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19 Oct 2009 - 10 Jun 2012
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Project on Middle East Democracy
The POMED Wire Archives
Category: sanctions
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.’”
Posted in Iran, Oil, sanctions | Comment »
POMED Notes: “Human Rights in Iran”
October 28th, 2010 by Jason
The Brookings Institution held a panel discussion on Thursday titled “Human Rights in Iran.” The discussion was moderated by Kenneth Pollack, Senior Fellow and Director, Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. The panelists were Geneive Abdo, Director of the Iran Program at the Century Foundation, Philo Dibble, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, Markus Löning, Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin, and Mojtaba Vahedi, political advisor to former Iranian presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi.
 (To read full notes, continue below the fold or click here for pdf.)
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Posted in Civil Society, DC Event Notes, Diplomacy, Freedom, Human Rights, Iran, Reform, US foreign policy, sanctions | Comment »
POMED Notes: “The Ayatollahs’ Democracy: An Iranian Challenge”
October 14th, 2010 by Jason
The New America Foundation (NAF) held an event today marking the release of Hooman Majd’s new book, “The Ayatollahs’ Democracy: An Iranian Challenge.” Majd was introduced by Steve Clemons, Senior Fellow and Director of the American Strategy Program at NAF.
 (To read full notes, continue below the fold or go here for pdf)
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Posted in DC Event Notes, Elections, Freedom, Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, Islam and Democracy, Political Islam, Protests, Public Opinion, Reform, US foreign policy, sanctions | Comment »
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 for pdf.)
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Posted in Civil Society, DC Event Notes, Human Rights, Oil, Political Parties, Sectarianism​, Sudan, US foreign policy, sanctions | Comment »
Iran: U.S. Sanctions Human Rights Abusers
September 29th, 2010 by Anna
President Obama issued an executive order today imposing financial sanctions and travel restrictions on several Iranian officials that have been accused of grave human rights abuses. Although multiple rounds of sanctions have been levied against Iran over its controversial nuclear program, this is the first time that the Obama administration has announced sanctions against the country for human rights abuses. The individuals named in the order are accused of committing human rights violations – including rape, killing, and torture – against dissidents following last year’s disputed presidential election in Iran. The commander of the Revolutionary Guard Corps, the Interior Minister, Intelligence Minister, and other security officials are singled out for sanctions. According to a White House statement, “the list of names is not exhaustive and will continue to grow.”
The sanctions come in the wake of “mounting evidence of repression,” according to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Two reformist political parties were banned this week, and two newspapers were shut down. In addition, more human rights activists and authors have been sentenced to prison terms.
Posted in Civil Society, Elections, Human Rights, Iran, Political Parties, US foreign policy, sanctions | Comment »
Iran: Rep. Sherman on Sanctions and Hurting the Iranian People
August 17th, 2010 by Farid
Representative Brad Sherman (D-CA) argues in a piece at The Hill’s Congress Blog that the new sanctions against Iran are necessary, saying, “Critics… argued that these measures will hurt the Iranian people. Quite frankly, we need to do just that.” In his assessment, he compares sanctioning Iran to U.S. sanctions against apartheid South Africa, concluding, “Ultimately, Nelson Mandela thanked us for the sanctions.”
In response to Rep. Sherman’s assertion that policymakers “need to tighten the screws further, and I will soon introduce legislation to do just that,” Jamal Abdi, Policy Director at the National Iranian American Council, argues that Sherman’s remarks indicate Congress’ “sanctions addiction” and “may explain why the Iranian pro-democracy activists are distancing themselves from the US.” Abdi states, “Sherman is wrong,” arguing that Mandela did not thank the U.S. for sanctions, and adding that the opposition in South Africa actually supported sanctions, while the opposition movement in Iran has “unequivocally condemned sanctions as destructive to their movement and harmful to the most vulnerable Iranians.” According to Abdi, Sherman neglects the Iranian people’s struggle for democracy and human rights, adding that “the sanctions only impede that struggle.” Additionally, Abdi draws on recent remarks made by Mehdi Karroubi, senior figure in the Green Movement, calling sanctions “a gift to the Iranian regime.” Karroubi added that “isolating Iran would not bring democracy. Look at Cuba and North Korea, have sanctions brought democracy to their people? They have just made them more isolated and given them the opportunity to crack down on their opposition without bothering themselves about the international attention.”
Posted in Democracy Promotion, Human Rights, Iran, Legislation, Reform, US foreign policy, sanctions | Comment »
Iran: Dim Hope for Democracy
August 10th, 2010 by Jennifer
In an extensive new piece in The New Yorker, Jon Lee Anderson reports on his trip as a Western journalist to Iran earlier this summer. Anderson notes that intense government crackdowns on activists and continuing harassment of reformist leaders over the past year have taken their toll, arguing that “under such sustained pressures, the Green Movement has effectively ceased to exist as a visible political force. [Mehdi] Karroubi is the only prominent reformist leader who still regularly appears in public.” Meanwhile, he observes that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad appeared “calm and confident, almost cocky” during Anderson’s visit, pointing out that “since winning reelection, he had neutralized the main reformist politicians, and was now pursuing his rivals in Iran’s conservative establishment.” Anderson suggests that the Iranian regime sees itself in a place of increased strength despite recent UN sanctions, and has moved on from addressing the Green Movement to focus its concerns on its nuclear agenda. Detailing an exclusive interview he conducted with Ahmadinejad himself, Anderson says that the Iranian leader denied that his government was undemocratic, or that it repressed activists, reformists, and journalists. According to Anderson, Ahmadinejad stated, “‘Show me a country in the West where eighty-five per cent of the people participate in Presidential elections! There aren’t any! Iran is the record-holder in democracy… Today you can see that all my rivals and the so-called ‘opposition’ are free,’ and adding, ‘There is freedom here. They all have Web sites, news channels, and newspapers, and they say whatever they want about me. No one disturbs them’.” Anderson notes that numerous reports of human rights abuses, political oppression, and censorship contradict these assertions.
Anderson also describes another interview he carried out with Hossein Shariatmadari​, a close adviser of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and editor-in-chief of Kayhan, the clerical establishment’s daily newspaper. According to Anderson, Shariatmadari “suggested that reformists were something like sleeper agents for the West, and that the unrest had helped the Islamic Republic by exposing their identities.” Anderson argues, however, that “Ahmadinejad’s victory over the Green Movement had come at a cost; the religious establishment and Iranian society at large seemed far less unified than Shariatmadari claimed.” Nonetheless, Anderson also warns that despite increased pressure on Iran from the international sanctions, economic action “alone may not cause enough distress to bring Iranians back out onto the streets.” Ultimately, Anderson paints a dismal picture regarding the current status of the reformist movement, remarking that “the Green Movement as it stands seems to present little threat to Iran’s government,” and quoting one Iran expert who has  commented that “in the absence of strong leadership, the movement [is] splintering.”
Posted in Elections, Freedom, Human Rights, Iran, Reform, US foreign policy, United Nations, sanctions | Comment »
Iran: Sweden Too Lenient On Iran?
July 27th, 2010 by Farid
Describing Iran as the “most dangerous threat to peace in the Middle East,” Mats Tunehagen​criticizes the Swedish government, specifically its Foreign Minister, Carl Bildt, for giving Tehran “diplomatic cover.” Tunehagen says, “In this post-Christian Scandinavian country, the UN has replaced God as the new Supreme Being,” adding that it is uncommon for Sweden to disagree with international institutions’ decisions, as it did with the recent sanctions on Iran. Additionally, Tunhagen– who recognizes Sweden as traditionally a promoter of democracy around the world –argues that Bildt and President Barack Obama are alike in that neither of them “proactively” supports the democracy movement in Iran, nor do they take “human rights, including religious liberty, seriously in Iran.” Tunehagen accuses Bildt of failing to promote democracy and human rights in the regions, saying that when it comes to the Middle East, “Bildt has tendency to be rather lenient to its many dictatorships, while attacking its only true democracy—Israel.”
Posted in Democracy Promotion, Human Rights, Iran, sanctions | Comment »
Iran: Do Bazaari Protests Reveal a Weakening Regime?
July 21st, 2010 by Jennifer
Arang Keshavarzian writing in Foreign Policy discusses protest against the Iranian regime from a different quarter than the Green Movement: the Tehran Bazaar. Analyzing a recent strike of shopkeepers and traders against a proposed increase in their income tax– with bazaari protests lasting more than a week and even spilling over into clashes with security forces–Keshavarzian calls the incident “a sign of popular economic discontent and a likely harbinger of further turmoil to come” in Iran. Keshavarzian argues that the bazaaris represent a significant political force and were instrumental in supporting opposition movements throughout Iran’s history, such as the 1905 constitutional movement, the 1950s nationalization of the oil industry, and the 1979 revolution. Though the Green Movement has therefore paid close attention to the strikes, he explains, an opposition coalition between the two groups is unlikely. Nevertheless, the bazaari protests “underscore just how badly the government’s authority has eroded and how dependent it is on coercion when seeking the public’s compliance,” and reveal “President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad​’s own lack of authority among the greater public,” according to Keshavarzian. He suggests that as U.S. and and international sanctions hit Iran’s economy and increasingly affect merchants, the bazaaris may have a future role to play in undermining the regime.
Posted in Iran, Protests, Reform, sanctions | Comment »
Iran: What Should Be On The Table?
July 16th, 2010 by Farid
According to a recent report, the European Union has agreed to resume talks with Iran in September. However, Catherine Ashton, EU foreign affairs chief, responded to a letter from Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, in which he proposed sitting down with the EU, saying that “it follows that issues relating to the Iranian nuclear program must be the focus of our talks, though other subjects … could also be raised.” Meanwhile, as Iran’s economy is in significant decay, the National Iranian Oil Co. has communicated with the EU about its plans of “switching to the United Arab Emirates’ dirham from the euro for its oil sales to Europe to limit the impact of new sanctions [sic].”
The issues of human rights and democracy in Iran so far do not appear to have been placed on the agenda of the resumed talks.
Posted in Iran, sanctions | Comment »
Iran: Suggestions For the West
July 8th, 2010 by Farid
Sohrab Razzaghi, former chief of the center for political studies in Iran’s Interior Ministry and director of an NGO that works to strengthen civil society in Iran, and who recently fled Iran to reside in Amsterdam, wrote a piece at insideIRAN.com describing the aftermath of last year’s presidential elections as a time when a new political elite, supported by the Revolutionary Guards, consolidated its political, economic, cultural and social rule over Iran. According to Razzaghi, this new elite uses several suppressive measures to achieve its aspirations, including “preventing free flow of information,” “torture and execution of political and civil rights activists,” and “lack of academic freedom.” In response to this not-so-recent trend, Razzaghi proposes “a number of strategies for a sustainable transition to democracy in Iran”:
- Social networks should be created to support the political and civil liberties movement
- The EU should make human rights its top priority
- The international community should support civil society activists in capacity-building and other efforts
- Since “human rights are violated in Iran on three grounds: theoretical, governmental, and lack of respect for human rights among individual citizens,” programs directed towards promoting human rights should be targeted on all levels
- “As most civil rights and political activists are incarcerated,” a new generation of committed and educated activists must arise
- Efforts to support the free flow of information must include television broadcasting as well as the Internet, since 35% of Iranians do not have internet access
Meanwhile, insideIRAN.com reports that there have been extensive talks in the European Parliament this past week regarding civil society and human rights abuses in Iran. In an interview with Delbar Tavakoli, an Iranian journalist and social activist who recently fled to France, Tavakoli expresses his regret over the Islamic Republic’s use of propaganda and manipulation of the news through Fars News Agency and clearly indicates his lack of optimism for the West’s potential to do something to help the Iranian people. “The West imposes sanctions against Iran and hurts the average Iranian, while making the dictators much stronger through sanctions. We expect the West to place conditions in agreements and deals they sign with Iran,” Tavakoli said, adding that “We all know that if the West is doing something, it is first and foremost concerned with its own interests. They are not really doing it for us. Our democratic movement did not start last year. We have been involved in this fight since the Constitutional Revolution of 1906.” If one day, “in our wildest dreams,” Tavakoli said, the West would out of genuine care for the Iranian people do something to help them, the government would only manipulate such assistance to its own benefit by portraying it as a foreign intervention and therefore diverting the attention away from its human rights abuses.
Posted in Freedom, Human Rights, Iran, Journalism, Reform, US foreign policy, sanctions | 3 Comments »
Iran Sanctions Bill Passed
June 25th, 2010 by Farid
Yesterday, the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Divestment Act (H.R.2194) was passed unanimously in the Senate , 99-0, and the House, 408-8. The final version of the bill can be found here in a pdf version. Josh Gorbin writes at Foreign Policy that a few changes have been made to the bill, including a request that the President address the impact of ethanol on Iran’s nuclear capacity and Iranian energy “know-how” through joint ventures that could potentially “aid Iran’s energy sector.”
Gorbin reports that both the House and the Senate are confident that President Obama will sign the bill into law, but some are worried about its implementation. “So lawmakers and staffers are planning to keep a close watch to see how the law is carried out,” says Gorbin. The U.S. administration has been reluctant to address the impact of these sanctions, as uncertainty still exists over their effect.
Posted in Congress, Iran, Legislation, US foreign policy, sanctions | Comment »
Congress to Vote on “Crippling Sanctions” on Iran
June 24th, 2010 by Farid
The latest version of the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010 (​H.R.2194​), more popularly known as “crippling sanctions,” was introduced in Congress on Monday.  The Senate now appears likely to pass the bill this afternoon, with the House aiming to pass it by the end of the week.  The policy Director for National Iranian American Council (NIAC),  Jamal Abdi, describes these as sanctions “that would ‘cripple’ Iran’s economy by cutting off gasoline to Iran that is used by ordinary Iranians for everything from heating their homes to producing food and transporting medicine.” According to Abdi, the newly passed sanction bill means that the U.S. has missed an opportunity to support the Iranian people.
Abdi expresses his disappointment with the new bill, saying that there were additional bills introduced that would not only support the Iranian people and allow them to be directors of their own  future, but would also declare a solid American stance for human rights and provide opportunities for American human rights organizations to work in Iran. “Most Americans do not even realize that current policies make it illegal for U.S. NGOs to work in Iran without special permission, unless they have searched for ways to help Iranians and realized that there are few avenues to provide such support,” Abdi explains.
While Abdi points out positive elements of the Congressional sanctions package, such as H.R.4301, the Iranian Digital Empowerment Act (IDEA) — enabling software to reach Iranians in order to effectively communicate and access information — he argues that the shortcomings of the sanctions package are overwhelming and “will ultimately impose further pain on Iranians and do more damage than good.”
UPDATE: The Senate has just unanimously passed the increased sanctions on Iran, as the House prepares to deliberate the bill. If the act also passes the House, it will be sent on to President Obama to sign into law.
Posted in Human Rights, Iran, Legislation, US foreign policy, sanctions | Comment »
POMED Notes: Sen.CFR - Iran Policy in the Aftermath of UN Sanctions
June 23rd, 2010 by Jennifer
The U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations held a hearing to discuss implementation of international and domestic sanctions against Iran. The hearing came in light of the UN Security Council’s adoption two weeks ago of Resolution 1929, imposing a fourth and more stringent round of sanctions on Tehran. The June 22 hearing sought primarily to address enforcement of the resolution in order to curtail Iran’s nuclear program, but human rights and democracy issues were also prominent throughout the discussion. The Committee—chaired by Sen. John F. Kerry (D-MA), with ranking Committee member Sen. Richard G. Lugar (R-IN) in attendance—requested the testimony of two individuals: William Burns, Under Secretary for Political Affairs at the Department of State; and Stuart Levy, Under Secretary for Enforcement at the Department of the Treasury.
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Posted in Committee Meetings, Congressional Hearing Notes (Senate), Iran, United Nations, sanctions | Comment »
POMED Notes: “Iran: One Year After Elections”
June 12th, 2010 by Farid
The Democracy Council held a briefing on Capitol Hill covering the outcomes in Iran and U.S. Iranian relations in the aftermath of the contested presidential election. The briefing — “Iran: One Year After Elections” — was organized in distinct segments with different panels that covered a range of issues. Topics included human rights & civil society activity, Iran’s  international activity & influence, access to information/independent media & the Green Movement, and implications for U.S. policy.
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Posted in Elections, Iran, Protests, US foreign policy, sanctions | 1 Comment »
Iran: How Will UN Sanctions Impact Green Movement?
June 11th, 2010 by Jennifer
The United Nations adopted a fourth round of sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program on Wednesday, rekindling controversy within the international community and sparking debate on whether the tougher sanctions will ultimately prove effective in deterring Iran’s nuclear program. The hard-won decision was not unanimous, with twelve of the fifteen nations on the Council voting in favor of the measure, while Turkey and Brazil opposed it and Lebanon abstained. Iranian officials responded alternately with derision and defiance toward the decision: Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad​, called the sanctions “annoying flies,” while Iran’s envoy to the UN, Mohammad Khazee, vowed that his country would “never bow” to external pressure.
Mark Dubowitz and Benjamin Weinthal, writing in Slate magazine, praise the UN measure, arguing that sanctions hold the potential to help Iran’s pro-democracy Green Movement. Drawing parallels to the critical role played by economic sanctions in overturning South Africa’s Apartheid regime in the 1990s, Dubowitz and Weinthal claim that “a growing number of key opinion-makers and activists in the Green Movement support biting sanctions on the Iranian energy sector” as a means to weaken the regime and strengthen pro-democracy elements inside the country.
On the other hand, Ramin Jahanbegloo writing in the Christian Science Monitor views sanctions as a distraction from the task of encouraging democracy in Iran, not a means to achieve it. Proposing that the focus of U.S. and international efforts in Iran should shift from sanctions to support for human rights and democratic activism, Jahanbegloo calls sanctions “a secondary issue” and argues that “challenging the moral and political legitimacy of violence by the Iranian state against its own citizens ought to be the urgent priority of the international community.” Omid Nouripour, a German-Iranian member of the German parliament for the opposition Greens, echoed this sentiment today, suggesting that the international community can better weaken President Ahamdinejad at home by focusing on combating Iranian human rights violations rather than by pursuing sanctions.
Posted in Freedom, Human Rights, Iran, US foreign policy, United Nations, sanctions | Comment »
POMED Notes: “Iran: The Year of Reckoning”
June 4th, 2010 by Josh
Earlier today, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars hosted an event to explore the last year of Iranian politics and U.S. diplomacy toward the Iranian regime. There were two panels of experts, each highlighting a different component of either geopolitics or internal Iranian social forces. The first, moderated by professor Shaul Bakhash of George Mason University, included: Michael Postl, former Ambassador of the Austrian Republic to Iran; and Nicholas Burns, former Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs and current professor at Harvard. The second panel, moderated by professor Kaveh Ehsani from DePaul University, included: Farideh Farhi, independent scholar and affiliate graduate faculty at the University of Hawaii at Manoa; and Suzanne Malone, senior fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy.
Click here for POMED’s notes in PDF, or continue reading below the fold.
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Posted in DC Event Notes, Diplomacy, Elections, Freedom, Iran, Multilateralism​, Reform, Terrorism, US foreign policy, United Nations, sanctions | 1 Comment »
Iran: Are Sanctions and Engagement Compatible?
May 21st, 2010 by Josh
Echoing the frustrations of others earlier this week, Roger Cohen uses his most recent New York Times op-ed to question the wisdom of the Obama administration’s “bristling” response to the trilateral nuclear fuel swap deal. Cohen believes that the president should have exclaimed, “Pressure works! Iran blinked on the eve of new U.N. sanctions. It’s come back to our offer. We need to be prudent, given past Iranian duplicity, but this is progress. Isolation serves Iranian hard-liners.” Instead, the administration not only distanced itself from the deal, but also insisted “on a prior suspension of enrichment that was not in the October deal.”
Over at World Politics Review, Nikolas K. Gvosdev asks “Where does this process go from here?” One possibility, he says, is that “the Obama administration could run up against a growing domestic U.S. consensus that both a U.N. resolution and congressional legislation are needed — that having one without the other is insufficient.” Gvosdev predicts that such a scenario may complicate diplomatic overtures in the future. But Time’s Tony Karon isn’t so sure, writing that a “two-track” complementary approach of punitive pressures and diplomatic engagement “may be Washington’s answer to Iran’s strategy of negotiating while steadily adding to its stockpile of nuclear material.”
Posted in Congress, Diplomacy, Iran, Legislation, US foreign policy, US politics, sanctions | Comment »
Iran: Post-Nuclear Fuel Deal, Debating Next Steps
May 19th, 2010 by Josh
Upon yesterday’s news that a draft sanctions resolution was presented to the UN Security Council (full text of the resolution in PDF here), Iran’s regime swiftly dismissed the move as inconsequential, with one senior official saying that the draft “has no legitimacy at all.” The chief of Iran’s atomic energy organization not only predicted that the sanctions won’t pass, but insisted that U.S. leaders were discrediting themselves internationally by even pursuing such a measure.
As currently written, the proposed UN resolution builds upon previous sanctions to, among other things, target Iranian banks and empower member states to inspect suspicious Iranian cargo shipments.
Richard Haass of the Council on Foreign Relations believes that Iran’s leaders are more threatened than they let on, saying that “The fact that Iran … has spent much of the last week trying to derail this diplomatic effort with an alternative plan … suggests that Iran did not want this new UN resolution to pass.” But in the end, Haass concedes that neither UN sanctions nor U.S. legislation targeting Iran’s Revolutionary Guard will divert Iran from its goal, meaning that “the world will soon reach the long-predicted fork in the road: an Israeli or American decision to undertake a potentially risky and costly preventive military strike on Iranian nuclear installations, or an Israeli and American decision to carry out a potentially risky and costly policy of living with an Iranian nuclear weapon (or something close to it) through a mixture of deterrence and defense.”
Yet Barbara Slavin still holds out hope for a negotiated agreement. “The Obama administration has always said that its sanctions policy was meant to convince Iran to seek a diplomatic solution,” she writes at The Washington Note. “The question is whether it is prepared to test that proposition.”
Thus far, however, Rami Khouri — editor-at-large of The Daily Star and professor at American University of Beirut — is perturbed by the Obama administration’s chilly reaction to a nuclear fuel swap deal quite similar to the one endorsed by the U.S. in October of last year. “The available signs indicate that the Obama administration remains committed to its schizophrenic policy of reaching out to Iran while also sermonizing to it with condescension and even some disdain,” he says. Deriding this approach as presumptuous and aggressive, Khouri urges both the U.S. and Israel to “Drop the arrogance and double standards, negotiate fairly and realistically, and accept that Iran is a power that is at once strong, technically proficient, and proud of its sovereignty.”
Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett agree, decrying the confusion that they believe “still runs high in official Washington” — a confusion that could be dangerous if, as the Leveretts contend, the draft UN resolution provokes a “serious international backlash against the United States on the issue.”
Posted in Diplomacy, Iran, US foreign policy, United Nations, sanctions | 1 Comment »
Iran: Nuclear Deal, New Sanctions?
May 18th, 2010 by Josh
After the Obama administration spent most of yesterday distancing itself from the just-announced Iran-Turkey-Brazil nuclear fuel swap deal — in which Iran would ship about half its stock of low-enriched uranium to Turkey in exchange for more highly enriched uranium to be used exclusively for cancer treatment — Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this morning U.S. officials reached an agreement with China, Russia, Great Britain, and France for a draft sanctions resolution that will be sent to the full 15-member UN Security council. “I think this announcement is as convincing an answer to the efforts undertaken by Tehran over the last few days as any we could provide,” Clinton said. “There are a number of unanswered questions regarding the announcement coming from Tehran” — an announcement that the White House and  State Department treated with skepticism and disapproval, and others view as an Iranian-led effort to possibly stave off a fresh round of economic sanctions.
Although the big five members of the Security Council appear to be on board with the current approach, Newsweek​’s Owen Matthews fears that the nuclear fuel deal may “drive a wedge” between the U.S. and other countries (read: China and Russia) who remain wary of a tough regime of sanctions. Indeed, coming out of the nuclear deal, Turkey’s Foreign Minister insisted that “There is no more ground for new sanctions and pressures,” and Matthews contends that the onus is once again on the U.S. to prove to its allies that the need still exists.
Yet displaying a high level of diplomatic aptitude is only half the battle according to Trita Parsi, who believes that “the Obama administration’s problem with domestic actors may be a greater challenge.” A reconciled “extraterritorial sanctions bill” may still emerge from Congress regardless of whether the nuclear fuel deal meets American security stands, Parsi says, which could upset the balance of ongoing negotiations.
Meanwhile, insideIran.org relays the mixed reaction emanating from within Iran’s opposition movement. Yet Iranian conservatives appear to be conflicted as well, and Arash Aramesh observers that “It seems that the nuclear issue has caused the widening of some old rifts and the creation of new ones while prompting some of the most ardent critics of the government to approve a controversial nuclear deal.”
Posted in Diplomacy, Iran, US foreign policy, sanctions | 2 Comments »
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