• A Photo Op in Najaf Reveals an Iran That Could Be

    As far as photographs go, it’s a rather inartful moment. Three aging men dressed in dark clothes sit in a spartan room with small glasses of heavily-brewed tea and a tissue box resting before them, as they engage in conversation.  

    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.

    Read More
  • Ebrahim Raisi: Iran’s New Chief Justice and Possible Supreme Leader in Waiting

    Iran’s 1989 amended constitution states that “in order to fulfill the responsibilities of the judiciary power in all the matters concerning judiciary, administrative...
    Read More
  • UK Blacklisting of Hezbollah Is Making Iran Hesitant to Join FATF

    Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s much-publicized resignation was largely attributed to the existence of parallel power structures in Iran that adversely affect many areas of policymaking and governance, including foreign policy.

    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.

    Read More
  • The Pictures Which Forced Zarif to Resign Reveal Deep Problems in the Iranian System

    The resignation of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif came as a shock, and not just due to the delivery system. He made the announcement on an Instagram post addressed to his followers instead of official channels. 

    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,...

    Read More
  • Is Saudi Arabia Pulling Pakistan Into War With Iran?

    For years, the Pakistani government has avoided taking sides between rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia, but now it may be forced to choose. Pakistan is in dire need of financial support and the Saudis have the means to help. Will Pakistan accept the strings attached to Saudi generosity?

    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. 

    Read More
  • Iran Seeks Economic Benefits From Syria

    When US President Donald Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal last May, his main argument to justify the move was that the agreement had been one-sided, providing Iran with large amounts of money to finance its “destabilizing policies” throughout the Middle East. 

    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. 

    Read More
  • Another Sports-Mad Iranian American Reviews Jason Rezaian’s Memoir

    The World Cup was over, Germany winning its first world title since 1990. Looking for something else to occupy my attention, this sports-obsessed Iranian American spotted an article in The Washington Post by Jason Rezaian about baseball in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

    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.

    Read More
  • 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.

    Read More
  • The Warsaw Summit: Not So ‘Anti-Iranian’ but Still a Success

    It is too early to assess the long-term consequences of the Ministerial to Promote a Future of Peace and Security in the Middle East. But for Poland and several other actors, the meeting can already been seen as a success.

    Poland, after hosting a NATO summit in 2016 and a UN Climate conference in 2018, has once again shown that it is able to organize large international events.

    Read More
  • 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. 

    Read More