• 2021-01-28

    In a stunning interview to the Beirut-based al Mayadeen network, Hezbollah’s secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah has outlined how Maj Gen Qassem Soleimani – assassinated by an American drone strike at Baghdad airport a litle over a year ago – was instrumental in convincing Russia to help Syria militarily in its war against Salafi-jihadis.

  • 2021-01-28

    Middle East. Jewish Insider first reported last week that President Joe Biden was considering appointing Malley, a veteran diplomat and CEO of the International Crisis Group, as a special envoy to Iran. The rumors set off a smear campaign among hawks who oppose diplomatic engagement with the Iranian government. 

  • 2021-01-28

    This paper attempts to explore the cost-benefit calculations which would drive Moscow’s decisions in a US-Iran war scenario. In the first section, we analyze the possible benefits Moscow might derive from an open conflict emerging between the US and Tehran, while in the second we consider the downsides of such a scenario for Russian interests. The paper analyzes the implications of these benefits and costs on Russian Middle East policy. We argue that Moscow’s losses in such a war would be threatening to Russia’s core interests in the Middle East, and thus is probably the key factor defining the Russian response strategy.

  • 2021-01-27

    The U.S. needs to make fundamental changes to its security efforts in the Persian/Arab Gulf and the Middle East. The U.S. has done more to destabilize Gulf security over the last four years than to establish a stable structure of deterrence and defense. At the same time, the threat in the region has evolved far beyond extremist groups, such as ISIS, and past assessments of Iran’s nuclear weapons efforts. If the Biden Administration is to succeed in creating a new structure of deterrence and defense in the Gulf, it must look beyond extremism and issues like the Israeli-Palestinian peace process – important as they are. It must rebuild and strengthen its security partnerships with Arab states and address a wide range of new security issues. There are no easy, “good,” or simple solution to these challenges, and many will require years of patient efforts meant simply to contain the problems involved, rather than to solve them. The U.S. does, however, have a wide range of options, and it can make progress in many areas. There is still much to build upon even if the Biden Administration acts promptly and consistently to address the full range of challenges involved. 

  • 2021-01-27

    Iran has threatened to block nuclear inspections next month, and further increased production of fuel that could be enriched for use in bombs. It has seized an American ally’s cargo ship. And it has incarcerated yet another American citizen on spying charges. These are just some of the steps Iran has taken in recent weeks in what is seen as part of an increasingly impatient strategy to pressure President Biden, who has said he wants to reverse many actions taken by his predecessor, Donald J. Trump. Those reversals include returning to the 2015 Iranian nuclear accord, abandoned by Mr. Trump, which had severely constrained Iran’s nuclear program. Iran’s adversaries have long seen that program as a path toward the country building nuclear weapons, but Tehran insists that it has always been intended only for peaceful purposes.

  • 2021-01-27

    Senior Iranian officials have dismissed Israel's recent threat of "offensive options" against the Islamic Republic as desperate “psychological warfare,” mostly meant to prevent a possible US return to the 2015 nuclear deal. Israel's army chief of staff, Lieutenant General Aviv Kochavi, said on Tuesday that the regime's military was revising its attack plans against Iran, claiming that any US return to the Iran nuclear deal would be “wrong.” Kochavi said that he had instructed the military “to prepare a number of operational plans, in addition to those already in place” against Iran, adding, “It will be up to the political leadership, of course, to decide on implementation but these plans need to be on the table.” 

  • 2021-01-26

    From the Iranian government’s perspective, any war with a foreign country—especially one that is a close partner with the U.S. and militarily strong on their own—would be devastating at this point. It is clear that Iran’s government, while intent to continue sponsoring non-state actors across the Middle East to advance its strategic objectives, is not interested in full-scale war. The findings of a 2010 study still hold true today and are echoed by most analysts. “Iranian military doctrine is primarily defensive in nature and based on deterring perceived adversaries.” [22] Iran will very likely rely on its proxy allies (Lebanese Hezbollah, Afghanistan’s Fatemiyoun Division etc.) in order to project its power and deter others from attacking its territory. Iran will engage in subversion, deception, and covert operations against its perceived adversaries since they are low-cost, high-yield strategies [23]. Iranian leadership cannot succeed through direct confrontation against its regional adversaries and beyond, but must take a more indirect approach by creating confusion and disinformation about their capabilities and real intentions.

  • 2021-01-26

    Blinken does not seem to have repented from his fundamentalist belief in American imperial goodness, notwithstanding his appeal for “humility”. Barring an earthquake in Washington, Antony Blinken is set to become the new U.S. Secretary of State and America’s top diplomat. The youthful and telegenic Blinken (58) takes over from Mike Pompeo who was America’s representative to the world under the last Trump administration. 

  • 2021-01-25

    Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah recounts how assassinated Iranian General Qassim Soleimani held a two-hour long meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin and convinced him to militarily enter the war in Syria in support of the government in Damascus and its allies.

  • 2021-01-21

    Each crisis represents a major US foreign-policy challenge, but all will likely receive less attention from the new American administration than another pressing issue in the region: Iran’s recent nuclear advances. That was the consensus of five Arab, Israeli, and American experts gathered for a virtual discussion on January 20 that coincided with Joe Biden’s inauguration as the 46th president of the United States. The panel—moderated by Kirsten Fontenrose, the director of the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Middle East Security Initiative—was part of the Council’s 2021 Global Energy Forum. 

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