Middle East

  • 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 with recent field experience in Iran. Many of the speakers also wrote blog posts, which were collected on our IranSource site.

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  • Trump’s Iran Policy: Much Ado About Nothing

    The Trump administration’s policy of containing and weakening the Islamic Republic of Iran may appear to be going well to causal observers of Iranian affairs, and there is some evidence to support such a view.

    The United States has withdrawn from the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), that solely addressed the regime’s efforts to obtain nuclear weapons but failed to address its menacing actions towards neighboring countries, continued support of international terrorism, and ongoing efforts to develop ballistic missile technology. The JCPOA also completely failed to address the horrible human rights situation inside Iran itself.

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  • Wechsler Quoted in Associated Press on Iran Problem at Mideast Talks in Poland


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  • Forced Conscription Continues Despite Amnesty by Syrian Government

    Read in Arabic hereSince 2011, the Syrian regime has kept thousands of Syrian men in its military service as emergency forces—serving for an unspecified period—and refusing to discharge successive batches of army conscripts; some of whom have served for eight years in compulsory service. If they do not comply, they can be charged with a criminal offense and imprisoned for up to three years. In order to avoid fighting in the regime’s forces, Syrian youth have resorted to fleeing their country and the compulsory military service. Those who flee are considered military deserters according to Syrian law, and arrested if they return.


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  • Concerning Iran, the United States Should Go Back to 'Speaking Softly and Carrying a Big Stick'

    Top officials of the administration of Donald J. Trump love to talk tough on Iran. Last year Trump warned in an all-capitals tweet that Iran “would suffer consequences the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered before” if it threatened the US.  


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  • Moral Courage Needed for US to Engage Iran

    In his January 10 speech in Cairo, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo described America as a “force for good in the Middle East.”

    “We need to acknowledge that truth, because if we don't, we make bad choices [that will] have consequences for nations, for millions of people,” he said. “In falsely seeing ourselves as a force for what ails the Middle East, we were timid in asserting ourselves when the times—and our partners—demanded it.”

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  • What to Expect from the US-Polish Summit on the Middle East

    US Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will be in Warsaw on February 13 and 14 for a summit on the Middle East co-hosted by the United States and Poland. The summit, named a “Ministerial to Promote a Future of Peace and Security in the Middle East,” will reportedly “address a range of critical issues including terrorism and extremism, missile development and proliferation, maritime trade and security, and threats posed by proxy groups across the region,” according to a joint US-Polish statement.


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  • The US-Iranian Relationship: Let’s Try Engagement

    Rather than spend time contemplating regime change, the United States should attempt engagement with Iran, panelists said at the Atlantic Council in Washington on February 12.

    Roundly criticizing any thoughts from Washington that it could pressure Iran enough to achieve regime change, Mohsen Milani, executive director of the University of South Florida’s Center for Strategic and Diplomatic Studies, said: “I simply do not see the conditions for another revolution.” He saw “no evidence that there is a social base in Iran that wants to see a radical change.”


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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 with recent field experience in Iran. Many of the speakers also wrote blog posts, which were collected on our IranSource site.

    Read More