With new U.S. sanctions on Iran due to go into effect Tuesday, Iranians are bracing for the repercussions, while neighboring Arab states are eager to see the sanctions place pressure on their regional nemesis.
Various proxy wars between Shi'ite Iran and the Sunni-Arab Gulf States in places such as Yemen, Syria and Iraq have created a bitter rivalry that has left each side rejoicing at the misfortunes of the other.
Hilal Khashan, who teaches political science at the American University of Beirut, tells VOA that he was surprised by the enthusiasm expressed in some Saudi media over the new sanctions, but that Riyadh is ultimately hoping to resume dialogue with Tehran.
"I was reading the Saudi Al Riyadh newspaper this morning, and they were celebrating the imposition of the sanctions. But at the same time, the Saudis gave the head of the Iranian interests section in Jeddah, along with his team, visas to enter Saudi Arabia, which means the Saudis are interested in engaging the Iranians as well, even if they are reluctant to do so," Khashan said.
Former Iranian President Abolhassan Bani Sadr tells VOA that both the impending sanctions and the ongoing conflict between Iran and its Arab neighbors conjure up bitter memories of the Iran-Iraq War during the 1980s.
He says that the experience of the eight-year war between Iraq and Iran is still fresh in the minds of the Iranian people. If you tell the Iranian people that they have to submit to U.S., British or Russian domination, that is one thing, he says, but if you tell them that they must submit to the orders of the Saudis, that's a more bitter pill to swallow.
Bani Sadr adds that he does not think that U.S. President Donald Trump is the real instigator of the new sanctions, but rather that he is following the lead of the Saudis, the Israelis and the other Gulf monarchs. He claims that many Iranians believe that Arab oil money is cajoling Trump into supporting the Saudis against Iran, and that the Iranian people "consider this to be an unacceptable humiliation."
Trump's executive order reimposing sanctions on Iran is effective Tuesday, including prohibitions on selling gold or U.S. dollars to Iran, sanctions on the country's automotive sector and purchases of jetliners. Exports of drugs, medical devices and foodstuffs are excluded from the list of new sanctions.
Sanctions against Iran were lifted following the 2015 Iran nuclear deal between Tehran and the five permanent U.N. Security Council members, plus Germany. Trump officially withdrew from that agreement on May 8.
Source: Voice of America