OPINION

But $100 billion for Iran, Mr. Obama?

The world has not been following up as diligently as it should be doing on the P5+1 talks with Iran on its nuclear plans. There are now more questions than answers about the process including the continuous postponement of the final date. In addition, there are contradictory statements emerging, with some saying a successful conclusion is imminent, while others claim progress has halted.

Those with the most interest in these talks are from the Gulf region. Nations in this part of the world are understandably concerned about a potentially rogue regime having weapons of mass destruction a few kilometers from its borders.

The lifting of sanctions will give Iran more than $100 billion in terms of trade and investment opportunities... but there is a considerable likelihood it will use this windfall to fund its expansionist dreams

Mohammed Fahad al-Harthi

There is good reason to worry. Iran has continued to meddle in the internal affairs of other nations, in effect conducting proxy wars through its support of militias in the region. The United States has recognized this reality, and has even been negotiating with Iran on the affairs of Iraq. Now Tehran, to the exasperation of many, has the right of veto on Baghdad’s decisions.

Dealing with only part of the problem

A deal to freeze Iran’s ability to develop nuclear weapons for 10 years in exchange for lifting sanctions is dealing with only one part of the problem. After all, Iran will keep its current reactors. It will refrain from developing them, but would have the ability to restart the process at any time it chooses.

In addition, lifting of sanctions will give Iran more than $100 billion in terms of trade and investment opportunities, which could benefit its people and the entire region, but there is a considerable likelihood it will use this windfall to fund its expansionist dreams.

Iran has already lost billions of dollars by supporting the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria and Hezbollah in Lebanon. Operation Decisive Storm has revealed how Iran has been sending huge amounts of weapons to the Houthi militias in Yemen. This wasteful expenditure on political adventures took place even as its economy was hemorrhaging.

There are also increasing indications that Barack Obama, heading up a weak administration, is offering ever more concessions to the Iranians in an attempt to chalk it down as an achievement before he concludes his final term as president.

Miscalculating badly

The Americans are miscalculating badly if they consider conflicts in the region, fueled by Iran’s behavior, to be minor aberrations. They have already made a critical error in judgment to reduce their involvement here. Terrorism is like an infectious disease, leaving no country immune. Witness the chaos engulfing Syria, Iraq and Libya; and the rise of ISIS and other terrorist groups.

There is therefore an urgent need to curb Iran’s aggression and make sure it abides by international law and respects the sovereignty of other states. Any agreement must include clauses preventing it from using its finances to create more problems in the region, with the Security Council acting as the watchdog.

It will be a grievous mistake to leave things as they are. The people of the region are desperate for security, stability and development. They are tired of war and economic problems. It is time for the world to find real solutions rather than short-term and expedient remedies that have only served to mask the symptoms of the real ailments afflicting the region.

This article was first published in Arab News on July 8, 2015.

__________________

Mohammed Fahad al-Harthi is the editor-in-chief of Sayidaty and al-Jamila magazines. A prominent journalist who worked with Asharq al-Awsat in London and Arab News in KSA, al-Harthi later moved on to establish al-Eqtisadiah newspaper in KSA, in which he rose the position of Editorial Manager. He was appointed editor-in-chief for Arajol magazine in 1997. He won the Gulf Excellence award in 1992. You can follow him on Twitter here: @mfalharthi

 

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Last Update: Tuesday, 14 July 2015 KSA 08:17 - GMT 05:17
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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