Trump administration

  • 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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  • 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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  • Oman Hedges Its Bets on Tehran and the Trump Administration

    As the Trump administration steps up pressure on Iran, much attention has focused on unprecedented moves such as the April 15 designation of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization.

    However, a more concrete and perhaps effective challenge to the IRGC may come from an unlikely source: Iran’s usually neutral if not friendly neighbor, Oman. 

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  • The Trump Administration’s Terrorist Label Is Strengthening the IRGC

    The recent White House designation of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist group is the latest extension of the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” policy toward Iran. Yet this policy, aimed at containing Iran’s regional role and limiting its advanced missile program, has backfired, strengthening the status of the IRGC in Iranian domestic politics and further legitimizing its regional and missile activities in the view of many Iranians.

    The result is the opposite of the Trump administration’s announced goal in withdrawing in May 2018 from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), to reach a “better” nuclear deal. Re-imposed draconian sanctions were meant to challenge the value of the country’s regional policy in domestic politics, weaken Iran’s deterrence strength and push Tehran to accept political and security trends...

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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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  • I Know You’re a Terrorist, but What Am I?

    The administration of President Donald Trump finally on April 8—countering the advice of the United States’ own military and intelligence mandarins—named Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) a terrorist organization.

    As the White House bragged in its statement, it was the first time that an entire branch of another government was named a foreign terrorist organization. Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), chaired by President Hassan Rouhani, quickly countered by naming US Central Command (CENTCOM), which oversees American forces in the greater Middle East, a terrorist...

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  • Kroenig Joins PRI to Discuss the Diplomacy in the Trump Administration


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  • What the Departure of James Mattis Could Mean for Trump’s Iran Policy

    The speeded up departure of Defense Secretary James Mattis did not come as a surprise after President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw US troops from Syria—and Mattis’ stinging letter of resignation. The Syria announcement was the final blow to a relationship that had become strained over issues ranging from the importance of alliances to the politically motivated deployment of US troops at the border with Mexico.

    The retired Marine general had policy differences with the president about Iran as well. While a supporter of containment, Mattis advocated remaining within the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). His departure tilts the balance in Trump’s national security team in favor of more hawkish individuals who have openly...

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