The nuclear deal that will lift tough sanctions on Iran is mobilizing Saudi Arabia to turn the tide against its regional rival in Yemen and Syria before it makes an economic recovery, military officials and analysts say.
According to the sources, the military component of the Saudi offensive will include the use of special forces on the ground in Yemen, and a potentially widened use of Saudi and allied Sunni air power in Syria.
The Saudis have signaled their intent to employ ground forces in Yemen previously, but have not done so. But the potential military initiatives, coupled with signs that the Saudis are cultivating better diplomatic ties with Russia and China, would be a strong indication of how the Iran nuclear deal could impact the regional order in the Middle East.
“An Iran without sanctions will pump billions of dollars to its proxies, which are destabilizing Yemen, Syria, and Iraq,” says Jasser al Jasser, managing editor of the pro-government Al Jazeerah daily. “Saudi Arabia will not allow Iran to take advantage of this deal.”
According to the military officials and analysts, the nuclear deal has left the Saudis scrambling to make as many battlefield gains in neighboring states as possible before sanctions are lifted over the next year, potentially leaving Iran flush with more than $100 billion in unfrozen funds and new revenues – resources they say Tehran will use to expand its proxy wars.