But to Iranians and Iran-watchers the March 13 meeting marked a historical moment. The image of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani seated with Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif graced the front pages of almost every Iranian newspaper the next day.
Based on this authority, Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, appointed Ebrahim Raisi as the new chief justice on March 7.
One policy issue that has caused a great deal of controversy among Iran’s ruling elite is whether to implement requirements of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on money laundering, terrorism financing and transnational organized crime.
The timing was suspect as well. Zarif decided to leave office just as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad made a completely unexpected visit to Tehran which was quite unbeknownst to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, according to sources in Tehran. To reporters who asked him about the news, Zarif responded, “After the pictures of today meetings, Javad Zarif has no more credibility in the world as the foreign minister.”
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) has viewed Asia as part of “Saudi Arabia’s visionfor the future.” His trip across Asia this month had a short-term goal as well: repairing a public image badly damaged by the Yemen war and the gruesome murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
In addition to withdrawing from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in May 2018, expanding extensive trade sanctions, and severely restricting travel to the US by Iranians, the Trump White House “has also accelerated a secret American program to sabotage Iran’s missiles and rockets,” according to a recent report in The New York Times.
This argument has become one of the main rationales behind Washington’s “maximum pressure” policy against Iran. By re-imposing economic sanctions against Iran, the Trump administration aims to push the Islamic Republic to decrease its regional activities by severely cutting its financial resources, especially oil revenues.
As a child of an Iranian immigrant growing up in rural Kentucky, American sports were a rite of passage. Even though soccer would eventually become my passion, I quickly fell in love with America’s triumvirate of sporting traditions: baseball, basketball and football.