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Overcoming decades of hostility, Iran, the United States, and five other world powers struck a historic accord Tuesday to check Tehran's nuclear efforts short of building a bomb. The agreement could give Iran access to billions in frozen assets and oil revenue, stave off more U.S. military action in the Middle East and reshape the tumultuous region.

The international deal with Iran to slow that country's nuclear development and speed the end of sanctions triggered powerful reactions across the region ranging from hope and joy to fear and despair.


Israel was the most outspoken critic. Its security cabinet unanimously condemned the agreement; Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described it as "a stunning historic mistake."

Israel's fear is that, even with the deal, Iran will be free to develop nuclear weapons in 10 to 15 years. Far from dismantling Iran's nuclear infrastructure, the accord actually legitimizes the program, albeit at a slower pace. It does nothing to halt Iran's missile development and, while the agreement calls for extensive inspection of currently known nuclear facilities, there is a considerable time-consuming process before any suspected newly discovered facility can be inspected.

Lifting sanctions, Israelis argue, will only allow Iran to channel increased funding to groups such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza, both of which threaten the Jewish state.

Most of Israel's opposition parties concur with this assessment, though they reject Mr. Netanyahu's call on Tuesday to "put petty politics aside" and join him in fighting the agreement.

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog said that Israel's lack of influence in the negotiations of the U.S.-led deal "is the result of a personal and exclusive failure by Netanyahu." Watch for a growing movement to oust the Israeli Prime Minister.

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Yemen

The House of Saud resents what it considers U.S. capitulation to Tehran that puts Saudi Arabia and its dependent allies at risk. They view Iran as the ultimate source of the region's growing sectarian schism, pointing to its extensive support for President Bashar al-Assad in Syria, the Shia Hezbollah movement in Lebanon, Shiite militias in Iraq and Houthi rebels in Yemen. "Iran is an aggressor," Jamal Khashoggi, an influential Saudi journalist, told reporters Tuesday. "It has ambitions and plans that it is implementing in the region, and it is using force, not diplomacy," to do so.

The official news agency said that while Saudi Arabia supports any agreement that prevents Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, it stresses the importance of strictly carrying out inspections of Iranian facilities and of reimposing sanctions when any violation is detected.

Watch for Saudi Arabia to develop a nuclear infrastructure similar to the kind Iran is now allowed.

Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon

These traditionally pro-American Arab states publicly welcomed Tuesday's deal with Iran as a chance to dial back the threat of regional war and raise the prospect of economic benefits. Privately, however, they fear its consequences.

Iran's likely expansion of the war in Syria will only bring more refugees and trouble to Jordan in the short term, while the creation of a stronger Iranian-backed regime in Damascus would jeopardize Lebanon's independence and threaten its Sunni and even its Christian populations.

Egypt, on the other hand, is conflicted. The country's pro-military rulers derive much of their short-term financial backing from Saudi Arabia and wish to remain on good terms. However, Egypt's greatest fear at the moment is of the so-called Islamic State's influence in the Sinai and Upper Egypt. Cairo would like nothing more than to see Iranian-backed forces in Iraq and Syria take the Islamic State down a peg or two.

Iraq and Syria

These two nations currently fighting rebellions welcomed the new deal, anticipating that Iran will use some of the billions of dollars that now will be released to support the pro-government forces in both.

Syria's President has been kept afloat because of Iran's direct intervention and also by the efforts of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah. While in Iraq, Iranian-backed Shia militias – as well as Iranian fighters and commanders – are seen as the best hope for repelling the Islamic State. Watch for more Revolutionary Guardsmen joining the fight in both Iraq and Syria.


Ankara welcomed the Iran deal because of its economic benefits – it would like to double trade with Iran to $30-billion in the next year – but urged Tehran to change its regional policies.

Iran's support for Syria's Assad regime has resulted in nearly two million Syrians taking refuge in southern Turkey. Ankara hopes Tehran will abandon what it sees as sectarian-based policies and place greater emphasis on a political transition in Damascus.

Watch for Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to make a trip to Tehran to underscore Turkish support for Iran's liberation from sanctions.

UAE, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait

These close neighbours of Iran may not be largely Shia, but they have maintained decent relations with Iran through the years. Now, they stand to benefit most from the deal. Many of the multinational corporations that will do business with Iran, for example, will likely use Dubai as their regional hub. Others will export and import through the other Gulf states.

Watch for Dubai's economy to surge once again.

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