The treaty between Iran and the P5+1 world powers is meant to take effect 90 days after the UN Security Council adopts the relevant resolution. However, while the treaty has been hailed as a historic step for global security, Iran is a very active regional power and a partner in violent instability in the Middle East, which the treaty does not address.
Jon B. Alterman, Middle East Program Director for the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, said: “It helps you manage one risk posed by Iran, which is the proliferation risk. It doesn’t immediately do anything for any of the other issues, and those issues range from Yemen to Lebanon to Syria and elsewhere.”
Major US ally Saudi Arabia’s official reaction to the deal was uneasy. Riyadh said Iran should now concentrate on improving conditions for Iranians, according to the Saudi Press Agency, “instead of provoking troubles which would generate certain reactions from countries in the region”.
Iran is Shiite-dominated, while the Saudis are Sunni Muslim. They back the opposing parties in regional conflicts, notably the insurgency in Yemen, where Tehran is supporting the rebels and Riyadh is leading airstrikes against them.
Tehran is also behind the Shiite militia in Iraq, Shiite Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza and the internationally isolated President Bashar al Assad in Syria. The Saudis support parties fighting to remove Assad.
The president called the nuclear treaty with his ally Iran “a great victory and a historic achievement”. The Syrian state news service said Assad expressed optimism for “momentum for the constructive role of the Islamic republic to support the rights of the people and strengthen the bases of peace”.
In Iraq, Iran supports Shiite militias fighting against the jihadist Islamic State movement (ISIL). The Shiite-dominated Baghdad government praised the nuclear deal with Tehran, but the minority Sunnis may feel more threatened.
Apart from Saudi Arabia, Iran’s other major regional adversary is Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calls the P5+1 treaty with Tehran a historic mistake that frees Iran to sponsor global terrorism, and gives it a clear run at acquiring nuclear weapons, just as he said three years ago at the UN.