May 06, 2020

Iran’s once promising reformist movement is in a death spiral. It is not because the idea of reform has lost its appeal. On the contrary, the average Iranian today is as eager to see political change as ever. But they have no reason to believe gradual reform is possible. This pessimism is not only grounded in the reform movement’s long track record of failing to make a difference, but it is also exacerbated by the current diabolical condition of the movement’s leadership. 

March 17, 2020

The outbreak of a Russian-Saudi oil price war earlier this month might offer some comfort to Iran, a country which has in recent years become unnerved by the increasingly close ties between Moscow and Riyadh. However, it is premature to see an Iranian geopolitical win emerging from the Russian-Saudi spat, and history should give Tehran plenty of reservations about Moscow’s ability to deliver on its economic promises to Iran. 

January 31, 2020

Iran and the U.S. were on a collision course as soon as President Donald Trump arrived at the White House in January 2017. The U.S. pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal in May 2018 and re-imposed crippling sanctions on Tehran. The Iranians, desperate to regain some leverage and break the back of the sanction regime, countered from May 2019 on with a series of actions, including hit-and-run attacks on vessels in and around the Persian Gulf, shooting down a U.S. drone in June, and daring and unprecedented missile attacks... 

In an Oct. 2 speech to the top commanders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, asked them to be ready for “big events.” In characteristically vague language, Khamenei was issuing a warning to his domestic opponents, President Hassan Rouhani, and the country’s foreign foes. His choice of speaking to the IRGC bosses was anything but coincidental.

September 05, 2019

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s visit to the G-7 summit in France late last month was a surprise to many in the West. Some even viewed it as a good omen. But for the Iranian leadership, Zarif’s quick trip to Biarritz was always a long shot and with little chance to turn the tide in the U.S.-Iranian standoff. Such doubts were confirmed in the days that followed. U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration still refuses to lift sanctions on Iranian oil, and Tehran will not engage in direct talks with Washington until some unequivocal relief from sanctions is first provided by the U.S. side. Feel-good symbolism aside, Zarif departed Biarritz empty-handed. His next trip held more promise, anyway. Before he even arrived in Beijing, Zarif had already put pen to paper for China’s prominent Global Times.

June 25, 2019

In late May, Saudi Arabia hosted three separate summit meetings in Mecca, in the hope of securing the region’s unequivocal condemnation of Iranian activities in the Middle East. But whether at the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the Arab League, or the Gulf Cooperation Council, the Saudis, to their disappointment, found that not everyone shared their frame of mind about Iran.

March 19, 2019

Amid escalating tensions between the Trump administration and Tehran, Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif declared at the annual Munich Security Conference that the “risk of war” between Iran and Israel was “great.” Zarif’s warning came only days after the Warsaw Summit, which sought to establish a broad-coalition to support President Donald Trump’s Middle East policies, including on Iran.

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