Banafsheh Keynoush

  • Building on Past Experience, Iran Leads the Waltz With the US

    During 2013, Iran seized on a rare opportunity to talk directly with the United States for a new round of nuclear negotiations. European countries speaking at the time to Iran to cap its nuclear program asked the US, which had been part of the nuclear talks since 2006, to join in fresh discussions with Iran. The P5+1 talks that followed between Iran and the US—along with Britain, China, France, Germany, and Russia—came with a promise that the countries would not tighten the multilateral sanctions regime against Tehran if an agreement was reached. The arrangement led to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

    Iran was enticing the US to talk once again this past month, by withdrawing some of its obligations under the nuclear deal in May. The two countries had a falling out after US President Donald Trump pulled...

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  • Saudi Arabia and Iran Are Adapting to Perpetual Conflict

    When rogue intelligence officers at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul killed journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018, an official of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) voiced concern over the surge of US media onslaught on Saudi Arabia. Echoing Iran’s conspiratorial views of the United States, the IRGC official questioned if Washington was planning to undermine Riyadh. He then insisted that Tehran would denounce such moves. 

    Iran is charged with interfering in Saudi Arabia’s internal affairs, but Tehran appears to want Riyadh to keep a firm hold on power. The rapid deterioration of regional security has muted Iran’s desire to watch rival Arab states collapse. There is a realization that the potential rise of jihadists in Saudi Arabia, if the kingdom were to fall, could also destabilize Iran. In a similar vein, in Riyadh—per conversations this author has had—there is concern that the kingdom would have to pay a heavy price if a war erupted with...

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