A Saudi-Israeli Defeat on Iran Deal

Exclusive: The Saudi-Israeli alliance hoped to sink a deal between Iran and world powers that limits but doesn’t end Iran’s nuclear program, so the deal’s signing in Geneva is both a defeat for that new alliance and a victory for President Obama and diplomacy, writes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

The interim agreement restraining Iran’s nuclear program represents a stern international rebuke to the new Saudi-Israeli alliance which sought to thwart the deal and maneuver the United States into another military confrontation in the Middle East.

Despite increasingly hysterical rhetoric from Saudi Arabia, Israel and their many media and political allies, the world’s leading powers – the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany – hammered out an agreement that increases chances for a peaceful settlement with Iran. Over the next six months, Iran and the so-called “p-5-plus-1” can now try to devise a permanent framework for ensuring that Iran keeps its word about not wanting a nuclear bomb.

Secretary of State John Kerry (third from right) with other diplomats who negotiated an interim agreement with Iran on its nuclear program. (Photo credit: State Department)

Secretary of State John Kerry (third from right) with other diplomats who negotiated an interim agreement with Iran on its nuclear program. (Photo credit: State Department)

Surely, Saudi Arabia and Israel will not abandon their efforts to torpedo a fuller agreement – and one can expect more sabotage by members of Congress, elements of the Western news media, and countries, such as France (a disgruntled p-5-plus-1 member), angling for lucrative business deals with Saudi Arabia.

Nevertheless, this interim arrangement with Iran – on the heels of a negotiated agreement on Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal (which headed off a threatened U.S. military strike last summer) – means that Saudi Arabia and Israel were blocked on two high-profile issues in which they favored a violent solution that would have dragged the U.S. military into another Mideast conflict. On both Syria and Iran, the Saudi-Israeli tandem was stopped by a big-power alliance headed by the United States and Russia, favoring diplomacy.

Thus, what we have seen over the past several months — though mostly missed by the mainstream U.S. news media — is a dramatic shift in the polarity of geopolitics, especially in the Middle East. The Saudi-Israeli alliance, with its combination of wealth and oil on the Saudi side and propaganda and lobbying on the Israeli side, has represented a new pole testing out its combined strength against the more traditional powers of Washington and Moscow.

Since Saudi Arabia and Israel lack the “hard power,” i.e., the military might of the United States and Russia, the Saudi-Israeli alliance has sought to deploy its “soft power” of Saudi financial inducements and Israeli political and media manipulation. That has meant Saudi Arabia spreading petrodollars around to economically vulnerable countries like France — and to clients like the Egyptian military and Syrian rebels – while Israel puts talking points into the mouths of its many neocon puppets in Congress and the U.S. press corps.

Regarding Iran, the Saudi-Israeli strategy was to torpedo the interim deal by getting France to blast a hole in the negotiations in Geneva while influential neocons in Washington harassed President Barack Obama sufficiently to prevent him from saving the sinking ship. Then, the thinking went, he would have few options left other than to join Israel in a bombing campaign against Iran with the Sunni royals of Saudi Arabia cheering the battering of their Shiite rivals.

This Saudi-Israeli strategy was aided, apparently inadvertently, by the inept diplomacy of Secretary of State John Kerry, who – the fluent French speaker that he is – agreed to French demands for changes to the pending agreement two weeks ago, thus scuttling that deal with the Iranians.

As the p-5-plus-1 negotiations with Iran took on water and foundered, the Saudis and the Israelis whipped up new waves of resistance from their buddies in Washington. There were congressional threats of new punitive sanctions against Iran and numerous op-eds accusing Obama of appeasement toward Iran.

But President Obama did not back down. He fended off any immediate congressional action on new sanctions and worked with Russian President Vladimir Putin to salvage the Iran deal. I’m also told that Obama personally ordered Kerry to – this time – steer the Iran deal home.

On one level, the interim agreement, signed early Sunday morning, only curtails Iran’s nuclear program for six months while further negotiations proceed, but the signing represents an historic achievement, the first time the United States and Iran have joined in a formal diplomatic pact since the Iranian revolution of 1979.

Yet, perhaps even more significant, the agreement is a message to the Saudis and Israelis that their desire to be the small-power tail wagging the big-power dog has its limits, that Obama and Putin can form their own alliance in favor of diplomatic solutions.

In facing down Israel’s hawkish Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Obama also has done something that few recent U.S. presidents have dared even attempt, to stand up to Israel and its imposing lobby.

[For other recent stories on this topic, see Consortiumnews.com’s “Who Controls US Foreign Policy?”; “The Saudi-Israeli Tag Team”; “Why France Sank an Iran Nuke Deal”; and “A Showdown for War or Peace.”]

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com). For a limited time, you also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.

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14 comments on “A Saudi-Israeli Defeat on Iran Deal

  1. Paul Surovell on said:

    Let’s give credit to the sterling work of British Conservative Foreign Minister William Hague who called the deal “good for the whole world”

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-25077109

  2. Randal Marlin on said:

    Robert, most enlightening, as usual.
    I could forgive Obama many of his disappointing failures if he can only hang tough on this one, crucially important decision for world peace, so little appreciated in the mainstream media.

  3. Bill Bodden on said:

    Obama’s leadership on this issue justifies your argument in favor of voting for the lesser evil. It is frightening to think of the alternative Romney might have given us.

    • Frances in California on said:

      Bill, a Romney Presidency would’ve had us nuking Iran last Feb (killing many of our own service members in the vicinity, and leaving any allies we had nearby dying of radiation sickness), and your Granny would not have got her Soc Sec any more since then, nor sufficient healthcare . . . I could go on. Instead, I, too, sigh with relief that Obama is President. I can’t rejoice because of the drones and the NSA, and I do worry about Mossad trying to make him another JFK.

  4. Bill Jones on said:

    Pretty much by definition, if the Israeli’s and Saudi’s don’t like it, it must be good.

  5. RIGG KENNEDY on said:

    LET US NOW GIVE PEACE A CHANCE EVEN IF IT MIGHT MEAN–WHICH IT NEVER WILL– LE$$ HAVING U$A TAXPAYER$ CONTINUE THEIR FORCED IN$ANE OBEI$ANCE AND CON$TANT HOMAGE TO THAT OTHER COUNTRY THAT PURCHA$ED THE SUBMI$$IVE- TO BRIBE-MONEY U.S. COINGRE$$IONAL WHOREHOU$E WHO GET$ THEIR “CITIZEN$ UNITED” A$$ KICKED WHEN AIPAC CALLS THE $HOT$ AMERICAN$ MU$T LIVE BY. TRUE, THERE WILL BE THO$E WHO WILL EVENTUALLY FADE IN FAVOR IF AND WHEN THI$ NEW EXPERIMENT IN DETENTE AND MUTUAL TRU$T I$ NOT HAMPERED, EFFECTED, DI$TORTED OR OUTRIGHT DAMAGED BY THO$E $PECIAL INDIVIDUAL$ WHO GAIN MUCH FINANCIALLY WITH THEIR BER$ERK, WAR-CHANTING POLICIE$ AND DEMAND$ UPON THE OVER-$TRETCHED U$ TAXPAYER TOO BU$Y TRYING TO PAY BILLS AND $TAY ABOVE WATER TO HAVE TIME TO FIGURE WHICH AMERICAN ALLY HA$ THEIR PEE PEE UP OUR WORN- OUT, OVER-LUBRICATED, ANU$!!! BUT LOOKOUT WHEN THEY DO BECAU$E THEY WILL NOT FORGET!!!!!

  6. angryspittle on said:

    I hope they beef up Obama’s security detail. As much hate as there is for him already by the cretins here I could easily see Nuts & Yahoo recruiting one of them to do his dirty work.

  7. Sometimes the best of the bad guys win!

  8. This article and commentators forgot to praise Russian input, and the incredible good news that instead of peace efforts among victors after a world war, or brokered like Carter did at Camp David the world is actually solving problems through negotiation.

  9. The Israeli Left and some Israeli past war heroes slowed the march toward war with Iran long enough for the peace deals to start. I suspect life in Israel for them is now rougher then before.

  10. “Once the nuclear file is closed, and sanctions removed, it will bring economic relief and a renewed view from Tehran of the opportunities the world is offering. And then, if there will be a desire to move beyond the nuclear issue, then the Iranian regime will be able to turn to the public and say, ‘we should no longer be in the business of fear mongering. If we want to move forward with the US, it will be difficult while maintaining a state of belligerency against one of the US key friends and allies. Maybe by then we’ll have moved to a new turn of events” on the Israeli-Palestinian front as well,” said Efraim Halevy, former head of Israeli Mossad.

    http://rehmat1.com/2013/11/14/ex-mossad-chief-us-iran-nuclear-deal-is-good-for-israel/

  11. Gregory Kruse on said:

    I congratulate Mr. Parry for being one of the first to articulate the danger of a Saudi/Israeli alliance. I think it was a presumptuous assertion of more power than they have, and it has opened a chance for a more appropriate realignment of power relations all over the world. Russia is a natural ally for the US now, and as to the opinion some have that Russians are stupid, they should take a hard look at our tea party/neocon set.