Middle East

Iran nuclear deal: Mixed reaction around region

Iranians wave their national flag as they hold a poster of President Hassan Rouhani to welcome Iranian nuclear negotiators upon their arrival from Geneva in Tehran on 24 November 2013 (released by the Iranian Students News Agency, Isna) Image copyright AP

BBC correspondents in the Middle East report on the reaction around the region to the deal struck by Iran with world powers over its nuclear programme.

Kevin Connolly, Jerusalem

The Geneva Agreement is a setback for Israeli diplomacy and a personal defeat for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Mr Netanyahu's message remains that signs of change in Iran may be cosmetic

As the United States and its other allies have sought to respond to what they see as signs of change in Tehran, Mr Netanyahu has stuck grimly to the same message. That is that those signs may be cosmetic and that the world powers are relaxing sanctions without getting much in return.

The strategy of repeating that warning has not worked. Israel urgently needs a new tactical approach.

It will monitor Iranian compliance with the new inspection regime closely and will stress it reserves the right to take unilateral military action if all else fails.

The prospects for such a strike have been debated for years now, but the truth is that it will be much more difficult for Israel to send its planes into action in an atmosphere where Iran is engaging with the world powers.

One Israeli commentator said such a move in those circumstances would be "diplomatic suicide".

Mohsen Asgari, Tehran

Some Iranians have described Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif as an "ambassador of peace" who has said "no to war, sanctions, surrender and insult".

Ten years of tough negotiations with world powers have tied up Iran's nuclear rights with Iranian national pride. Imposed sanctions, however, created economic hardship for Iranians too.

Iranian diplomats have killed two birds with one stone. They worked hard for Iran's rights to be respected by the international community, as people see it in Tehran, on the one hand, and set the stage for sanctions to be relieved on the other.

To many people, the main effect of this agreement will be economic in nature.

However, strong public endorsement by Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei for the nuclear negotiators played an integral role in the talks.

Former President Hashemi Rafsanjani said: "The strong support made by the Supreme Leader helped the negotiating team to express themselves freely in the Geneva talks, leading to a breakthrough."

Jim Muir, Beirut, on implications for the Syrian conflict

For the Syrian government, the "historic" agreement on Iran proved that political solutions were the only way to tackle the region's crises, including Syria's own.

For the Syrian opposition, Iran is so close to the regime they are practically synonymous. To see its foreign minister closeted in talks with the Americans and emerging as a partner in a feted international agreement was galling indeed.

It will make it more difficult to argue - as the opposition does - that Iran must be excluded from the proposed talks on Syria.

Syria itself had earlier been publicly given "credit" by US Secretary of State John Kerry for signing and implementing the chemical weapons agreement, making it too look like a responsible international player.

Syria's other vital strategic ally, Russia, played a key role in both agreements, and has developed a close working relationship with Washington.

These are ominous developments for an opposition which fears being railroaded into settlement talks with a regime which is looking stronger politically, diplomatically and militarily than it has for a long time.

Jonathan Frewin, Dubai

The global oil markets have welcomed news of an interim nuclear deal between Iran and world powers. The benchmark Brent crude oil price fell more than 2% in Asian trade, despite the fact that the sanctions relief agreed does not offer any immediate lifting of restrictions on exports of crude oil or refined Iranian products.

But oil traders are betting that a longer-term deal could restore Iran's oil production to pre-sanctions levels, which could mean an additional million barrels per day on world markets.

Analysts though are warning that should negotiations collapse, it could cause a dramatic spike in oil prices, because the risk that Iran would carry out an earlier threat to blockade the crucial oil shipping route in the Strait of Hormuz would have increased.

Around a fifth of oil traded globally runs through that sea passage.

Frank Gardner, Gulf reaction

Image copyright AFP
Image caption On the Arab side of the Gulf, opinion is divided on the wisdom of the nuclear deal with Iran

On the Arab side of the Gulf, opinion is divided on the wisdom of the nuclear deal with Iran. Official statements from Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and the UAE have come out in favour, although all those countries still have serious doubts in private.

Oman is delighted, since it hosted and brokered the original icebreaker talks between the US and Iran. But Saudi Arabia is, to put it mildly, disturbed.

As the regional Arab heavyweight, rivalling Iran for power and influence, Saudi Arabia sees anything that lets the pressure off Iran as a setback.

A Saudi official said on Monday that Iran was stirring up trouble in every country in the region that has a sizeable Shia population and that a new, proactive Saudi security policy would be confronting this.

The Saudi princes and their friends in Abu Dhabi and Bahrain have a deep distrust of Iran and they are now expecting Tehran to somehow cheat on the deal.

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