Iran deal puts Christians at risk in Middle East

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By Mark P. Arabo |
Let’s be clear about something before discussion of the unforeseen consequences of the nuclear deal with Iran. This is a rotten deal for America, for American interests and for our strongest partner in the Middle East – Israel. The criteria for a good deal with Iran would be one that 1) prevents Iran from becoming a nuclear power and 2) dismantles a sizable part of its nuclear infrastructure. This does neither fully.

The question that many in our community and throughout the Middle East are faced with is simple: Where does this leave Christianity?

Israel from the beginning of the campaign against Christians by ISIS has stepped up to provide humanitarian assistance in numerous forms. Countless Israeli envoys have come to the assistance of displaced Christians by providing financial resources, supplies, blankets and day-to-day necessities for those left in displacement camps

Iran, on the other hand, has actually benefited from the rise of ISIS. Since the growth of ISIS, Iran has used ISIS victories to leverage its own geopolitical influence in the region. Iran’s campaign to defeat ISIS merely serves its treacherous agenda as it allows Iran to assert dominance in a region whose turmoil has created a power vacuum. Its contribution is not one of principle, but of opportunism.

The facade of conflict between Iran and ISIS serves each other’s interests mutually. The American deal with Iran will effectively strengthen the sentiment that Sunni Muslims have become disenfranchised and isolated by an enemy in the United States and Iran. As Hassan Hassan, Middle East analyst and associate fellow at the Chatham House, pointed out, “ISIS will benefit from this deal; segments of the Sunni population will see Iran as having won and brought in from the dark.” ISIS for all intents and purposes has morphed into one of the only protectors of Sunnis in Iraq and Syria. And with a stronger ISIS comes greater risk for more death in its genocidal campaign to rid the Middle East of Christians.

Quite simply, the deal leaves Christians vulnerable, silenced and rendered powerless by the world’s new great threat – Iran. The accord did not simply affect Iran’s nuclear status. It grants Iran the ability to attain massive amount of ballistic missiles and conventional weapons within a short time span. With the urgency to attain advanced weaponry comes an impending arms race between the powers of the Middle East. Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia have made indications of bulked defenses since the emergence of an unhinged Iran.

Iran and its theocratic leadership are an extension of evil. It is manifested in their rhetoric and in their action. It should not be enough for the United States to establish a constructive relationship with Iran based off their intention to do right. Instead, the merits of a diplomatic relationship should be contingent on Iran’s previous ability to act on that which is right. This can only be determined by historical precedent, of which Iran has none.

Israel is an extension of the democratic values that guide the United States. Any measures taken by foreign nations to minimize the role of our greatest ally should be met with conflict, not open arms. Iran, as a nation is one of the foremost sponsors of terrorism throughout the globe. With this agreement, Iran will come into reach of $57 billion because of lifted sanctions. Our own administration has acknowledged that a portion of these funds will go to support terrorist activities.

And the ultimate victims to instability brought on by this deal are easily identifiable. They are the Christians. They are religious and ethnic minorities. They are those that, since the rise of ISIS and Islamic fundamentalism, have seen their influence marginalized and their chance at living a free life diminished. To add the toxicity of an armed Iran darkens the future for Christianity in the region, as well as Israel.

The political institution of Iran was an animal with bark. This deal, it seems, has now given Iran the leverage to bite. And, if history is any indication of our future, then Christians throughout the Middle East face one of the final nails in the coffin. As a Christian and as a representative for Iraqi Christians, I call on all of our delegates to oppose this rotten deal.

Arabo, a local business leader, is spokesman for Minority Humanitarian Foundation.