Sceptics fear Iran deal will destabilize MENA relations for Britain

Right-wing British think tank believes the nuclear deal with Iran could have a destabilizing effect on MENA countries

Peter Harrison
Peter Harrison - Tarek Ali Ahmad, Al Arabiya News
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A right-wing British think tank has told Al Arabiya News they believe the nuclear deal with Iran could have a destabilizing effect on countries in the Middle East - not least important British allies in the region.

When the deal was struck between Iran and the P5+1 group of nations on July 14, there was a cautious welcome that echoed around much of the world.

Gulf nations welcomed the deal saying they believed it marked the beginning of a new start for relations in the region.

The U.S. even went as far as to compliment the Chinese for the role it played in helping move the talks along.

The aim of the deal was to prevent – or at least seriously hinder – Iran’s capability to produce a nuclear weapon. In return certain sanctions that have been imposed on the ailing nation will gradually be lifted, enabling Iran to trade with the world for the first time in years.

British businesses have already been told to start looking into ways to best make use of this, so that they are prepared for when the trade lines are open.

But Tom Wilson, research fellow for the security think tank, The Henry Jackson Society, said: “I think in the long run it will be bad for British interests because it is emboldening Iran, which isn’t particularly friendly to Britain.”

The Henry Jackson Society describes itself as a think-tank and policy-shaping force that fights for the principles and alliances which keep societies free.

Wilson added: “It will probably have a destabilizing effect on the [MENA] region as a whole, and that will disrupt trade and other British interests in the area.”

Britain currently holds strong ties with many Arab nations, and Wilson said he believed the security of these nations could be put at risk.

“It will also be negative for the security situation for some of Britain’s allies in the Middle East which also can’t be seen as a good thing for the United Kingdom,” Wilson continued.

The deal, however, is still seen as controversial, and many have already questioned the likelihood of the deal failing in the early stages.

“I think a lot of people think that system is inadequate and are concerned that Iran will cheat, because after all, Iran was a signatory of the non-proliferation treaty and previously broke that by having secret nuclear facilities,” Wilson explained.

“So I think the concern is that if Iran was able to keep those secrets in the past then what would there be to stop Iran to from having other nuclear projects that we might not know about in the west.”

The United Kingdom is home to around 74,000 Iranians according to the Office of National Statistics, and with the Iran nuclear deal already being hailed as ‘historic’, it is bound to have an impact on Britain and its citizens.

Wilson’s comments were in stark contrast to Prime Minister David Cameron who spoke to Al Arabiya News Channel on Friday, July 17.

Cameron said in the interview: “This deal is all about keeping Iran away from nuclear weapons and this deal is so much better than the alternative. To me no deal would have meant Iran with a nuclear weapon.”

“That is I think good for the world, good for the region. But of course we shouldn’t be naïve about the Iranian regime and some of the things that they do and we should call them out on those things.”

“The message I would send to the Gulf allies is that Britain stands with you, we are strengthening our defenses in the region, we are working with you more closely, we absolutely have no starry eyed naivety about the Iranian regime. We know about the causes they support the terrorist group they have funded, the trouble they have caused in the region.”

“This deal is about getting the region away from an arms race.”

There have been concerns raised recently about the rise of Islamaphobia in Britain in the 10 years since the 7/7 bomb attacks that left dozens dead and others with life changing injuries.

But the Muslim Council of Britain told Al Arabiya News that it believed the deal would improve life for Muslims residing in the UK.

In a statement released to Al Arabiya News they said: “The deal is expected to improve relations and open up opportunities, which we hope will have a positive social, cultural and economic benefit - something that is always welcome”.

Under the accord reached in Vienna last week, Iran will be subjected to long-term curbs on its nuclear programs in return for the lifting of U.S., European Union and U.N. sanctions.

However sources at the Iranian Association in the UK seem to be hesitant about the deal, telling Al Arabiya News: “Obviously the reduction of tensions between the countries is definitely good. But you know, to be more specific and see what the effects are, it is really unpredictable.”

“A lot of things remain on the table though. It’s really mainly about reducing the nuclear program and mainly removing embargos and improving trade.”

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