• Iran Postpones Key Bank Reforms Over Fate of the Iran Deal

    A priority for those in Iran seeking re-integration into the international economy has been banking reforms that conform to globally accepted standards.

    But hardline factions oppose the reforms as surrender to US-led financial institutions and their views have been reinforced by the US decision to unilaterally leave the Iran nuclear deal.

    On June 10, the parliament postponed for at least two months approval of key legislation establishing safeguards against financing terrorism and money laundering required for Iran to join the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a Paris-based international financial watchdog institution. This decision could have a negative impact at the next FATF plenary June 24-29 where members will decide whether to keep Iran on a “gray list” of transgressors or put it back on a “black list” with North Korea.

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  • How Recent Protests Could Revive Ahmadinejad’s Fortunes in Iran

    Until recently, few observers inside or outside Iran gave much weight to the notion of a comeback for discredited former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

    The disqualification of Ahmadinejad and his former top aide, Esfandiyar Rahim Mashaei, for the presidency in 2017, followed by the arrests of Mashaei and former vice president Hamid Baghaei on charges of corruption and misuse of public funds, seemed to signal the complete defeat of Ahmadinejad’s  “deviant current” (Jaryan-e enhefari), the label that conservative factions had given to his group.

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  • The Art of the (Russian-Israeli) Deal

    On June 1, Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vasily Nebenzya told the press that he “believes” that his country and Israel reached an agreement regarding “certain disengagement in the southwest of Syria.” Other sources reported that the agreement will include the withdrawal of Iranian and Iranian-backed forces from the Syrian-Israeli border in return for implicit Israeli acceptance of the Syrian forces’ redeployment there. More speculative reports even suggested that Russia promised to look the other way during future Israeli attacks in Syria, as long as Jerusalem commits not to target Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.

    The Russian ambassador’s statement was the only formal recognition that such an agreement was reached.

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  • Trump’s Iran Policy: From the Art of the Deal to the Mirage of Regime Change

    US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo used his first speech in his new position on May 21, 2018, to send a message to the Iranian leadership and people.

    Pompeo laid out twelve demands including ending Iran’s ballistic missiles development, halting support for Lebanese Hezbollah and Palestinian groups including Hamas, allowing nuclear inspectors "unqualified access to all sites throughout the country,” shutting down Iran’s uranium enrichment program, ending involvement in Syria and Iraq and disarming Shi’ite militias.

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  • Cracks in Iran-Russia Alliance in Syria Widen as War Winds Down

    As the Syrian government increasingly consolidates control over its territory after seven years of civil strife, cracks are widening between its key external supporters, Iran and Russia.

    The issue of Syria’s future has generated a heated debate among political elites in Tehran and in Farsi media over Iran’s continued military presence and how it can leverage its expenditure of blood and treasure to preserve its strategic and economic interests.

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  • US Withdrawal from Iran Deal Hits Young Iranians Hard

    When Iran reached a landmark nuclear agreement with the international community in 2015, Iranian youth were especially happy.

    After struggling with sanctions and isolation for many years, young people hoped their country was entering a new chapter in which it would be seen as a constructive actor on the international stage. They were proud of Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, a seasoned diplomat and negotiator, and believed that economic growth would return and that their society would become more politically open.

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  • US Asian Allies Should Take a More Active Role in Preserving the Iran Deal

    In negotiating the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the Barack Obama administration had goals beyond non-proliferation. It was seeking to “pivot” to Asia and to reduce US military involvement in the Persian Gulf that dates back to the 1979 Iranian revolution and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

    This goal, which was ennunciated before Obama took office in the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review, reflected US concern about a rising China, the huge costs of the Iraq and Afghan wars, as well as a desire to benefit from more interaction with the fastest growing economies in the world.

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  • Debate Heats up in Iran over Leaving the Nuclear Deal

    Since President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the Iran nuclear agreement on May 8, political debates in Tehran over leaving or remaining a party to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) have become increasingly tense.

    The twelve steep demands outlined by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on May 21 as supposed ingredients for a “better” deal have further fueled what is shaping up as a revival of the power struggle within Iran’s complex and opaque political structure.

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  • ‘Futsal’ and the Politics of Women’s Sports in Iran

    Iranian women have excelled in the sport of “futsal,” a variation of soccer played on a smaller, hard court. The Iranian team in May 2018 reconfirmed its top position in Asian futsal, winning the championship match 5-2 over Japan with a dazzling five goals in the second half.

    Success in the sport has brought pride to Iranian women and shown that it is possible to empower women within an Islamic framework. It has also underlined controversy over the government’s treatment of women athletes and fans, in particular the continued ban on women attending sports events in stadiums where men are also present.

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  • Slavin in Axios: Pompeo’s Mission Impossible on Iran

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