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Iran’s menace is reshaping the Middle East

Bin Salman with Erdogan in June: unlikely pals. Adem Altan/AFP/Getty

International negotiations around Iran’s nuclear programme aren’t going well, says Eva Marie Kogel in Die Welt. Last month, Tehran switched off 27 cameras in its nuclear plants, which are supposed to monitor whether activities are “strictly civilian” in nature. If they aren’t, Iran could have a working nuclear bomb in about a year. Faced with this prospect – and with America’s withdrawal from the region – Middle Eastern leaders are “taking matters into their own hands”, and forging alliances that would once “have been dismissed as absurd fantasies”.

Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan travelled to Saudi Arabia in April, and publicly hugged Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the very same man who ordered the beheading of a Saudi dissident in Istanbul in 2018. Israel is now connected to the United Arab Emirates by direct flights and a trade agreement – a situation “unthinkable” only a few years ago. Even Israel and the Saudis are cautiously courting: MBS has described Israel as a “political partner”, and in February the two nations carried out joint naval exercises with America and Oman. Whatever happens with the Iran deal, it’s led to a veritable bonfire of diplomatic taboos in the Middle East. The era of “ideological trench warfare” is ending. “All it took was an enemy that everyone could really agree on.”