The Confused Person’s Guide to the Iran Deal

How the Arab Street views the agreement, in one simple diagram

A labyrinth of "Persian Streets" in Yazd, Iran (Caren Firouz / Reuters)

In recent days, some Arab leaders have warned darkly about the consequences of the new nuclear agreement with Iran. But how controversial is the deal in Arab countries, really? How do Arabs feel?

As ever in situations like this, the media has proven indispensable in capturing what the “Arab Street” thinks about the deal. In The Independent, Robert Fisk went a step further and tried to imagine what Arabs think based on his long experience in the region, arguing with typical nuance and subtlety that “the Arabs at least will suspect the truth: that the Americans have taken the Shia Muslim side in the Middle East’s sectarian war.”

To investigate these portrayals of the Arab view of the deal, journalists affiliated with the Institute of Internet Diagrams spent hours in the legendary Arab Street itself. As every foreign reporter in the region knows, the best way to get to the Arab Street is to get in a taxi anywhere in the Arab world and ask to be driven to “the street.” (Don’t say the “Arab Street,” because it’s assumed.)

The Arab Street is not as grand as you might imagine. It’s quite narrow and crowded, but it’s full of life, and the scent of spices wafts across it at regular intervals to ensure foreign correspondents are in the right frame of mind. Head straight to the busiest café; booking a table in advance will give customers time to put on traditional clothes for a more authentic feel.

Word on the Arab Street is that Barack Obama signed a nuclear deal with Iran so that he can extract concessions over Syria in return for Iran being allowed to control Iraq and for which it has to rein in the Houthis in Yemen to pacify the Saudis and simultaneously restrain Kurdish ambitions thus easing Turkey’s anxiety about Kurdish independence as an incentive for it to cooperate regionally allowing both Saudi Arabia and Turkey to come on board with Obama’s plan for Israel/Palestine which will also appease Egypt allowing it to play a bigger role in Libya to control the southern shores of the Mediterranean reducing migrant flows into Europe to ease the pressure on Greece and Italy for which Europe agrees to soften its stance against Russia allowing for a solution in Ukraine that allows NATO to maintain a presence in the East without threatening Russia which will be rewarded by removing the international sanctions against it allowing it to increase its trade with Europe.

The 12 steps should be self-evident, but please consult the Arab Street for further information. Click here to expand. (Karl Sharro / Institute of Internet Diagrams)

If this sounds a bit complicated, fear not: The Institute of Internet Diagrams has prepared the diagram above, which illustrates the process about to be set in motion by the Iran deal. The various agreements, quid pro quos, and tradeoffs have been broken down into a simple 12-step process.

For balance, another team has been dispatched to the Persian Street to assess the mood there. They will try to answer critical questions such as: How many people are dancing in the streets? Are there more people dancing in the streets than there were in April, when the interim deal with Iran was announced? What kind of dancing is occurring? And how wide are the Iranians’ smiles?

Oddly, the Institute’s repeated attempts to get a U.S.-based reporter to do an article on the reaction of the American Street to the Iran deal have been met with refusal, and the insistence that “there is no such thing.” Alas, journalism in the United States seems to be lagging behind foreign reporting.