Posts Tagged

Iran

Photograph of old presidential campaign buttons

The president’s recent diagnosis with Covid-19 sent the US presidential election race into a tailspin. As Donald Trump and Joe Biden jockey to regain control of the media narrative at a crucial phase of the campaign, speculation about a possible “October surprise” is widespread. Today, the term refers to any news story that breaks late in an election cycle and has the potential to affect the outcome of the election. Yet its origins are firmly rooted in foreign policy. In particular, the phrase describes a sitting president’s alleged propensity to manipulate events to boost their electoral prospects. The president’s recent tweet calling for all remaining US forces in Afghanistan to return home by Christmas has fueled suspicions that Trump is playing politics …

Three years ago, US-Iranian relations could not have been better. Once declared part of the ‘Axis of Evil’ by then-president George W. Bush, the Iran Nuclear Deal signed by his successor Barack Obama heralded a new age of more constructive ties with Tehran and the promise of greater nuclear security. While critics raised concerns that Iran would renege on the deal, these fears had proven unfounded so far – the IAEA confirmed that Iran has complied with its obligations under the agreement. Nonetheless, the Trump administration withdrew the US from the nuclear deal. Additionally, Trump has re-imposed all sanctions removed in 2015. With trust between Washington and Tehran in tatters and US carrier groups deployed to the Persian Gulf, the …

Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made headlines with his PowerPoint presentation on Iran’s nuclear program. Media outlets talked of a ‘bizarre PowerPoint’, a ‘strange slideshow’ and deemed it unnecessary for Netanyahu ‘to convince us that you don’t support the Iran nuclear deal’. The slideshow quickly became a twitter meme. What these reactions made me recall is how rare it is for heads of state or government officials to use PowerPoint slides, or any type of visualizations, to convey and illustrate information of international concern to the public. While PowerPoint is a medium of debatable value, nonetheless, we all use it frequently to present complex information. It is the default medium in business and academia, but it is not …

Now that sanctions against Iran have been lifted, the country has significant opportunities to boost its investment levels. Still, Iran’s leaders have to address a range of issues before this can be done effectively. Can a public-private partnership provide a solution for the financing of energy infrastructure projects, at a time when Iran is facing declining revenues as a result of years of crippling sanctions? Now the sanctions lifted, political risk disappears, the country offers significant new opportunities for foreign investors: economic attractiveness, greater moderation, and horizontal market integration. Iran’s New Contract Model Iran will present its new oil contracts during a scheduled conference in February 2016 in Tehran. By 2020, the country hopes to increase crude production to about …

In December 2010, a revolutionary spark in Tunisia initiated what is now referred to as the Arab Spring. Since then, many countries across the broader Middle East have been swept up in uprisings that have led to fundamental shifts in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen. The same drive for change has also led to minor changes in Jordan, Morocco, and elsewhere. These events have drawn the attention of many regional and international observers, experts, and scholars. In many circles, there was a widespread optimism with respect to the nature and course of the Arab Spring, and some observers held to the domino theory, that is, if one revolution took hold, others would follow. Indeed, these expectations and interpretations have been proven true to some degree. First, the contemporary Arab uprisings were able to put an end to dictators and quasi-dictators in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen, such that the deposed presidents and parts of their cliques were arrested (e.g., Egypt), accused of state crimes and corruption (e.g., Tunisia), or caught and murdered (Libya). Second, these events put these countries on a path toward political transformation. In this way, we have seen in the major Spring-nations the establishment of new political parties and elections. Due to the modification of whole regimes, these states have completed successful transitions; a significant first step toward democratization.

If humanitarian agencies have been preoccupied with intra-state wars in the last twenty-five years, might they now have to refocus and respond to humanitarian needs around mass demonstrations? The rise in mass protests against dictators, mining companies and western media suggests they might. Mass demonstrations have been a significant part of political life for centuries. In France, eyewitness accounts of the protests supporting the Paris Commune in 1871 describe “waves of people” overpowering military positions. In Britain, some years later, the suffragettes brought 500,000 people to a mass protest in Hyde Park in 1908. Mass demonstrations were an essential part of the Indian independence movement against British imperialism in the first half of the twentieth century. In the second half …

After long years of silence and quiescence, the Non-Aligned Movement gained momentum in the debate about global governance and the management of alternative strategies of engagement with the world of international affairs. The setting was an unusual one per se, suggesting that the 16th gathering of the NAM was likely to be of a different nature. Indeed, Tehran, during the heated summer of 2012, seemed to be one of the less aligned capitals of the world, for a number of issues, widely debated in political science circles as well as among foreign policy decision-makers. Crippling sanctions, shadow negotiations and an on-going regional conflict in the Middle East, with several branches developing in Syria, Lebanon, Bahrain and perhaps Yemen, have put …

  In a recent interview with The Diplomat, Professor Kenneth Waltz discussed the advantages of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons. An eminent and lucid scholar, Waltz committed the error of trying to fit an incorrect piece of a puzzle into a coherent theory. His theory whereby nuclear powers have never gone to war against each other has, so far, proven to be right. However, trying to extend this fact in a mechanical manner into a future scenario involving Iran is questionable. To begin with, the leadership of Iran, as distinct from that of any other of the current nuclear powers, has called for the destruction of its enemy as a sovereign entity. It has made it clear, time and again, that …