At the Herzliya Conference on Tuesday a panel of experts discussed what the Middle East will look like after a deal is reached with Iran on its nuclear program, and warned that the Islamic regime will decisively outmaneuver the West in negotiations.
Shabtai Shavit, former head of Israel's secret intelligence organization the Mossad, noted in the panel that the art of bartering and negotiating is a deeply-ingrained facet of Iranian culture, giving Iran an insurmountable advantage in talks with America regarding its nuclear program.
"Their patience is much greater than the patience of Western negotiators," he said, as the talks' June 30 deadline looms. "They will exhaust the Americans, they will squeeze them."
Shavit, who is Chairman of the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) at IDC Herzliya, said that Iran knows US President Barack Obama is desperate to make a nuclear agreement with the Islamic republic part of his "legacy."
That desire will play right into Iran's hands, according to Shavit, who warned the Shi'ite nation which is the leading state sponsor of terrorism will use Obama's sense of urgency to extract more concessions.
Iran is patient not only at the negotiating table but also at its nuclear facilities, he warned, saying, "as time goes by and the world is busy with other problems, there will be less attention paid to them/ A radical Shi'ite leader with his hand on the nuclear trigger is a mind-boggling proposition."
Regarding the positions that Iran may seek to force through, the Islamic regime has adamantly demanded all sanctions be removed immediately upon the signing of a deal, and also said it will use advanced centrifuges as soon as a deal is reached – both positions directly oppose American statements.
"Iran will be more aggressive"
Also taking part in the panel was Prof. Uzi Arad, former Head of the National Security Council and former National Security Adviser to the Prime Minister.
Arad claimed that Iran will bear the brunt of the pressure in a nuclear deal, saying "the one taking the greatest risk is, in fact, Iran. A few years ago, no one considered attacking it, not Saudi Arabia or any Arab state. Now it is threatened by all of the countries they used to threaten."
As far as what Israel's plan of action should be regarding the deal, Arad said it must "first and foremost, rectify relations with the Americans and take steps to try to improve the agreement. And if it's already signed, we need a strategic dialogue to reinforce cooperation and renew the memorandums of understanding."
Meir Javedanfar, of the Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy and Strategy at IDC Herzliya, argued that a deal lifting sanctions on Iran will not per se provide the Shi'ite state with funds to use for terrorist activity throughout the region.
He stated that Iran's total expenditure now is around $4.6 billion, which only makes up 1.4% of its budget, meaning a new influx of funds will not have a major influence on the Islamic regime's ability to fund terrorist groups from Hezbollah in Lebanon, to Hamas in Gaza and the Houthis in Yemen.
"Iran will be more aggressive after a deal, but it won't be because of the money," Javedanfar said.
That assessment of Iran's rising aggression was shared by Dr. Tamara Cofman Wittes, Director and Senior Fellow at the Center for Middle East Policy of the Brookings Institute – she argued that Iran's increase in aggression will occur regardless of whether a deal is reached or not.
She also warned that talk of improved relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia in the face of a common enemy in Tehran are likely unfounded, and there is no reason to hope for a burgeoning alliance.
Recent reports on secret talks between Israel and Saudi Arabia precisely show that the talks are not advancing, said Cofman Wittes.
"On the Saudi side, this dialogue was revealed now precisely because it is not getting traction with the current Saudi government," she said. "We have to understand revelation of public revelation as failure of private influence."