Iran Sanctions

  • Mixed Reactions in Iran to Trump’s Maximum Pressure Policy

    Harsh measures by the Trump administration against Iran have largely united Iranian political factions against the United States but have triggered a variety of reactions from ordinary Iranians.

    Some have expressed hope for a more open environment as the government seeks to shore up popularity despite rising prices and diminished economic opportunity. Others believe Iran should stand up to US “bullying” despite the costs.

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  • Iran’s Private Sector: Stuck in the Middle

    The Iranian economy and population are every day feeling the painful effects of US-driven financial pressure aimed at blocking any kind of economic interaction between foreign and Iranian banks and businesses.

    The sanctions’ political aim is to make it harder for the Iranian government to govern and reach its political, military and economic ambitions. But in reality, the sanctions do more harm to the already struggling private sector, which employs a large part of the Iranian workforce, and consequently to average Iranians.

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  • Trump’s Gamble on Iranian Oil Exports May Not Play Out the Way He Expects

    On April 22, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the Trump Administration will not grant any exceptions from sanctions for entities involved in the purchase of petroleum products from Iran. The Trump administration’s apparent decision to compel buyers to zero out their purchases of Iranian oil is likely to have dramatic consequences on the effectiveness of sanctions on Iran and the markets, with the potential to negatively impact both.  

    As another step in President Donald Trump’s May 2018 withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Pompeo’s announcement means that the administration is going further than the sanctions at the height of the pre-JCPOA sanctions regime. The Trump administration will now threaten sanctions against any entity facilitating a significant transaction...

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  • IRGC Designation: A Lost Opportunity to Weaken Hezbollah in Lebanon

    Designating Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO) stirred panic in Lebanon. Hezbollah’s allies in the Lebanese government—such as the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) and Amal—worried they too would soon bear the brunt of American sanctions. But US officials reassured a hastily dispatched delegation of the group’s allies last week that despite the more aggressive stance on Iran, they would suffer no consequences for empowering its primary proxy. In doing so, the United States lost an opportunity to weaken Hezbollah through deterring its allies. 

    Because Hezbollah has enmeshed itself in almost every level of Lebanese government and society, countering its growing strength without harming the integrity of the Lebanese state remains a challenge. Differing but insufficient solutions to this dilemma exist. ...

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  • Trump Policy, Not Sanctions, to Blame for Poor US Response to Iran Floods

    The recent record flooding in Iran has killed dozens, inundated nearly 2,000 villages and cities across Iran, and caused hundreds of millions of dollars of damage to the country’s infrastructure. 

    The Trump administration’s response through the State Department, predictably, has been to offer unspecified support to the Iranian people while at the same time sharply criticizing Tehran for environmental mismanagement that exacerbates the severity of the flooding. Setting aside the accuracy of any such criticism, the ham-handed US response to this natural disaster has again exposed the Trump administration’s inability to execute a nuanced policy. It is clear that the “maximum pressure” campaign and policy mindset are harming the ordinary Iranians that President Donald Trump and his surrogates proclaim to want to help. 

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  • Silicon Valley Preaches Diversity and Inclusion While Excluding Iranians

    Soheila has a monthly routine. At the beginning of each month, she opens the Asan Pardakht app on her iPhone to make gas, phone, and water payments. But on this day, the bill paying application gives her the notification: “Unable to verify app.” Soheila is stuck with unpaid bills. Her only solution is to wait for the next morning to drive to her bank and make individual bank transfers for each of the bills—with a service charge she could have avoided through the app. 

    This extra cost and additional errand to run seems like an implausible inconvenience in 2019, when she seemingly has access to all the devices and internet connections—including circumvention tools—that technology has to offer. Suddenly the expensive iPhone 6s Soheila’s son bought her from abroad two birthdays ago seems to have lost all its shine. The Apple notification and the Telegram messages Soheila receives from friends, who have discovered other inaccessible applications, are making it clear that...

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  • Slavin in Al Monitor: Trump officials warn more Iran sanctions are coming


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  • Gloomy Observations From Iran

    One of the criticisms of Iran analysts usually thrown around on social media is that they haven’t lived in the country, visited it for a long time or speak the language.

    While not as well-known as some analysts, this author speaks the language, lived in Iran for twenty-eight years until two years ago and recently visited the country for forty days—fortunately without any problems entering or leaving. The purpose of this piece is to share what I saw and heard, with one disclaimer: these are my personal observations and when I refer to “Iranians,” I mean the people I talked and interacted with, not the entire 80 million population.

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  • The Warsaw Summit and Effective Multilateralism

    The Trump administration has sought to break out of its international isolation on Iran by pressuring nations to go to Warsaw for a summit on peace and security in the Middle East. But the administration has failed to craft an effective multilateral approach towards Iran based on common concerns and a realistic understanding of what is achievable.

    Despite White House backtracking from an initial expressed aim to focus on Iran, US officials and regional leaders such as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used the occasion to unleash rhetorical barbs against Iran—which was not invited. 

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  • How Iran Has Changed in Forty Years and What the Future Portends

    Iran forty years after its Islamic revolution is facing a grave economic crisis and growing popular discontent. It continues to commit acts that deepen its isolation even as it benefits from the mistakes of its adversaries. US sanctions are more punishing than anticipated but will probably not cause Iran to alter policies of greatest concern to Washington, such as regional interventions and ballistic missile development, and are instead strengthening hardline elements as Iran approaches a key political transition. Meanwhile, society has already undergone a cultural counter-revolution that aging ayatollahs cannot reverse.

    These were among the insights gleaned from a day-long conference at the Atlantic Council on February 12. Organized in conjunction with the Center for Strategic & Diplomatic Studies at the University of South Florida, it brought together veteran scholars and up and coming experts...

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