Tag Archives: US – Iran relations

Was diplomacy the only reason or the biggest reason why a US – #Iran crisis was averted today?

13 Jan

Sorry to be the Party Pooper, but diplomacy and improved relations between Zarif and John Kerry were not the only, nor the biggest reason why the captured U.S sailors were released within 24 hours by Iran.

The biggest reason? The end of sanctions being so close.

The Iranian supreme leader is a realist. He is not going to ruin years of negotiations and sacrifice all the compromises he made to reach a nuclear deal so that sanctions are removed by locking horns with the U.S at this point. Not when he is so close to the finishing line.

And this is what gave the moderates in Iran leverage against the hardliners. The latter would have absolutely loved to turn this incident into something more serious as it would have boosted their “revolutionary” credentials and their defense budgets. Not to mention leveraging it to gain more political room for maneuvering inside Iranian domestic politics.

But today, it wasn’t to be. Lets see how they will react next time, after the supreme leader has received what he has wanted all along: end to sanctions. Then a simple incident like today could get more complicated. And friendly relations between Kerry and Zarif may not be enough to solve things within 24 hours, like today.

video-diary: 8 days in Iran

21 May

So, what is it like to be an American TV reporter in Iran?

How does the Iranian public react to Americans?

What do they think of America?

What kind of relations do people of Iran want to have with the US? Do they want to be allies of the United States? do they want to have diplomatic relations with the US? Or do they support the current stance of the Iranian regime regarding the so-called “Great Satan”?

These are some of the questions answered by this behind the scenes video diary of the 60 minutes crew who visited Iran recently.

In this video, they go deeper and share their views regarding their recent trip to Iran, and how it came about.

CBS video report: 8 days in Iran

19 May

The CBS 60 minutes program recently visited Iran.

Its reporter Steve Kroft spoke to government officials as well as ordinary people on the street about the economy and the nuclear program.

Steve visited both the liberal north Tehran area, as well as the most conservative Shahr-e Rey area, which is part of the Tehran metropolitan area. He also visited the Tehran Bazaar.

The report does a great job of explaining the challenges which the Rouhani administration faces from the IRGC and other conservatives, as well as the economic hardships which the people of Iran face.

I highly recommend this report.

Netanyahu’s birthday present to Rouhani

12 Nov

12 of November is Hassan Rouhani’s birthday. He turned 65 today. 

And with minutes to go before the end of his birthday, he got a present from Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The present came in the form of a tender for the construction of 20,000 settlement homes by the Israeli government.

This is surely going to put more distance between the state of Israel and its biggest and most loyal ally, the United States. This something which Iran has wanted for many years, but could never accomplish on its own. But Rouhani does not have to worry as Netanyahu is inadvertently doing the job for him and the supreme leader. And judging by Netanyahu’s past, this will not be the last time.

So this year, Rouhani can expect quite a few birthday presents.

A realist, not a hippie

23 Oct

When it comes to US – Iran regime and Israel – regime relations, this is something I strongly believe in:

“We are very lucky that we live in a generation where some of our enemies are more scared of peace than war.”

Now you may call me a hippie 😉
Joking aside, experience has shown that the Iranian regime knows how to handle war threats much better than rapprochement and offers of improved relations with the West.
This is a weakness which must be exploited to the full.
We are truly lucky.
I mentioned this statement last night as part of my lecture on Iran at the Center for Ethics and Religious Affairs at Penn State University. The lecture was arranged by Penn State Hillel.

It was reviewed by the local newspaper The Center Daily.

Panel: An Assessment of Rouhani’s Visit to New York

22 Oct

Does Rouhani have much leverage?

Why was he elected?

What are the domestic challenges which his government faces?

What is likely to be the biggest threat which Iran will face in the next decade?

These are some of the questions which I addressed during my recent appearance at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington DC, alongside my respected colleague Robin Wright.

Disrespecting the Iranian people?

7 Oct

Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif

Iranian officials and regime pundits are increasingly using a tool discovered after the 2009 Green uprising in Iran: to call any criticism of the regime or its policies “disrespectful” to the Iranian people.

The Tehran University Professor Mohammad Marandi who is seen as  the regime’s unofficial mouth piece continuously referred to evidence that regime supporters in 2009 were receiving free food and orange juice to attend rallies as “disrespectful to the Iranian people”.

And now Iran’s Foreign Minister is using this tool. In one of his recent tweets he states:

Really Mr foreign minister? using statements from your own Boss Hassan Rouhani that sanctions are hurting the regime and its economy as evidence that Iran needs to negotiate is “disrespectful of a nation”?

In other words, any logic or argument that undermines the regime’s policies is “disrespectful to the Iranian people”?

This is a tool which will not work. Every nation deserves respect, including the people of Iran. However this is not a shield that the Iranian regime or government can use anytime their policies fall short.

And if the regime wants respect, how about ending the chant “Death to America”. Wishing someone death while you speak with them does not show much respect. Nor does it create the “mutual confidence” which you call for.