• 2020-05-17

    Iran's foreign minister on Sunday warned the US against deploying its navy in the Caribbean to disrupt Iranian fuel shipments to Venezuela. In a letter to United Nations chief Antonio Guterres, Mohammad Javad Zarif warned against "America's movements in deploying its navy to the Caribbean in order to intervene and create disruption in the transfer of Iran's fuel to Venezuela," AFP reported.

  • 2020-05-15

    Al-Kadhimi’s first meetings were with the US and Iranian ambassadors in Iraq. He spoke to Presidents Trump and Rouhani where he confirmed that “Iran is a dear friend and Iraq will never forget the support Tehran has offered to the country”. In 2014, Iran was the first to provide Iraq with weapons, training and advisors, when the US failed to deliver weapons Iraq had already purchased. The US preferred to look on as ISIS occupied a third of Iraq. Iran transformed the US threat into an opportunity by imposing itself as a regional power. The US can no longer isolate an Iran that enjoys regional influence in so many countries in the Middle East. Russia and China need to consider Iranian influence when dealing with many Middle Eastern countries. Hashd al-Shaabi and other groups loyal to Iran are a force that can’t be dissolved or ignored in Iraq. Over 41 years Iran has painstakingly built a chain of faithful and dedicated allies in the region, whereas the US has maintained business-type relations based on the coercing of frightened Middle Eastern leaders. These US “clients” understandably cannot be relied upon to support US interests in the region.

  • 2020-05-08

    The United States is adrift in the Middle East. Its actions do not reflect coherent goals or strategies to attain them. The centerpiece of the Trump administration’s approach to the region is its so-called “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran, a failed policy that has ceded ground to Russia and China and put the U.S. at risk. At the same time, the response from hawkish Democrats is equally problematic. Instead of these two paths, the next U.S. administration should consider an approach that focuses on sustained engagement with all regional powers.

  • 2020-05-08

    Importantly, America’s traditional regional partners should not feel abandoned by improved U.S.-Iran relations. To the contrary, a diplomacy-first U.S. Middle East policy can lead to regional cooperation and long-term stability. The U.S. can use its enhanced leverage to help realize a long imagined regional cooperation system between Iran, Iraq, and the six states of the Gulf Cooperation Council. This can be modeled after the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which originated out of a diplomatic process that reduced tensions between the Warsaw Pact and NATO states. Institutionalized dialogue among the Persian Gulf countries will ease the U.S. security burden in the region. Saudi Arabia and Iran will have a forum to communicate their grievances and engage in reciprocal confidence-building measures. Over time, such dialogue can expand to cooperation to resolve various regional conflicts, such as the war in Yemen, and on regionalizing the cost of securing the Persian Gulf. 

  • 2020-05-07

    The drawdown of U.S. military presence in the Middle East, and especially from Saudi Arabia, is a welcome development. However, given this administration’s track record of belligerence towards Iran and its transaction approach towards even its closest security partners, it is hardly surprising that the timing of the move is provoking considerable speculation.

  • 2020-05-07

    The joint resolution passed with bipartisan support, with a 55-45 vote in the senate in February, and a 227-186 vote in the House in March. After gathering cobwebs for nearly two months, it finally reached the resolute desk on Wednesday, where it was promptly vetoed. This is the second war powers resolution that Donald Trump has vetoed, following the one on Yemen from March of last year. 

  • 2020-04-27

    Since the global Covid-19 pandemic began, a cluster of U.S. think tanks has been aggressively lobbying the Trump administration to escalate militarily toward Iran and tighten U.S. sanctions. This push has come despite warnings that such sanctions are worsening the death toll of Iran’s outbreak, which is one of the worst in the world. The think tanks leading this effort—the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) and American Enterprise Institute (AEI)—have cranked out non-stop statements, research documents, videos and media appearances since the crisis began. They are not shouting into the wind, but speaking directly to an administration that has proven willing to act upon their words. 

  • 2020-04-24

    On 22 April, Iran successfully launched its first military satellite, Noor, using the new Qased Space Launch Vehicle (SLV). With the launch of the Qased, Iran has unveiled its parallel space program run by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard’s Corps (IRGC) for the first time. While fears about Iran’s previous space launches serving as cover for ICBM development have been vastly overblown, there are strong indications that Iran’s emerging IRGC track does indeed represent a hedging strategy aimed at acquiring long-range ballistic missile technology.

  • 2020-04-23

    A group of fifty experts and former officials signed a letter on Thursday asking U.S. President Donald Trump to “double down” on economic sanctions against Iran.

  • 2020-04-23

    Listen to America’s imperial proconsuls long enough and they often let slip something approaching truth — perhaps exceptionalist confession is more accurate. Take Admiral Craig S. Faller, commander of U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), with responsibility for all of Latin America. Just before the COVID-19 crisis shifted into full gear, on March 11 he testified before the House Armed Services Committee and admitted, “There will be an increase in the U.S. military presence in the hemisphere later this year.” Naturally, admiral, but why? Well, if one can push past the standard, mindless military dialectics — i.e. “bad guys” — the admiral posits a ready justification: Russia and (most especially) China. With his early career molded in the last, triumphalist Reagan-era Cold War, Faller may be a true believer in new dichotomies that must feel like coming home for the 1983 Naval Academy graduate. Before the committee, he described China, Russia, Iran, Cuba, and Venezuela as “malign state actors” who constitute “a vicious circle of threats.” Faller is right about the circle, but it is his own country that produces it.