Saudis downgrade presence at GCC summit in sign of disapproval of emerging Iran nuclear deal

 

In a rebuff to the White House’s Iran policy, Saudi Arabia declined to send its newly-minted king to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit taking place this week at Camp David. The Wall Street Journal asserted that King Salman’s absence from the summit “signals that the Arab states aren’t on board” with President Barack Obama’s ongoing negotiations with Iran, which are slated to end on June 30. A Saudi scholar, Prince Faisal bin Saud bin Abdulmohsen, stressed that “[o]ur allies aren’t listening to us, and this is what is making us extremely nervous.”

The Sunni Gulf states believe that the impending nuclear agreement between the P5+1 and Iran will boost Iran’s support for regional proxies, while providing it a glide path to a nuclear weapon. According to the Associated Press, they believe that a deal may “embolden Tehran to act more aggressively in the region.” The states also fear that an agreement could “tilt the regional balance of power in Tehran’s favor.”  Speaking to the differing perspectives of the U.S. and the Gulf states, Emirates University professor of political science, Abdulkhaleq Abdullah, told the Associated Press that the Gulf states “think Iran is a destabilizing force and will remain so, probably even more, if the sanctions are lifted…They're just not seeing things eye to eye."

The leading Gulf states also believe that Iran will pursue nuclear capabilities at any cost. Former head of Saudi Arabia’s intelligence Turki al-Faisal declared, “I’ve always said that whatever comes out of these [nuclear] talks, we will want the same.” A retired Saudi military officer said that “Our leaders will never allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon while we don’t."

 

Protests against Iranian authorities that began in the Kurdish-majority city of Mahabad have spread to other Kurdish areas, Lebanon’s NOW Media reported today.

ARA News, a Syrian outlet close to the country’s Kurds, reported that at least six people have been killed in the ongoing demonstrations, while hundreds of others have been detained.

The protests quickly spread outside of Mahabad, with demonstrations erupting in the Kurdish-populated town of Sardasht some 70 kilometers to the southwest. …

Meanwhile, the vice president of the Iranian opposition Kurdistan Freedom Party (PAK) Hussein Yazdanpana told Asharq Alawsat that demonstrations had also been held in the nearby towns of Bukan, Shina, Marivan and Sanandaj.

Yazdanpanna also said that Iran has deployed security forces from cities such as Esfahan, Hamedan, and Kerman to put down the riots in Iranian Kurdistan. According to one activist, Iran has cut telephone lines, internet and mobile communications to Kurdistan. There is also a report on Twitter that Iran has executed four Kurdish prisoners.

The protests started last week after the death of a young woman who was reportedly escaping an Iranian official attempting to rape her. (via TheTower.org)

 

The environmental engineers who founded the Israeli company BreezoMeter were invited to meet US President Barack Obama at the White House on Monday, along with about 100 other forward-thinking young entrepreneurs, half from the United States and half from other countries. BreezoMeter, launched by Zvi Lautman, Ran Korber, Revital Hendler and Emil Fisher in February last year, pioneered the world’s first real-time, location-based air quality and health recommendation platform for consumers and businesses. A free mobile app was introduced several months later. “We are very excited to tell you that only four weeks after the United Nations recognized BreezoMeter as a company that ‘can contribute to address today’s social and environmental challenges, through new groundbreaking ideas that can become successful business,’ we were invited to take part at the Global Emerging Entrepreneurs Event at the White House on Monday, May 11th,” BreezoMeter posted on Facebook. This Washington event comes ahead of Obama’s trip to July’s Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Kenya “and provides a unique opportunity to galvanize global attention on emerging women and young entrepreneurs,” according to a White House statement. The statement explained that the event is intended “to highlight the importance of investing in women and young entrepreneurs to create innovative solutions to some of the world’s toughest challenges, including poverty, climate change, extremism, as well as access to education and healthcare.” Using big-data analytics that allow for gathering air quality and weather data from thousands of sources together with unique algorithms, BreezoMeter tracks and interprets the level of air quality, right down to street level. (via Israel21c)


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