• 2020-11-14

    The New York Times is publishing a misleading report on its front page that further raises the risk that Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu could provoke a conflict with Iran during the Trump administration’s final 66 days. Unnamed “intelligence officials” have just told the Times that “Al-Qaeda’s second-highest leader,” Abu Muhammad al-Masri, was “gunned down on the streets of Tehran” in August, “by Israeli operatives at the behest of the United States.” 

  • 2020-11-13

    Israeli agents shot Abu Muhammad al-Masri on the streets of Tehran at the behest of the U.S., officials said, but no one — Iran, Al Qaeda, the U.S. or Israel — has publicly acknowledged the killing.

  • 2020-11-11

    Both France and the U.K. — along with Germany, Russia, China, and the European Union — remain supporters of the Iran nuclear deal that Trump ditched in 2018. Negotiated under President Barack Obama’s administration, in which Biden served as vice president, the deal is officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The Financial Times had reported earlier Tuesday: “Mr. Biden has said he will return to the multi-party 2015 deal that limited Iran’s nuclear program, as long as Iran also returns to strict compliance, as a “starting point for follow-on negotiations.” But while the president-elect has promised to offer Iran “a credible path back to diplomacy,” the task is fraught with complexity and Biden advisers are playing down expectations of a deal.” [...] If the U.S. raises issues such as Iranian ballistic missiles or its support for militias in the region — which did not feature as part of the original deal — or Tehran demands compensation for U.S. withdrawal from the accord, then the talks immediately become more difficult.

  • 2020-11-09

    Joe Biden’s projected victory in the 2020 U.S. presidential election could have profound economic, diplomatic and security repercussions for the Islamic Republic. During the campaign, he repeatedly pledged to reenter the Iran nuclear deal that President Obama negotiated in 2015 and President Trump abandoned in 2018, although he suggested it needed to be updated and broadened. “If Iran returns to strict compliance with the nuclear deal, the United States would rejoin the agreement as a starting point for follow-on negotiations,” Biden wrote in an op-ed in September 2020. “With our allies, we will work to strengthen and extend the nuclear deal's provisions, while also addressing other issues of concern.” 

  • 2020-11-09

    During his election campaign, Biden has relied on foreign policy advisors from past administrations, particularly the Obama administration, and seems to be considering some of them for top cabinet posts. For the most part, they are members of the “Washington blob” who represent a dangerous continuity with past policies rooted in militarism and other abuses of power. These include interventions in Libya and Syria, support for the Saudi war in Yemen, drone warfare, indefinite detention without trial at Guantanamo, prosecutions of whistleblowers and whitewashing torture. Some of these people have also cashed in on their government contacts to make hefty salaries in consulting firms and other private sector ventures that feed off government contracts.

  • 2020-11-08

    The effects of Joe Biden’s election as the next president of the United States are certain to reverberate across the world – perhaps nowhere more than in Iran. Many Iranians’ hopes for a better future following the signing of a nuclear accord between Iran and world powers in 2015 were quashed some three years later when US President Donald Trump unilaterally abandoned the landmark deal.

  • 2020-11-04

    It might not be good news for Iran, but Israel is solidifying its foothold in the Middle East, cozying up to more Muslim, Arab nations that have long stopped thinking of the Jewish state as an existential threat. The surprise announcement on the normalization of relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates in August, followed by a similar deal between Israel and Bahrain in September, lifted the veil on the new realities of the region, ushering in fresh alliances and shifting paradigms.

  • 2020-11-03

    Iran has unveiled a regional initiative to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi returned to Tehran in the weekend after a regional tour to Azerbaijan, Russia, Armenia and Turkey to discuss the peace plan. Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has since explained Tehran’s thinking. A report in the Tehran Times on Sunday quoted Zarif as saying, “One of the important points of our country’s initiative is that it is not only seeking a temporary ceasefire but also a move towards resolving the conflicts based on a framework that begins with the declaration of commitment of both sides to a set of principles and then it continues with measures, especially the withdrawal of the occupying forces from all the occupied territories.” 

  • 2020-10-26

    Because of Iran’s shattered economy, strategic culture, and generational commitment to asymmetric warfare, it is unlikely Tehran will seek to build a large conventional military force. To do so would put Iranian capabilities into the forefront and draw more attention to Tehran’s actions. Such a move would be more visible than, say, the acquisition of components to improve ballistic missile guidance and thus more likely to provoke Gulf Arab and U.S. countermeasures. Instead, Iran will do as it always has – seek to quietly develop asymmetric capabilities, ideally built domestically, and only purchase the few items that it cannot make hoping to counter key U.S. military capabilities. Iran will not field a major force of Russian tanks in the near term – instead, it will continue to direct militias while hoping to build ever-widening zones of exclusion to keep U.S. ships and airplanes at bay.

  • 2020-10-25

    Meanwhile, Israel also got a ‘bonus’ from the UAE — virtual consent to set up a full-fledged Mossad station in the Emirates. The extraordinary alacrity with which Israel demanded — and UAE meekly agreed — to a visa free travel regime has no other meaning than that Israeli spooks can now slip in and out of the Persian Gulf unnoticed. In normal curse, visa free travel comes at the fag-end of flourishing economic and business ties, and not to be front-loaded in a brand new relationship.  A Mossad regional station on Emirati soil will be hugely consequential because Israel is bent on destabilising Iran and overthrow Turkey’s president Recep Erdogan. Israel cannot tolerate any regional power with a potential to dwarf it in strategic capabilities. [...]  The big question for regional security in the period ahead is how the arrival of the F-35 in the Persian Gulf would play on the vanities of the Emirati Sheikhs who harbour huge ambitions to become the number one regional power in the Middle East. The UAE already has a military presence as far away as in Libya. It intervened in Yemen and currently occupies a strategic Yemeni island. It showed up in the Syrian conflict supporting al-Qaeda affiliates and other terrorist groups to overthrow the Assad government. It has links with Kurdish separatist groups. It has had close ties with the Taliban in Afghanistan. The UAE and Greece are building up close military ties, with Turkey in their crosshairs. The US promotes this strange relationship to counter Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean.

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