IranInsight|Showcasing a Multifaceted Iran

Since the 1979 hostage crisis and the seizure of the US embassy in Tehran, US-Iran relations have been largely hostile and stagnant. The exception is the period during the negotiations that led to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Sanctions played a role in convincing Iran to accept stringent curbs on its nuclear program. But nearly 40 years of US sanctions and confrontational policies have not brought the United States and Iran closer into alignment on many other key issues. 

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An alliance of Persian Gulf Arab states, led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, announced on June 5 that it severed ties and closed borders with Qatar, a fellow member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Qatar has a population of 2.6 million and is the world’s richest country per capita -- $138,480, according to the 2015 World Bank rankings. As Bloomberg put it, the move was “unprecedented … [and] designed to punish one of the region’s financial superpowers for its ties with Iran and Islamist groups in the region.”

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By any measure, President Hassan Rouhani reelection with 57 percent of the vote compared to the 37 percent for his opponent, Ebrahim Raisi, was a major triumph. More to the point, the ballot represented a clear choice between two visions of Iran. Rouhani and his moderate followers want Iran to normalize relations with the United States and its Western allies. Raisi and the hardline Principalists want to keep the regime’s engagement with the world to an absolute minimum while pursuing the mandate of exporting the Islamic revolution in the region.

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Washington has doubled down on fighting the Islamic State (ISIS) offshoot in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar Province. Experts have warned that the Islamic State threat remains secondary to a Taliban resurgence. Washington is repeating the mistake of obsessively routing al-Qaeda while ignoring the overall conditions that allowed al-Qaeda to thrive, this time with ISIS.

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Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s newly reelected president, is known for a pragmatic approach on foreign policy. However, his second term will be more challenging as a new alliance against the Islamic Republic is being shaped in the region.

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Iranians celebrated in the streets of their cities this weekend in the aftermath of presidential elections out of relief that the most capable candidate on offer won.

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In a fight for his political life in May 19 elections, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is donning a reformist mantle in an effort to attract the votes of disillusioned youth and to defeat conservatives who have coalesced around a single candidate.

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During the second Iranian presidential debate on May 5, a candidate from the conservative camp raised an issue of great importance and political sensitivity: Iran’s disappearing water reserves.

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Iran’s presidential election campaign has opened an opportunity for rare criticism of the country’s interventionist foreign policies.

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Iran’s incumbent president, Hassan Rouhani, is not only running against 5 people who survived vetting by the Guardian Council. He is also contending with a hostile state-run broadcasting authority.

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