The following stand to benefit from the Iran nuclear deal payout of $100 billion: Syria, Hezbollah and various Shia militia factions. The implication was clear in a statement released by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on July 18, four days after Iran reached a nuclear accord with Germany and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, namely, Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States. During prayers in a Mosque in Tehran, Khamanei said that Iran will continue to support its friends in the region, and that its policy against the United States will not change, the Miami Herald reported.
In exchange for not pursuing nuclear weapons for 10 years, over $100 billion in frozen assets abroad will be released to Iran. It will also be free to sell oil in the open market, the influx of money boosting its sagging economy, enabling it to step up its financing of armed struggles across the region. Syria, Hezbollah and Iranian-guided Shia militias stand to benefit from a revitalized Iran.
Though Syria’s ruling Assad family is of the Alawite sect and the majority of Syrians are Sunni, both Iran and Syria have been united by common interests. They have both backed Hamas against Israel, Syria allows the flow of arms from Iran to the Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah, and both allies have worked against a U.S.-engineered regime in Iraq.
According to Yahoo News, Hezbollah was founded by Iran’s Guardians of the Revolution in the 1980s. With financing and weapons from Tehran, Hezbollah has become a powerful organization refusing to negotiate a settlement with Israel. Following Iran’s support of the Assad regime, Hezbollah has fought Syrian rebels and the emerging Islamic State.
Shia militias are disparate groups linked to Tehran and carrying out armed struggles in different parts of the Arab world. Most visible are the Shia militias in Iraq doing battle against the Sunni-led IS. In Yemen, the Houthi rebels are of the combative Zaidi group belonging to the Shia sect. While Saudi Arabia supports the Sunni government of Yemen, Iran backs the Houthi rebels. Iran’s sponsorship of the different Shia groups is interpreted by suspicious neighbors as following “Shia crescent” which is the code phrase for Iranian expansion from Lebanon to Saudi Arabia.
While expressing hope that the nuclear accord will deter Iran from developing an atom bomb, Saudi Arabia and other Arab states continue to harbor suspicions about Iranian designs for the region, according to the Miami Herald.
To allay its neighbors’ fears, Iran has embarked on a three-nation regional tour aimed at improving strained relationships.
On the first leg of his tour, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has been given red-carpet treatment at the Kuwaiti airport by Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al Hamad Al Sabah in charge of foreign relations. A later meeting is scheduled between the visiting dignitary and Sheikh Sabah Ahmed Al Sabah, the reigning emir.
Next in Zarif’s itinerary are Qatar and Iraq, also targeted in what is described by the media as Iran’s “charm offensive” to strengthen ties with its neighbors.
In his testimony Thursday before the Senate foreign relations committee, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the nuclear accord is the best way to prevent Iran from developing an atomic weapon. According to CBC, he expressed the following conviction: if Congress refuses to accept the Iranian nuclear deal, it would undermine President Barack Obama’s ability to act throughout the world.
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