News / USA

    Analysts: Nuclear Deal Plays Role in US Response to Iran, Saudi Crisis

    FILE - The Iranian Defense Ministry purports to have launched an Emad long-range ballistic surface-to-surface missile on Oct. 11, 2015. U.S. interests in the Iran nuclear deal are influencing the U.S. response to the crisis between Saudi Arabia and Iran, analysts say.
    FILE - The Iranian Defense Ministry purports to have launched an Emad long-range ballistic surface-to-surface missile on Oct. 11, 2015. U.S. interests in the Iran nuclear deal are influencing the U.S. response to the crisis between Saudi Arabia and Iran, analysts say.
    Pamela Dockins

    The U.S. response to the rift in relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran may be influenced, in part, by a U.S. desire to see the Iran nuclear deal implemented, according to analysts studying the crisis.

    "What is paramount is for [U.S. President Barack] Obama to protect the Iran deal," said Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran analyst with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

    In a Friday forum, Sadjadpour said there is currently not a clear U.S. "siding" with Saudi Arabia, whereas in the past, the U.S. had been in "lock step" with the Gulf kingdom against Iran. That change has angered Saudi officials.

    “If [the Iran nuclear deal] is at the top of your agenda," Sadjadpour said, "that means that the administration's perspective is that they are going to try to do everything they can to de-escalate tension with Iran."

    Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday that nuclear negotiators could be "days away" from implementing the agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Launching the agreement would be the culmination of nearly two years of intense negotiations among Iran, the U.S. and other world powers.

    FILE - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry delivers a speech about the Iran nuclear agreement before an audience of several hundred assembled on Sept. 2, 2015, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
    FILE - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry delivers a speech about the Iran nuclear agreement before an audience of several hundred assembled on Sept. 2, 2015, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

    Sadjadpour said a U.S. goal is to hold back on penalties against Tehran that could potentially trigger a response that would unravel the deal.

    Regional resolutions

    On Monday, State Department spokesman John Kirby said the U.S. had "expressed particular concerns" over Saudi Arabia's execution of Shi'ite cleric Nimr al-Nimr. He also said the U.S. condemned the attacks on Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran that were launched in response to the execution.

    "Ultimately, solutions to problems in this region must come from leaders in this region," Kirby added.

    Analyst J. Matthew McInnis of the American Enterprise Institute said the Saudis are concerned about what they view as a U.S. shift that began with the Iran nuclear talks — "not so much to fully pull away from Arab states," McInnis said, "but to rebalance in Iran's favor."

    He added that the U.S. is now trying to allow regional states more room to work out issues for themselves.

    Similar sentiments were echoed by Frederic Wehrey, a senior associate in the Middle East program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

    "One of Obama's visions for this region, at least in the Gulf, is equilibrium," Wehrey said.

    Fear of empowered Iran

    Analysts say there are ongoing concerns among U.S. Gulf allies that Iran would be empowered by the sanctions relief it would receive as a result of compliance with provisions in the nuclear deal. They fear an empowered Iran could be destabilizing for the region.

    The Saudis, and to a lesser extent the other Gulf Cooperation Council countries, are "paranoid" when it comes to Iran, said analyst Simon Henderson of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

    "Saudi Arabia is the most important country on its side of the Gulf, and Iran is the most important on its side," Henderson said.

    FILE - Iranian demonstrators hold anti-Saudi placards in a rally to protest the execution by Saudi Arabia last week of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, a prominent opposition Saudi Shiite cleric, in Tehran, Iran, Jan. 4, 2016.
    FILE - Iranian demonstrators hold anti-Saudi placards in a rally to protest the execution by Saudi Arabia last week of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, a prominent opposition Saudi Shiite cleric, in Tehran, Iran, Jan. 4, 2016.

    Saudi Arabia severed ties with Iran after protesters stormed the Saudi missions in Tehran. In Iran, mass protests over the cleric's execution have continued. 

    There are signs, however, that the tension may be starting to abate.

    Kerry said he had spoken to his counterparts in Iran and Saudi Arabia and received assurances that they would not allow their rift over the Shi'ite cleric to affect their willingness to work cooperatively to help resolve Syria's crisis.

    Saudi Arabia, Iran and the United States are part of the International Syria Support Group. The group was instrumental in crafting a plan for a U.N.-mediated political transition in Syria. The U.N. intends to launch an initial meeting on the plan with the Syrian government and opposition this month.

    Also, in an interview with The Economist, Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman said a direct war with Iran was something that Saudis "do not foresee at all."

    He said Iranian escalation had "already reached very high levels" and Saudis would try hard "not to escalate anything further."

    You May Like

    Video For Many US Veterans, the Vietnam War Continues

    More than 40 years after it ended, war in Vietnam and America’s role in it continue to provoke bitter debate, especially among those who fought in it

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    100 immigrants graduated Friday as US citizens in New York, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in cities across country

    Family's Fight Pays Off With Arlington Cemetery Burial Rights for WASPs

    Policy that allowed the Women Airforce Service Pilots veterans to receive burial rites at Arlington had been revoked in 2015

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Richard Carr from: UK
    January 09, 2016 6:53 AM
    Another half baked position by Obama, Iran have played the West and we have fallen, despite everything bad about Saudi we need to become much more resolute, no one believes that the US will use the big stick and that is why the world is in turmoil, Obama lost all credibility when he failed to act against Chemical weapons being used in Syria, bring on Trump!
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    January 09, 2016 2:48 PM
    No, it's actually a smart move by Obama.

    There's a far more important threat rising up, China.

    Obama is smartly saving resources from being wasted in the ME to focus on East Asia.

    by: Igor from: Russia
    January 09, 2016 2:08 AM
    The US must have condemned the beheading of the Shi'ite cleric Nimr al-Nimr instead of just expressing its "concern". It is a barbarious, brutal murder of people of different sect and that action cannot be tolerated in this 21st centure.
    Of course the US will protect the brutal regime of Saudi Arabia because it is its most loyal under dog which is ready to lower the oil price against its national interest in order to lower world oil price to help increase pressure on Russia.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora