President Obama and the Gulf Arabs

May 16, 2015 · 251 comments
mqurashi (Leesburg, FL)
Saudis, being followers of Wahhabi ideology, consider all other Muslims as infidels. That is why ISIS that also follows the Wahhabi thinking slaughter any body who refuses to submit to it. The problem wit Saudi Arabia and Israel is really not the nuclear bomb. It is the 65 million 70% of whom are well educated young population that scares them. Unlike Saudi Arabia, the Iranian theocracy has been steadfast in educating its population, including women. The contribution of Iranian intellectuals during the height of Islamic influence is well documented. Saudis have been exporting their convoluted interpretation of Islam throughout the Sunny Muslim world that laid the foundation of Taliban and now ISIS. Their madrassas in Pakistan is the reason of political chaos. US has been facilitating Saudi behavior because they have not complained about Israel's policies in the West Bank. Like Kurds, Palestinians have escaped the Wahhabi influence and therefore Saudi indifference. US should persuade Saudis to make peace with Iran and officially denounce Wahhabi ideology.
tompe (Holmdel)
Just another Obama foreign policy failure. We have a weak, lame duck President who still thinks he is the smartest person in the room. Instead of limiting nuclear arms in the mid east the President's policy will encourage a nuclear arms race and of course the NYT just can't see why the Persian Gulf States would want to arm themselves against their enemy, Iran
abbasijawi (Pakistan)
Iran is not backing off the influence that it has gained in past two decades. Saudis on the other hand are loosing their grip in the region. They can not afford a sanction-free Iran. So, you can understand the decision of king Salman to skip the summit.
wills11111 (NY, NY)
Obviously "threatening and snubbing" our president doesn't help the Arab states in and of itself—but defending themselves over a hegemonic and soon-to-be nuclear-armed Iran does. Assurances from this administration are worthless—just look at Syria, Ukraine, UN reports on Iran's ongoing attempts to cheat, Russia's recent declaration that there will be no "automaticity" of "snap-back sanctions", et al. The Saudis have no interest in taking on the President, not anymore than the Israelis do, but when any country is existentially threatened, polishing President Obama's would-be legacy is at the bottom of its to-do list.
Daniel A. Greenbum (New York, NY)
Regardless of the wisdom of the Iranian deal the Saudis would do well to stop scapegoating Israel so the defacto alliance they now have with Israel could be made more explicit.
Mike (NYC)
Interesting, isn't it, that Iran is now making everyone nervous, not just Israel.
abbasijawi (Pakistan)
I don't think that Iran is backing of the influence that it has gained in the past few decades.
jb (weston ct)
Two statements in this editorial jump out:

1) "Nevertheless, it is perverse for Arab leaders who once considered Iran’s nuclear program their gravest threat to complain about a deal intended to diminish that threat. "
"Intended to diminish"? As if all that is necessary is good intentions. Get realistic; Arab leaders aren't concerned about Obama's intentions, they are concerned about his willingness to back those 'intentions' with action if the need arises. "Red Line", anyone?

2)"Administration officials have a reasonable comeback: They say Iran is far more likely to use the money freed up by the lifting of sanctions to meet accumulated domestic needs. "
"Far more likely"? Oh, no problem then. The Obama administration has such a great track record in mideast assumptions, doesn't it? From troop withdrawal in Iraq to the 'JV team analogy' administration assumptions have been borne out. Not. And what if the 'less likely' scenario develops. See #1 above.

Bottom line, the Obama administration has squandered what little credibility it had in the Arab world, forcing our allies to go it alone when dealing with Iran.
Sonny Pitchumani (Manhattan, NY)
Saudi Arabia is worried that it is in the throes of losing its hegemony over that region in particular and over the world in general thanks to (1) falling crude oil prices, and (2) ascendant Iran, which is a Shia state. Sunnis consider Shias inferior Muslims in that Ali was not the direct descendant of Mohammed. So, Saudi Arabia does not want to see rise of Iran for more than one reason.

Obama is getting entangled in Sunni-Shia strife, and does not appear to be the smart dude we all assumed he was. I would prefer that he brought down feuding Israelis and Palestinians to Camp David and drove some sense into the heads of Bibi and Abbas in order to create some semblance of peace in that region.

Misplaced priorities.
NI (Westchester, NY)
Iran's long history of bad behavior? What about the terrible behavior of Saudi Arabia? The pot is calling the kettle black. Freeing Iran from it's shackles would be the answer to the deadly mayhem in the Middle East. Let's remember, The terrorists are all Sunnis ( except monster Assad ). Why are we kow-towing to the Arabs? They have only brought us grief. Let the ME fight their own battles. They are very different from us. We do not understand them and we don't belong there. So let's get the hell out of there and stop hosting these expensive summits. Why do we have to mollify these petulant, sulky kids especially when they are not yours?
KJS (Fort Lauderdale,Fl.)
It is not difficult to understand that the Gulf States do not trust that verifiable compliance can be achieved. Iran has not cooperated in the past why should it be different now. I like Congress will wait to see the final language. However I remain extremely skeptical.
M I Malhaus (NYC)
Its high time that we dissociate ourselves from these archaic oppressive and extreme societies. Shame on us for offering any type of protection agreements.
if anything we should move to imposing sanctions on Saudi Arabia and their allies.
Steve Shackley (Albuquerque, NM)
After the Republicans take over all three branches of government in 2017 it will be all war all the time isolationism anyway.
c harris (Rock Hill SC)
King Salman apparently isn't very smart. The nuclear negotiations to limit Iran's ability are seen by the Saudis as a cause for them to start their own nuclear program. All the noise about Iran being on the cusp of developing a nuclear bomb prior to the negotiations and the international sanctions to encourage a deal seems to indicate the Saudis are not paying very much attention to the situation. Now will Israel denounce the Saudis as a nuclear threat to them. The US Iran nuclear negotiations are clearly the right course. The US backing Saudi Arabia's indiscriminate air strikes on Yemen is foolish.
jld (nyc)
This editorial completely omits any reference to the activity of Iran in supporting terror and destabilizing other nations via Hezbollah, Houtis and Hamas. These are legitimate concerns of both the Arab states and Israel.
change (new york, ny)
And it seems we are very good at criticism and poor at problem solving. We have excoriated President Obama, but in doing so very few offer an alternative to his actions.

Cozying up to Saudi Arabia and the GCC should not be a principle for a superpower. The US need to set its own goals in achieving peace in that region and if the Saudis feel slighted by our hard principles, then they are free to pursue their own. We must not be their enabler.

The solution to the crisis between the Saudis and Iran is not to take sides, but to put forward mechanisms for negotiations between the two. As long as we arm the Saudis and the GCC to the teeth, they will see no other option but military force to get what they want.

The Saudis want to dominate the region. The Iranians are a counterweight to them. The US should be more forthright in facilitating a compromise without taking any sides. War is never a solution. Reasonable men is.
Bill Sortino (New Mexico)
Once more Obama has the correct vision on a situation, however, as usual his political/managerial process allows for a misdirection of intent and blurring of the issue. The Middle East is changing and will continue to evolve into continued shifts in power and religious conflict. As the Islamic States now officially move to tribal affiliations of Sunni or Shite economic, political and military activity will follow. Now is the time for the U.S. to allow for this process to unfold by working with the international community and not to allow our congress to interfere with history.

This process has long been in the making and for our corporate press and tribally minded politicians to interfere will only lead to more bloodshed and the loss of more American lives and influence. Integral to this process is, of course, Israel. It is time Israel to take control of its destiny and begin to seriously address the Palestinian issue and the roader issue of peace with its neighbors. Until Israel matures into a State that is interested in being a responsible and inclusive to all of its people and then uses that effort to propel it into a new dialogue with the Arab states the only recourse they will continue to have is a military process. These are appropriate times for change to lead the way to peace.
pellam (New York)
Too bad the only way Israel -Arab peace is achievable is if Israel commits suicide. Until the Arab world says "we accept the state of the Jewish people in Palestine to live with us in peace", there will be no peace.
gina (phoenix)
The Saudi's and Israel are the real terrorists in the region. Cut ties will all of them. Let them pay for their own wars and deal with the extremists they created. Time for Americans to demand their tax dollars stop funding oppressive dictators and the real terrorist threats in the Middle East.
Phadras (Johnston)
The old gray lady as usual carrying the water for the bamster. His "deal" will ensure that the House of Saud will simply purchase their nukes from the Pakistani's. When you seek to play ball with apocalyptic religious extremists like the persians you are going to have consequences. A nuclear middle east is one of them.
Occupy Government (Oakland)
What a tangled web.... The U.S. and UK have meddled so much in the mideast and for so long that we can no longer see the value of any relationship not based on oil and arms. This is our problem to fix without escalating tensions. No mean feat.
mqurashi (Leesburg, FL)
When the Brits withdrew from the defeated Ottoman territories, they carved out states that had mixed ethnic population and gave the control to the minority. They followed their policy of divide and rule. After WWII US inherited this mess. Saudis have been using their oil money to propagate their Wahhabi Ideology throughout the Sunny Muslims.
Richard Green (San Francisco)
I'm with President Obama on pursuing a nuclear deal with Iran. Wasn't it Churchill who said "Jaw jaw is better than war war?"
B (NY)
"It is hard to see how threatening and snubbing a president who is offering crucial assistance to the Saudi-led war in Yemen and who still has two years left in office advances Arab interests."

Remarkably stupid and condescending.
David (Nevada Desert)
Unfortunately, it takes war and the violence of internal bloody revolutions to create strong, modern, accountable states/nations/empires. The Arabs are at least a century or two behind and the USA should drill and frack more of its own oil/gas and stay out of their desert tents and 18th century world.

At least, this is my take on conservative, political philosophy Francis Fukuyama's latest book. That is, war is part of the human DNA and can be a positive change agent.
CalypsoArt (Hollywood, FL)
"Drill and frack more." Talk about being a century behind. Your view of the future is more of the past.
Beberegal (Denver)
First, when the Arab allies behave like babies, we should not respond in kind. Second, my personal expert on the Gulf States predicts they (especially the Saudis) want the U.S. Navy to take over and hold the Port of Aden in Yemen. This will assure safe shipment of oil for all involved including Iran when the sanctions ease. Obama is expected to make this military move in the near future. So everyone should relax, like the king of Bahrain. If they are not worried, then neither should we.
Stan (Lubbock, Tx)
"Instead of telling every critic of the Iran nuclear agreement to stop complaining and get on side, it would be better for the Times' editors to reflect on the fact that every neighbour of Iran is concerned by this deal." -- Grouch (below)

Taking up the suggested reflection (on behalf of the editors), I arrive at this partly rhetorical question: Would the neighbors of Iran be less concerned if there were no deal? My speculation is that they would not.
mqurashi (Leesburg, FL)
The only neighbors that object to the Iran deal are Saudi led Gulf States and Israel. It is not the bomb because Iran would be ashes if it ever used it. It is the economic ramifications that Iran will create once it is allowed to trade freely. Israel, that has played its card of victimhood, will have no real enemy to extract billions from the US.
Bruce (Rio Rancho NM)
Good to see the Saudis show their cards again afer 9/11.
Riley Temple (Washington, DC)
There is no price to pay for snubbing this President -- the "leader and head" of the powerful United States of America. The US Congress has done its very best to undermine his authority on the world stage ever since the President took the oath of office in 2009. I trust that Congressional leaders and their minions are pleased with their handiwork. What makes them think that the next President will have the needed gravitas that they have denied this one? It is the Office they have undercut in their hatred of President Obama.
Jp (Michigan)
"There is no price to pay for snubbing this President -..."

That sums it up. The question is now, will there be no price to pay for snubbing the President?
Patrick Sorensen (San Francisco)
The agreements between the United States and the Sunni dominated states of the Middle East have caused an imbalance of influence in the area. All factions, not only the Sunni and Shiite, but the Alawite, Kurd, Christian, and all the other minorities should be recognized and respected both politically and socially.

The borders often don't show where these factions exist. The Kurds spill into Turkey as well as Iraq. Shiite and Sunni people are all over the place and often share the same cities. Judaism, Yazidism, and Mandaean faiths have their place in pockets of Iraq and throughout the region these and other sects have survived for hundreds if not thousands of years.

It's time for our allies to share the power with the people that make up the region. All should have a voice and nobody should be marginalized. I know that that's a lot easier to say than to do but it should be the goal and the path to lasting peace in the region.

The path of domination and revenge hasn't worked well as evidenced by the cycle of violence repeated time and again. It's time to be inclusive and attractive rather than subjugative and domineering.
SAK (New Jersey)
Editorial wrongly claims that Iran is causing troubles in
Iraq. American invasion of Iraq, unabashedly supported
by NYT, overturned sunni domination since 680AD and
put shiites in control there. This is unmistable
disingenuity on the part of Arabs. Historically, Arabs
and persians never got along well since Arabs conquest
of Persian empire in 638AD. America can do nothing
about the mutual contempt they have fostered over
a long period. It is counterprodeuctive to offer more
arms to Saudis and encourage their intransigence
to keep the pot boiling. Obama, I voted for him
twice, keep adding to the long list of disappointments.
We have nothing in common with Saudis and it is time
to cut the cord. I am glad Saudis are taking the initiave
to chart out independent course. Good for America and
the Middle East.
Dr Bob in the Bronx (Bronx)
This is a Sunni - Shia problem not a Saudi - Iran problem. Saudi Arabia is a very conservative Wahhabi Sunni religion similar to that of IS. They public ally beheaded a woman in January.

President Obama needs his Arab coalition to fight IS but has not had bombing assistance from the Saudis. Instead they bomb the Shias in Yemen.

Throwing a snit fit over respectful treatment of Iran is not in the best interest of the region, but while President Obama is forced to deal with nations everyone in the region thinks of Sunni and Shia friends and enemies. It is a Gordian knot if there ever was one.
Bruce (San Diego)
The Saudi's and gulf states are not our friends, they are at best, an allies of convenience. They have consistently acted against American interest by funding terrorism and are now over pumping oil to make American energy independence uneconomic. We have been drawn into the insanity of the region (they are still fighting a war that began when the Prophet died) and have poured thousands of lives and Billions of our dollars into trying to help (interfere) people who don't like us.

It is time to get out of the entire region, yes there will be a war when we pull out. It is something they have been lusting after for a long time, the only question is when, not if. We and others, have tried repeatedly to head this off and have failed. It may be necessary to teach the world, or at least that part of it, the insanity of jihad. This is like dealing with an addict, at some point you have to say "I will go no further with you, you are killing yourself." We are at that point in the Middle East, its time to go home.
A. Stanton (Dallas, TX)
U.S. Special Forces Kill Senior ISIS Commander in Syria Raid, Defense Department Says -- NY Times today.

If the President feels he is need of a foreign policy legacy, let him give up his foolish and dangerous quest for a nuclear deal with Iran
and devote the remainder of his term to ridding the Middle East of terrorists and tyrants, a pressing world need he has already exhibited considerable talent for. Beginning with the leaders of the Revolutionary Guard, Hezbollah, Hamas and Dr. Assad.
John S. (Arizona)
There is nothing foolish or dangerous about President Obama's efforts and the efforts of the P5+1 to control the spread of nuclear weapons.
William Verick (Eureka, California)
It is rich indeed to take seriously the concerns of the gulf oil dictatorships, especially their fears of Iran. It was these countries, after all, who supported Saddam Hussein in his invasion of Iran, who were supported in this by the United States, who convinced America's European allies to provide Iraq with the precursors and industrial capacity to manufacture poison gas weapons, and who convinced their ally, the United States, to provide Iraq with intelligence so it could more accurately deliver chemical munitions to kill Iranian troops.

At the height of the gulf oil dictatorship war against Iran, Donald Rumsfeld visited Iraq and shook hands with Saddam Hussein.

This happened, of course, after the United States and Great Britain had overthrown the secular democratically elected Iranian government and installed a puppet dictator, the Shah.

To a large extent, many of the problems the U.S. faces in the Mid-East is blowback from this imperial aggression.

These countries are concerned about Iranian aggression, about Iran "making trouble"? How many countries in the region has Iran invaded? How many airports and ports of other countries has Iran bombed? Was it Iran that provided the funding and supplied the weapons that helped al Qaeda and ISIS to get off the ground?

Sanctions and economic boycotts should be slapped on the gulf oil dictatorships, not demeaning, obsequious pandering by the leader of the free world.
Patrick Sorensen (San Francisco)
Yes the hypocrisy lives on. I recall that during the Iran/Iraq war, we were spotting for Iraqi artillery while we were selling military supplies to Iran and using the profits to supply the Contras who were trying to overthrow the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. And that was just part of the Reagan administration's bumbling.
Dave (NYC)
"How many countries in the region has Iran invaded"? Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Argentina, Bulgaria through their funded proxies and terrorist activities.

Most of the Gulf countries are guilty of the same as Iran in exporting and funding terrorism and in spreading their strict Wahhabi brand of Islam. I'm not defending the Gulf Arabs. I agree with the editorial that the Gulf States are acting like children with respect to their spoiled antics. However, the Gulf States have legitimate concerns about Iran's nuclear capabilities and intentions in the region.
CalypsoArt (Hollywood, FL)
Ah, Recall. You are a rare bird with amazing powers. The national recall only goes as far back as an AFC Game a few months ago, and science revolves around PSI numbers.
FR (LA)
The problem is that the nuclear deal won't be verifiable. Iran has a long history of cheating, and that will continue.

Once the sanctions are lifted, the mullahs will also have many more resources to cause trouble around the region.
SW (San Francisco)
I concur. N. Korea cheats and Obama looks the other way.
CalypsoArt (Hollywood, FL)
You make a statement but put forward no proof. I've seen and heard the U.S. Negotiators and scientists answer this question over and over. They detailed the access they will have to ensure compliance, the verifiable reductions in Iran's capabilities, and how long Iran will take to reconstitute should they decide to opt out. Stating "it's not verifiable" is FOX Dollhouse simpleton regurgation, and assumes that the scientists and others involved on the U.S. Side in these negotiations are imbeciles and pushovers, while the Iranians are smarter and hard nosed.
bnc (Lowell, Ma)
In the past, when we've given weaponry to the Saudis, Israel as demanded parity. This will further accelerate the Saudi "push" to get nuclear weapons to defend itself against the current Israeli nuclear-arsenal. When will we stop this cycle? Only the United States an step up and say "No" to end this eons-old tribal conflict. Its so depressing that we've offshored any other means to stimulate our economy.
Grouch (Toronto)
The Times seems to find it very difficult to give any credence to the concerns of Iran's neighbours, yet the Arab leaders have some very cogent points. The nuclear deal means, in due time, the end of the sanctions regime. It's very naïve to suppose, as the Times does, that increased Iranian government revenue will be used on the needs of the Iranian people, rather than on increased aggression against Arab states.

Instead of telling every critic of the Iran nuclear agreement to stop complaining and get on side, it would be better for the Times' editors to reflect on the fact that every neighbour of Iran is concerned by this deal.
Phil Z. (Portlandia)
The sanctions on Iran have been in place for some time now, but have they slowed down their support for terrorism at all? I do not see it. Does anyone?
badubois (New Hampshire)
In today's editorial:

"A more rational fear is that when sanctions are lifted, Iran, which is causing trouble in Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen and elsewhere in the Middle East, will have more resources with which to expand its influence. Administration officials have a reasonable comeback: They say Iran is far more likely to use the money freed up by the lifting of sanctions to meet accumulated domestic needs."

Really? Where is the evidence for *that* breathtaking assumption? After an Administration that has stumbled over reset buttons, red lines, exit ramp strategies and junior varsity league analogies, is it any wonder that the Gulf states rightfully question this Administration's assumptions?
Ultraliberal (New Jersy)
Dear Editorial Board,
There are two major shifts in trust & loyalties. The one between Saudi Arabia,the Gulf States & President Obama, & more important to me is the split between the New York Times & me.I have been reading the New York Times since I was in Elementary School, & I'm going to be 82 years old.I have used the New York Times to base my opinions about world affairs & life in general. I looked at the Times as a defender of the underdog, and as a Jew it usually spoke about & defended what i was mostly concerned with. All that changed with the conflict between Israel & Hamas in Gaza.Suddenly I found the Times defending terrorists & painting Israel as a villain.The Times simply brushed away history & focused on Israel's reaction against Hamas Rockets aimed at Israel's population centers. While this was happening thousands of Syrians were being murdered with the complicity of Iran, Muslim radicals in Africa were murdering innocent civilians & kidnapping children. True the Times reported these atrocities, usually as a minor story, under the so called atrocities of Israel against the Palestinian people.The Icing on the cake & the reason I decided to end my subscription to the Times was the Times support of Obama's overtures to Iran,a country that is a threat to it's neighbors & especially to Israel.Simply put, Iran cannot be trusted with a nuclear capacity.in any stage of development.
Mike (NYC)
I don't think that anybody gets it. What we should be seeking to achieve from the negotiations with Iran is the resignation and departure of the illegitimate, unelected cult of Twelvers who violently and forcefully seized control of the Iranian government. It makes no difference that these despots deposed another bunch of despots, the shah and his crew. That does not confer one iota of legitimacy upon the current crop of religious-fanatic despots. These people are Twelvers. That's a cult which believes that a mythological 12th imam, a redeemer called "al mahdi", will magically appear. They think that Al will show up with Jesus to save the world. Really. You can't make this stuff up. Everything that they do is motivated by a desire to cause Al to reveal himself. Now does anyone out there really want these insane Twelver cultists to have any nuke capabilities whatsoever?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twelver

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muhammad_al-Mahdi

I say ramp-up the sanctions. Make it so miserable to live in Iran that the Iranian people themselves throw out their oppressors. Encourage them to do so, on radio, TV, Internet, in print. This is what we should be doing.

If the Mafia by force deposed the government in Italy would anyone look upon the Mafia as Italy's legitimate government? I think not. This is the same thing.
walter Bally (vermont)
It's clear the Arabs lack any faith in and distrust Obama. Now everyone in the Middle East is on the same page. This is big clue blue America.
John LeBaron (MA)
The Sunni Arab gulf states are far less concerned about the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran than they are about the more systemic consequences of a US-Iran rapprochement on a host of other fronts. Inherently, Iran possesses more social, intellectual, creative and economic capital than the entire Arab world combined. There is no question that rejoining the world community would release great, potentially constructive, national Iranian power.

Under current political conditions, Iran's human potential remains latent but it is ready to explode in a bust of creative innovation. Why the US would back the horse of Arab regression is a mystery. Perhaps the answer lies in contemporary America's own regressive tendencies.
Zeke Dombrowski (Connecticut)
This situation is dire and one of an ever cascading series of events showing that Obama does things the Obama way and believes only he is right. He and his circle don't see or care what developments are currently happening and plow ahead with their own agenda. I don't vote for either party anymore as I'm totally dislillusioned by our whole political process but believe that something is wrong with Obama, seriously wrong. That means something is seriously wrong with America and in this unstable geopolitical environment every day is a frightening one.
Phil Z. (Portlandia)
One clear path to ending the endless cycle of overpriced elections and those "permanent" members of Congress is to Re-Elect No One and clean house to give our country some breathing room to fix our myriad domestic problems.
J C Wheel (Atlanta)
Bottom line -- UNFORTUNATELY:

A continuation of the Administration's failed foreign and national security policy!
Jeff (NYC)
When Bush was president NY Times commentators wailed that our allies no longer respected the US.

Now that Obama has wrecked almost every single bilateral relationship the US has, the comments run to "who cares, they're uncivilized, we don't need them anyway" etc.
fahrender (east lansing, michigan)
W.'s administration did wreck the respect that our allies had for America. That is well documented. The Republicans, even before Obama was inaugurated, did everything possible to undermine him. This includes his efforts to negotiate with Iran. Now, with less than two years remaining in his administration and the Republicans in control of Congress there should be little wonder that the Saudi's, etc. al, are snubbing the President.
The Saudis are not our friends. It's a relationship of mutual convenience which is in tatters, based on hypocrisy and cultural incompatibility, and the growing knowledge that the Oil Age is drawing to an end .
Don P. (New Hampshire)
America needs to first do what's best for Americans.

The Middle East has been embroiled in war and conflict since history began being recorded and appears likely to continue for centuries more.

The U.S. owes nothing more to Saudia Arabia than we have already given or have agreed to by treaty.

The U.S. has financed and fought all of Saudia Arabia's conflicts and wars all the way back to the first President Bush who needlessly dragged our nation into an Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi war, which has continued endlessly ever since.

None of the Iraq wars were necessary and we should completely withdraw now. These are not our wars or fights. We don't belong in Syria, we didn't belong in Lybia, we don't belong in Yeman and we should have long been out of Afghanistan. All of these wars and conflicts are centuries old religious and civil conflicts. They are not our fights!

President Obama should have refused to meet with Saudia Arabia's substitute King and instead the President should have demanded that the Saudia's stop financing and exporting terrorism all over the world. That would be in the best interest of all Americans.
Adam Smith (NY)
ANY Support For The Al-Saud Clan Now Will Constitute The Third Cardinal Error By The US In Seven Decades.

THE Original Cardinal Error occurred in 1945 when the US afforded the Wahhabi House of Saud "Protection for Oil", without understanding who the Al-Saud Family was and why they were driven out of Arabia by the Al-Rashids and how they got to become Kings as a payback by the British in 1915 when they were recruited as "Mercenaries" to dismantle the Ottoman Empire.

THE House of Saud has had a Tragic/Dark Past for Centuries and that the Second Cardinal Error that the US committed was the "Faustian Pact" under Ronald Reagan and the Neocons to form Al-Qaida so to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan which led to 9/11 and explosion in Global Terrorism only to be up-staged by the ISIS which once again was Created and Sponsored by More Extreme Elements of the Wahhabis that control the House of Saud.

INSTEAD of providing Protection, WE MUST Stop supporting the Saudis and Disrupt the Flow of Money to Pakistan that has become the Breading Ground for Terrorism by taking advantage of the Poor and Uneducated Vulnerable Sunni Youths in that Country".

ANYTHING Else Is A Total Waste Of The US Blood & Treasure, As Forming A Coalition With Sponsors Of Al-Qaida And ISIS To Fight Their Own Creation Is Totally Absurd.

AND Blaming Iran's "Aggression" Is Just Mere "Propaganda" So to Keep their "Exclusive" status as "BAD ACTORS" in the Region and around the World.
Max (Manhattan)
A verifiable nuclear deal might be acceptable but everyone outside the White House knows that with this particular 'partner' the deal would turn out to be unverifiable.

No matter what the Iranians promise, they have the capability to assemble a nuclear device within a year, and when it suits them they will do just that. And the US will be looking at a fait accompli and be scratching its head at having been yet again a victim of Middle Eastern duplicity.

There was an opportunity to rein in Iran as a nuclear threat, by combining serious sanctions with a serious and credible military threat. But that was years ago. Instead, this White House chose the weak course will sooner or later, most likely sooner, result in Iran getting its bomb and destabilizing the entire region.
Frank W Smith (Boston MA)
The Sunni have persecuted the Shia for centuries. And the Shia are not alone. Fundamentally the Sunni fund Al Quaeda, they fund the Madrassa network in Pakistan, they are at the forefront of pushing to give arms to the Syrian rebels (which include ISIS), and most recently they try to savage the legitimate aspirations of the Houthi in Yemen.

Of course there is also blood on the hands of the Shia. But in this dispute, the Sunni argue that they are our friends. They are not.

Iran is a viable state with a large population. It will survive as a state. It sits astride one of the main land routes between Europe and India. In short it is central to the world's geo-political dialogue.

Just as Vietnam in becoming a valuable regional power to offset Chinese hegemony, has in turn become a country that we try to cultivate and work with, so too it is in our interest to fundamentally change our relationship with Iran. That will not make Iran our friend. But it has the promise of making Iran a more stabilizing force in South Asia.

The Sunni threat that they too will go nuclear runs in the face of the history. The Sunni discovered oil that was there. They have used it to build nothing. Their societies afford no opportunity to their own people. They have no indigenous industries. Treat them with respect as players in the neighborhood and ignore them.
TDurk (Rochester NY)
Actually, Standard Oil of California discovered the oil fields in Saudi Arabia under the permission of Saudi king Al-Saud. So the Saudis neither discovered the oil, nor developed the technology to extract the oil. They did however use the oil to cement their political power by bribing the Wahhabi clerics to validate their religious claim to power.
Donzi Boy (florida)
The rebuke by the Arab leaders shows that they have learned that Obama is more responsive to vinegar than sugar. He has demonstrated that insult and humiliation is rewarded while friendship and cooperation is ignored. Compare his treatment of allies such as Britain and Israel to each other, never mind enemies to friends.
Hopefully this re calibration by all countries is specific to the Obama administration and not to America in general. Obama's presidency will be remembered as a mess of contradictions and missed opportunities. Not the worst President in modern times(thanks to Nixon, Bush and Carter) but....
J (New York, N.Y.)
Slowly and steadily America is leaving the middle east. Arguments
for involvement were long ago squandered by the disastrous decision
to attack Iraq. Sunni and Shiite states know well the majority of
American's are burnt out with the Mideast's enormous challenges.
The end game has started and we will not be a major player
in that. The Saudi axis and Iranian axis will go to war and more
extreme totalitarian states will rise in its wake. Sad.
Deeply Imbedded (Blue View Lane, Eastport Michigan)
A nuclear free middle east should be the solution. But that would require Israel giving up its illegal nukes.
florida len (florida)
Of course our Imperial President, who pretty much feels like he can do what he wants, is probably surprised that some of the Arab leaders, don't like his arrogant approach to an Iran deal. This follows the action of Congress to reel in his misguided efforts to 'make nice' with our worst enemy Iran, who are determined to reek terror and havoc on the region.

The good news is that we only have less than 2 years to hopefully get a real leader into the White House to undo his bludering and amateurish performances on the world stage.
TheOwl (New England)
Obama's failure to impress the leaders of the rest of the Arab world of his sincerity has a great deal to do with the lack of sincerity that Obama has demonstrated on many issues of import to The Nation and the world.

He has only himself to blame.
Steve Doss (Columbus Ohio)
It's about time we got divorced from Saudi Arabia. Maybe now we will start using the words "Sunni Terrorism" instead of "Muslim Terrorism". Isn't it more accurate? Or better yet, Wahhabi Terrorism?
Jay (Florida)
The only reason the Saudis and other Arab nations are our so-called friends is because of our former dependency on oil. That's been shattered by American industry and fracking. The only other interest we have is the deep pockets of the oil producers who love to buy American military equipment and other technology. They help keep the production lines open.
American policy has been the policy of self-interest, not brotherhood with the Arabs. The relationship with Israel is different and includes common interests beyond economic and military. There is deep affection throughout America for the preservation of the Judeo-Christian interests and social/religious relationship between the U.S and Israel. American conservatives defend Israel. There is also the memory of America's defeat of Nazi Germany and the liberation of the concentration camps. The Arabs supported the Nazis and would have gleefully joined in the extermination of the Jews. In fact the majority of Arabs and Arab nations still support that goal.
The Saudis can threaten to build nuclear weapons but sooner or later they must face the real threat of the withdrawal of American support. America would defend Israel, but if the Arabs undermine American efforts and interests in Iran they do so at their own peril. In one respect the Saudis are correct. Washington's loyalties are fleeting. We've already abandoned Europe and withdrawn our heavy combat brigades. If we've abandoned Europe why would we support the Arabs?
SAK (New Jersey)
Arabs, besides buying military equipment and thus keeping
military-industrial complex awash in cash, also keep
their surplus petro dollars in America. Prince Alwaleed
twice injected billions into Citibank to save it from
bankruptcy and there is plenty of other Arab investment .
Half of London's major property is owned by Qatar.Loyalty
to Israel is bought by big donations to the politicians.
Remember recent report of Republican aspirants to
the whitehouse seeking audience with Sheldon Adelson
to seek his nod and cash. He , being a big supporter of
Israel, require them to reaffirm their allegiance to that
country. This explains Israel centric ME policy. This is
also the reason America tries to keep Saudis and other
Arab countries on its side to ensure they don't pose
any threat to Israel. USA doesn't get much oil from
Saudis. Canada is our major oil supplier.
P. Kearney (Ct.)
Oh the lads do have a gift for understatement. Only two gulf states attended the Obama not-a-summit. Kuwait who at least publicly expresses it's gratitutde for it's liberation on demand and Qatar by far the strangest statelet in the middle east and official anti american/Isreal propgogandist. The other chaps standing around looking official well they are the cabana boys of the diplomatic corp. They were authorized to smile and freshen drinks.

Saudi Arabia will obtain nuclear arms if not in advance within a year of Iran's breaking it's ten year self imposed moratorium. The "kingdom" does not bang out it's existential defense requirements in stone, few nations do. Everyone but this president and this paper understand this. The literarly arabesqe that the Times will employ when they blame a destabelizing nuclear arms race on republicans and sunni arabs is going to be one for the books- unfortunately it looks like I will have a chance to read it sooner than later
SW (San Francisco)
Great post. I'm still astounded at how the Times bows at Obama's knee when he does the same bad stuff Bush did. And the Times' fawning all over Hillary has already begun.
Michael Kubara (Cochrane Alberta)
"Mr. Obama could have done a better job of calming Arab insecurities long before he invited the gulf leaders to Camp David."

How do you know that?

Maybe the "better job" entailed converting the non-Arab, Farsi speaking Iranians--Persian by ancient culture, now 90% Shia-Muslim--to Sunni-Muslim. Impossible; unrealistic--only "better" in another possible world.

Besides, all the posturing (shows, no-shows, nuclear-envy and so on) is so much political theater in high dudgeon.
Steve C (Bowie, MD)
I wonder how much air this balloon will hold. I remain skeptical about "verifiable nuclear deals."

We are stuck, aren't we?
Jack Archer (Pleasant Hill, CA)
The Sunni Arab monarchs aren't so worried about Iran's capacity to make nuclear weapons. If there is a treaty, Iran will have less capacity, and it will be subject to rigorous monitoring. No, their fear is that a lessening of tensions bet. Iran and the US threatens their hold on power. No doubt the Sunni-Shia animosity plays a part, but even if these rulers are primarily driven by religious strife they should welcome a treaty that reduces the military power of the Shia. The threat that the Sunnis will develop their own nuclear weapon capacity should be taken seriously. Such weapons in the hands of a government tolerant of religious fanaticism would add to the instability of the region and the world.
Phil Z. (Portlandia)
Where do you see the possibility of "rigorous monitoring?"
Lynne (Usa)
I love how people think the USA is in total control of the negotiations with Iran. Major economic and strategic powers are also very much for this agreement with Iran. First, better to open it up and shine at least a flashlight on the interior of Iran.
They treat their women better, have a highly educated workforce and a youth that is itching to join the world no matter what the Ayatollah says.
The Sunnis states, mostly Saudi Arabia, have unleashed a terror policy on their own country through Wahabbi beliefs and madrasahs and then exported it around the world bankrolled by oil money. We're horrified by Isis be headings. Where do you think they got that idea? Saudia Arabia has public beheadings.
The USA has finally said to Israel that we don't agree with your continued settlements of the West Bank/ Gaza and we're not going to back it 100% anymore. You 99% have our support but a critique does not mean an end to our collaboration. Bibi got all he wanted (his power) backed by an American and the GOP. Then the GOP was borderline treasonous with it's 14 year old Facebook letter.
Saudia Arabia and the Gulf Sataes have been relying on our troops for decades and then financing groups like Al Quaeda to blow up our ships, provide funding to Taliban, insurgents blowing up our envoy's and severely hurting our troops. Finally, we have someone with enough guts to call both out for their heinous acts against the hand that feeds them. Shame on GOP for not backing this one.
seeing with open eyes (usa)
All this dancing around, with one side angry at the other, both in the ME and USA discussion of the ME.

Let's just leave that part of the world to themselves.
We don't understand it, the focus there is always religious, Sunni vs Shite vs Jew, they don't share our societal and cultural beliefs - no not even "democracy" Israel which keeps taking Palestinian land to build 'settlements and whose leaders respect no one . In fact no nation in the ME respects the US but they all want our money and arms and even our troops to protect them.

Enough is enough. Get out now and put our energies and monies to rebuilding our own nation.
rjd (nyc)
Is it really that hard to understand why the Sunni Arabs would snub a summit out of mistrust at this point?

Hmm...let's see....If I'm a Sunni Arab I might have noticed that....

First President Bush invades Iraq and removes a Sunni Leader under false pretenses setting the stage for an Iranian takeover of that Country.........and then President Obama follows up by seemingly granting Iran access to nuclear weapons against all their advice and with little to show in return. And just for added intrigue, the deal is promulgated by Valerie Jarrett, a key advisor who's personal background is rooted in Iranian politics.

Golly.......for the life of me I can't figure out why they would be so skeptical...can you??????
blackmamba (IL)
America can thank it's Saudi Arabian "ally" for Khobar Towers, Osama Bin Laden, al Qaeda and 15 of the 9/11/01 hijackers. The Gulf Arabs have their royal palaces and their oil and gas to sell to placate their native population with economic comfort. While the "guest" worker program further advances their welfare states. But women are still at the bottom of the misogynist socioeconomic political educational heap in a severe cold theologically extreme form of Wahhabi Sunni Islam.

But the Gulf Arabs need access to the Persian Gulf and the Straits of Hormuz for their oil. And the most populous Arab state Egypt. thanks to a military-coup, is back to being a military dictatorship. Last time around America was left with the Egyptian "gifts" of Ayman Al Zawahiri former al Qaeda #2 and current #1 and lead 9/11/01 hijacker Mohammad Atta.

Unlike America, Saudi Arabia has diplomatic relations with Iran. POTUS Obama is a really nice guy who is reduced to a grinning self-effacing eunuch in domestic politics due to his permanent sun tan. While a war weary America prefers a "quiet silent" war by drones, missiles and cyberspace.

Mr. Obama has no real Machiavellian foreign "street sense" nor power. Thanks mostly to a dysfunctional partisan Confederate Aryan Brotherhood Evangelical Fox News Republican Party. The #1 street rule is respect and/or fear without any threats. What the Saudis and the Bahrainis did is unacceptable. Uncle Sam is their only hope. They must be humbled.
SW (San Francisco)
And what was the excuse for doing nothing the first 2 filibuster proof, Dem majority years that Obama was in office? He had a grand slam, and chose to do nothing, even though he was completely unable to be obstructed by the GOP. Moreover, Obama has shown no hesitation, despite his campaign pledge, to use Executive Orders from immigration to starting an illegal war in Libya. When his supporters stop playing the race card to excuse the conduct of this very intelligent man, only then will things change in the WH.
Roland Berger (Magog, Québec, Canada)
Other nations than the US, Russia, France, UK, Israel... are not civilized enough to have nuclear capacities.
Banicki (Michigan)
Of course. The Arab states want us to continue to fight their religious war with Iran. There is nothing less religious then a religious war. We, the United States must stick to our attempts to avert war and prevent Iran from getting the bomb. Unfortunately we let Israel have one so what do you expect?
Great American (Florida)
I'm totally surprised that the conclusion of the summit didn't round up the usual suspect....the current state of dismal murderous, mesagenistic totalitarian affairs in the Arab nations is all Israel's fault.
Piberman (Norwalk,ct)
The obvious flaw in the Times argument is "verification". Past experience with both North Korea and Iran suggests verification will a hope and prayer not a reality. The President's legacy will be a nuclear armed middle region.
Kenneth Lindsey (Lindsey)
It is not only the nukes, it is also the lifting of sanctions and giving the Iranian Terrorists $200 billion to buy advanced Russian and Chinese weapons that alarms our allies the Saudis. Obama should return his Nobel Peace Prize because he is creating an arms race in the Persian Gulf, and our allies know that war with Iran is inevitable.
DJN (Foxborough)
There is no "best" solution to the current state of affairs in the Middle East. The old days when imperial power could impose solutions have gone the way of huge wars between and among nations. Complexity and fragmentation of issues and interests have left the US looking like a chained bear being baited from all directions. The irony is that our own bad policy decisions like the decision to invade Iraq and putting Israeli government priorities first have very much landed us where we are.
TJJ (Albuquerque)
I don't see what the problem is. We sign an agreement with Iran on one hand, allowing us to lift sanctions and allowing American Companies access to new markets and American oil companies (like, say British Petroleum) access to new markets for oil and oil technology.

On the other hand, to counter the "threat" of a newly empowered Persia, and to assuage the Arab Kings egos, we sell to our Arab friends lots and lots of sophisticated weapons (which come with American Military and American defense contractor support). And the King's can point their new toys at Iran. This serves to accelerate our ongoing trade of oil for weapons, enriching everyone, and making the world a safer place.

What's the problem here?
AH2 (NYC)
The Times is clueless here as are most Americans intentionally or naively. This is not about Iran's nuclear program this is about the Middle East dictators led by Saudi Arabia being concerned about threats to their regimes real or imagined. And they are trying to dupe the U.S. again as they have so well so far into insuring their remain in power using the Iranian "threat" as a way to get the U.S. to offer them even more protection. This Times editorial falls right into that trap accepting this bogus logic.
Paul (Virginia)
The Arab Gulf States are a vast and profitable market for the US defense industry. Millions of jobs and the survival of millions American families are dependent on this vast arms market. The defense industry's lobbyists are prowling the halls of Congress. Obama is simply doing what a salesman-in-chief is supposed to do in spite of the behaviors of the Arab Sunni rulers.
A. Taxpayer (Brooklyn NY)
Clearly it was predictable that the two Arab factions, Shia & Sunni, would launch into a nuclear race, especially after Kerry long prolonged nuclear negotiations with Iran.
j. von hettlingen (switzerland)
Are the Sunni Arabs, especially the Saudis really worried about Iran's intention of launching strikes against them, if it had nuclear weapons? I doubt it!
They are more worried about their Shia minorities in their own countries, who might become more assertive if Iran thrived economically and politically, following the end of sanctions.
The Saudis' oil-fields lie in the Eastern province, which is pre-dominantly a Shia stronghold. The Shiites there see themselves as Saudis, yet they are treated as second-class citizens. Dissent has been quelled and protests cracked down. The late King Abdullah had made an effort to reach out to the Shiites. But if he was handicapped by the conservative clerics and others. In fact the Saudis should do their homework, before putting demands on the table!
TDurk (Rochester NY)
All you need to remember about Sunni Saudi Arabia is their determination to make Wahhabism the theocratic law of as much of the world they can influence.

While Shiite Iran has fueled rebellion in several sections of the middle east, their actions pale in comparison to the terrorism and civil wars that are rooted in Sunni Wahhabi doctrine. Whether 9/11, the Taliban, Boko Haram, ISIS, it doesn't really matter. All are organizations that were funded initially and subsequently sustained by Saudi and other Sunni money.

Theocracies, defacto as in the case of Israel and dejure as in the case of the Muslims, dominate the middle east. The few leaders who appeared to transcend the theocrats of their countries, like Sadat and Rabin, were assassinated by the fanatics. Countries controlled by fanatics do not make reliable long term allies.

That doesn't mean that the Iranian political power holders are people whom we admire or respect. No more so than we did Joseph Stalin.

Our interests in the middle east should be pragmatic. We need to keep the oil fields and distribution open until we invent a new form of cheap, portable, powerful and safe energy. We also need to prevent theocracies from arming themselves with nuclear weapons.

Our diplomatic and military might should be committed to those pragmatic goals of American self interest, regardless of how the Arabs or Israelis for that matter feel about it.
LVG (Atlanta)
Saudi Arabia is upset that we will not join them and Al Queda in fighting the Shiites in Yemen; They are also upset we are producing too much oil driving the price of oil down. Maybe they will send a bunch of terrorists like they did on 9-11 to remind us how the relationship works.
sapereaudeprime (Searsmont, Maine 04973)
Persia was a civilization before Islam appeared. The Gulf States have always been tribal atavisms. We ought to have nothing to do with either bunch of these people until they abandon their absurd theocracies. They are today where our European ancestors were in 1600, when children were still hanged and burned for theft and sorcery.
Porter (Sarasota, Florida)
I continue to be amazed at how well President Obama has played the awful hand left him by Bush, Cheney and the neo-cons who not only completely destabilized the Middle East and South Asia but also turned most of the world against America.

Obama has reached out to friend and foe alike, first with the very able Secretary Clinton and now Secretary of State Kerry, and directly himself in a very intelligent, perceptive and constructive manner.

His foreign policy achievements are vast, especially when considered against the disastrous eight years of an incompetent flag-waving group of America First egotists led by a complete nincompoop who couldn't string a grammatical sentence together, totally gullible, uninformed, and not very bright.

Now the neocons and crazy conservatives who promote a militaristic "my way or the highway" foreign policy are criticizing Obama for trying to stop Iran from starting a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. What the heck? Who cares if the Saudi family dictatorship is angry that we're talking with Shi'ites? We want peace, an end to needless wars, a toning down of aggression. Obama is, as usual, heading in the right direction. We should all get behind his efforts to make peace, not endless war.
mjkelly (Montreal)
I am so grateful to read this comment, it's tone of respect and simple clarity about the US's recent role in all this. I continue to be amazed the the President's ability to identify bottom-line issues and navigate the process of the public trying to digest the possibility of something different happening, like a black man becoming president of the United States.

Whether this succeeds, whether the opportunity proposed can actually be digested, remains to be seen. From my perspective, having avidly followed his administration, and being far from the pounding, US conservative media (a big gift), it simply still astonishes me that me continues to stand up for diplomacy, and universal human dignity. May confusion dawn as wisdom in the world's mind's eye, concerning peace, and war, in the Middle East.
Christine McMorrow (Waltham, MA)
"They also worry that Iran’s re-entry into the international community after decades of isolation would mean that Washington’s loyalties would henceforth be divided and that America could no longer be counted on to defend them."

The chutz-pah of the Saudis is unparalleled. This is the country rumored to have spawned and encouraged Osama Bin Laden, denials to the contrary. Frankly, I think with the Saudis we have an untrustworthy "ally" at best and a subversive one at worst.

I find it ironic that we are supposed to take sides in a region that universally is opposed to our interests. It's further proof that our nonstop meddling in Middle Eastern politics is totally counterproductive. How can we satisfy the wants and needs of feuding states by reason alone? When will we finally realize that when it comes to the Saudis, and just about every other country, we're damned if we do, and damned if we don't.
Robert Dana (NY 11937)
". . . over a deal that is intended to curb Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for a lifting of international sanctions."

This is the key clause -- "intended" and "curb" are such weak words and everyone besides papers like the NYTimes and the Jim Jones Brigade of Obama's supporters know it.

What do we expect the Saudis to do? President Fredo and Secretary Lyrch have failed to make enemies friends and have made friends into enemies. What geniuses!
Joseph Huben (Upstate NY)
Can we be concerned about the feelings of monarchs? Can America promote democracy and do the bidding of monarchs? Comments about the Monarchs not trusting America must be joke. Do we trust the sponsors of Wahhabi extremism, of Salafi jihad, of Al Qaeda, of ISIS, of The Taliban? What American trusts these backward, oil addiction pushers? All of the Gulf states were invented by Britain and France to secure oil. Why would America involve itself with them but for oil. And, they know it.
Some Netanyahu pols in DC want us to attack Iran instead of negotiating with them. We must discover what trough they are feeding from, oil, defense, or Likud and then ask ourselves where America stands.
Saudi Arabia may have gone too far in snubbing our twice elected President. They may have exposed their loyalty to ISIS in Yemen. They may have overvalued their oil might. They may be back to pre WWI insignificance. Are we worried about them getting the bomb? Not as much as they should be. Oil fields are highly vulnerable assets, and their only assets. They rely on America for their existence as do many other little countries in the Middle East. If they have real concerns they should get out of their echo chambers, stop listening to racists and wake up to the dangers that they are bringing on themselves.
Charlie in NY (New York, NY)
President Obama envisions a final agreement with Iran that will forever prevent its creating nuclear weapons. For its part, Iran has made it pretty clear that it will not agree to what the P5 1 demands. Further clouding matters is that none of the countries that are most affected are participants to the negotiations. Not to make too much of the comparison, but Munich 1938 does come to mind.
Given our recent track record, the Gulf Arabs do not trust us to reach our stated goals. Also, President Obama's decision to put light between the U.S. And Israel as a way to appeal to the Arabs to show flexibility has been a complete failure. Not only have they offered nothing in exchange but it is clear that they now wonder where they stand if the U.S. could so casually cast aside its deep relationship with Israel. The lack of trust and confidence in the U.S. by the Gulf Arab states is the primary driver of these disputes. Of course, they merely reiterate in their own style the message Prime Minister Netanyahu has already delivered and as to which we have yet to provide any credible response beyond "trust us."
Denis Pombriant (Boston)
nothing good comes out of Iran, why are we trying so hard to rehabilitate them when they obviously have only one thing in mind?
Mister Ed (Maine)
The US remains clueless regarding the Sunni/Shiite battle that has been going on for 1,300 years. While such things as free will, social justice, democratic decision making, modernity religious freedom, minority rights etc. seem to Westerners to be universal ideals, Islam disagrees. The Sunnis and Shiites would destroy civilization to preserve their vision of the purpose of life. It is difficult to negotiate with someone who thinks your very existence must be extinguished.
Tim McCoy (NYC)
The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Particularly "upbeat" ones.

After carefully perusing both the US, and Iranian, reports on the actual contents of the April "framework" one might be forgiven for logically surmising that the, "emerging nuclear agreement" is simply good intentions pretending to be something more. But which in fact consists of submitting to the will of the Iranians to dominate the Middle East on a timetable than begins any time after January 20th, 2017.

The Shia Iranians are no more friends to the West than are the Saudis, and their Sunni brethren. And, as we have seen with Hamas and others, both Sunni and Shia will occasionally bond to attack a common Western target.

That hasn't changed for many hundreds of years, and likely won't for the foreseeable future.

What the US and the other Western allies party to the "framework" are currently doing might best be described as dithering in search of pie in the sky.
AACNY (NY)
It's not hard to understand their response to Obama. It's not "snubbing." It's an acknowledgement of his utility.
ClearEye (Princeton)
As the US has less need for imported oil, oil producing states become less critical to us. Decades of US and European foreign policy entanglements will unwind as a new order emerges.

It would be better if oil producing states don't have nuclear weapons to use against their neighbors and we are doing the right thing to limit what Iran can do.

But at the end of day, the countries in the region will have to work things out. Europe took quite a while to get sorted and we should not be surprised if it takes quite some time for the same to happen in the Middle East.
AACNY (NY)
ClearEye:

But at the end of day, the countries in the region will have to work things out.

****
Correction: Once again, they will have to work around the actions of a US president.
Matthew Carnicelli (Brooklyn, New York)
My advice to Saudi Arabia and these Sunni Gulf states is to make peace with Shiites - and immediately read the riot act to anyone who advocates further strife within the faith.

Mainstream Christians mostly buried the hatchet of religious enmity centuries ago (except for a relatively small number of whack-job fundamentalists, who only the collectively insane take seriously), and it's high time that Muslims did the same.

If Islam is truly a religion of peace, then it's time that Muslims gave peace a chance.
Betsy Herring (Edmond, OK)
This message could also go to the Republicans of this country who could also consider giving peace. People cite all kinds of reasons why we can't fix the infrastructure of our country but no one mentions giving up the "war Machine" as a solution. The only person in government I have heard use that comment is Pat Rendell, a Democrat.
R. R. (NY, USA)
The Times and posters are missing the Arab point: with Obama's MId East withdrawal, they need to establish a balance of power against Iranian domination.

You may not like this, but this is how the world has always worked.

Read history!
Lynn (New York)
Yes, you should read history. It is the Republican Party that is to blame
1) Iran had a pro- American, democratically elected President, which the Dulles CIA overthrew in the 1950s because he did not give the British what they considered a good enough deal on Iranian oil. We installed the Shah, the Shah complied.
2) absolutely nothing has strengthened Iran as much as the Bush/ Cheney administrations overthrowing Saddam and disbanding the Iraqi army.
AACNY (NY)
Lynn:

If you are going to lay the blame for all Middle Eastern events at the feet of a US president (a highly dubious exercise), they must now be transferred to the feet of President Obama.

His Iranian deal is a highly destabilizing factor as are his weak negotiating position with Putin. In fact, his "avoidance" strategy has allow the proliferation of wildfire violence.
R. R. (NY, USA)
It's always the Republican Party's fault in this leftist area!
Mark (Cheboyagen, MI)
The ME is and has long been a mess in its relations between countries and those countries governments relationships with their own citizens. The President has wisely chosen to engage Iran, especially since they are useful in engaging ISIS, an entity that both the US and the Saudis had a hand in creating. The Iranians seem to be well on their way to creating nuclear weapons, in spite of the sanctions. An agreement could slow down that process. As has been mentioned elsewhere, the US and her allies are not going to sign an agreement that does not slow down that program and allow for inspectors. May we not try to engage with Iran before staring another war that will have, like the Iraq war, enormous costs and unforeseen consequences?
TheOwl (New England)
Engaging Iran is one thing. It was and is a wise choice.

Capitulating to their every demand, however, is not.
John boyer (Atlanta)
The "legacy" critics of both the Pan Asian treaty and the Iran nuclear deal do not understand the importance of these agreements, designed as they are to keep China at bay as an economic power who need to play by some set of rules, as well as delay the Iranian march towards a bomb. These are the only sane conclusions that anyone who has studied these issues could possibly arrive at, given the alternatives, particularly in the long term.

As for the perceived Obama slights of uber rich, out of touch Arabs whose civil rights records, if such is even kept track of by Human Rights Watch or other international agencies, that's also a red herring. Anyone remotely knowledgeable with how Saudi, Qatar, and the Emirates operates knows that they have import labor, treat many of those ex-pats like slaves, and actually hold some prisoner by confiscating passports, putting in jail for minor offenses, and otherwise terrorizing them to buy their silence.

It's a difficult world over there, so the attempts at pacifying these people over here, while probably necessary to keep the peace, do not warrant the attention being given in terms of changing the approach towards Iran. As Roger Cohen said, it's not an either or between Iran and the rich Arab states, it's a "walking and chewing gum" exercise. Yes, it's a balancing act, but the rich Arab states need our backing and the protection we offer. We need them to grow up, basically, which is going to take a very long time, if ever.
Michael James Cobb (Reston, VA)
Mr. Obama has a deeply arrogant world view wherein he perceives our historical allies as impediments to a hippie kumbaya world. He thinks that he can by force of his will, convince thugs like Putin and the rulers of Iran that everything will be really cool once we get those pesky old allies out of the picture.

Well, the chips fell a certain way for a reason, as he is now discovering. Placating Putin by removing missiles from Eastern Europe only served to embolden Putin and create levels of mistrust of the US from folks who should never had any reason to doubt us.
Chris Lydle (Atlanta)
Apparently the primary requirement for becoming a Verified Commenter is to be a staunch liberal. I've never seen one comment from a Verified Commenter that is not from the far left of the political spectrum.
Mookie (Brooklyn)
"The Sunni Arabs have two main worries. One is that the nuclear agreement with Iran would leave Iran with a limited capability to produce nuclear fuel for energy and medical purposes, instead of ending it outright."

No. The concern is that Iran will still be able to develop nukes!
bob rivers (nyc)
You're correct, if you post anything that criticizes the awful editorial board your post has a 1 in 100 chance of being posted. This "publication" is a disgrace.
Joe Yohka (New York)
The editorial cites two main worries of the Sunni Arabs and then argues that their stance is "perverse". Perhaps the writers' understanding of their worries is simply limited. The Sunni Arabs have expressed fears of Iranian nuclear arms. That is indeed a scary future for all of us. Iran is a brutal dictatorship that has trained suicide bombers openly, developed extensive long range missile capabilities, has armed terrorists such as Hamas and Hezbollah as well as supported terrorist attacks around the world. Scary, indeed. As Sunni and Shia hostilities become ever deeper and explosive across the region, do we really want a nuclear arms race there? Isolating our allies and arming Iran with nukes is not the path for peace.
WimR (Netherlands)
The Saudi behavior strikes me as that of a country that too long has gotten its way. It is somewhat comparable with that of Netanyahu, who felt so entitled to US support that he mingled in US party politics.

This "the tail wagging the dog" phenomena is quite common for superpowers. As they don't have much foreign policy wishes left - and certainly none that can bear public scrutiny - those of their protégé's become substitute goals.

As I see it, the US support for the Saudi war against Yemen is downright shameful. According to newspapers the goal of the US foreign policy establishment with this support is to show that - despite its negotiations with Iran - the US still supports Saudi Arabia. However, by supporting things that are not defendable the US is actually telling the Saudi's that they are Obama's puppet master and that - when they play it right - they will get their way, even if it violates American values.
John (Atlanta, GA)
It's a baseless assertion to sayi "they are threatening to make N-bomb" they are two centuries behind in technology, so please do not repeat this bad joke.
Jack Ross (NYC)
They have the money to buy nukes from Sunni Pakistan. That ain't no joke!
Jon Orloff (Rockaway Beach, Oregon)
Of course they will not develop one - they don't have the technology, as you say. The will buy one (or ten) from Pakistan. One thing they do have is money.
Harvey Greenberg (Dundee, NY)
So Saudi Arabia is angry with us. As is Bahrain, as is at least half of Israel. The silver lining is that if current trends continue, the entire region may become angry enough to start solving its own problems.
TheOwl (New England)
The United States had a vested interest in providing security for the Middle East. The pipeline of oil necessary to fuel our hedonistic society starts from there.

And if anyone thinks that we can have energy independence in the next 20 years is making a foolish bet. All the Saudis have to do to bring our nascent energy industry to its knees is to pump and another billion or so barrels of oil a year and watch the lower prices drive out the competition.
Kevin (Ireland)
The Obama administration's deal with Iran isn't worth it unless we have a different regime in Tehran. Giving Ayatollah Khamenei's Iran money and prestige while infuriating our allies is a really poor strategy. We could do much better, but the Obama administration is so keen to earn that Nobel Prize for Peace, he's desperate and nothing leads to a losing negotiations than desperation.
Paul M (Fort Myers, FL)
The US has no allies in the ME. It is a battlefield in tribal war over oil, water, and strategic position in the guise of religious war. Obama has continuously worked to extricate the US from this tangled mess while attempting to avoid stepping on any mines. Other world powers with interests in the region have and will continue to exert influence, and the "countries" of the ME will create their own accommodations. A generation from now, Obama's moves may be viewed as a brilliant start of a new world order or as a disastrous abdication of the US role as the "indispensible, exceptional" sole superpower; however, his actions have hardly been "feckless."
Old School (NM)
The hard truth is that the USA is strong enough to withstand 8 years of inadequate leadership. People are moving now to shore up the mistakes in an effort to get through these next few years. The new leadership will be remarkably different.
Nick Hughes (New York, NY)
Saudis are not a civilized society. They are spoiled brats filled with hatred producing in masses the worst people on earth like al-Qaeda and ISIS.
It is time to change that society of losers. The whole world will benefit.
It's time to bomb them! Bush and Cheney Where are you? Now we need you!
ivehadit (massachusetts)
We need to shed this bomb everyone mentality, even if in jest.
Paul (Long island)
If this is how the Saudis and their Gulf state allies say "thank you" to President Obama for immediately rushing to their aid in supporting their military incursion in Yemen, it is time for the U.S. to view this as an opportunity to reset our relationship with them. This latest threat to "match" Iran's nuclear capacity is, in reality, just another attempt to undermine the pending nuclear "deal" that would lift economic sanctions and thereby strengthen Iranian influence in the region. For too long U.S. policy toward Saudi Arabia has been held hostage to our oil dependence on them. Now with the U.S. as the world's largest exporter of oil, we need to stop genuflecting to this medieval monarchy with its virulent form of Sunni Islam which spawned Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda, and its recent transformation into ISIS. It's time for the U.S. finally to extricate itself from the Sunni-Shiite civil war raging across the region (aka the "War on Terror") between the Saudis and the Iranians. We must not cave to threats that aim to force us to take the Sunni side in the ongoing power struggle with Shiite Iran, but continue to push for peace and nuclear non-proliferation. By their actions the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council have given President Obama an historic opportunity to follow the path toward peace in the region that began at Camp David.
TheOwl (New England)
Obama "rushed" to their aid in Yemen because they were cleaning up the mess that the Obama foreign policy made. They were carrying his water.
tom (bpston)
Saudi Arabia (and not Iran) is the greatest sponsor of terrorism in the world today. Remember where the 9/11 terrorists were from? Virtually all of them were Saudi. The Wahabi theology is the driving force of much of Middle East terrorism, from alQuaeda to ISIS. We have sucked up to the Saudis for years to gain advantage for the big oil companies. Now they expect their special treatment will continue. Time to pull the plug.
richard (denver)
And Hamas, the Houthis and Hezbollah are just Boy Scouts. What planet do you live on?
Larry Lundgren (Linköping, Sweden)
We are many, tom from Boston, who write your words over and over again in 100s of comments next to countless columns but we do not make a dent in the view (knowledge) of other commenters and of course even less in almost anything produced in the Times except by Roger Cohen.
Jack (NY, NY)
The Arabs are responding the same way Americans are to this inept and corrupt administration that says one thing and does another. Say what you will about the Arabs but a handshake and someone's word usually mean something. Can we say the same for Mr. Obama whose Pinocchios are mounting with every day? The Arabs are smart to wait for his replacement with whom they may have a chance of working.
rick k (nyc)
good to know you are on the side of the despots.
and we should go to war to make them happy?
Make sure you are first in line when it is time to go.
Harri (Eagle Bridge, NY)
Jack- The Saudi's word means something for as long as it suits them- and in the long run counts for very little. Don't let your displeasure with President Obama cloud your view of Saudi's history.
Duffy (Rockville, MD)
I really don't care what the Sunni despots think of our president, the current one or any other. They continually play both sides, fund Al-Queda and other forms of terrorism to advance their own greedy goals and when the felt threatened by Saddam Hussein demanded that we fight their war. Of course our soldiers were not allowed to insult Islam by bringing Bibles or rosaries to their sacred land. Just die for the Saudi Royal family please, no arguments.

They care nothing for the well being of their own citizens and continue to lead the "league" in human rights violations. The king of Bahrain for instance rules over a majority Shiite population with an iron fist.

Iran is the result of our own reckless meddling, the Dulles brothers engineered the coup that put the Shah on the throne creating the conditions that allowed for the Khomeni revolution and this current government.

They're not allies, they're not really "friends". From my house, and unlike Sara Palin this is true, I can see the helicopters ferrying them to Camp David. For all I care they could fly them over the Chesapeake Bay and drop them in. They can pay the pollution fees later.
Rob Swain (Appleton WI)
Well, when you're in a bottle with two scorpions, how do you choose the one to befriend? Try to stay in the middle? Not always possible and annoying to both scorpions not to mention observers outside the bottle. 1,500 years of enmity can't be resolved overnight; the scorpions are not friends. They may never be. So, pick a scorpion at your peril -- and good luck.
Curious George (The Empty Quarter)
Sorry but in what respect is Iran a scorpion? When has it ever threatened the US? Indeed it is assisting the US in the fight against IS. It was the US who overthrew the elected Prime Minister Mossadegh in 1953 and replaced him with the dictatorial Shah; these are not conspiracy theories but recognized facts. Then the US backed Saddam Hussain in his invasion of Iran following the Islamic Revolution, and in the awful ten year war that followed, which claimed at least a million Iranian lives. Then more recently, many Iranians have died or needlessly suffered due to unwarranted sanctions. Precisely what have the Iranians done to deserve all this? As for Saudi Arabia, when has it ever been anything other than a good friend to the US?
Christie (Bolton MA)
"7 civilians are killed in Israel. 1660 Palestinian civilians are killed. In Gaza, hospitals, mosques, schools, and office towers are destroyed. Entire neighborhoods are pulverized to rubble. Israel faces harsh criticism as pictures of carnage flood social media. After 50 days a ceasefire is brokered by Egypt. Israel makes concessions. “Calm” is restored.

"The ceasefire is broken by Israel in a matter of days. Farmers are shot in the buffer zone. Silence. Fishermen are attacked at sea. Silence. The Rafah border crossing with Egypt is sealed. The siege is worse than before the Israeli attack. Silence. Ten months later, building materials have still not entered Gaza. The billions of dollars promised for rebuilding doesn’t materialize, nothing is rebuilt. Silence. Thousands live in the rubble of their destroyed homes. Children freeze to death during the winter. Thousands more remain in the UN schools they fled to during the July attack. Silence. Israeli soldiers publish testimonies that point to war crimes committed in the offensive. In America, the mainstream media largely ignore the testimonies. Silence. Gaza is forgotten.

The U.S. Congress praises Netanyahu.

The Never-Ending Nakba » CounterPunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names
http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/05/15/the-never-ending-nakba
Coolhunter (New Jersey)
O's recent 'dog and pony' show was just that, show, nothing else. Only the delusional would not think that the Gulf States are off to a nuclear arms race. O's deal with Iran guarantees them nuclear bombs, this coupled with Iran's basaltic missile program means the 'game' is over. The nuclear race in the Gulf is on, making it part of O's legacy. How a US President could be so stupid will baffle historians for ages.
zb (bc)
The fact both the Israel and Gulf Arab leaderships are mad at Obama is a sure sign an American President is finally pursuing a rational policy in the middle east that just might break the cycle of death, destruction, and lunacy that has so dominated the region for so long.

For decades now the United States has inserted itself in to the midst of a mindless proxy wars and infighting among a group of small minded sheikdoms who are among the most brutal and oppressive dictators on earth. Israel fairs little better as an ally with its own oppression of minorities and culpability in perpetuating the insanity of the Middle East. What should be clear at this point is there are no real good guys on any side.

Our involvement in the region has been driven entirely by our insatiable appetite for oil, the profit motive of soulless transnational corporations, and the regions supposed strategic location.

All sides in this never ending struggle have happily exploited the United States as their pin cushion to evade peace while avoiding taking responsibility for their own problems and solutions. And we have been dumb enough to oblige them for decades.

If they all want to burn their own houses down then its time we stand aside and let them do it without our help and without our soldiers paying the price. Who knows, maybe they just might find without us in the middle they will actually start to work things out between them.
Mr. Robin P Little (Conway, SC)

Israel and Saudi Arabia are on the same page now about the nuclear energy deal we are attempting to complete with Iran. Neither of them like the deal at all, and fear its future consequences, which is that Iran will still have the capability to make nuclear weapons. Since when have Saudi Arabia and Israel ever agreed on anything other than hating Hezbollah's activities in Lebanon?

Shouldn't we be able to use this agreement to our advantage? Yet, it seems we can not. How come? Is it because President Obama is disliked by all their leaders, or that we are seen as weak and vulnerable now because of Obama's policies?

These conclusions are what the Republicans claim, and want us to believe, but I think the issues between these countries are more fundamentally based on their intolerance of, fear of, and hatred for each other. The U.S. in this region is like a cop who attempts to break up a fight between 3 people, then gets drawn into the fight by its participants. Without sufficient assistance from other cops, he can't break up the fight on his own. Once the fighters are subdued, each man claims the other one started it and it is their fault, not his.

I don't see the fulcrum point here, the place which provides enough leverage to move the process forward. I don't know if one exists. None of the participants wants an honest broker. They want us to side with them alone. There is no moving forward under such conditions even when two of the parties agree with each other.
Save the Farms (Illinois)
In the past, the US, would have said, "Any Nuclear strike against would have resulted in a full Nuclear retaliatory strike."

This will have to wait for the next Administration as the current is not capable of making this kind of statement.

I just hope, fervently, the current Administration has said enough to forestall until the next is in place - crosses fingers.
Larry Lundgren (Linköping, Sweden)
Since Iran does not have any nuclear weapons why did you Save The Farms write what you wrote? A truly mystifying comment. Or perhaps you meant that you want the US at Israel's bidding to make a nuclear strike. Please explain.
Larry Lundgren (Linköping, Sweden)
Yesterday the Times presented essential background for today’s Editorial in a well hidden report “Obama Pledges More Military Aid to Reassure Persian Gulf Allies on Iran Deal.” Since no link to that report is provided in this Editorial, I urge readers to visit http://nyti.ms/1Fn06cw

My initial reaction to reading that report was that “I experienced in sequence, disbelief, then pain, then the beginning of something approaching shame."

Those are emotions rather than intellectual analysis based on what I know about the region and my country’s appalling history of intervention in the region, especially Iran (see e.g. All The Shah's Men by former Times writer Stephen Kinzer).

We commenters feel it our duty to list the events in that history since the Times does not provide such a list in a background text; you can read that list in top comments yesterday. I am sure they will reappear again today.

In my view (no space for arguments here), Barack Obama should be meeting with representatives from Iran, a far more advanced country than Saudi Arabia, but no, he has to meet with his allies.

How can Barack Obama do this to me and my country? Will someone please tell me?

Only-NeverInSweden.blogspot.com
sleeve (West Chester PA)
Why exactly do we care what the masterminds behind 9/11 think of our future international agreements? Why should President Obama spend a nanosecond pandering to misogynic fanatics that behead many more people than ISIS? That foment wars and massacre civilians for sport like they are doing with our bombs in Yemen? Saudis and Israelis should create a mutual defense pact and leave US completely out of their genocidal wars, including future weapon purchases, and let their many enemies they created with their immense cruelty take care of them. I hope the stupid old sheiks are half as angry as US citizens were when Bush II's handholding friends killed 3000 US citizens while Bush read a book upside down, then flew the bin Ladens out of US on private jets to protect the family business. Cut the Sauds off from all civilization as they are not fit to participate. All we owe those ignorant bigots is a view of our backside. For religious backwater countries in the ME to have any say over our foreign policy is treason. I hope the nasty sheiks are afraid, very afraid.
Julie (Playa del Rey, CA)
We must quit denying that Israel, SA and most of ME have/can get nuclear weapons easily. That's reality.
Singling out Iran as a bad actor, after SA's actions caused most of current mess--- not viable anymore.
SA, some Gulf states and Israel have made Iran the boogeyman for so long they''re fearful of losing an enemy to unite behind.
The ground is shifting, and Iran has been the responsible party through much of this War on Terror, esp in fighting ISIS and Al Queda, which SA was funding.
Obama is not afraid to address the shifting times or pretend that just cos we always did it one way we'll continue, when reality changes.
If they all have nuclear capability, there is less likelihood of it being used as the immediate retaliation, fallout as winds shift etc are huge price.
A NPT will bring things into a better balance and won't be an arms race but fight for hegemony. They all have Pak, Chinese or Russian nuclear blueprints and blackmarkets (except Israel, who has American nukes). These produce MAD and countries will have to face their angry populations, who haven't rec'd any trickle down of their country's great wealth who have kept them repressed. ISIS is playing this like a fiddle. No Iranians in ISIS.
Let SA & Israel find new patrons, I'm glad Obama isn't falling for their old schtick. It's a new world> join in or get left behind.
Frank 95 (UK)
The editorial overstates the opposition of the sheikhs to the nuclear deal with Iran. The communiqué that was published following the talks read: “They reviewed the status of negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran, and emphasized that a comprehensive, verifiable deal that fully addresses the regional and international concerns about Iran’s nuclear program is in the security interests of GCC member states as well as the United States and the international community.” Turki al-Faisal, the main supporter and organizer of al-Nusra terrorists in Syria, does not speak for Saudi rulers and has been kicked out of his official posts.
The main reason for the displeasure of the sheikhs is that they wanted to have a security alliance with the United States, similar to NATO, and this is something that President Obama wisely declined, although he said that the United States would defend them in case of a foreign attack as she did following Saddam’s attack on Kuwait. They also wanted to buy the most sophisticated US weapons, which Congress has forbidden in order to maintain Israel’s qualitative edge.
The Gulf autocrats imagined that they were still dealing with Sheikh Bush and Sheikh Cheney, but now they have to learn that while US is supportive of them it will no longer bend backwards to please them.
craig geary (redlands, fl)
A solution to perpetual war in the Middle East.
Reinstate the draft.
Only draft republicans.
Not enough would be affected for a basketball team let alone an infantry company.
Look at all the republicans untouched by the Viet Nam draft:
George. W, Bush, Dan Quayle, Willard Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, Pat Buchanan, Rush Limbaugh, Wayne La Pierre, Ted Nugent, Rudy Giuliani, Trump, Ben Carson, Karl Rove, William Kristol, Paul Wolfowitz, Scooter Libby, John Bolton, Saxby Chambliss, David Perdue, John Cornyn, John Kyl, Michael Crapo, Jeff Sessions.
I could go on but the point is clear.
If they and theirs had to fight the wars they pimp there would be no more war.

a Viet Nam veteran, a volunteer
JRMW (Minneapolis)
This story proves beyond a doubt that these countries are not our allies.

They simply use us for money and weapons. Money and weapons that they then use to arm, train, and fund radicalized terrorists.

They are nothing more than dictatorial terror states.

Get us out. Keep us out. They ALL hate us.

Leave this cesspool of religious hatred, and let them finish their eternal Sunni Shia religious war without us.

Let them blow each other up to their hearts delight. We can reopen diplomatic relations with them in 1,000 years when they figure themselves out.

But I am beyond weary of these parasitic allies who suck the life blood from our country who then have the nerve to dictate to us what we "need" to do. (And this includes Bibi).

The only people I scorn more are American Warmongers who have sold us out to cash in on the War Economy. (E.g. Dick Cheney)

Lastly, remember that the Bush family is nearly conjoined with the House of Saud which is why we let Saudi planes leave US airspace after 911.

A pox on them all.
ivehadit (massachusetts)
Their money and our weapons. We are not as exploited as you make it seem.
Mandell Mitchell (Weston florida)
The commenters seem to ignore the most important threat of the Gulf Arabs. They threaten to produce their own nuclear weapons. Thiis would certainly be a threat not only to the middle east, but to the entire world, including the United States. Remember the country of the 911 terrorists. And the Gulf States certainly have the money to hire the top nuclear experts.
Joker (Gotham)
This potential Iran nuclear deal sure is opening up various cans of worms, laying bare a lot of hidden geopolitical situations.

Who knew that some states have a policy of preferring to have other states locked out of the world system in perpetuity, of fostering enmity between their far away protector and their regional neighbors? And if someone tries to set a different course to lower the temperature, I will take my ball and go to Riyadh?

The Gulf Arabs think this is the wiser policy rather than seeking a rapprochement with their PERMANENT neighbors? Why? It seems to me this looks like self fulfilling prophecy of conflict. It may end very badly.
alberto (lake como - italy)
"it is perverse for Arab leaders who once considered Iran’s nuclear program their gravest threat to complain about a deal intended to diminish that threat." What is perverse is to ignore Arab leaders menaces to pursue nuclear technology for a deal that is not going to help nobody's economy except Iran's. The Arab world, thanks to the Spring revolution outcomes, the ISIS, the sectarian divide, etc... is going to blow up if the rest of the world do not help them.
TheOwl (New England)
A deal "intended" to reduce the threat that leaves the threat a a very high level isn't really a deal onto which they are willing to sign.

I, for one, cannot blame them for their position, particularly given Iran's performance over almost two score years since the radicals took power.
doughboy (Wilkes-Barre, PA)
Your description of Iran causing “trouble” begs the question just who has done so. The collapse of Iraq as a state and power in the region was not the making of Iran, but our allies and us. The game plan to remove Saddam Hussein achieved its goal, and now we are complaining about the consequences. In Lebanon, the Shiites which make up a major portion of the population, larger than the Christians living there, have suffered decades of discrimination and political underrepresentation. It was the 1982 Israeli invasion that embolden the Shiites to first turn on the Palestinians and than the Israelis. Once again, Iran did not play the instigator. As for Yemen, Iran’s aid to the Houthis is nothing compared to Saudi Arabia’s, Qatar’s and Turkey’s interference in Syria. For fourteen years, Americans have been told to fear Islamic radicals and have supported one military intervention after another in battling this dread. We have surrendered personal liberties and accepted Big Brother surveillance in the expectation of security. The financial supporters and spiritual founders of this terror does not originate in Tehran, but in Riyadh and Doha. Our newly declared “major allies” are far a greater threat to American interests than a nuclear Iran.
Old School (NM)
The truth is that Obama doesn't well understand internal or external politics. He's an average president at best; however he has been incredibly unsuccessful at home and abroad relative to social calm and peace.

His current motivations appear to be legacy and striking back at what he believes is the "White Traditional System" in America. He's shrinking.
AACNY (NY)
Obama has the distinction of being is so "intelligent" and so wrong at the same time. His Iranian deal is a glaring example of this.

The irony is that he is interfering with the Middle East power structure as dangerously as his predecessor. His arrogance and quest for the next big "win" (no more elections?) is driving him to do something that is highly destabilizing.
RK (Long Island, NY)
Back in 2002, in a column entitled "The Day After," Nicholas Kristof wrote about the consequences of invading Iraq, such as the chaos that will result, empowering the majority Shiites in Iraq to the benefit of the Iranians, and so on. Most of what Mr. Kristof wrote about has already happened.

Mr. Kristof concluded the column by saying, "If we invade Iraq, it must be with eyes wide open. The most ticklish challenge ahead is not overthrowing Saddam but managing the resulting upheaval for a decade afterward." http://tinyurl.com/lkbnws7

So here we are, with the Arabs upset us for empowering Iran, and another Bush, who claims he doesn't read the NY Times, waiting in the wings hoping to occupy the White House. God help us!
AVR (Baltimore)
We tried to manage it but Obama foolishly withdrew from Iraq prematurely allowing the Iranians and ISIS to fill the vacuum
Richard Luettgen (New Jersey)
It’s not remarkable that the recent summit would surface serious disagreements, not least because the key participant other than Mr. Obama, Saudi Arabia’s new monarch, King Salman, chose not to come.

Astonishment, Arabs don’t trust Persians. This has been going on for a very long time, Persians hating Arabs and having their hatred returned robustly. It may have started at the Battle of Qadisiya, 1400 years ago, when Persians were defeated by Arabs; but, in any case, the roots of the mutual hatred and distrust are historical.

America has accepted that it’s evitable that one side will develop nuclear arms. The other side concludes that this sea change in our posture now requires THEM to obtain nuclear weapons, and that such weapons are forever – no nation once possessing them has rid itself of them without knowing that someone much bigger who had them as well would protect them. Mr. Obama claims that this is the case with the Gulf Arabs and the U.S., and the Arabs clearly have decided that the promise has no value – heck, even Israel is wondering about our commitment to THEM. So off we go to a nuclearized Middle East, quite possibly in less than ten years.

The fact that Mr. Obama still has (not two years but) about 20 months in office undoubtedly is the reason for the barely maintained civility. Don’t expect that to last. A rough parity that had existed between the sides will exist again, but at an immensely more dangerous level. Nothing to really smile at about that.
AACNY (NY)
Since Bush is being blamed for ISIS, I suppose it's only fitting that Obama receive the blame for the Saudi's nuclear weapons.

For someone who was going to be the "un-Bush", Obama has certainly managed to follow in his footsteps in terms of bungling things.
Matt Guest (Washington, D. C.)
Ah yes, but "44" is well used to such histrionics by now. The Republican Party, with its fake... err.. self-styled gunfighter, don't tread on me ethos (but do keep your government hands off my Medicare!), and its inability to take yes for an answer on various Obama good-faith efforts at various "grand bargains" that would have given it actual benefit cuts--signed by a Democratic president into law!--has given him and his team ample practice.

And then the GOP moans and groans about how the president will negotiate with the Iranians on nuclear power but not its chieftains and rabble-rousers (sometimes one and the same) on their paramount issue of lowering tax rates for the wealthiest among us... well yes, the Iranians seem to know how to get to yes. They didn't demand an end to all economic sanctions before even agreeing to meet with Secretary Kerry and his team.

So these Arab dictators, some of whom may see the very nearly ghostly image of Mubarak staring back at them and wondering if a similar day of at least semi-reckoning will someday greet them, are throwing a bit of a temper tantrum over the fact they failed to get "44" commit to legally bind the US to solve Middle East issues these fine fellows find pertinent and pressing, such as intervening to protect one of them.

Perhaps while the Arab state representatives were in town they could have met up with a few Republican leaders, to jointly console one another over this administration's perfidy and, of course, weakness.
Mike (San Francisco)
Maybe it is time to stand firm with these dictators. They are some of the most backward regimes in the world and we bare scared to even bring up human rights with them. Amnesty International just names Bahrain one of the most reactionary regimes in ME and yet not a word from West about that. They are the biggest sponsors for groups such as Alqueda, Al Nusra andx ISIS. majority of the terrorists involved in 09/11 were Saudis and yet no word about that.
So let them be like a spoiled child kicking and screaming when things don't go their way. It is time to stop spoiling these reactionaries.
bob rivers (nyc)
When the adult in the room are the autocratic GCC states, you KNOW that the US president is a lightweight amateur, and all of the protectivism and interference being run by the dreadful, amateurish editorial board of this "publication" will not change that fact.

"Administration officials have a reasonable comeback: They say Iran is far more likely to use the money freed up by the lifting of sanctions to meet accumulated domestic needs."

Are you kidding? This is a regime that has regularly shot its own people in the streets - remember Neda? - and you actually believe that the regime will use the money to help improve the lot of the average iranian? Really? The dreamworld that this editorial board dwells is is farther distant than Asgard...

Seriously...stop trying to defend the indefensible - the failed, pathetic and ridiculously amateurish obama presidency - and start dealing with the realities of the middle east, where the hundreds of millions of arab muslims, israelis, turks, etc., see iran as the monstrosity that it is.
Bruce Rozenblit (Kansas City)
Reading between the lines, the Sunni Arabs are revealing their true intentions. They are primarily interested in playing us against Iran to their benefit. They want to use us as their guard dog to keep Iran at bay. The Arabs don't want their guard dog to get friendly with their Shia adversary. The claim that Saudi
Arabia was America's best friend was predicated on America's constant opposition of Iran.

After 60 years of sanctions against Cuba, Iran and North Korea, we should realize by now that despotic regimes will not just pack up and leave. Normalizing relations is the most effective means to instill cooperation. As far as Saudi Arabia is concerned, any US cooperation with Iran may keep their guard dog from attacking.

Iran will most likely get the bomb eventually. We have the strategic capability to render it useless as an offensive weapon. It's use would result with Iran being wiped off of the map.

When the region becomes armed with A-bombs, the Saudis will have to get used to their new cold war. Or, they can all annihilate each other, which very well might happen. There is one more option, which is for all parties to decide to get along. Normalizing relations is about people deciding to get along. Try it. They may like it... or not.
Ran Kohn (New York, NY)
The NY Times editorial board believes the Sunnis are concerned about Iran’s remaining nuclear “capability to produce nuclear fuel for energy and medical purposes, instead of ending it outright.” Really? If that is what they thought the Saudis would have announced a similar program instead of building a bomb. As for the other fear about “Iran’s re-entry into the international community” and “that Washington’s loyalties would henceforth be divided”. Again really? What they are worried about—and we should be worried as well—is that the end of the sanctions would empower Iran to expand its mischief in the area.
The end of sanctions would release $130 billion to Iran. The idea that Iran would suddenly reform and use it for good works and peaceful purposes, instead of immediately funding it's current political agendas to help keep Syria afloat, Hezbollah and Hamas even more dangerously armed while expanding its political sphere of power and influence in Iraq and Yemen, borders on political naiveté that is shocking and especially so for the “newspaper of record”.
The Sunnis and Israelis are beside themselves with Obama’s shortsightedness, let alone the NY Times, of the ramifications of this deal—it installs Iran as the number one power in the Middle East. Is this what we want? The President wants a foreign policy “success” but we know as Bob Dylan wrote “there's no success like failure. And that failure's no success at all”.
PS (Vancouver, Canada)
Now that the US is no longer the Saudi cat's-paw . . . ps
bigrobtheactor (NYC)
The Commander-in-Chief is aiming to “.. deny Iran the ability to obtain a nuclear weapon,” by giving them the means and cover to develop and maintain a clear and unobstructed path to the weapon. We had to destroy the village to save the village. There can be little doubt what impact the accumulated damage this administration has caused in the international arena will have on the next administration, it will range between profound and catastrophic. By kowtowing to the Iranians rather than confronting, frustrating and defeating them which we were well on the way of doing he sews the seeds for a conflagration the world has yet to witness, imagine if an ISIS or Hezbollah militia had their hands on tactical nuclear weapons, that's what we are likely looking at - at a minimum. He would rather betray our allies than confront our enemies. There is no denying the dangers Iran poses in the region and beyond apart from their trickery vis-a-vis the IAEA and their threats to destroy a member nation state of the United Nations goaded on and backed-up by a regular chorus in downtown Tehran led by the Holy Grand Poobah of "Death to America" and to knowingly continue to make deals, offer bribes, turn a blind eye while betraying all past alliances is nothing more than deliberate, suicidal madness or perhaps more simply but just alarmingly what is meant by the president's phrase "fundamental transformation".
Hamid Varzi (Spain)
“Whatever the Iranians have, we will have, too,” Prince Turki al-Faisal, the former Saudi intelligence chief, said recently in Seoul, South Korea.

The above statement summarizes the petty attitude of the Saudis, a nation so utterly and incomprehensibly spoiled by decades of U.S. backing and appeasement that it is now ready to bite the hand that protects it.

As President Obama has so succinctly and correctly warned, the real danger to Saudi Arabia comes not from Iran but from ISIS which was created and financed by the nation now crying foul.

The U.S. promptly forgave Saudi Arabia for its creation of the Taleban, its support of Al Qaeda and its primary role in 9/11. The Saudis cannot believe that the U.S. and other nations will continue forgiving every crime and transgression in the interests of oil. Saudis be warned, "The Times They Are A' Changin'".
seeing with open eyes (usa)
It was the US who created the Taliban as a force against the Russians invasion which began in 1979 and lasted 10 years. The US funded Afghani fighters then, and after the Russians left, they called themselves the Taliban and ran rampant over the people of Afghanistan.
AlSaour (New York)
As Abba Eban said: The [Arabs] will never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.
R. Moss (Metuchen)
When Israel decried the emerging deal with Iran over its nuclear program the Times excoriated Israel. Now the Saudis have demonstrated their displeasure. If our Israeli allies and our Arab allies both believe that the President Obama is hopelessly naive in believing that Iran will not cheat its way to a nuclear weapon (as North Korea did), who, other than the editorial board of the Times, believes in this treaty?
Title Holder (Fl)
The Editorial goes" more rational fear is that when sanctions are lifted, Iran, which is causing trouble in Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen and elsewhere in the Middle East". When will the Times stop repeating this lie? Is ISIS in Iraq a creation of Iran? No. The Houthis in Yemen are an independent movement. Hezbollah was born out of Israel invasion of Lebanon. Where else in the Middle East is Iran causing troubles?
Saudi Arabia is a country, where women can't drive or travel without the consent of their husbands or Male members of their family. Women can't run for elections or "vote". Peole get jailed for years for criticizing the Royal Family, the list goes on.
Qatar threats Foreign workers like Slaves,( more than 3000 have died building infrastructure for the World Cup). Their Passports get confiscated by their Qatari sponsors as soon as they arrrive there.
ISIS, AL Qaeda, Boko Haram, Al Shabab have all been bankrolled directly or indirectly by the Golf States. All these terrorist organizations are Sunnis and have Saudi Arabia sponsored Madrassas to thank for the growing number of their followers. And yet these are the countries the US is willing to defend and protect . Am I missing something here?
DLNYC (New York)
I understand that their are more Sunni Arabs than there are Shiite Persians, and the Sunnis have more oil, but if I had to pick between these two horrible choices - and I know once you say that you've already lost - I'd side with the Iranians. It's the Saudis and their Gulf allies, who after funding Al Queda and the 9-11 bombers promised not to do that anymore, but then continue to fund the radical religious schools in the region - especially in Pakistan - and most recently funded early ISIS and other religious extremist groups. The Iranians are often accused of "state-sponsored" terrorism, but America has almost exclusively been victimized by Sunni Arab terrorism covertly sponsored by the Gulf States and/or their citizens. I find it encouraging that we finally have a President who is challenging these dynastic dictators to the point that these dictators are having Netanyahu-style hissy fits.
Omar ibrahim (Amman, joRdan)
It is neither an Obama failure nor his shortcoming; it is the failure of the muddled Middle East policy the USA has been pursuing for decades now: attempting to square the circle with amicable relations with the Arabs in general and Israel and the Gulf Arabs and Iran at the same time all under ,hoped for, USA hegemony and over lordship.
Only Israel benefited profusely from this muddle and Iran may be next in line of profit making from this American misguided policy; however both will , in the mean time, have and will retain their A bombs and see to it that their interests, designs and ambitions are well served
Something may be done, in the few remaining years of Obamaism, re the Arab/Israeli conflict and attempted re the Iran issue.
NOTHING can be done to satisfy and secure all three.
Odds are the USA will, as always, prioritize its relations with Israel and Iran both of which proved to be far too obdurate and self respecting to accept outright American hegemony except partially and only for the right price and suitable political/military return.
The onus for the way out, any way out, falls now squarely on the Arabs: minimally it should include:
* a solid pro Palestine, anti Israel, common Arab front
* an Arab A bomb
and
* Less blind servility to the USA and more self respect
John Smith (Reno, Nevada)
Ok so the saudis who dont lnow how to fly their planes now want to build nukes. What a joke
Joel (Brooklyn)
Saudi Arabia and Israel share identical positions re. Iran and U.S. efforts on engagement. Sigh.
Dhg (NY)
Europe, especially within range of future Iranian nukes, is afraid too. So are the other Sunni majority countries.

Israel is guilty of saying what the others were thinking. Now the Saudis are saying it and others are quiet (in public).
Ahmed Ali (Hamburg, Germany)
Not being privy to what was actually discussed at the Camp David talks, but judging from the insightful NYT editorial and the disillusioned remarks attributed to the Saudi delegates, it seems that not much came out of this meeting. In German: "Ausser Spesen ist nichts gewesen"!

In a Gedanken experiment, I transmuted myself to someone sitting with the American president at the negotiating table. I would have advised the president to stress the following to the Arab guests: Brothers, you should bring your house in order. That is what will help you to match the presumed strength of Iran. Educate your children, not in Madressahs, but in schools, where the stress is on logical thinking and on science-based education, invest in your people and not in the military hardware, let your women participate in the full spectrum of modern life, respect human rights, and stop bombarding the helpless Yemenis under one pretext or the other. This would stabilise and strengthen your society, which, otherwise, will sooner or later (perhaps sooner) implode from the inner social and economic pressure, given the existing profile of their wealth distribution
and a widespread sense of deprivation.

And, something about having nuclear weapons: They are no panacea of the their ills. They just have to look across the Arabian Ocean to Pakistan, a so-called nuclear power, but one which is sliding almost at the speed of light into a failed state. Don't emulate them or, for that matter, Iran !
Gary Taustine (NYC)
Whether or not this agreement is signed,
no matter the rules, or how clearly defined,
Iran will continue to do whatever they choose.

Sparking new wars to further their cause,
murdering gays who defy their cruel laws,
and seizing our ships at gunpoint in the straits of Hormuz.

I believe the Israelis would be more optimistic,
if six million was not such a famous statistic,
and Iran didn’t openly threaten to kill all the Jews.

A deal would be welcome if it could provide,
some way to ensure that Iran would abide,
but this deal seems completely devoid of enforceable rules.

Khamenei himself has gone out of his way,
kvetching on Twitter like Kim and Kanye,
that he will determine the sites we’re allowed to peruse.

So as much as we may long for tensions to ease,
in a deal where Iran offers no guarantees,
we have nothing to gain and the world just has too much to lose.
craig geary (redlands, fl)
The only airplane that departed US airspace on 9/12 was full of Saudi royals and bin Laden family members.
Odd, given that 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi's who were working at the direction of Osama bin Laden.

Of course that had nothing to do with the Saudi Bin Laden Group, then the largest shareholder in Harken Oil, buying W. Bush's failure of an oil company, Arbusto.
Nor anything to do with the $1.2 BILLION the House of Saud has gifted to the House of Bush.
NA (New York)
"Even so, Mr. Obama could have done a better job of calming Arab insecurities long before he invited the gulf leaders to Camp David."

Perhaps, but of course anything he might have done would have been undermined by Benjamin Netanyahu's ill-advised address to Congress--at the invitation of John Boehner--and the widely publicized letter to Iran, signed by Republican senators. If Republicans want to insert themselves in sensitive negotiations, they should be held accountable for their actions.
minh z (manhattan)
Whatever you may think about the Iran deal, it's obvious that Obama is using the same strategy to get an agreement credited to his name. That is to get a deal - albeit a not so great one and then pressure his friends and allies to support it, rather than negotiate a good one in the beginning.

Saudi Arabia isn't the liberal wing of the Democratic Party and neither is Israel. And neither are going along with the typical Obama playbook for allowing him to take credit where credit is not due, by supporting a "deal" that isn't in their interests.
Mary Elizabeth (Boston)
Is it not p5+1?
Chris Lydle (Atlanta)
The truth is that President Obama is leaving office with the US having worse relations with almost every country than when he took office, Can anyone think of one country other than Cuba with whom the US has improved relations in that time?
Old School (NM)
Mexico?
Joseph Huben (Upstate NY)
"The truth is that President Obama is leaving office with the US having worse relations with almost every country than when he took office," is the kind of inaccuracy that is repeated with absolutely no relationship with any evidence. Remember, W preceded Obama.
Peppone (massachusetts)
iran
donald surr (Pennsylvania)
The United States does itself and the rest of the world a deep disservice by constantly meddling in the internal disputes of rival groups in both the Middle East and the Far East. The Shiites, Sunnis and Zionists in the Middle East more wisely could be left to sort out their own problems. The same is true of the two Koreas and of the mainland and offshore Chinese.

If Vietnam and Iraq have not made that lesson clear, one wonders what slap in the face finally will.
A. Stanton (Dallas, TX)
Wasn't it just a few weeks ago that the Times editorial board threw a conniption fit about Mr. Netanyahu's speech to Congress, frequently accusing him of being disrespectful to the President? Now, it is lambasting Saudi-Arabia for "snubbing" the President and promoting the nuclear deal with Iran as if it was enforceable by the U.S. and its partners, notwithstanding the fact that the U.S. is still a country where railroad trains sometimes fall off their tracks.

Meanwhile, the Times treats the worries of Israel and the Saudi Arabia about Iran’s determined efforts to obtain nuclear weapons as if these were simply displays of bad manners on their part.

When is the Times going to come around to admitting that sanctions -- not a nuclear deal -- were and still are the only safe way to deal with this issue?
Native New Yorker (nyc)
The President's policies with Iran are baffling. He is negotiates with Iran on nuclear containment while fighting against them in the Yeman conflict and murkily on the ISIS front. I don't blame the Saudis a bit for snubbing Camp David as they don't understand President Obama's intentions dealing with the Iranian Liars and even distancing the US from Israel. Our traditional allies including Europe are scratching their heads, while warily watching Russia maneuver and hovering about. A child could tell you Iran is buying time and is gleeful they found a US President as gullible as Obama falling into this trap - the Saudi will find plenty of new allies with their boat load of money and oil while they still hold onto it until Iran fires the bomb at them!
Joseph Huben (Upstate NY)
The Saudis fund ISIS and defend them in Yemen. Our traditional allies are negotiating with us regarding Iran. The only people who are baffled are those who think that war with Iran is a solution.
Mohammad (New York)
I wish the United States ban the sales of weapons to Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the rest of the Gulf States.

If the money spent by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and UAE on war and destabilizing an already destabilized area, was spent on education, environment and having the Arabs be compatible with the world, the whole Middle East would have been much better.

Instead, the government of Saudi Arabia, and the rest of the Gulf states, want to start religious wars. The United States, the leader of the free world, should advance the ideas of the FREE WORLD instead of being friends with these despots...
Tom Paine (Charleston, SC)
Incredibly naive! It's been decades since the US was the world's only significant arms supplier. There isn't a single US weapon authorized for international sales which any country couldn't obtain one of similar capability from one of our competitors. Our sales actually assist cementing realtions with the purchasing nation - in addition to helping to share development and manufacturing costs; while provoiding US jobs for thousands.
pj (new york)
"Nevertheless, it is perverse for Arab leaders who once considered Iran’s nuclear program their gravest threat to complain about a deal intended to diminish that threat."

Perverse? Really? Wasn't exactly the same type of nuclear treaty with South Korea intended to diminish their threat of obtaining nuclear weapons? Don't opponents of the proposed nuclear deal with Iran have the right to be skeptical?

The sanctions will be lifted. Iran's damaged economy will grow and thrive. They will obtain Nuclear weapons and the tinder box that is the middle east will grow exponentially more dangerous.
Tournachonadar (Illiana)
Obama has affected the Persian Gulf Arab rulers as he affects everyone else: not white, not black, not Christian, not Muslim, he's just completely ambiguous. And his policies reflect a disappointing ambiguity, perhaps stemming from his status of having each foot in a different group, so to speak, part of both and trusted by neither. At some point, of course, the United States will regret its conciliatory approach to the Persians whom we now call Iranians with unctuous political correctness. Suddenly because they make some gestures against ISIS they have been regarded as potential allies. But their nukular ambitions, as W43 would have shamelessly pronounced it, remain firm and include our own destruction. We have chucked aside all reason to negotiate with this terrorist, and terrorist sponsor, state.
seeing with open eyes (usa)
Just where is your "inctous political correctness" to be found??
Iran is a Persian word for that country.
It 1935, the Leader of the country, Reza Shah, asked the international community refer to Persia as Iran. Since then, in that nation, Persia and Iran have been used interchangeably.
Jimmy (Greenville, North Carolina)
I think Pres Obama is right to make friends with Iran as they are the natural leader of the region. Our friendship with them will bring peace to the middle east and a strong Iran will insure a free Palestinian State.
JSIEGEL (Santa Barbara CA)
Neville Chamberlain couldn't have said it better.
Independent (Scarsdale, NY)
Clearly the NY Times Editorial Board should be directing US foreign policy.
Doug Bruce (Baton Rouge, LA)
If the Middle East is to emerge in this century, Iran will have to be a player. We get nothing from the Saudis...and we support a horribly oppressive aristocracy
with few redeemable qualities. The royal family should wake up. Someday the masses will storm the castle.
Kenneth Barasch, Williams '56 (NewYork)
President Obama's ability to lead is weakened both domestically and internationally by the virulent obstructionism of the republicans. The Saudi king would not dared to snub our president if he thought that there was support on both sides of the aisle for our middle east policy or at least a well thought out opposition policy. The republicans carp and criticize every white house effort both domestic and international but do not offer alternative ideas. The republicans must start to help the president. Their negativity will harm all Americans. They must stop shooting themselves in the foot.
joeseph (Sunny Isles Beach, FL)
Duh...obama has weakened himself by drawing lines in the sand and then ignoring them. He had no credability because he is incompetent. Look at it thisbway, if he was a real leader, the republicans would be powerless. He empowers them with his lack of leadership
Old School (NM)
As well they should. He's inept and so are his advisers. The narcissism of this president is incredibly evident both abroad and at home.

A president that cannot well "read the tea leaves" would be a perfect excuse. However, in this case he just continues to make the wrong decisions and moves despite clear evidence to the contrary. He's embarrassing.
Tom Paine (Charleston, SC)
The most virulent and powerful opposition to the Iran deal originates with Israel. This is the fact which allows the Arabs to snub Obama without worry. Anytime they align with Israel a nation can be certain to receive the full support of our congress - both Republicans and the Democrats.
cat48 (Charleston, SC)
I read in Haaertz recently that the Saudis had agreed to help Israel "kill" the Iran Deal. What a joke our "strong allies" & "friends" in the ME have become.
I wonder if the Saudis will now become a major player in U.S. presidential elections like Israel has become for the GOP. A required visit to Israel is mandantory before you can become president. Are the Saudis next?
Larry Lundgren (Linköping, Sweden)
Just spending a few moments on the lighter side. Not a chance, remember that Tea Party and even Republican Party people view B Hussein O as being a faithful follower of Islam although perhaps not the wonderful version practiced by the Saudis. Imagine a robed Saudi standing before a Republican dominated House. Won't happen Insha' Allah.
Betsy Herring (Edmond, OK)
The other required visit for Republicans is that hotbed of fundamentalism and 15th century thinking -- Liberty University -- where they can bow at the feet of the science naysayers and kiss their royal a---- like the GOP tried to make my President do for Bibi.
c. (Seattle)
How about we become our own country instead of a puppet for Bibi and the Saudis? Oh wait. That would offend core Republican constituents, the anti-Palestinians and Big Oil.
kushelevitch (israel)
Once again the U S administration seems to be out of step with its partners in the Middle East. They have failed to listen carefully to the worries of all involved nations. These may or may not be important or even exist down the road but in today's reality they are all players. It makes no difference whether they are enemies or allied with each other they follow simple rules and they all have to do with survival, a problem the U.S. Does not and has not faced for many generations.
SAB (Fairfax, VA)
The 'operative phrase in this misguided editorial is: 'a deal intended to diminish that threat.' The Sunni Arabs may like the intent, but they have no reason to believe that result will be realized. Given our President's demonstrated inability to negotiate or follow through on his statements (think the Redline in Syria), I cannot fault their logic: I would not send him to a NY street vendor to negotiate a price for anything .
Christopher (Carpenter)
Although Mr. Obama might not be perfect - though he is near to that, for me - I am scared to think of how the next, probably lesser president, will deal with matters of similar complexity. Sorry, just had to say..., & that way. -Christopher, in Buenos Aires.
aaali (Indiana, PA)
Subordination of the US national interests to that of the totalitarian Arab regimes is a dangerous development. Washington has enabled these regimes not only to attack Yemen and fully destroying its infrastructure, especially schools and hospitals, but also in sending terrorists to Iraq, Syria, Libya and other places. What these regimes are doing in Iraq, Yemen, Syria, and Libya is crime against humanity. This must not allowed to continue under any justifications.
Donald (Yonkers)
Iran's bad behavior? Compared to what? Saudi Arabia just killed hundreds of civilians in Yemen and Saudi money funds jihadists. And the U.S. invaded some country called Iraq, killing hundreds of thousands. It's weird how the NYT continues to write like some stereotypical prudish schoolmarm from the 19th century regarding foreign affairs. Americans are in no position to lecture Iran on bad behavior.
Padraig Murchadha (Lionville, Pennsylvania)
Americans have more in common with Persians than with Arabs. Wresting Persians from the grip of the Shiite mullahs would be more beneficial for America than appeasing oil-soaked Wahabbi fanatics.
Larry Lundgren (Linköping, Sweden)
Actually, Padraig Murchadha, I have more than once talked with my Iranian (Persian) friends at the Red Cross here in Linköping about the many similarities between the USA and Iran - high incarceration rate in horrifying prisons, USA moving ever closer - if a Christian fundamentalist takes over as President to becoming a theocracy, high incidence of drug users ....

but on the good side high percentage of females in universities here (USA) and there...and...
tmonk677 (Brooklyn, NY)
The Saudi reaction is somewhat reasonable, and America's interest in limiting Iran's nuclear capability amy not be totally credible to the Saudis. Even if Iran obtains nuclear weapon, they would most likely not threaten the US or Israel, since Israel is widely believed to have nuclear weapons. So, the Saudis don't trust Obama to guarantee their security, and the Times may not really care about the interest or security needs of Saudi Arabia.The example of North Korea may further explain why the Saudi's are skeptical about our ability to restrain Iran.
William O. Beeman (San José, CA)
So where are the threats to have an economic embargo against Saudi Arabia? Surely the United States will apply equal sanctions against nation threatening to develop nuclear weapons. In fact, we apply sanctions to Iran where there is not even one scintilla of evidence of a nuclear weapons program and where Iranian officials have denounced nuclear weaponry again and again. So given the Saudi threats to develop a nuclear weapons program, our sanctions should be far more severe than those imposed on Iran, right?
Larry Lundgren (Linköping, Sweden)
William O. been wondering where you have been. Imagine a discussion in the House of instituting sanctions against our "ally" Saudi Arabia.
Larry
SR (Las Vegas)
The US is blamed for every problem in the Middle East. We can spend time, resources and money trying to convince them we're trying to help. They'll keep blaming us.
driheart (Detroit)
Many in US are critical of GW Bush for the war in Iraq which killed Saddam Hussein a brutal dictator whose removal created the terrible war in Iraq and Syria. Once US army was removed by our president the vacuum was filled with ISIS. President Obama was the spearhead which saw the war in Iraq a historical mistake. Yet Obama did the same in Egypt removing loyal Husni Mubarak, removing Muamar Qadafi in Libya, fighting Bashar el-Assad in Syria, Zine el Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia and tried to depose Bibi Netanyahu of Israel. President Obama did not support the Iranian spring, befriended with Iran a terrorist country which has genocidal mantra and develops nuclear weapons which crazy Ayatolas can use. President Obama repeated the mistakes that GW Bush did with Iraq times five. Saudi and Gulf cannot support, trust president Obama who they feel is irresponsible.
craig geary (redlands, fl)
Of course it was Eureka College guy cheerleader, WW II dodger, Reagan who armed Saddam Hussein, who allowed Saddam Hussein to buy anthrax in this country and gave Saddam Hussein satellite imagery to improve his use of chemical WMD's on Iran.
The US brought the Iran situation on ourselves by deposing an elected government and installing Reza Pahlavi as dictator.
His only claim to the Peacock throne of Cyrus the Great, Darius and Xerxes was that his father, a general, seized power and declared himself a shah.
For good measure the USS Vincennes shot down Iran Air 655 killing 290 civilians, 66 of them children.
tery (usa)
amen.. there are indeed more viable solutions to restoring the hanging gardens.. a deep breath might be the start
Prof.Jai Prakash Sharma, (Jaipur, India.)
Having made a wise strategic decision, along with the other world powers, to enter into nuclear deal with Iran, and thereby helping Iran to play a more responsible role at both the global and regional levels, President Obama should resist temptation to have a two-horse ride in the Middle East. For, the diplomatic engagement with Iran will not only help the US and the West, in general, to redefine their role in the changing Middle East but also play a more balancing role in the region, currently caught in the violent conflict between the Shiite-Sunni sects of Islam. The US-Iran engagement seems best security guarantee too for the US' Arab allies, hitherto remained obsessed with Israel and its US backed military prowess, but now supporting their erstwhile foe and perpetual sore, the same Israel against Iran- the common enemy for them all.
Richard Luettgen (New Jersey)
Professor:

The state of affairs was "balanced" before; and it will be "balanced" again. The problem is that rough parity soon will stabilize at a nuclear level, which is immensely more fraught with danger -- and not just for Saudi Arabia and Iran. Pakistan will be seeding a nuclear arsenal for Saudi Arabia, and serious hostilities could blow back in THEIR faces. That affects India, doesn't it?
Bill Appledorf (British Columbia)
As usual the USA has the wrong friends and the wrong enemies. Iran is a civilized society. Saudi Arabia is ruled by a self-indulgent and barbaric elite. Murderous Islamic extremism from North Africa to Pakistan has Saudi Arabia's hand prints all over it, while Iran invades no one and backs national liberation movements like Hezbollah.
Query (West)
From the 1/30/15 Washington Post story in the assassination of Mughniyan by the CIA and Mossad:

"Beginning in 2003, Hezbollah, with the assistance of Iran, began to train and arm Shiite militant groups in Iraq, which later began attacking coalition forces, according to Matthew Levitt, who recently wrote a book about Hezbollah and is director of the Washington Institute’s Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence.
The Hezbollah-trained militias proved to be a deadly enemy, wounding or killing hundreds of American troops. As the situation in Iraq deteriorated and coalition casualties spiked in 2006, the United States decided it had to stanch the losses."

Mughniyah credits include kidnapping and torturing CIA station chief William F. Buckley and sending the videotapes, hijacking TWA Flight 847 and killing passenger U.S. Navy diver Robert Stethem, the Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia, bombing the Israeli Embassy and attacking a Jewish community and killing 85 in Argentina.

A minor part of Bill Appledorf's Iran and Hezbollah at work. Not to mention Assad and Yemen.

Narcissism forever!

Stupid Saudis.
Fatso (New York City)
@Bill, "National liberation movements like Hezbollah"? Baaahaaaahaaa. Thanks for the larf.
WimR (Netherlands)
Iran sponsored terrorism is minuscule compared to Saudi sponsored terrorism. Not to mention that Iran had a reason: they were on Bush's "axis of evil" list of countries that he wanted to attack.
Mark Thomason (Clawson, MI)
"They also worry that Iran’s re-entry into the international community after decades of isolation would mean that Washington’s loyalties would henceforth be divided"

Not exactly. What they worry about is that Iran’s re-entry into the international community after decades of isolation would mean that Iran would gain conventional power, both from its revived income and from a strong stimulation of existing industry that would prosper and develop with such ties into the world economy.

Saudis fear modernity at home as much as they fear Iran's modernity, so they dare not even try to match it even on their own smaller scale.

They like having Iran fenced out of the world by American power. They want it to go away, and not come back.

The alleged nuclear fears are like WMD in Iraq, just the cause around which people can be rallied. The US and even many Israeli intelligence officials say the "fears" are just not true.

This fear of Iran's size and modern economy is the real fear, one around which they can't rally world opposition as they can to the faked nuclear fears of a bomb they've screamed is just around the corner for decades now.

Of all the nations that fear Iran, the Saudis are the most backward, the most unable to modernize, and so they most fear that about Iran. It is however also the real fear of the Israelis, which comes out when they throw in discussion of Hezbollah and Hamas and Assad, all entirely non-nuclear fears of Iran's conventional power.
Omar ibrahim (Amman, joRdan)
What I smell from this is an American yearning to reestablish its regional hegemony through its two old, dependable allies: Israel and Iran as in the NOT DISTANT PAST.
Mark Thomason (Clawson, MI)
This should note that Saudi Arabia already has a nuclear capability.

They've done it a bit differently than Iran, but they have done it and are further along than Iran.

For one, Saudi Arabia already has the delivery capability. They have ballistic missiles of the types used by China and others to carry nuclear weapons.

Those missiles include a special missile base which is in a corner of Saudi Arabia putting them in reach of Israel. The launchers have been reported many times as oriented toward Israel, whatever that means. I suspect those making the reports have never seen the base, but are repeating things they've heard from "sources" of varying quality.

For another, Saudi Arabia funded the Pakistani nuclear program, which developed Chinese-type devices perfectly suited for those Chinese missiles that the Saudis already have.

It has been said by many for years now that any time the Saudis feel they need warheads, the Pakistanis will deliver. Nobody has ever had a convincing refutation of that.

So in their own way, the Saudis already have far more of a nuclear threat than do the Iranians. When editorializing "that it is threatening to develop its own nuclear capability" such existing capability ought to be noted.
Mike 71 (Chicago Area)
Unlike Iran, Saudi Arabia has never threatened to (depending on which Farsi translation is used) "wipe another nation off the face of the earth," or "erase it from the pages of history." In fact, Saudi defense concerns and interests against a common enemy are converging with those of Israel. The Saudis have a far greater reason to fear an unprovoked attack from the mad Mullahs who rule Iran, than they do from Mr. Netanyahu. It is not outside the realm of possibilities, and increasingly likely, that Israel and Saudi Arabia could form an "alliance of convenience," not unlike that between Roosevelt and Churchill with Stalin.
John S. (Arizona)
When evaluating allies, enemies and neutrals in the Middle East here are some numbers to ponder:

1. Of the nineteen 9-11 terrorists, 15 were from Saudi Arabia and zero from Iran.

2. Number of "allies" whose leaders work against/undermine American interest or try to embarrass the President of the United States; two, Israel's Netanyahu and the king of Saudi Arabia.

When you have friends like Israel and Saudi Arabia, who needs enemies?
alxfloyd (Gloucester, MA)
Our friends, the Saudis, have an interesting method of marital divorce, that we in America, find so abhorrent when ISIS perpetrates it on our captured journalists.
Mike 71 (Chicago Area)
All U.S. Presidents, from Truman through Bush, prior to Obama, had excellent relations with both Israel and Saudi Arabia. This President, in order to create a legacy to justify his unmerited Nobel Peace Prize, is trying to ignore the continuing chants of "Death to America," while undermining two of our nation's major alliances. One does not hear those chants in the streets of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia!
LVG (Atlanta)
The fact that Obama is not subservient to Israel or Saudi Arabia makes him one of the greatest Presidents in my lifetime.
Query (West)
" A more ominous sign of tension was the threat by Saudi Arabia — and to a lesser extent, other Arab states — to match whatever nuclear enrichment capability Iran is allowed to keep under the agreement. “Whatever the Iranians have, we will have, too,” Prince Turki al-Faisal, the former Saudi intelligence chief, said recently in Seoul, South Korea.""

This is not even trying.

Months ago this paper published pre agreement reports that Iran insisted on the right to do what it wants in ten years and the response was the year warning before opting out. This was such a big deal there are at least a dozen NYT articles on the issue.

Then the Saudis, who actually live their and have seen the State of Nature engulf at least SEVEN (7) states, say they will match what Iran does and this is a THREAT?!

What was it when Iran recently insited on the option? What was it when others abstained from nuclear weapon development because of the US and now Obama refuses assurances while chiding the Saudis and Egyptians for not knowing how to raise their children?

Pathetic narcissistic nonsense.

The NYT is not even trying. Not even reading its own writing. Set a deadline to start an arms race and then wonder what the fuss is about. Getting in bed with the policyless foreign policy of the WH that didnt even think the arms race issue through, just like the ISIS issue, just like the Ukraine issue, just like the remilitarized Japan issue, just like the China bank issue, helps no one.
B. Rothman (NYC)
Query: so easy to be critical, isn't it? Is there anyone out there with a better solution? Perhaps you think as some Republicans that bombing Iran is a smarter policy? A pox on all their houses. Mankind has no future on this or any other planet if all it can produce is selfishness and antagonisms.
faceless critic (NJ)
You have something better to offer?
stu freeman (brooklyn NY)
It's amusing that the Saudis are looking to the U.S. to defend them from the big bad Persians. Who, after all, defends the U.S. from the extremists and jihadists whom the Saudis continue to subsidize using the oil revenues that America continues to pay them?
bigrobtheactor (NYC)
The Saudi's like the other interested and concerned parties so very close to the line of fire are not looking for an American defender, they are looking to avoid the need to be defended. If the administration would only stick to American policy and crush any Iranian aspiration for doing what the entire world has forbid them to do - violate the non-proliferation treaty they signed, the reasons the sanction exist, the issue would be much clearer and perhaps more easily resolved. There is no free pass, there are only lesser evils. The Saudis want America to be America, to screw our courage to the sticking post, but they we the wrong king on the throne, a guy who won the Noble Peace Prize for agreeing to accept it, and by the time we change kings, havoc will have wreaked. What they are witnessing is "fundamental transformation" on process. Read it and weep.
Paul Easton (Brooklyn)
They have a good reason to feel insecure. The US props them up while they are stabbing us in the back. We should validate their insecurity.
stu freeman (brooklyn NY)
@bigrob: Even assuming that the Iranians are interested in weaponizing their nuclear energy (they insist it's for peaceful purposes only), why is it that they can't have what the U.S. and the other 5+1 nations and Israel and India and Pakistan and North Korea (etc., etc.) already have? How come all of THOSE nations get a "free pass"? As for "America being America," wouldn't that entail sending our troops to yet another part of the world in which they don't belong? And doesn't "screwing our courage to the sticking post" imply screwing THEIR courage to that post and then screwing THEM once they retain to us in body bags? Read THAT and weep.
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