue that American should just come home and let the Middle East burn itself out... but as this article shows, thats a bad idea.

    Without American overwatch, conflicting states are going to be forced into an arms race. The inevitable end point is the proliferation of nuclear weapons. The series of Indo-Pakistani wars led to India and Pakistan (via Saudi funding) getting the bomb in the '70s, both countries doing so by exploiting misguided Western support.

    Even if America does physically enforce non-proliferation, the long-term outlook isn't good. American military dominance is rapidly shrinking... as is the promise of America as protector. The world is going to get messy.

  126. How about some original thinking? Such as "why can't we all get along?" World peace and regional peace are for the naïve, and that's what I am. Peace will never happen and differences will never be resolved.

  127. What is the evidence behind the term "Iran backed"? Iran has a more developed civil society, in any case. Saudi Arabia continues to get away with status it doesn't deserve.

  128. Today Iran controls Syria, Iran and Yemen and holds sway over Lebanon and Gaza. It threatens Saudi Arabia, and its Muslim Brotherhood allies threaten Egypt and Jordan.

  129. The Saudis have declared war on the people (Houthis) who are fighting Al Qaeda in Yemen. ON MTP their ambassador claimed that they were acting to protect the legitimate government and people of Yemen. Where were they when Al Qaeda was causing havoc in Yemen and Syria? Why didn't they help with ground troops?

    70% of Bahrain's population is Shia. If the monarchy falls, who will be our ally there? ISIS? If the Saudi monarchy falls, their population will side with ISIS too. We know Egypt held an election and went with Muslim brotherhood, and can't even clean up Sinai.

    At least we know if the regime in Iran falls, the population having had a good taste of being ruled by ayatollahs, will likely be on our side. Not to mention the fact that they are fighting our enemies while Saudis, and even Israel as per WSJ/Jpost are helping Al Qaeda/Nusra Front.

    Our interests are not aligned with the Saudis, their lunatic fringe of Islam won't even tolerate minorities on their lands, just like ISIS. Iran and Syria under Assad may not be model democracies, but they are much more tolerant than the Wahhabi lunatic alternative. I don't see what makes Saudis our "allies" and Iran our enemy. Their oil won't do them any good under the ground.

    An alliance between US and Iran, a more rational actor and stable society, is way overdue.

  130. Finally, an article accompanied by well thought out and written comments. The complexity of the modern Middle East allows for a lot of divergent views so I'll add another. The minute the Chinese see an opening and strike a deal, any kind of deal, with the Saudis, all these Saudi haters will be crying foul as they run for cover. The status quo produces as real a reality as change. As my favorite native son sings, still is still moving to me.

  131. I like to remember that 15 out of 19 911 hijackers were Saudis. Also, another reminder that it is well know and now admitted in this article that elements in Saudi Arabia have given material support to, al-Qaeda and possibly IS in Syria. Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf Sheikdoms make for engaged, close American allies.

  132. Saudi Arabia is a medieval oil pump that has given nothing else to civilization. They are responsible for conceiving, planning and carrying out every terrorist attack on the west. They are anything but "our friends". It's shameful the way western nations are humbled in admiration by their oppressive presence.

  133. We keep hearing about Arab League "plans for a combined Arab military force to combat Iranian influence around the region", but other than limited air strikes, we see very few, if any, Arab League boots on the ground. Their normal response is to demand U.S. military intervention, expending our blood and treasure, along with the enmity of the losing side.

    Regarding Saudi Arabia being concerned about Iranian oil availability depressing global oil prices; the fact is that Mid-eastern oil is much less of a factor in the ready availability of oil from other areas around the globe, along with the U.S. now being actually/almost independent of the need for imported petroleum products.

  134. How about the US stops taking sides in the Sunni-Shiite conflict, and stop doing the dirty work of one side or another? Recent affairs in the Middle East is that our supposed allies all want US aid and US military power, but offer nothing in return for the American people except further entanglement and a false promise of security.

    The US will need to wean itself off its dependence on fossil fuel sooner or later. Instead of wasting money on aid to dictatorships like Egypt or helping Iran secure its satellite state in Iraq, how about the US invest the money in government subsidies and research for renewable energy. In the short term, we have already expanded domestic drilling. Let's get out of this lose-lose situation while we can.

  135. The Saudis backed and thus created Isis in their sunni plot to overthrow Syria's Assad. Without the Saudi-inspired religious bent of extreme Sunni-ism there would be no ISIS. The Saudis and Israel regard Iran as their main enemy in the world and Americans must learn that we have to do, not what is most beneficial to the USA and the world, but what Netanyahu, Likud, and the women-scorning, tyrannical leaders of Saudi Arabia want. Obama hasn't yet learned what the Republicans know: the right-wing Israeli government and the right-wing, oil-rich Saudi dictators are our bosses in the middle east and we must carry out their policies: no deal with Iran, no matter how wise that obviously is.

  136. This is all about Obama's desperate attempt to salvage his "legacy" at the expense of the U.S., and allies. This is the same delusional man, with his crack national security team, that drew "red lines" around chemical weapons use in Syria, only to give Assad a pass negotiated by the president's Russian friends. What else would one expect from the man who released 5 of the worst terrorists on the planet, Taliban leaders with American blood on their hands, in exchange for an American traitor--only to embrace the traitor's father, a Taliban sympathizer, in the Rose Garden? The Iranians don't need a negation--they need an ultimatum.

  137. Do not forget that the Saudi's are the ones who have supported Taliban, ISIS, Al Qaeda, and many other big and small terrorist organizations. They are among the least reliable allies for the US; they have been backstabbing the West through supplying money and weapons to radical movements of the region as well as the manipulation of the oil market. The best policy would be ignoring them and going ahead with an agreement with Iran.

  138. Definition of a naive, out-of-date, incompetent analyst of the Middle East: someone who still regards Iran as a greater threat to America and Israel than less-progressive, tyrannical, ultra-reactionary, oil-rich, anti-democratic Saudi Arabia. If these the dictatorial Saudis--remember that it was Saudi, Sunni religious fanatics who carried out 9/11--go for nuclear capability and weapons, who will stop them and how? Their present pal, Netanyahu?

  139. Some of us have longer memories than you, Rob. "Iranian Hostage Crisis", "Hezbollah", and "Khobar Towers". There's some "score-settling" for us to do--before even thinking of cozying up to the Iranians!

  140. Maybe the GOP should invite the King of Saudi Arabia before Congress to share his views on Iran.


  141. I believe this article shows us a series of diplomatic noise screens used to obscure the fact that one hand is washing the other in these absurdly complex Middle East power and brinksmanship games going on between the U.S. and the Saudis. We may be producing more of our own oil and natural gas now in America, but we can't turn our back on Saudi oil, nor will we.

    Notice that the Saudis, in combination with Egypt, are doing our proxy fighting for us in Yemen, after we were temporarily routed from there by the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels. I think the Obama administration is moving towards more proxy fighter containment approaches to dealing with Iran, with the Islamic State, with al Qaeda, and with the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan. It will costly in terms of support and bribe dollars, but less so in terms of American lives lost, trade-offs ordinary Americans are more comfortable with making.

    Having various Saudis pose paranoid questions in this article about what else John Kerry is talking to the Iranians about is par for the course in Middle Eastern politics, where pretty much every Arab leader is certain the U.S., or the Great Satan, is always attempting to undermine what they are doing to maintain their fundamentalist monarchies, with their schizophrenic combination of social spending for the masses combined with repressive religious polices toward them. This is acceptable diplomatic noise, and no big deal, being business as usual.

  142. The Shiites and the Sunnis are fighting their own version of the Crusades, thanks to our stupid and poorly managed invasion of Iraq.

    We need to handle this with kid gauntlets.

  143. Ask any israeli Jew formerly from Iraq and he will tell you that the Sunis protected the Jews in need back then from the hostile Sunnis.

  144. as well as the failure to protect Iraq once were there. Bottom line, this shows you how badly conceived was out Middle East policy from the start.

  145. Correction: Last word in above comment should read Shiites.

  146. One of the things I'm most looking forward to in the forthcoming elections is hearing the candidates explain their strategies for addressing the Middle East morass. I envy no-one the task of figuring out the US's role in this increasingly complicated situation and at the same time I shudder to think of what might occur if a candidate who is inexperienced in world affairs somehow emerges as the front runner. Now more than ever we need somehow who is familiar with the complexities of world affairs and the only candidate I can think of who fits that arduous bill is Hilary Clinton.

  147. How come that the US government as well as papers such as the NYT usually put a blind spot on the ambitions of Saudi Arabia and its own nuclear arms program?
    How come Saudi Arabia is not under the same kind of sanctions Iran or North Korea is?
    The Saudis have largely funded the Pakistani nuclear arms program since the 1970s and have, since 2003, in return, an agreement to get a nuclear arsenal as soon as they require it.
    Saudi Arabia has signed the NPT and at the same time already has, Pakistan made, Ghauri rockets as a delivery system installed at a base near Riyadh and ready for usage.
    Saudi Arabia could get a delivery of ready to use nuclear arms for its delivery system within hours for an attack against Iran.
    So how come this imminent threat is neither discussed or even mentioned?
    How come that the Western press does not even mention the speech of the Saudi defence minister in which he has publicly declared that Saudi Arabia has the ambition to wipe the Shiites from the face of the world by means of a nuclear war?

  148. So Saudi is backing Islamic State of Syria(Nusra Front), and we're backing Saudi. So there's an out in the open power grab by Sunnis for Syria against Shias, and now it's in the open. So isn't this tantamount to Saudi admitting they have-not just a few aberrant rich contributing Wahhabbists but now the policy of the Royal Family backing the radical factions-at least with weapons and money-which brought down the Twin Towers.

  149. The Muslim world is uniting to do the job the US failed to do for them. It also indicates, they lost trust and confidence in our ability to squash a bunch of extremists with all the power we have. They know our weaknesses. Muslims can recognize each other and guess which specific spot they come from, just from an accent or a variation in the Arabic language itself, Americans can't. They will be ruthless, swift and efficient. They feel emboldened and scared for their very existence. The Muslim world is in a state of great turmoil and reshaping. A very unstable time for everybody else. T

  150. Spring 2015 in the USA and the Arab spring which began in Tunisia is becoming a massive nightmare and the worst quagmire of this decade in the entire middle east. Now more than ever any possibilities of peace and conflict resolution of a complex situation should be welcome to restore peace and stability.

  151. Except, as proven by the Arab Spring, "No good deed goes unpunished!"

  152. According to a 2009 U.S. State Department communication, (disclosed as part of the Wikileaks U.S. 'cables leaks' controversy in 2010) "donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide"

  153. Al Qaeda, ISIS, Boko Haram, Taliban and many more terrorist organisation, all sponsored by Saudi Arabia yet we are supposed to believe Iran is the problem.
    All attempts by Arabs to establish democracies are brutally put down by this Saudi led coalition. Let us not forget the Iranian democracy was also brought down and installed the brutal dictator. The current Iranian regime while having a very poor record on human rights, is sadly still one of the more moderate regimes in the region. Certainly women have more rights in Iran than in Saudi Arabia and even some parts of Israel.

    Iran ironically has done more than any other country in the region to combat the great enemies Al Qaeda and ISIS. And with Israel seemingly providing military and logistical support to Al Qaeda in Syria, is it any wonder the US and EU are recalculating their position in the region.

  154. Not sure why the U.S. should take sides in Yemen.

    Saudi Arabia and Israel are unhappy with the deal with Iran, but they don't offer any alternative. They seem disappointed that the U.S. isn't willing to militarily attack Iran. The U.S. has done quite enough militarily in the Middle East to benefit Israel and Saudi Arabia, and maybe it's time they carry their own water.

  155. "Or maybe it's just time to run away [from the Middle East] screaming."

    No need to scream -- or even to run. Just walk quietly away, back to the US, and pay attention to what needs doing here.

  156. Saudi Arabia is falling into a strategic trap. They are: fighting democracy in Bahrain, fighting one side in a sectarian war in Yemen that they will never win, backing Al Qaeda, Nusra etc in Syria...how long before Saudi Arabia is on the opposite side of every single interest the USA has in the region? How long before the USA finds its alliance with Iran broadening to virtually every contest point involving Saudi and Iran? The Saudis are ill-educated, unwise, and, ultimately weak.

  157. Saudi Arabia is home to the holiest sites in Islam. Democracy there would go against the fundamentalist Wahabi religious dogma predominant in the Kingdom.
    Remember, there is no separation of religion and the state in fundamentalist Islam. So how do you manage the holiest sites in Islam, and eliminate what is essentially the Caliphate that rules over them?

    By way of an indirect and imperfect comparison, does the Pope answer to a democratically elected legislature in the Vatican?

  158. Poor John Kerry. He's put his heart and soul into this thing and is coming out looking like Custer did after his meeting with Crazy Horse. When he writes his memoirs, I'm betting there will be a chapter in it called, "When Supreme- Leader-Guys Yell "Death to America," You Need To Believe Them."

  159. Saudi Arabia and other Sunnis autocratic allies in the Arab world are deceiving themselves. Do they think this rivalry war can be won? Do they think all Shiites under their rule won't one day liberate themselves? Do they think their systems of government will last? Do they think that the Arab Spring revolution they all quashed won't arise again? Do they think the world don't know that they are the chief sponsors of all Sunni jihad terrorists in the Middle East and the world? The United States double standard dealings of supporting and protecting autocratic and barbaric Sunni rulers against an open and democratic society in the Muslim lands is shameful and causing bloodshed and deaths. Is Iran a sponsor of terrorism? Is Iran an oppressed society? Can we compare their government with these autocratic United States Sunnis allies. So because of the geopolitics and national interests the United States is supporting regimes who he's fighting in Syria; Iraq; Pakistan and Afghanistan. The war will be long then for the United States.

  160. How can war be long only for one of the parties?

  161. "Obama and Kerry are being played like a cheap violin and they don't have a clue at all. Iran controls these talks...."

    Many critics presume something that just isn't true. The US has no authority to tell Iran what to do. Iran is talking to us at all only because it would prefer not to have sanctions against it. But if Iran decides it can live with those sanctions (it has since 1979), it can simply walk away without violating any treaty, international law or other obligation.

    Perhaps US negotiators are being more agreeable with Iran than some critics would like because they understand that US power just ain't what it used to be. Some sanctions have been imposed by the UN, which means all countries are expected to observe them; but that set of sanctions is fairly narrow to start with, and Iran has found work-arounds to many of them. The rest of the sanctions are voluntary -- imposed only by the US and its allies who choose to impose them. Other countries (notably Russia and China) are free to ignore this second set of sanctions, and often capitalize on the void they have left. The US still can throw around weight in banking, but that power also is limited and Iranian business people develop more work-arounds every day -- again, with the eager help of countries that don't agree with our sanctions in the first place.

    If critics keep in mind the US' limited power, maybe they'll be satisfied with the limited deal (if any) the US is likely to strike with Iran.

  162. Will Israel help Saudi Arabia to get a bomb now
    Do not laugh but if Iran has one why would not Israel help Saudi Arabia
    That way the can refuel and fly over Saudi Arabia

  163. "The US had to take sides at some point - Sunni or Shiite?"

    We did? How come?

    "Apparently we have made our decision."

    Really? What did we decide -- or does it matter which Middle East dispute we're talking about? Last I heard, we're on the same side as Iran in that ISIS thing, but on opposite sides for the Yemen thing and the Syria thing.

    It gets confusing sometimes -- almost makes me think we'd be better off just minding our own business. But then I remember what you said: We have to take sides.

  164. We have so many knees jerking on Middle East policy that every orthopedic surgeon in the world is going to be needed to repair our problems. A classic example of meddling in parts of the world where we don't understand the culture, can't speak the language and disregard what little we do know. The one constant seems to be unrelenting, ignorant suport of Israel. Yet nobody has been able to explain to me why we cannot deviate in the least from a belief that our interests are absoutely congruent with those of Israel. Better to wash our hands of the whole mess and let all those descendants of the Abrahamic tradition...Muslim, Jewish, Christian, whatever...fight it out without our help.

  165. Look up "cognitive dissonance". (LOL)

  166. Both Israel and the Saudis not to mention the Egyptians will ride out this deviation from traditional American policy during the next few months.

  167. The only good that could come from all this would be a treaty between Saudi Arabia and Israel and maybe a reset towards better relations with Egypt, Jordan, Turkey and Israel. They could form a NATO-style alliance against Iranian aggression and, at the same time, probably broker a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians. An Arab-Israeli peace summit without US involvement seems like it could be productive. Saudi's could fund the building/rebuilding of Palestine with Jordanians and Egyptians keeping the peace. Israel can extend its businesses (though not residential settlements) into the new Palestine offering tech coordination with the other countries and jobs to the Palestinians, building a sustainable economy and a country nobody would want to mess-up. If that's Obama's strategy -- push them together into a lasting peace due to a common enemy -- then it's brilliant (somehow I don't think he's thought of this though).

  168. Why oh why do we supply the uncivilized warring states of the Middle East with weapons and other military assets? The Saudis are as double-crossing as the Israelis. I know one thing, my sentiments are now with Iran completely as the only civilized country in that region of barbaric war lords. These Sunnis are crazed in their fundamentalist Wahhabi Islam as much as Israeli settlers who steal others' land and murder their children.

  169. Ah, two words: "Khobar Towers". Enough said about trusting the Iranians!

  170. If one's views don't fit the facts, don't be a slave to facts:

    "Its Irans fault that ISIS came into being in the first place by helping maliki grab power in Iraq all for Sunnis only..."

    That mischievous Maliki! We knew he was a bad guy (he used to be a good guy but then he became a bad guy) -- but grabbing power for Sunnis only? Who'd have guessed, eh? I guess it goes without saying that he's responsible for ISIS.

    I think I heard it's even worse than that. Maliki was seen just the other night driving a truck for ISIS. Some reports claimed he was delivering bullets and other conventional ammunition to the front lines, but a couple of reports insisted he was delivering components of Iranian-made bombs to ISIS troops stationed in Syria near the Turkish border. It appears Iran is actually supporting ISIS even though they pretend to be fighting against them. Not surprising for those slippery Iranians, I guess.

  171. Our president's "foreign policy" is driven by his personal ambitions. As he pursues his "legacy", Iran's hegemony has run largely unchecked until now.

    Perhaps this is the "community organizing" approach to realpolitiks. One grand noble goal in a burning neighborhood. They just need jobs and the killing will stop.

    Congress' job should be containment of damage to our Mideast alliances until his presidency ends.

  172. Wasn't it the then governor now king Salman who was the financier of al Qaeda even in 2001?

  173. Once again the Saudi's want us to believe that Iran is a sectarian country that wants to spread its ideology and power. In fact it Saudi Arabia that is making trouble worldwide out of sectarian motives.

    It was Saudi Arabia that played an important role in getting the conflict in Syria started. And things have only become worse under king Salman who is known for his sectarian fanaticism. A good example is Yemen, where long lasting internal tribal conflicts have suddenly been redefined by Saudi Arabia as sectarian. See also http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/monkey-cage/wp/2015/02/23/whats-behi...

  174. Are there any wise people in the Obama Administration who can guide Kerry? He is getting very excited about finalizing negotiations with Iran. But it is making him miss the forest for the trees. I'll dread watching him stand side by side with an Iranian official at a news conference congratulating each other on a nuclear agreement. Then it'll be time to clean out our old fallout shelters.

  175. I see this are good news for the USA. Regional powers settling regional conflicts is not all bad.

    I suspect many who push for a greater role for the US military in the region are the same ones who complain about every $ of tax they pay. Military "adventures" exporting our political philosophy have a long tail in costs and do not contribute to our national well being.

    Let the coalitions there solve their own problems. Be patient and they will come back to us with $ to fill or refill their arsenals. After enough time they will probably tire of death and destruction.

  176. The current nuclear talks are a direct outcome of two forces. One is pressure from our sanctioning allies which quietly demanded they be held. Second, our desire to bring a semblance of balance between our relations with the Saudis and Iran. Sooner or later Iran will have a nuclear capability but the doctrine of Mutually Assured Desturction will deter all parties from using same. As time goes on the younger generation in Iran will seek better ties with the West.

  177. If I read correctly this article bemoans the Saudi's and other Sunni's for becoming too involved in their own regional affairs. Well, maybe it is about time two events take place; a) all the regional players become more participatory in their relationships in the region instead of the US playing kindergarten teacher to them all (because they hate everything we do except buy their oil) and b) the entire WEST mandate all government vehicles and buses utilize electric cars and 50% of the private sector fleet production within 5 years. As a national security issue this sole mandate will do more than anything to minimize the regional impact of the sectarian wars and regional power brokering. When all of these countries run out of money and zealots to blow up each other (and they will sooner than later) only then will they turn to a peaceful existence. ONLY when we stop the continuous transfer of wealth from the west to the east will their significance be reduced! I forgot though, that when they have no money left to buy weapons from the out military industrial complex it will effect our economy and our own military industrial complex. I forgot who told us to watch out for them? Who was that guy?????

  178. If only we had weaned ourselves of cheap oil over the past forty years.

    We likely wouldn't be tangled up with the vast, centuries old, mishegas in the Middle East, and South West Asia.

    If only.

    But I just have to believe some of the most critical commentary is coming from at least some proud owners of modern, high tech gas guzzlers.

  179. This article does a great job of pointing out that the administration is turning it's backs on long time allies and that those allies can easily fund or be encouraged to develop nuclear arms. Sure they can ride out the last days of a lame duck President but the damage is done and will view subsequent administrations as continuing to be bumpily unreliable.

  180. What sets Iran apart from the Saudis and other nations in the region is that those nations do not operate terrorist organizations to do their work, which of course is dirty work. Iran took hold of Beirut, for example, by having Hizbalah blow up the president and then kill every officer that tried to show Hizbalah was behind it.
    The Saudis are not involved in project to destabilize other states so that they can take control of them, which is what Iran's current policy is, and its succeeding quite well at it.
    According to the state department Iran is the number one state sponsor of terror (something that was mysteriously committed in a recent report). And the US is officially unforgiving of such states.
    So why would the US support a state that sponsors terrorism, which is also actively engaged in destabilizing as many other states as they can, over supporting our traditional allies, who are our allies because they share the common interest of seeing to it that there is stability in the middle east.
    In addition Obama says that he wants to see peace one day with Israel and the rest of the region. Iran however will be at war with Israel through its proxies Hamas and Hizbalah forever. And this is besides the fact that America should not be friends with a country that speaks of annihilating 7 million people.
    The fact is that Obama is interested in one thing only, signing a deal so that he can claim this accomplishment for his legacy. This is his sole interest in the middle east.

  181. This news story backs up the NYT editorial by John Bolton that stated that the talks with Iran are going to lead to a nuclear arms race in the Mideast. Bolton quoted a Saudi prince who stated, "we want what the Iranians get" referring to a nuclear deal. With or without an agreement with Iran, the US has, by simply talking to the Iranians, fundamentally changed the nuclear dynamic in the Middle East. Our attempt to restrain one Shia nation, Iran, has set off a nuclear arms race with Sunni nations such as Saudi Arabia. Just like going into Iraq when we should not have, once again an America president has erred. Nuclear containment was the intention with Iran but it appears the impact of our discourse in Iran will be nuclear proliferation.

  182. The USA has stepped into the Muslim version of the the 30 years war which probably lasted about 80-100 years in Europe with it most viscious part called the 30 years war. In the 80s the US supported Sunnis, Saddam, against Iran.
    In the 90s we had a respite from religious wars and USA got rid of Saddam from Kuwait. In the last decade USA Got rid of Saddam from Iraq supoorting unknowlingly, the Iranians and the Shitte cause.

    Today the USA is stuck in the middle trying to make peace with Iran as America tries to continue to support its main Arab Sunnis Ally Saudia Arabia. Maybe we could have the NYtimes have some one write a piece on the 30 years religious wars of Europe between Protestants and Catholics of about 300 years ago to give us some perspective and ideas to help USA finds it way to prevent further whole sale destruction in the Middle East and bring some peace to the region.

  183. Paraphrasing columnist MG:
    At an AIPAC conference Obama had told the audience that, “There is no greater threat to Israel — or to the peace and stability of the region —than Iran", then he goes on to push a deal that would let Iran go nuclear

    The same Ayatollah who calls for “Death to America” is supposedly lying to his own people, but his representatives will be absolutely honest when they pledge not to build a bomb.

    Iran and the PLO benefit from the same double standard that Obama does. We’re not supposed to believe what they say in public, but we’re meant to have faith that they are honest in private.

  184. This article seems to be a proof of Saudi Arabia and Turkey arming al Qaeda. Isn't their some UN resolution forbidding this.

  185. Iran and the Saudi Arabia are and have been in a power struggle to control the flow of Middle East Energy. Our country has opened the door for Iran when it eliminated Iraq as a buffer zone between the two countries. Sanctions have not worked against Iran and Russia has learned how to withstand US sanctions from Iran and Syria. Military spending by four powers is preparing the world for global war: Number 1 in military spending is the USA, 2nd is China, 3rd Russia, and 4th is Saudi Arabia and they purchase their arms from the America. The Saudis funded Pakistan’s nuclear program and could have an A-bomb anytime it wants and Israel already has an H-bomb.

    This is yet another media article that hides how our government and others have perpetuated a lie with half-truths. It was John Kerry, who originally said Iran was close to a nuclear deal sending a large portion of its stockpile of uranium to Russia. Iran immediately refuted this and yet the lie continues. As far as a deadline goes, the US government that set a dead line not Iran. We keep stirring up the Middle East and few Americans know why. We don't even question something that we have been lied to within the past year. We either have short term memories or we trust our government too much. Both are dangerous.

  186. The one rule the world needs to live by "If Saudi Arabia is against something then I am for it"