Shahir Shahidsaless

  • Is Trump Just an Excuse for Khamenei’s Rejectionism?

    Iran shot down a US military drone near the Persian Gulf, increasing fears of an armed conflict between Tehran and Washington. Against this backdrop, the path to talks between the two governments appears blocked. 

    President Donald Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign ostensibly aims to force Iran to come to the negotiating table and strike a new deal, including bigger and more long-lasting restrictions on its nuclear and missile programs and an end to support for proxy groups. Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has so far vehemently opposed new direct talks with the Americans.

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  • 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,...

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  • Iran’s Reform Camp Is in Crisis

    The Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, can hardly be billed as a reformist. For that reason, he maintained his position as Iran’s Supreme Leader’s confidante while acting as his representative in the Iranian Supreme National Security Council for twenty-three years, from its inception until his first term election as president in 2013.

    Rouhani also escaped unscathed from the 2009 controversy-marred re-election of his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. While that election and the mass protests that followed produced numerous political casualties in the reform camp, Rouhani not only emerged intact but was in a good position to run as a consensus reformist-pragmatist candidate down the road.

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  • US Treasury Identifies Channels Iran Has Used to Circumvent Sanctions

    On November 5th, Ahmad Amirabadi, a member of the Iranian parliamentary board of directors, posted an exasperated tweet: “Almost all the individuals and entities that were active in bypassing the previous [US] sanctions [during the Obama administration] are included [in the new list of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons]. The question is, how this information has fallen in enemy’s hands. The security forces should investigate.”


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  • Signs of a Spectacular Policy Shift in Iran

    Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, supported by religious conservatives, has the last word on major Iranian policy decisions, including relations with the United States. His long-standing position has been “no talks, no relations with America,” especially after US unilateral withdrawal from the nuclear deal in May.

    But there are signs that this hard line is softening.

    Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, head of parliament’s influential national security and foreign policy commission, said in a recent interview, “There is a new diplomatic atmosphere for de-escalation with America. There is room for adopting the diplomacy of talk and lobbying by Iran with the [political] current which opposes [the policies of] Trump [toward Iran]… The diplomatic channel with America should not be closed because America is not just about Trump.”

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  • Khamenei Reversal on FATF Suggests US-Iran Talks Possible Under Trump

    President Donald Trump’s policy towards Iran is imposing “maximum pressure” purportedly aimed at bringing Iranians back to the negotiating table. Trump demands renegotiating the Iran nuclear deal which, according to him, has “terrible flaws.” He also wants restrictions on Iran’s ballistic missile program and a change in the Iran’s aggressive policies in the region. Trump has said that he would start talks without pre-conditions.

    Iranian leaders have rejected the offer. The demands, many observers maintain, are non-starters. Meanwhile, they argue, by abandoning the multilateral nuclear agreement between Iran and six major powers, Trump and his administration have lost their trustworthiness. Talks, therefore, would be pointless.

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  • Why Trump’s Zig-Zag Diplomacy Towards Iran Will Fail

    President Donald Trump’s foreign policy – like his other policies – has seemed more about self-gratification than national interest.  He quit the Iran nuclear deal, undoing years of diplomacy, largely to erase part of the legacy of his predecessor, Barack Obama. Assisted by his administration, the current president poses as a hero forcing the Iranian establishment to succumb to his will. Trump says Iran must renegotiate the landmark deal that Iran, the US and five other world powers agreed to and the UN Security Council endorsed or there will be “severe consequences.”

    Trump’s subsequent offer to meet with his Iranian counterpart “without preconditions” produced an understandable feeling of whiplash, a week after he appeared to threaten Iran with destruction. During his campaign, Trump promised an “unpredictable” foreign policy. It is not clear whether he knew at the time about the...

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