Middle East Security Initiative

  • Sixty-Five Years On: Iran Regime Change Advocates Haven’t Learned from Coup

    The Trump administration’s policy toward Iran aims for regime change. Possibly US President Donald Trump dreams of reaching some bold deal with the current leadership of Iran, but he has not laid out any feasible route to one. The administration’s dominant hope instead seems to be that stepped-up economic pressure will somehow lead disaffected Iranians to rise up against their rulers. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s most recent speech on Iran was essentially a call to do just that. 

    Earlier this year, Pompeo enumerated a list of demands on Iran so sweeping that they seem designed—like the demands that Austria-Hungary placed on Serbia in 1914—to be rejected. Sixty-five years ago this month occurred the one instance in which the United States was involved in a change of regime in Iran: the ouster in August 1953 of Prime...

    Read More
  • How US Sanctions Impede the Women’s Movement in Iran

    While the world’s attention was on US President Donald Trump’s Twitter war with Tehran the other week, some good news in Iran escaped notice. A group of women’s rights activists arrested in front of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs on International Women’s Day were acquitted, after initially being charged for planning and participating in a protest on the economic situation of women. Many feared the mass arrests would result in heavy sentences and be used as a justification to crackdown on rights defenders who have slowly managed to rebuild the Iranian women’s movement over the last few years.

    The acquittal of the twenty-one activists seemed to confirm that part of the security apparatus isn’t fully intent on cracking down on women’s...

    Read More
  • Iran’s Turbulent Future

    The news coming out of Iran these days tells the story of a country in crisis. The economy is sliding towards collapse, even before the first round of US sanctions were reinstated on August 6. Nationwide protests are calling for regime change—a dirty word in Tehran up until recently. The Iranian government and its military leaders speak openly about looming conflicts. Ironically, only a few months ago, there were talks of Iran as a rising regional power in an otherwise volatile Middle East.

    So what are the major factors working against the Iranian government?

    Read More
  • The Saudi Arabia-Canada Feud, Explained

    Saudi Arabia and Canada have found themselves in the middle of a diplomatic crisis, which threatens to end all diplomatic and economic contacts between the two countries. Saudi Arabia expelled the Canadian Ambassador in Riyadh on August 6, after Canada’s Foreign Minister, Chrystia Freeland, called for the release of Saudi human rights activist Samar Badawi on August 2.

    Canada has refused so far to revoke its statements of support for Badawi and her brother Raif Badawi, prompting Saudi Arabia to increase its response on August 8. Samar Badawi is known for her advocacy on women’s rights in Saudi Arabia; her brother remains in jail, and his family has been living in exile in Canada after being imprisoned in Saudi Arabia for promoting religious tolerance.

    Read More
  • Trump and Iran: Nostalgia for Better Bumblers

    It’s a truism that every president makes us nostalgic for his predecessor. In the case of Iran, US President Donald Trump and his men are outdoing the bumbles and fumbles of Reagan, the two Bushes, Clinton, and Obama, while making those earlier presidents appear as far-seeing statesmen.

    Earlier presidents at least knew Iran was a trap. They saw how Iran had destroyed Jimmy Carter’s presidency and almost did the same to Ronald Reagan’s. Although it proved impossible, their preference—at least until Barack Obama—was to ignore Iran.

    Read More
  • Keeping Rouhani Honest: Has Iran’s President Fulfilled His Promises?

    Today marks the fifth anniversary of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s inauguration on August 3, 2013. Many campaign promises were made during Rouhani’s 2013 and 2017 presidential runs. ASL19, a technology and research group working on freedom of expression and access to information in Iran, has been tracking Rouhani’s full-fledged promises over the years. Similar to PolitiFact’s Trump-O-Meter, Rouhani Meter monitors all one hundred promises, which includes: ending the house arrest of the Green Movement leaders, banking reform, providing security for women in public places, supporting start-up initiatives, attracting $8 billion in foreign direct investment, lifting of non-nuclear sanctions, and lowering the inflation rate.

    Read More
  • Uskowi Joins Sky News Arabia to Discuss the State of Political Affairs in Iran


    Read More
  • Back to the Future Off Hormuz

    “If they impose sanctions on Iran's oil exports, then even one drop of oil cannot flow from the Strait of Hormuz.''

    After a long week of Iran headlines – US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo laying out the administration’s Iran strategy, Presidents Trump and Rouhani trading implicit threats of war, Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force (IRGC-QF) Commander Qassem Suleimani addressing Trump by name in a speech - one might be forgiven for mistaking the above as a recent quote.

    Read More
  • Back to the Future Off Hormuz

    “If they impose sanctions on Iran's oil exports, then even one drop of oil cannot flow from the Strait of Hormuz.''

    After a long week of Iran headlines – US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo laying out the administration’s Iran strategy, Presidents Trump and Rouhani trading implicit threats of war, Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force (IRGC-QF) Commander Qassem Suleimani addressing Trump by name in a speech - one might be forgiven for mistaking the above as a recent quote.

    But that threat is actually from 2012, when Iranian Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi decried Obama administration...

    Read More
  • First Wave of Resumed Iran Sanctions Targets Automobiles, Currency, Gold

    As part of the United States’ withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the US Treasury Department will restore sanctions on a number of key Iranian sectors and activities on August 6.

    Here’s what you need to know about this set of sanctions:

    What is the JCPOA?
    The JCPOA or Iran nuclear deal is a 159-page document agreed to on July 14, 2015 by the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council—Britain, China, France, Russia, and the United States—plus Germany with Iran. It traded curbs on Iran’s nuclear program for sanctions relief from the European Union, United States, and United Nations. The JCPOA went into implementation on January 16, 2016.

    Read More