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Saudi Media Blast Iran Nuke Deal As Damaging to Arab Interests

The nuclear deal announced between the P5+1 powers and Iran yesterday has been received harshly in Saudi Arabia, with local media broadly emphasizing the deal’s flaws, Israel’s i24 website reported today.

A cartoon in Asharq al-Awsat, 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. …

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.

i24 noted that the media’s attacks contrasted with the government’s official “terse statement that welcomed any agreement that would ensure Iran could not develop a nuclear arsenal.” A Saudi official said that “he feared the agreement would make the Middle East more dangerous if it gave too many concessions to an Iranian government,” reflecting a general fear among Saudis that Iran, freed from sanctions, will increasingly “back allies across the region who are opposed by Riyadh.”

The contours of the deal have long concerned the Gulf kingdom. In March, the editor of Al Arabiya cited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling  Iran a “clear and present danger, not just to Israel … but to other U.S. allies in the region.” More recently another prominent Saudi journalist warned that the deal would only strengthen Iran’s hardliners.

Anwar Eshki, a retired Saudi general, met with Israel’s incoming director-general of the Foreign Ministry Dore Gold last month in an unprecedented public meeting between representatives of the two nations to express their common opposition to Iran.

[Photo: Reuters / YouTube ]