Topic:

Iran

The Tehran Summit and Iran’s Regional Ambitions

| September 20, 2018

The recent Russian-Turkish-Iranian summit in Tehran underscored the Islamic Republic’s determination to take an active and central part in the future reconstruction of Syria so as to promote a range of civilian and security interests that are bound to work to Israel’s detriment.

The North Korean Foreign Minister Visits Tehran

| September 12, 2018

Iran and North Korea are faced with similar challenges posed by the US, particularly since the summit between North Korean leader Kim Jung-un and President Trump. The recent visit of the North Korean foreign minister to Tehran might presage an attempt to covertly retain and transfer cardinal North Korean nuclear and ballistic assets to Iran.

Amid Ethnic Protests, Iran Warns of Foreign Meddling

| August 26, 2018

Iran has raised the specter of a US-Saudi effort to destabilize the country by exploiting economic grievances against the backdrop of circumstantial evidence that Washington and Riyadh are playing with scenarios for stirring unrest among the Islamic Republic’s ethnic minorities.

The Assad Regime Returns to the Golan

| August 15, 2018

The Assad regime’s recapture of the Syrian Golan Heights is advantageous to Israel, in light of the Israeli-Russian understanding to predicate the situation there on the May 1974 disengagement. Even if the new arrangement does not lead to a forty-year-long de facto peace like the one that prevailed prior to the eruption of the Syrian civil war, Assad will need to focus on rebuilding his regime, reconstituting Syria, and ensuring the continuation of Alawite rule. In these circumstances, not only does military confrontation with Israel not entail any conceivable gains but it would likely wreck the regime’s fragile recovery.

The Gulf States: The Weak Link in Sanctions on Iran

| August 13, 2018

The US administration and Congress should address a major loophole in the sanctions regime: the robust financial and economic ties between Gulf States and their Iranian nemesis. This would contribute to Iran’s economic distress as well as its sense of isolation.

Talking to Rouhani: Is Trump Shooting from the Hip or Reading from a Script?

| August 5, 2018

Message to Abu Dhabi, Riyadh, and Tel Aviv: Not to worry. US President Donald J. Trump has no intention of unconditionally meeting his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani. On the contrary: Trump’s surprise announcement that he is willing to talk to Rouhani is likely part of a plan formulated almost a year by National Security Advisor John R. Bolton before he returned to government service.

The Peculiar Chronology of Persistent Nerve Agents

A peculiar chronology can be spotted when examining the milestones marking the history of the development and use of persistent nerve agents around the world. Coincidentally or otherwise, Iran, North Korea, and Russia have all been mentioned in the context of nerve agents in recent years.

How Popular Is Iran in Lebanon?

| August 1, 2018

Iran’s hard power in Lebanon is well-known. At its beck and call is the Hezbollah militia, the powerful military force through which it largely controls the Lebanese state. Its soft power, however, is limited to Lebanon’s Shiites, and even among them it is hardly overwhelming.

Towards an Arab NATO?

| July 27, 2018

The Arab Coalition in Yemen is facing three internal challenges: differences between Abu Dhabi and Riyadh, Qatari meddling, and recent tensions between Saudi Arabia and Morocco. Despite these complications, new developments show that over the long run there is a likelihood of a strategic response to the stalemate in Yemen and to other Iran-related problems in the form of an upgrading of the scattered and divided Arab Coalition into a formal and organized infrastructure similar to NATO.

Iran’s President Rouhani: Part of the Problem, Not Part of the Solution

| July 26, 2018

The controversy surrounding the US withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA) epitomizes the ongoing debate between two contending approaches on the best way to bring about a positive change in Tehran’s Islamist regime and its policies.

Many, including in Israel, identify the (supposedly) moderate President Hassan Rouhani as the best hope for such a change, warning that the
collapse of the nuclear agreement and the reintroduction of international sanctions will play into the hands of the hardliners and weaken Rouhani and the “reformist camp” more generally.

While intriguing, such views are not only unfounded but detrimental to the efforts to pressure Iran to end its domestic repression and external aggression. For one thing, it is international sanctions, not friendly persuasion, that brought Tehran to the negotiating table in the first place. For another, as shown by the popular protests across Iran since early 2018, sustained economic pressure does not weaken the internal Iranian demand for change but rather reinforces it.

While Rouhani’s rhetoric may well sound more moderate than that of the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, his political record, ideological worldview, and actual conduct over the past decades clearly show him to be cut from the same cloth: an unreconstructed revolutionary Islamist. As such, he constitutes a major barrier to real change in both Iran’s domestic situation and its hegemonic foreign policy ambitions.

Worse: due to his seemingly moderate image, Rouhani has succeeded in alleviating international pressure on Tehran at a time when its aggressive activities throughout the region – from terrorism to subversion to military intervention in neighboring states – have only accelerated during his tenure as president.