• 2020-09-19

    The Trump administration has increased criticism and pressure on Iran in recent days: accusing the country of planning assassinations of American diplomats, announcing hacking indictments, preparing unilateral sanctions and denouncing Tehran for interfering in the November election. But the campaign to denigrate and isolate Iran belies Tehran’s current posture. Iran’s supreme leader has blocked any large, direct retaliation to the United States, at least for now, allowing only cyberactivity to flourish, according to American and allied officials briefed on new intelligence reporting.

  • 2020-09-18

    For the first time in ten months, a US aircraft carrier has sailed through the Strait of Hormuz and enters into the waters of the Persian Gulf, as Washington has threatened to illegally extend an expiring arms embargo on Iran. […] The United States regularly sends aircraft carrier groups into the Persian Gulf. But the Nimitz strike group is the first carrier to operate in the Persian Gulf since USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) made the Strait of Hormuz transit in November 2019. This comes just days after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo threatened to enforce an arms embargo and “UN” sanctions against Iran, despite nearly the entire UN Security Council saying Washington does not have the grounds to do so. On Tuesday, Pompeo said that the US would not allow Iran purchasing Chinese and Russian military equipment, despite Iran’s stern warning against Washington’s “dangerous” defiance of international law. "We are going to act in a way -- and we have acted in a way -- that will prevent Iran from being able to purchase Chinese tanks and Russian air defense systems and resell weapons to Hezbollah," Pompeo said. And on Wednesday, Pompeo vowed that the United States would return to the UN to have the sanctions re-imposed on Iran next week.

  • 2020-09-16

    In a bizarre outburst in Washington Post, senior fellow from the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute Danielle Pletka lamented that she may be “forced” to vote for Donald Trump in the upcoming U.S. presidential elections. The reason is her fear that Biden will be a “figure-head president reading from teleprompter words drafted by his party’s hard-left ideologues.” Whatever prompted this level of “epistemic closure,” as CATO’s Emma Ashford politely put it, Biden’s views on Iran certainly do not testify to a “left-ward lurch” of Democratic foreign policy that so worries the likes of Pletka. […] Biden’s rather hawkish article may result from the need the Democrats feel to convince the voters that they are no less “tough” on national security than the Republicans. If elected, he may pursue a more restrained policy. Associating hawkishness with credibility in foreign policy, however, is in itself a symptom of deep malaise that has led the U.S. to excessive entanglements in the Middle East. On evidence of Biden’s views on Iran, there is, for now, little room for hope that that will change.

  • 2020-09-16

    Pompeo tweeted on August 27 that the 30 day period to snapback United Nations Security Council sanctions on Iran comes to an end on September 20, 2020. The tweet was bizarre on several grounds. First, the entire U.N. Security Council (with the notable exception of the Dominican Republic) had made clear that the U.S. did not have standing to initiate the snapback mechanism contained within the Iran nuclear deal since the U.S. no longer was a party to the agreement. Pompeo’s tweet completely disregards the verdict of the vast majority of the Council and pretends as if the 30-day snapback clock had begun. Second, and perhaps more problematic, Pompeo appeared to signal that he intends to enforce the non-existent U.N. sanctions at “midnight GMT on September 20.” Enforcement would entail U.S. warships attacking and confiscating Iranian cargo ships in international waters — as well as non-Iranian vessels suspected of carrying Iranian goods. Pompeo will contend that these measures are not only lawful but also necessary to uphold the (again, non-existent) ruling of the U.N. Security Council.  The vast majority of the international community, as well as the other states in the U.N. Security Council, will forcefully reject the notion that the United States is acting on behalf of the Council and will regard U.S. conduct as unlawful acts of aggression. […]“
    „[…] Pompeo tweeted on August 27 that the 30 day period to snapback United Nations Security Council sanctions on Iran comes to an end on September 20, 2020. The tweet was bizarre on several grounds. First, the entire U.N. Security Council (with the notable exception of the Dominican Republic) had made clear that the U.S. did not have standing to initiate the snapback mechanism contained within the Iran nuclear deal since the U.S. no longer was a party to the agreement. Pompeo’s tweet completely disregards the verdict of the vast majority of the Council and pretends as if the 30-day snapback clock had begun. Second, and perhaps more problematic, Pompeo appeared to signal that he intends to enforce the non-existent U.N. sanctions at “midnight GMT on September 20.” Enforcement would entail U.S. warships attacking and confiscating Iranian cargo ships in international waters — as well as non-Iranian vessels suspected of carrying Iranian goods. Pompeo will contend that these measures are not only lawful but also necessary to uphold the (again, non-existent) ruling of the U.N. Security Council.  The vast majority of the international community, as well as the other states in the U.N. Security Council, will forcefully reject the notion that the United States is acting on behalf of the Council and will regard U.S. conduct as unlawful acts of aggression. 

  • 2020-09-16

    The Islamic Republic has taken a somewhat harsher tone in its reaction to the announcement that Bahrain will normalize relations with Israel than it did to the U.S.-brokered agreement between the United Arab Emirates and Israel, as expressed by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ and the Bahraini Shia opposition based in Iran. What accounts for the nuances in the Islamic Republic’s reaction, and what is the likelihood of Tehran acting upon threats that it has made against Bahrain? 

  • 2020-09-14

    Former diplomats and experts discuss what steps each party should take after the historic White House signing ceremony, and how to bring the Palestinians and other actors into the fold. On September 14, The Washington Institute held a virtual Policy Forum with Ebtesam al-Ketbi, Dore Gold, Barbara Leaf, and David Makovsky. Ketbi is founder and president of the Emirates Policy Center, the UAE’s leading foreign policy and security think tank. Gold is president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and former Israeli permanent representative to the UN. Leaf is the Institute’s Lapidus Fellow and former U.S. ambassador to the UAE. Makovsky is the Institute’s Ziegler Distinguished Fellow and former senior advisor to the State Department’s special envoy for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. The following is a rapporteur’s summary of their remarks.

  • 2020-09-13

    Here's what I would do as President. First, I will make an unshakable commitment to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. Second, I will offer Tehran a credible path back to diplomacy. 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. With our allies, we will work to strengthen and extend the nuclear deal's provisions, while also addressing other issues of concern. This includes working aggressively to free unjustly detained Americans and calling out the regime for its ongoing violations of human rights, including the execution of wrestler Navid Afkari this week and the wrongful detention of political prisoners, such as human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh. And we will work to help our partners reduce tensions and help end regional conflicts, including the disastrous war in Yemen. I will also take steps to make sure US sanctions do not hinder Iran's fight against Covid-19. And on day one, I will repeal Trump's disgraceful travel ban targeting a number of Muslim-majority countries, among others. Third, we will continue to push back against Iran's destabilizing activities, which threaten our friends and partners in the region. Drawing on the record-setting US-Israel security assistance agreement signed when I was Vice President, America will also work closely with Israel to ensure it can defend itself against Iran and its proxies. We will continue to use targeted sanctions against Iran's human rights abuses, its support for terrorism and ballistic missile program. If Iran chooses confrontation, I am prepared to defend our vital interests and our troops. But, I am ready to walk the path of diplomacy if Iran takes steps to show it is ready too. With the world back at America's side, a Biden administration will make it a priority to set Iran policy right.

  • 2020-09-13

    The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) on Saturday strongly condemned the normalization of ties between Bahrain and Israel, saying the Bahraini regime should await a harsh revenge from the country’s freedom-seekers and its Muslim people.

  • 2020-09-13

    Referring to an upcoming Iran, China, and Russia joint exercise, Iran’s Navy Commander said that this 3 world powers’ joint effort conveys the message that they are capable to influence the equations of the World. Addressing the countries who have the illusion of unipolarity and self-managing in the world, Khazandi asserted that the joint effort by Iran, China, and Russia will show that the world is moving towards multipolarization.

  • 2020-09-11

    This week, an IAEA report on Iran’s nuclear program was released and the joint commission under the JCPOA convened its 16th meeting. Also, Iran plans to build a new centrifuge assembly plant after its factory was destroyed and the U.S. military announced a reduction in U.S. troops stationed in Iraq.

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