November 18th, 2013
10:19 AM ET

Tehran not only Iran deal obstacle

By Fareed Zakaria

Saudi Arabia is not going to accept any deal on Iran's nuclear program, no matter what is in it. Saudi objections to the Islamic Republic of Iran are existential. The Saudis regard Tehran as a heretical, Shiite, Persian enemy that must be opposed. Its antipathy predates Iran's nuclear program and will persist whatever the resolution of it.

And then the Republicans in the U.S., some of whom have serious objections and others who see this as an easy avenue to outflank President Obama on the right, placing him in the familiar spot of a liberal Democrat who is soft on America's foes.

Many of us have assumed that the greatest obstacle to a deal would come from Tehran. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the Revolutionary Guards remain deeply anti-American, and they may well oppose the concessions that President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif would have to make to get a deal. But it’s now clear that greater obstacles might lie in the path of the negotiators on the other side. The minute any deal is announced, Saudi Arabia and Israel will denounce it, and many Republicans will join in. Given that Congress would have to pass laws to lift any of the major sanctions against Iran, this could prove to be an obstacle that cannot be overcome.

So Obama faces two major challenges. First he has to get a deal that the hard-liners in Tehran can live with. Then he has to get one that the hard-liners in Washington and Jerusalem and Riyadh can abide. If he can do both, maybe he will deserve his Nobel Peace Prize after all.

Watch the video for the full Take or read the TIME column

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Topics: Fareed's Take • Iran

soundoff (51 Responses)

    Why make this nuanced? Iran can dismantle and discontinue its nuclear stockpile and ambitions, in turn all sanctions are dropped. The hardliners in Iran do not have veto power. Even Saudi Arabia would not object to such a deal and would stop seeking to buy nuclear weapons.

    November 22, 2013 at 1:34 am | Reply
  2. John Smith

    America is the root of all terror. America has invaded sixty countries since world war 2.
    In 1953 America overthrow Iran's democratic government Mohammad Mosaddegh and installed a brutal dictator Shah. America helped Shah of Iran to establish secret police and killed thousands of Iranian people.
    During Iran-Iraq war evil America supported Suddam Hossain and killed millions of Iranian people. In 1989, America, is the only country ever, shot down Iran's civilian air plane, killing 290 people.
    In 2003,America invaded Iraq and killed 1,000,000+ innocent Iraqi people and 4,000,000+ Iraqi people were displaced.
    Now America is a failed state with huge debt. Its debt will be 22 trillion by 2015.

    November 23, 2013 at 12:25 am | Reply
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