During his 15 JUL 15 news conference to announce a nuclear deal with Iran, President Obama explained the framework for going forward with relations between the countries of the Middle East and the United States, stating that we would continue “our unprecedented security cooperation with Israel and continue to deepen our partnership with the Gulf States.” He added that preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon “has been Prime Minister Netanyahu’s priority [and it has] been our Gulf Allies’ priority.” In the follow-on question-and-answer session with reporters, the president reiterated that the deal did not apply to Iran’s proxies and military operations in the region.
On 16 JUL 15 National Security Adviser Susan Rice said that “we should expect” that some of the money Iran gets under sanctions relief as a result of the nuclear deal “would go to the Iranian military and could potentially be used for the kinds of bad behavior that we have seen in the region.”
As a result of the deal to give Iran a free hand to conduct operations in the region, Qasem Suleimani, the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Qods Force and the general responsible for overseeing Iran’s network of proxy organizations, has been removed from European Union sanctions lists.
Reading between the lines of the statements by the president and Susan Rice, and in consideration of Qasim Suleimani’s removal from the sanctions list, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the president has effectively handed Iran the keys to the Middle East and given that country the green light to continue military operations against the Sunni states. He did not mention any of the region’s Arab states that are aligned with anyone who is on the outside of the economic deal struck with Iran; rather, he focused solely on the Gulf states which Iran regards as being within its sphere and which are targeted for Iranian expansion.