GRM 2010 GRM 2011

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The P5+1 nuclear deal and its impact of Gulf Security: A counter intuitive outcome
Paper Proposal Text :
The P5+1 nuclear deal and its impact of Gulf Security: A counter intuitive outcome

Abdullah Baabood
Director-Gulf Studies Center, Qatar University  
The recent nuclear agreement reached on April 2nd 2015 between Iran and the P5+1 in Vienna—the “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” (JCPOA)—is an historic long-term comprehensive nuclear deal that aims to verifiably prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and ensure that Iran’s future nuclear program will be exclusively peaceful. This landmark agreement is consequential not only for the international community, global security and nuclear proliferation but also for Iran and the broader Middle East.
This detailed agreement is very specific and it intends to ensure that Iran “under no circumstances will ever seek, develop or acquire any nuclear weapons.” In exchange there will be phased-in sanctions relief for Iran, including the unfreezing of Iranian assets (over $100bn) held in Western financial institutions and normalizing of diplomatic relations.
The agreement, however, does not address Iran’s regional foreign policy, which has caused anxiety and mistrust with its neighbors as well as the international community at large. Iran’s Middle East policy has been viewed as being detrimental to regional security and stability. Iran’s rhetorical threat of destroying Israel and its perceived and actual blatant intervention in Arab politics spreading from Iraq, Syria, Lebanon as well as Bahrain and Yemen have created animosity and raised unnecessary regional, ethnic and sectarian tensions and conflicts. While being isolated and under strict international sanctions, Iran has been able to meddle and interfere in Arab politics. Iran’s bid for regional hegemony, coinciding with Arab political fragmentation and a weak Arab regional order in the midst of political chaos and regional turmoil partly due to the Arab Spring, has led to a proxy war with its Arab neighbors, led by Saudi Arabia.
It should, therefore, come as no surprise that Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu declares the agreement an ‘historic mistake’ while other Arab countries have cautiously welcomed the deal but remain skeptical about Iran plans and intentions. The regional fear extends far beyond Iran’s nuclear ambitions—despite its significance—as it stems from Iran’s perceived, rhetorical and actual foreign policy orientation. Therefore, the nuclear agreement alone is not necessarily going to alleviate these fears anytime soon nor is it going to help Gulf Security. In fact, the agreement has led to further heightening of regional fears as it is viewed that it grants Iran immediate political status, financial resources and future economic ability, while compliance with its terms will only become apparent over time, allowing it time, space and resources to continue with its existing policy leading to further insecurity and conflict.
The signing of the nuclear deal came at a time of other dynamics changes in the global and regional environments that have further added to the GCC states feeling the need to upscale their foreign and security policy and act independently of their security guarantor, the United States. Such changes include, beside the nuclear deal, the incoherent Middle East Policy “US Pivot” and policy reorientation towards Asia, failing Arab States, the rise of ISIS, the falling oil prices, as well as the situation in Syria and Yemen among others.
This prompted the GCC States led by Saudi Arabia to take actions into their own hands and started to act in Yemen and even Syria fighting effectively a proxy war with Iran which may lead to even confrontations with Russia on the Syrian front. GCC States actions have taken many dimensions including military intervention, building regional and international coalitions as well as an active foreign policy aiming at isolating Iran. However, the GCC, despite the appearance, is not a unified front, and there are many nuanced and obvious differences especially when it comes to their foreign and security policy outlook.
This paper will discuss the security challenges and especially the implication of the Iran Nuclear Deal and explain how the deal, combined with other the dynamic shifts in the regional and international settings, have, counter intuitively, led to further deterioration in the security environment of the region. It will also explain and analyze GCC responses while delineating the differences between the GCC states themselves that have prevented them from forming a unified GCC security block and hampered meaningful regional security cooperation with other powers including Iran.