Project on Middle East Democracy
The POMED Wire Archives
POMED Notes: “Sudan at the Crossroads”
January 23rd, 2011 by Naureen
The House Committee on Foreign Affairs
held its first Members’ briefing on Tuesday. The briefing focused on the future of Sudan following the completion of referendum elections on secession.
To discuss the issues facing the country, the committee – chaired by Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
(R-FL) and withCongressman Howard L. Berman (D-CA) in attendance – requested the testimony of three individuals: Princeton Lyman, Special Advisor for Sudan, U.S. Department of State; Richard S. Williamson, Partner, Salisbury Strategies LLC and Former Special Envoy to Sudan and Ambassador to the U.N. Commission on Human Rights; and Omer Ismail
, Advisor, The Enough Project.
To read full notes continue below, or click here
POMED Notes: Iraq’s New Government:Now Comes the Hard Part
January 5th, 2011 by Naureen
On Wednesday, the United States Institute of Peace hosted a panel discussion on the future of Iraq following December elections titled “Iraq’s New Government: Now Comes the Hard Part.” Tara Sonenshine, Executive Vice President of U.S. Institute of Peace introduced the panelists: Dr. Ali al-Dabbagh, Minister of State and Spokesperson of the Iraqi Government, Dr. Wisam Al-Ubaidi, the Al-Wifaq Al-Watani Party’s representative to the United States, Qubad Talabani, the Kurdistan Regional Government’s representative to the United States, and Sean Kane, Program Officer at the U.S. Institute of Peace. The panel was moderated by Manal Omar, Director of Iraq Programs at the U.S Institute of Peace.
To read full notes, continue below or click here
for a pdf copy.
Iraq: New Government “Good Basis for Setting Out”
December 28th, 2010 by Jason
In a recent interview
with the Council on Foreign Relations, Joost Hiltermann calls the new Iraqi government “a good basis for setting out,” while also expressing concern about the power-sharing agreement. Hiltermann says the newly established National Council for Strategic Policy has yet to be fully defined, and that it remains to be seen whether “Allawi
feels that it satisfies his earlier demands for having a real check against Maliki’s power as prime minister.” Hiltermann goes on to address how Iraq’s various factions, including the Kurds and the Sadrists, are affected by the power-sharing deal, and says that the withdrawal of U.S. forces by the end of 2011 is “definitely on track.”
Iran: Subsidy Cuts Begin, Jundallah Members Executed
December 20th, 2010 by Jason
The Iranian government slashed
subsidies for gasoline yesterday according to a report in The New York Times. “After midnight on Sunday, the price of subsidized gasoline jumped to about $1.44 a gallon from about 38 cents a gallon.” The report also states that there was an increase in the presence of security forces in anticipation of any unrest. Tehran Bureau provides reactions
from Iranians in Tehran. Muhammad Sahimi explains that the rise in prices affects more than just fuel: “The price of electricity has tripled from 0.75 cents/KWh to 2.2 cents/KWh. The price of water has similarly increased by a factor of three. The price of natural gas for home heating and cooking has increased by a factor of four, and for vehicle fuel by a factor of ten. The price of flour has increased by a factor of 40.”
Also, eleven members of the Jundallah terrorist group have been executed
in Iran. The group has recently claimed responsibility for the bombing of a mosque in the southeastern Iranian city of Chabahar on December 15. According to an Iranian official, the men were executed for “‘carrying out terrorist attacks in the province (Sistan-Baluchestan) during the recent months, fighting with police, and martyring several innocent people.’”
Iraq: The Precarious Kurdish Position
December 6th, 2010 by Jason
writes at The Middle East Channel that the Kurds of Iraq face a number of challenges going forward and that compromising on their “highly-charged nationalist agenda” may be the best way to secure “long-term political and economic prosperity.” Natali argues that the Kurds position has been fundamentally weakened due to their status as “a politically expedient swing vote” and the “ceremonial” nature of the presidency, which is held by a Kurd, Jalal Talabani. Perhaps most importantly, the central government is not recognizing oil contracts negotiated by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). “[G]iven the new role of oil in driving the Kurdistan region’s development and the absence of support from key Sunni and Shia Arab groups for Kurdish control of Kirkuk, the KRG may have little choice but to substitute emotional nationalism for political pragmatism.”
Iraq: Where the Kurds Stand
October 18th, 2010 by Jason
While many assume that Iran stands to benefit most from the current political situation in Iraq, Ranj Alaaldin argues that the involvement of Iran has spurred the US to support the attempt by Ayad Allawi to form a coalition with the Kurds (who hold 57 seats) and the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (who hold 18 seats.) “These developments mean that the Kurds have emerged as kingmakers,” because both Allawi and Maliki
are actively courting the group to join their respective coalitions. “They hold the power to determine the future of Iraq’s other groupings, the future of the country itself as well as that of the US role in Iraq,” according to Alaaldin.
provides a look at the demands the Kurds have made in exchange for their cooperation. “We have the ironic situation whereby two declared Iraqi nationalists (Maliki and Allawi) who are theoretically committed to working against the destruction of the Iraqi state in practice are trying to outbid each other in an attempt at satisfying Kurdish aims that are directed precisely at the dismemberment of Iraq as a recognisable and governable state.” The Kurds have released a set of “19 Points” that they wish to be fulfilled prior to their agreement to join a coalition. Visser calls into question the constitutionality of the fourth Point, which entails “the establishment of a senate within the first year of the parliament, and the extension of the veto powers of the presidency council until the senate is up and running.” The problem with this Point is that “[t]his is simply one hundred per cent unconstitutional and against the basic principles of separation of power. It is for the Iraqi parliament, not the government, to draw up the rules of the next senate, with a two-thirds majority.” Visser concludes on an ominous note: “The Kurdish negotiating document is not only a step towards the complete destruction of the Iraqi state, it is also a flagrant violation of the constitution that the Kurds themselves supported back in 2005.”
POMED Notes: “The Sudan Referendum: Dangers and Possibilities”
October 13th, 2010 by Jason
The Brookings Institution held an event today entitled “The Sudan Referendum: Dangers and Possibilities.” The featured speaker for the event was Representative Donald Payne (D-NJ), the chairman of the Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health, Committee on Foreign Relations, United States House of Representatives. The discussants for the event were Richard Williamson, non-resident fellow on foreign policy at Brookings, and Mike Abramowitz, director of the Committee on Conscience at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
(For full notes, continue below the fold or go here
Iraq: Maliki’s “National Government of Futility”
October 5th, 2010 by Jason
writes at TheGuardian’s
Comment is Free that the deal reached to make Nouri al-Maliki
the Prime Minister is one of compromises and back room deals. “This had always been the likely outcome,” Alaaldin writes, noting that the deal between Maliki’s State of Law party, the Sadrists, and the Kurds was based on “strategic bluffs and manoeuvring,” meant to force more concessions from Maliki. Alaaldin suspects that the Sadrists will receive “a total of six service ministries,” the release of many Sadrists currently in prison, and possibly one of the deputy prime minster positions. The Kurds want “disputed territories, oil and power-sharing,” and possibly the presidency. The Kurds desire to control Kirkuk is extremely controversial and “could slow the entire process down.” Alaaldin concludes that the deals necessary to form the government may doom it to ineffectiveness: “The forthcoming multi-party coalition government will ensure the politics will be paralysed and the disputes remain unresolved.”
Sudan: South Sudan Referendum Concerns
September 15th, 2010 by Jason
The vote on a referendum to determine whether southern Sudan becomes an independent nation is set to be held in just over four months. However, some question if the referendum will even be held. Rebecca Hamilton
writes in the Washington Post “… with negotiations between north and south stalled over border demarcation, and preparations for the vote lagging perilously behind, the likelihood of the referendum proceeding as planned appears slim.” Others are worried that the focus on southern Sudan will cause the world to turn a blind eye to the on going crisis in Darfur: “The Sudanese government is taking full advantage of the inability of international actors to multitask and is beginning to implement a new strategy that will likely lead to further suffering among those who have survived the past seven years of conflict.” Yesterday, the ruling party in Sudan, the NCP, rejected a list of incentives offered by the U.S. to hold the referendum on time and as planned. A senior NCP official described the offer as an “intervention in the domestic affairs” of Sudan.
Iraq: Drawdown Reactions, What Does it Mean for Democracy?
August 31st, 2010 by Jason
As combat troops are withdrawn from Iraq, questions remain about how this will affect its emerging democracy. Writing in the Wall Street Journal
, Stephen Hadleyargues, “The six-month stalemate in forming a new government is worrying, but virtually all Iraqi leaders accept the need for a broadly inclusive government.” Mohammad Bazzi believes that Iran has been the true beneficiary of the war, which may have repercussions across the region: “…the Iraq war has unleashed a new wave of sectarian hatred and upset the Persian Gulf’s strategic balance… the brutal war between Iraq’s Shiite majority and Sunni minority unleashed sectarian hatreds that are difficult to contain. This blowback has been most keenly felt in Lebanon…”. Bazzi adds, “Far from becoming a model of freedom and religious coexistence, Iraq remains a powder keg that could ignite sectarian conflict across the Middle East.” According to former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker , “The difficulty and delays we have seen since the March elections illustrate the fundamental truth that everything in Iraq is hard…”. He goes on to list a few of the challenges facing the government once it is formed: “…it will have to wrestle with the tough issues… includ(ing) the structural and constitutional issues underlying much of the tension between Kurds and Arabs in the north — disputed internal boundaries, especially Kirkuk, and the authorities of the federal government in Baghdad vis-à-vis the Kurdish regional government in Irbil, including the control of armed forces.” Iraq’s Prime Minister Nuri al-Malikistruck a more hopeful note
, “Iraq today is sovereign and independent…our relations with the United States have entered a new stage between two equal, sovereign countries.”
POMED Notes: “Iran Sanctions: Why Does the U.S. Government Do Business With Companies Doing Business in Iran?”
May 12th, 2010 by Josh
The Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee held a hearing to explore the history, efficacy, and enforcement of sanctions that target companies who do business with both the United States and Iran. The committee invited three individuals to provide testimony: Danielle Pletka, Vice President of Foreign and Defense Policy Studies at the American Enterprise Institute; Joseph Christoff, Director of International Affairs and Trade at the Government Accountability Office; and Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL).
For POMED’s notes in PDF, click here
. Otherwise, continue below the fold.
POMED Notes: Foreign Policy Priorities in the President’s FY2011 International Affairs Budget
February 25th, 2010 by Chanan
The Senate Committee of Foreign Relations hosted Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to discuss the FY2011 International Affairs Budget for the Department of State. Senator John Kerry
(D-MA), chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations, commenced the hearing by thanking Secretary Clinton for her hard work and travels. Citing a range of issues from the need to fight HIV/AIDS to the importance of supporting diplomats in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq, Kerry acknowledged that he “can’t think of a time in our history when we’ve had a greater need for energetic diplomacy to make the case for America globally.”
For POMED’s notes in PDF, click here
. Otherwise, continue below the fold.
Yemen: Necessity for Reform in the Midst of Mounting Disaster
January 26th, 2010 by Jessica
In an article
for Sky News
, Steve Davies reports on the Yemen Security Summit scheduled for tomorrow. Davies remarks that international concern regarding Yemen as a security threat has escalated dramatically since the Christmas Day terror attack by Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, a Nigerian member of al Qaeda based in Yemen. In response to the international concern over security and stability issues, the Yemeni government has attempted to become more proactive in prosecuting extremists, as shown by the jailing of seven terror suspects
this week. The suspects were convicted of plotting attacks on tourists and foreign interests.
Journalist Ginny Hill
in aChatham House press release
for her paper entitled, “Yemen: Fear of Failure,” was quoted as saying, “Future instability in Yemen could expand a lawless zone stretching from northern Kenya though Somalia and the Gulf of Aden to Saudi Arabia.” While Yemen has recently been cast into the spotlight of the international community, as early as 2008 Hill commented on the necessity for effective regional reform as a means of ensuring stability throughout the Middle East and Africa. Hill’s paper
, published by Chatham House
in 2008, comments on dwindling oil supplies and the effect that this shortage may have on Yemen’s economy
At the Huffington Post
, Laura Liswood echoes many of the concerns
voiced in Hill’s 2008 paper. She reports on a speech given by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, presenting alternatives for economic and social reform. Clinton’s speech focused the long term goals of global peace, security, and equitable life. Clinton was quoted as saying that development was transformative and, “an essential leg in the three-legged stool of defense, diplomacy, and development . . . Global stability depends upon all three efforts with equal commitment.” Much of the speech focused on the need for development for women and girls in Yemen’s political, social, and economic sphere. Liswood’s article commends Clinton’s recognition of social change regarding women, commenting on the fact that while security has been widely broadcast in the media, the plight of women and girls in Yemen has been largely ignored. A Gender Gap Index developed by the World Economic forum ranks Yemen last out of 134 countries regarding the status of women in political, economic, health, and education. Liswood’s article reports on alternative means of stimulating the economy through microfinance such as small loans and education aimed at women would aid in lowering fertility rates and moving families out of poverty.
Iraq: A Critical Year Ahead
December 22nd, 2009 by Jason
Kenneth Pollack warns that “while [Iraq] has made tremendous progress in both the security and political realms, all of those gains are fragile
and could evaporate quickly if strained.” Pollack argues “the mistake we are in danger of making in Iraq is that as our military steps back, our civilians are not always stepping up.” If Iraqis begin to question our resolve, then ordinary Iraqis will have no choice but to support militias who might protect them in what they perceive as an impending civil war.
also warns against forgetting the war in Iraq, contending that while the surge was a military success, Iraq has yet to resolve its fundamental political differences that preclude a stable future. Therefore, the Obama administration should maximize this opportunity to realize Iraq’s potential as an “extraordinary model for the Arab world.” While more pessimistic than Zakaria, Andrew Sullivan agrees this year will be “critical” in determining the ultimate success or failure
of the war in Iraq.
responds to the Iranian incursion into Iraqi territory. He argues that the incident proves that the Iraqi government is increasingly confident in protecting its sovereignty and Iraq has the potential to emerge as a “central pillar” in America’s struggle against violent Islamist extremism. Given the “flaccid U.S. response” to the incident, Hannah urges to “do far more to support our Iraqi friends.” While the incident has since died down, George Friedman
argues Iran showed it might not wait for the U.S. to initiate a conflict
. Now that Prime Minister Maliki
has proven he is not an Iranian puppet but an Iraqi patriot, Hussain Abdul-Hussain
argues the Gulf countries should “embrace a neighbor
currently emerging from years of tyranny followed by civil strife.”
Finally, the AP reports a suicide bomber
in northern Iraq has killed a city council chief, a member of the Turkmen minority affiliated with the Sunni Iraqi Islamic Party.
Posted in Democracy Promotion, Elections, Freedom, Iraq, Kurds, Military, Oil, Political Parties, Sectarianism, Terrorism, US foreign policy | Comment »
Yemen: The Need for a Broader Perspective?
December 22nd, 2009 by Jason
explores the potential fallout
from U.S. assistance in strikes and raids against Al-Qaeda militants in Yemen. The article quotes Gregory Johnsen
who warns “you can’t just go kill a few individuals and the al-Qaeda problem will go away,” especially when such attacks result in civilian casualties. As Mohammad Quhtan
of Yemen’s opposition Islamist al-Islah party explains, “Al-Qaeda will be able to recruit a lot more young people, at least from the tribes that were hit.”
Instead, Johnsen repeats his call for (see our previous post
) a broader American foreign policy that will undermine Al-Qaeda. He points
to a Reuters article that describes how, in addition to al-Qaeda, falling oil income, water shortages, humanitarian crises, the Houthi conflict, and a southern separatist movement all contribute to Yemen’s instability.
POMED Notes: “Saudi Arabia: The New Dynamics”
December 20th, 2009 by Jason
The Middle East Institute hosted a lecture by Thomas Lippman entitled “Saudi Arabia: The New Dynamics.” Lippman, who has been traveling to Saudi Arabia for over thirty years, recently returned from a month-long trip to the desert kingdom. While Lippman admitted there have been some “really bad books” written about Saudi Arabian history since September 11th, he is currently writing a new book that will focus on the country’s future.
For POMED’s notes in PDF, please click here
. Otherwise, keep reading below the fold.
Posted in DC Event Notes, Democracy Promotion, Diplomacy, Elections, Islam and Democracy, Lebanon, Oil, Reform, Saudi Arabia, US foreign policy, Women | Comment »
Iraq: Iranian Troops Enter Contested Oil Field
December 18th, 2009 by Jason
Iraq officials have confirmed that Iranian soldiers have entered Iraqi territory and claimed an oilfield whose ownership is disputed by Iran. A U.S. military spokesman stated “there has been no violence related to this incident and we trust this will be resolved through peaceful diplomacy between the governments of Iraq and Iran.”
During a trip to Iraq, Admiral Mullen
affirmed that the Iraq drawdown will proceed as scheduled, despite delayed elections and a recent spike in bombings. Meanwhile, Iraqi forces are on alert after threats of violence
during the coming Christmas holiday.
IraqPundit relays a conversation
he had with laborers from Sadr City who expressed their discontent with Moktada al-Sadr
as well as the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council. Instead, they plan to vote for Nouri al-Maliki
“because he is not an extremist.” At the same time, IraqPundit reveals that many “Iraqis are disappointed in al-Maliki because he has presided over an extremely corrupt government, and he has failed to prevent terror attacks.”
The New York Times
editorial staff warns that “the bitter discord between Iraq’s Kurdish regional government and the Shiite-Arab dominated central government - over land, oil and the power of the central government - is the most dangerous fault line in Iraq today.” Therefore, the situation calls for “deft and sustained American involvement.”
Finally, Peter Galbraith
has written a statement clarifying his activities in Kurdistan concerning his role in advising the formation of the constitution and the negotiation of oil deals.
Posted in Afghanistan, Diplomacy, Elections, Iraq, Kurds, Legislation, Military, Oil, Political Parties, Public Opinion, Sectarianism, Secularism, Terrorism, US foreign policy, United Nations | Comment »
Iran: Gasoline Sanctions Counterproductive?
December 17th, 2009 by Jason
Debate still continues over the House passage of the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act (IRPSA). Jeff Bergner
argues the U.S. must “compel” Iran to negotiate through some combination of a naval embargo, targeted military action, a free leash for Israel, or crippling sanctions.
However, Suzanne Maloney
of the Brookings Institution argues against IRPSA. Instead, if the U.S. imposes enhanced sanctions, it must delineate clear and limited objectives, continue negotiations while imposing sanctions, seek international consensus, focus on direct and immediate costs, and target those responsible for human rights abuses, not the Iranian people.
agrees with Maloney, calling IRPSA not only “ineffective” but “counterproductive” as well. It offers “Iran’s hardliners a powerful propaganda lifeline, and would likely facilitate greater regime consolidation right at the moment that the conservative consensus around Ahmadinejad is starting to crack up.” Therefore it’s no wonder why the Green movement is against IRPSA and the administration is attempting to “put the brakes” on the Senate version.
Meanwhile, Eric Anderson
urges to apply some “pragmatism
to engaging with Iran” and realize that there is little the U.S. can do to stop an Iranian nuclear weapon. But Roger Cohen
contends there is a lot the Iranian people can do
. Therefore, when he is asked “where the ’stick’ is in Iran, [his] response is the stick is Iranian society - the bubbling reformist pressure now rising up from Iran’s highly educated youth and brave women.” Therefore, Cohen argues “the time has come to do nothing in Iran.”
Much of the push for enhanced sanctions stems from Iran’s failure to negotiate in good faith. Ray Takeyh
in the Boston Globe
explains how Ayatollah Khamenei
created a new committee to oversee foreign affairs, comprised by members of Khamenei’s staff, the intelligence community and the head of the Revolutionary Guards. Takeyh argues it was this committee formed in October that scuttled the nuclear deal, not external dissent from opposition leaders and the Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani
Babylon and Beyond offers further detail on the new trend of Iranian men posing in pictures wearing the veil
out of solidarity with Majid Tavakoli, a student leader arrested for his activism. niacINsight reports that the government’s head of university affairs approximates 70 percent of university students oppose Ahmadinejad and has called for a stronger response against students and professors who are purportedly “weakening the regime.”
AFP reports that Iran’s judiciary also warned opposition leaders that it has accumulated enough evidence to try them, comparing them to “the regime’s most despised enemy, the People’s Mujahedeen.” Iason Athanasiadis
observes that while the abuses
of Evin Prison are well known, Iranians truly fear the “string of hidden detention sites” throughout Tehran.
Finally, niacINsight expresses its disappointment
with Time Magazine
over its decision to not include the Iranian people on their shortlist for Person of the Year, even though balloting showed greater support for the Iranian people compared to the second and third choices combined.
Posted in Congress, Democracy Promotion, Diplomacy, Freedom, Human Rights, Iran, Legislation, Military, Multilateralism, Oil, Protests, US foreign policy, US politics, Women, sanctions | Comment »
Iran: House Passes Gasoline Sanctions
December 16th, 2009 by Jason
As expected, the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act (H.R. 2194
) passed overwhelmingly
in the House, with 412 voting for, 12 against, and 4 present. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
(R-Fl) explained she hopes to “impose sanctions so painful that they should threaten the Iranian regime’s survival.” The sponsor of the bill, Rep. Howard Berman (D-Cali.), emphasized how “Iran has had ample time
to respond positively to President Obama’s generous engagement offer. Regrettably, the response has been only one of contempt.”
But there was congressional opposition to the bill as well. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) lamented how “we’re telling the Iranian people, ‘we have feelings of friendship for you. We like you so much, but we’re going to cut off your home heating oil.” Additionally, Rep. Ron Paul
(R-Tex.) expressed his “strongest opposition” to this bill that represents “another significant step” towards war. Paul argued argued that history shows “it is citizens rather than governments who suffer most” under sanctions, which have been proven to only “strengthen regimes they target and marginalize any opposition.”
Laura Rozen reports the administration is “quietly working” to make modifications to the Senate version. Two issues being discussed are whether the sanctions would alienate America’s partners and whether the sanctions will be mandatory or allow the President to exercise discretion in their implementation. Under the House version, the president must seek a waiver in every case the sanctions would not be imposed.
In response to a letter sent by Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee stating that the sanctions legislation “might weaken rather than strengthen international unity and support for our efforts,” Jennifer Rubin
calls the administration
“a crowd that’s allergic to leverage.”
Rozen also reports that the State Department has asked the Treasury Department to allow Iranians to download free mass market software that enhances their ability to communicate. In response, NIAC President Trita Parsi
lauded the decision that makes sure “the policies of the U.S. government don’t unintentionally aid the Iranian government’s efforts to silence its people.”
In a likely response to the legislation, Iran has test-fired an improved Sejil 2 solid-fuel missile, which has a range capable of striking Israel and U.S. bases throughout the region. Meanwhile, Tehran Bureau reports that the Iran’s Prosecutor General has confirmed the rape of opposition members in prison but rejected the involvement of prison guards. In addition, hundreds of of pro-govenrment and pro-opposition students held rival rallies in Tehran yesterday.
Meanwhile, Mohammad Saeedi
has resigned as deputy director of Iran’s atomic energy body. Meir Javedanfar
suggests the resignation may indicate infighting within the regime over nuclear negotiations. The regime also seems split over what to do with Mir Hossein Moussavi
and other opposition leaders. Mea Cyrus
at Tehran Bureau observes “the Islamic Republic of Iran is so fed up with post-election protests that it is willing to adopt extreme measures to bring them to an end,” even if it means imprisoning or assassinating opposition leaders like Moussavi.
explains how the regime’s efforts to discredit Majid Tavakoli
have backfired because they have failed to understand that the green movement is “a post-modern, post-ideological civic movement” where women are at the “forefront.” Finally, Omid Memarian
argues the opposition
have “entered a new phase” in protesting the Islamic regime itself, and not just the contested elections.
Posted in Congress, Diplomacy, Iran, Legislation, Military, Multilateralism, Oil, Protests, Technology, US foreign policy, US politics, sanctions | Comment »
Iran: Gasoline Sanctions Debate Today
December 15th, 2009 by Jason
The House is currently debating
the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act (H.R. 2194
), and they will likely pass the legislation before the end of today. That news likely comfort Ephraim Kam,
who writes in Haaretz
that the West must impose
“harsher sanctions” and threaten Tehran with potential violence.
Nonetheless, niacINsight urges
the U.S. to “stand with the Iranian people” by opposing the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act, which many members of the green movement have said would hurt the Iranian people and not the regime. Jamal Abdi
warns such sanctions “may isolate us from our closest allies and biggest trading partners, pose momentous new challenges for our efforts in Afghanistan, Iraq and the greater Middle East, undermine the Iranian people’s struggle for democracy, and once again place the United States on the gave path towards military confrontation.”
Instead, niacINsight hails the introduction
of the Stand with the Iranian People Act (SWIPA H.R. 4303
) introduced by Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) and the Iranian Digital Empowerment Act (IDEA H.R. 4301
) introduced by Rep. Jim Moran
(D-VA). Both of these acts were introduced yesterday. SWIPA would enable Americans and Iranians to work together to promote human rights or for projects like building hospitals and schools, while also imposing targeted sanctions on the regime and companies that work with it. IDEA would legalize the transfer of communication and anti-censorship tools between the U.S. and Iran.
Arguing in favor of SWIPA and IDEA and against IRPSA, Patrick Disney
contends, “the yardstick for an effective Iran policy is not how much pain and suffering it will cause among innocent Iranians. Rather, changing the policies and behavior of Tehran’s repressive government should be our ultimate goal. This means that when it comes to sanctions, bigger is not always better.”
Posted in Congress, Diplomacy, Freedom, Human Rights, Iran, Islam and Democracy, Journalism, Judiciary, Legislation, Military, Oil, Protests, Technology, US foreign policy, US politics, sanctions | Comment »
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