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Iran defeats Qatar 1-0 to get closer to 2018 FIFA World Cup

- The Iran men's national football team, also known as Team Melli, inches closer to the 2018 FIFA World Cup after extending its unbeaten run in the Asian qualifying tournament with a victory over Qatar. On Thursday evening, the Iranian outfit notched up a 1-0 win over the Maroons in a Group A fixture at the multi-purpose Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium in the Qatari capital city of Doha. - 3/24/17

U.S. Senators From Both Parties Sponsor Bill Tightening Iran Sanctions

- U.S. senators from both major political parties introduced legislation on March 23 to tighten sanctions on Iran over its ballistic missile launches and other non-nuclear military activities. - 3/24/17

Did AIPAC Help Fund Attack-Ad by Islamophobic Group on J Street?

- The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is going to have a challenging time at its annual policy conference this weekend persuading attendees and those watching at home that it has healed the partisan rift it opened by investing millions of dollars in opposing the Iran nuclear deal. -Eli Clifton, LobeLog - 3/24/17

Iran to divert water from Gulf of Oman inwards

- Iran says it is implementing a landmark project to divert water from the Gulf of Oman to its central plateau - a project that could not only address the country's surging water crisis but could also help push ahead relevant economic plans in host regions. - 3/23/17

Congress races to craft Iran sanctions bills ahead of AIPAC conference

- Key lawmakers in the House and Senate are racing to craft bipartisan Iran sanctions legislation before the nation's largest pro-Israel lobby holds its policy conference starting this weekend, March 26. -Julian Pecquet, Al-Monitor - 3/22/17

Evolution, Not a New Revolution, in Iran

- Some hardline myths about Iran never seem to die. One myth especially pertinent to U.S. policy is that revolutionary regime change in Iran is a significant possibility in the near future and that with a bit more of a push from the outside, the Islamic Republic will collapse and be replaced by something much more to our liking. This illusion was prevalent in much of the George W. Bush administration, which accordingly adhered to a policy of refusing to deal with Iran and instead of trying to isolate it and to inflict economic pain through sanctions. -Paul R. Pillar, LobeLog - 3/21/17

White House Appeals Court Decision Blocking Trump Travel Order

- The U.S. government on March 17 announced it is appealing a court decision blocking President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration from taking effect. The Justice Department said in a court filing it would appeal a ruling by a U.S. District Court in the state of Maryland that halted the part of Trump's March 6 order temporarily banning the entry of travelers from six predominantly Muslim countries. - 3/18/17

Iran Takes Stand On Nuclear Deal Provision That Clashes With U.S. View

- Iran is questioning a provision of its nuclear deal with world powers in a way that could lead to confrontation with the United States. The 2015 deal restricts Iran from accumulating a large stock of Heavy Water, which is used in scientific research as well as in nuclear reactors that produce plutonium. - 3/18/17

Saudi Arabia Says Iranians To Take Part In Hajj This Year

- Saudi Arabia says Iranian pilgrims will take part in this year's annual hajj pilgrimage, after they did not attend last year amid tensions between the countries. The Saudi Ministry of Pilgrimage said the sides had finalized arrangements for Iranians' participation in the pilgrimage scheduled for September. - 3/18/17

US welcomes India's plan for Iran's Chabahar port

- The United States has welcomed India's plan to expand Iran's Chabahar port as a project that a top military official says will help the long-term stability of Afghanistan. US Army General John Nicholson, who commands US combat operations in Afghanistan, told the US Senate in a hearing that he welcomed the Chabahar project because it would offer Afghanistan a viable and economic alternative to shipping all its goods via Pakistan. - 3/17/17

The "#LiveTogether Norooz Challenge" spreading message of tolerance

- Over the past few days, the viral "Norooz Challenge" has brought Americans & Iranians together to broadcast "Happy New Year" in Persian, then challenge friends to follow suit. The Norooz Challenge is the first of several challenges in the #LiveTogether campaign, with a theme of crossing borders and cultures to put our similarities above our differences. - 3/16/17

Federal judges block Trump's travel ban

- A federal judge in Maryland Thursday morning temporarily blocked the 90-day ban on immigration for citizens of six countries in President Donald Trump's executive order, dealing another blow to the President's revised travel ban. Wednesday afternoon, a federal judge in Hawaii issued a temporary restraining order nationwide over the ban, hours before it was set to go into effect. -CNN - 3/16/17

American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Gave $60K to Architect of Trump's Muslim Ban

- Newly released tax filings show that the country's biggest pro-Israel group financially contributed to the Center for Security Policy, the think-tank that played a pivotal role in engineering the Trump administration's efforts to impose a ban on Muslim immigration. -Eli Clifton - 3/16/17

UN praises Iran's 'exemplary' refugee efforts

- While Iranians would bear the brunt of Donald Trump's visa ban, which has been blocked on the orders of a US court, international officials say the country has quietly emerged as one of the most generous towards refugees. "The leadership demonstrated by the Iranian government has been exemplary in hosting refugees and keeping borders open," said Sivanka Dhanapala, who heads the UN High Commissioner for Refugees team in Tehran. -AFP - 3/16/17

Reimagining International Relations

- International reactions to the election of Donald Trump have catalyzed a far swifter collapse of the American-led world order than anyone could have imagined. Interactions between great and middle-ranking powers are undergoing rapid evolution. The political, economic, and military interests and influence of the United States still span the globe, as does American popular culture -Chas W. Freeman, Jr., LobeLog - 3/16/17

Iranian Americans Afraid to Travel Under Trump Travel Order

- In the heart of Persian Square, in West Los Angeles, everyone is getting ready for Nowruz, the Iranian New Year, when family members visit each other.Normally it's the busy season for the travel agencies that cater to the Iranian community. But not this year. President Donald Trump's revised executive order banning travelers who do not currently have visas from six Muslim majority countries from entering the U.S. for three months is scheduled to take effect on March 16.Among the six countries on the travel order is Iran. -Elizabeth Lee, VOA - 3/15/17

Two Iranian Navy Ships Enter Gulf of Aden

- Iranian Navy has announced that two of its warships have entered the Gulf of Aden in recent days, Tasnim news agency reported. The two warships will be protecting Iran's cargo ships in the Gulf of Aden and Bab el-Mandeb, the navy said on Monday. - 3/14/17

American Musicians To Perform Works by Iranian Composers in Gesture of Welcome

- n late January, after the first of the recent U.S. travel bans was signed, Los Angeles-based violist and violinist Andrew McIntosh put a post on Facebook looking for recommendations of violin repertoire by living composers from the affected countries. "The response that I received to that post was astounding, with many friends and acquaintances chiming in with suggestions, mostly of music by composers from Iran," McIntosh said. -Laurie Niles, Violinist - 3/13/17

Iranian FM: Netanyahu faking history, falsifying Torah to sell bigoted lies against Iran

- Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has resorted to fake history and falsifying the Torah to sell lies against Iran. Zarif made the comment on his official Twitter account on Sunday in response to claims made by Netanyahu that Iran had been trying to "destroy the Jewish people" for some 2,500 years. - 3/13/17

Trump's Executive Order Is an Existential Threat to America

- While immigrants and refugees from the six countries included in the ban are not responsible for terrorism in the US, that hasn't stopped administration spokespersons from using them as scapegoats to justify their proposed policies. The Order, itself, is designed to set up Muslims as a "bogeyman" in order to win support for Trump's efforts to overhaul of the entire immigration/refugee program. -James J. Zogby, LobeLog - 3/13/17

Iran crowned 2017 AFC Beach Soccer champions

- Iran was crowned AFC Beach Soccer Championship Malaysia 2017 champions on Saturday after beating the United Arab Emirates 7-2 in Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia. Also, Iran's talisman Mohammadali Mokhtari was crowned the Most Valuable Player and Top Scorer - 3/11/17

Iran UN Envoy: Israel behind assassinations of nuclear scientists

- The Iranian ambassador to the United Nation's International Atomic Energy Agency said on Thursday that "Israel-hired terrorists" were behind the assassinations of several nuclear scientists in recent years. "While nuclear scientists across the entire Middle East have been assassinated by Israeli-hired terrorists, the regime's nuclear experts are allowed access to some countries' nuclear facilities," Reza Najafi said. - 3/11/17

Iran's IRGC Reportedly Test-Fires Sea-Launched Ballistic Missile

- Iranian news agencies are reporting that the country's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) has "successfully" test-fired a sea-launched ballistic missile. Tehran's state-run Fars and Tasnim news agencies on March 9 said the Iranian-built Hormuz-2 missile was test-fired sometime during the previous week. - 3/10/17

Russia's Putin urges Israel's Netanyahu to focus on modern world affairs when judging Iran

- Russian President Vladimir Putin has urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to stop adopting hostile policies against Iran based on a legend in "the fifth century B.C.," instead of focusing on the realities on the ground. - 3/10/17

Trump's Travel Ban: Exempting the Next Osama Bin Laden?

- The Trump administration introduced a new Executive Order that revised its previous order blocking visitors / immigrants from seven countries: Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Iran, Iraq and Sudan. In the new order, Iraq has been dropped, but the other six countries remain on the list. Trump's new ban, like his old ban, is a policy in search of a justification. -Bahman Baktiari, LobeLog - 3/9/17

Iran's Geopolitical Predicament and Its Consequences

- For some time now, most Middle East states and a good number of Western countries have portrayed Iran as the main cause of problems in the Middle East and parts of South Asia. Iran emerges from this narrative as the world's biggest sponsor of terrorism and, in general, an all-around source of evil. -Shireen T. Hunter - 3/8/17

What's Behind Iran's Muted Official Criticism of Revised Travel Ban?

- Iran has given a muted response to a revised U.S. immigration policy that temporarily bars entry to most Iranians, with a junior Iranian official criticizing it as the product of a disorganized U.S. foreign policy. Iranian state media quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Majid Takht Ravanchi as telling reporters on Tuesday that Tehran "rejects" the new U.S. travel order, signed by President Donald Trump a day earlier. -Michael Lipin, VOA - 3/8/17

Iran flotilla sets sail for Russia's Dagestan

- A flotilla of Iranian warships has left the country's northern territorial waters for Russia in a bid to convey the Islamic Republic's message of peace and friendship. The naval fleet, comprised of the domestically-manufactured Damavand destroyer and a missile-launching frigate, dubbed Derafsh, set sail for Makhachkala, the capital city of the Republic of Dagestan, in Russia on Tuesday. - 3/8/17

IRGC warns U.S. of 'irreversible consequences' after vessel encounter in Persian Gulf

- An official with the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps' navy said that unprofessional acts by the U.S. Navy in the Persian Gulf may have "irreversible consequences." The comments come after IRGC fast-attack vessels forced on Saturday the USNS Invincible and three ships from the British Royal Navy accompanying it to change direction in the Strait of Hormuz. - 3/8/17

Why Trump's travel ban is still a Muslim ban

- President Donald Trump's new travel ban may reduce the chaos at airports caused by his previous executive order, but it will not enhance American security or make the intention behind the original order any less bigoted. Indeed, in our opinion, the new travel ban is still very much a Muslim ban, even if it falls short of the Trump administration's true ambitions. -Trita Parsi and Adam Weinstein, CNN - 3/8/17

Eurasian Economic Union agrees to form free-trade zone with Iran

- The prime ministers of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) have signed a directive ordering preparations for a temporary agreement on forming a free-trade zone with Iran. The Eurasian Intergovernmental Council members held a meeting in the Kazakh capital of Bishkek on Tuesday with the presence of Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia. - 3/8/17

Could War With Iran Be on Washington's Agenda?

- In the splurge of "news," media-bashing, and Bannonism that's been Donald Trump's domestic version of a shock-and-awe campaign, it's easy to forget just how much of what the new president and his administration have done so far is simply an intensification of trends long underway. Those who already pine for the age of Obama -- a president who was smart, well read, and not a global embarrassment -- need to acknowledge the ways in which, particularly in the military arena, Obama's years helped set the stage for our current predicament. -William Hartung, LobeLog - 3/7/17

Pentagon Blasts Iranian Navy For Harassing U.S. Ships In Persian Gulf

- The Pentagon has blasted what it called the "unsafe and unprofessional" behavior of the Iranian navy after two separate incidents in the Strait of Hormuz last week. A Pentagon spokesman said on March 6 that an Iranian frigate came within 150 meters of the lightly armed USNS Invincible on March 2. Then on March 4, several small assault craft came within 350 meters of the Invincible and three British naval ships. - 3/7/17

Trump's New Muslim Ban

- National Iranian American Council Policy Director Jamal Abdi released the following statement in response to President Trump's revised Muslim Ban: "Donald Trump has doubled down on his harmful and un-American threat to ban Muslims from this country. Since Trump's first Muslim ban, we have seen a spate of hate crimes against people who were believed to be Muslim or of Middle Eastern descent. The President and advisors like Steve Bannon are effectively egging on these acts of hate and bigotry by making discrimination against us official U.S. policy. - 3/6/17

Iranian Boats Block U.S., British Navy Ships In Strait of Hormuz

- A U.S. official has told Reuters that several fast-attack ships from Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) came close to a U.S. Navy ship in the Strait of Hormuz, forcing it to change its course. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Iranian boats on March 4 came within 600 meters of the U.S. Navy ship, the Invincible, and then stopped. - 3/6/17

Iran retailers feel cornered by foreign brands

- Small shops, department stores and supermarkets in Iran are feeling the heat from big retailers in neighboring countries and beyond menacingly making their presence felt at a pace never seen before. Hypermarkets and mass merchandisers from Turkey, UAE, and Europe are capitalizing on dramatic shifts taking place in the Iranian market as customers are endearing to mass-premium brands. - 3/6/17

Khamenei Tells Aliyev Israel Seeks To 'Weaken' Iran-Azerbaijan Ties

- Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has told visiting Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev that Tehran believes Israel is working to weaken ties between the two countries. - 3/6/17

Iran's President Rouhani welcomes Azerbaijan's Aliyev, hails ties as 'brotherly, strategic'

- Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has hailed relations with neighboring Azerbaijan as "friendly, brotherly and strategic," saying they share close views on regional issues. Tehran-Baku ties "have made considerable progress in the past three years," Rouhani said at a joint news conference with his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev who arrived in Tehran Sunday for a one-day visit. - 3/5/17

Iranian Rock Artist Defies Threats, Performs in Israeli Peace Concert

- Exiled Iranian rock musician Shahin Najafi sang alongside Israeli rock star Aviv Geffen at a concert in Tel Aviv -- the first performance by an Iranian artist at an Israeli rock concert -- on March 2, 2017. At Thursday's concert, Najafi read a message he addressed to U.S. President Donald Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and "all politicians," expressing opposition to "walls" anywhere in the world and urging national leaders to "stop dividing people before it's too late." -Michael Lipin, VOA - 3/5/17

Azerbaijan and Iran launch rail link

- Concurrent with the visit of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev to Tehran, the 10-kilometer Astara (Iran)-Astara (Azerbaijan) railway line project began its trial operation successfully on Sunday. With the commissioning of this railroad as well as the completion of Rasht-Astara railway line project, the Islamic Republic of Iran will be connected to Europe's rail network via Azerbaijan, and Azerbaijan will get direct access to the Persian Gulf. - 3/5/17

Iran successfully tests S300 missile system

- Damavand military drill has test-fired S300 air defense system, during which it successfully targeted aerial vehicles flying in the outreach. An undisclosed air defense base was hosting the test-firing operation where a number of military personnel and commanders along with civilian officials attended. - 3/5/17

Iran Said Seeking Russian Cruise Missiles Ahead Of Weapons Ban Expiration

- Iran is already negotiating to buy cruise missiles from Russia and is likely to make other major weapons purchases when a UN ban on selling Iran sophisticated weapons expires in 2020, a U.S. intelligence report finds. - 3/4/17

White House Again Delays Release Of Revamped Order On Immigration

- The White House has again delayed release of a revamped executive order limiting travel and immigration to the United States. The delays belie assertions by Trump and top White House officials that immediate action was necessary to keep the country safe from terrorist attack. - 3/3/17

Iran Devotes Complex To Housing Families Of Fallen Afghan Troops

- Iran has opened a new complex to house the families of Afghan fighters killed in the ongoing Syrian war, where Tehran has teamed up with Moscow to help regional ally President Bashar al-Assad counter an armed rebellion. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL - 3/3/17

In Afghanistan, America's Biggest Foe Is Self-Deception

- America's war in Afghanistan is now in its 16th year, the longest foreign war in our history. The phrase "no end in sight" barely covers the situation. Prospects of victory -- if victory is defined as eliminating that country as a haven for Islamist terrorists while creating a representative government in Kabul -- are arguably more tenuous today than at any point since the U.S. military invaded in 2001 and routed the Taliban. -William Astore, LobeLog - 3/3/17

Iran's Major Naval Exercise, Missile Tests a 'Standard Practice'

- Iran has wrapped up a large-scale naval exercise involving missile tests at a time of heightened tension with the United States. The U.S. downplayed the Iranian maneuvers as a "standard practice." Iranian state media said the navy drill that ended Tuesday spanned 2 million square kilometers of the Arabian Sea, extending to the entrances of the Persian Gulf and Red Sea. -Michael Lipin and Sayran Sharafi, VOA - 3/2/17

The Cultural Context of Trump's Muslim Ban

- Liberal Hollywood opposes the Trump brand as crass and embarrassing of the American image. Nevertheless, perhaps Hollywood had a latent role in creating a cultural context which President Trump could rely on as a background for his utterance on Muslims and the "other." -Fareed Marjaee - 3/2/17

Iran regaining OPEC's market share

- The recent reports indicate that the Islamic Republic of Iran has already been able to escalate its oil exports to levels that existed before sanctions were imposed on the country in 2011. Iran's exports of oil stood at 2.35 million bpd before the sanctions were imposed against the country in 2011. - 3/2/17

Ten Nations Pledge To Fight Terrorism, Nurture Prosperity At Pakistan Summit

- A regional economic summit in Pakistan has concluded with 10 nations pledging to collectively fight the "challenge of terrorism" and push for greater collaboration on trade, energy, and infrastructure. Islamabad hosted the daylong Economic Cooperation Organization summit on March 1. - 3/2/17

Iran's President Rouhani Speaking at ECO Summit says the world economy's heart to beat in Asia

- Iran says Asia is to take the lead from the rest of the world in economic supremacy from the second half of the 21st century onward. "The world economy's heart is to beat in Asia from the second half of the present century," President Hassan Rouhani said at the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO)'s 13th plenary session in Pakistan's capital Islamabad on Wednesday. - 3/1/17

Debunking a Myth about Central Asia's Borders

- Few parts of the world are the subject of as much sustained journalistic ignorance as Central Asia. News from what are patronizingly known as the "stans" rarely makes it into mainstream news outlets, except in connection to Islamic terrorism, authoritarianism, and ethnic and religious tensions. -Alexander Morrison, LobeLog - 3/1/17

Sanders Talks Israel, Trump, and Anti-Semitism at J Street

- For many years, leaders across the world, especially Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, had sounded the alarm about the possibility of an Iranian nuclear weapon. What the Obama administration was able to do, with the support of groups like J Street and others, was to get an agreement that froze and dismantled large parts of that nuclear program, put it under the most intensive inspections regime in history, and removed the prospect of an Iranian nuclear weapon from the list of global threats. -LobeLog - 2/28/17

Iran Says Navy Test-Fires New Missiles In Persian Gulf

- An Iranian official says the country's navy has successfully test-fired its latest missiles during military drills in the Persian Gulf, part of the first major exercise in the area since the January 20 inauguration of U.S. President Donald Trump. - 2/27/17

U.S. Reportedly Found Little Terror Threat From Seven Targeted Countries

- The Associated Press reported on February 24 that U.S. security analysts have found no clear terror threat from citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries targeted in President Donald Trump's temporary travel ban. - 2/26/17

Iran will be one of the most powerful economies in the world by 2050

- By 2050, the world is likely to have changed drastically from what we know now, and the planet's economic and financial landscape will be no exception, Business Insider reported. A report from professional services giant PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) looks at which economies around the world will be the biggest and most powerful in 33 years time. - 2/24/17

Trump Can't Deal With Iran If He Doesn't Understand It

- Tweets about putting Iran "ON NOTICE" are no replacement for appreciating the sources of Iranian conduct in the Middle East. -Ali Vaez, Foreign Policy - 2/24/17

Tension Rising Between Regional Rivals Turkey and Iran

- Tensions are on the rise between Turkey and Iran. A growing war of words between the countries' diplomats has brought to the surface simmering competition for influence in the region. "Iran is an important neighbor to us. We have always been in dialogue with Iran. But it does not mean we will ignore Iran's efforts in penetrating the region," said Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin in the latest thinly veiled threat between the countries during his weekly news conference. -Dorian Jones, VOA - 2/23/17

PHOTOS: Tehran Peace Museum

- Tehran peace Museum is a member of the International Network of Museums for Peace. the main objective of the museum is to promote a culture of peace through raising awareness about the devastating consequences of war with focus on health and environmental impacts of Chemical weapons. - Leila Ghodratollahi - 2/23/17

Iran Sends Military Students to Syrian Front

- Iran is increasingly using Syrian battlefields as a proving ground for fresh military officers in training, according to Iranian media reports and Syrian opposition figures. Tehran-based Imam Hossein University, a school affiliated with The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), said it recently deployed military leadership students to fight in Syria as part of an educational program designed for future officers, according to state-run media. -Sirwan Kajjo and Mehdi Jedinia, VOA - 2/23/17

Iran, Iraq Initialize Plans For Oil Sector Cooperation

- The governments of Iraq and Iran have signed a memorandum of understanding about conducting a joint study for a possible pipeline to export oil through Iran from Iraq's Kirkuk region. The oil ministers of the two countries signed the memorandum in Baghdad on February 20. - 2/21/17

French Far-Right Leader Says Backing Assad 'Least Bad Option' In Syria

- French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen said allowing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to stay in power may be the "least bad option" for ending the Syrian civil war and stemming the flow of refugees into Europe. - 2/21/17

The rising risk of showdown between Trump and Iran

- Are the US and Iran heading for a new confrontation? After a turbulent first three weeks in which President Donald Trump described Iran as "the world's number one terrorist state" and put it "on notice", it is a question many are asking. -Kambiz Fattahi, BBC - 2/21/17

Russians Take Spotlight At Kish Island Beach Volleyball Final

- After the last three days of cold and wet weather, the sun finally showed up and heated up the final of the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Kish Island 3-Star at Kish Marine Recreational and Sports Complex on Saturday. Nikita Liamin and Viacheslav Krasilnikov's second World Tour event of the season worked like a charm, as they captured the gold medal at the Kish Island 3-Star 2017 - 2/20/17

EU, IAEA reaffirm commitment to Iran deal in joint statement

- The European Union (EU) and the United Nations' nuclear agency have reaffirmed their support for the 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and six other countries. Media outlets reported on Friday that the two sides had communicated the stance in a joint statement a day earlier following the fifth meeting of their senior officials. - 2/20/17

Iran Bans Teen Chess Siblings Over Head Scarf, Match Against Israeli

- Iranian chess officials have barred two teen siblings from domestic chess tournaments and the national team for crossing some of the religious establishment's so-called red lines at an international chess event. - 2/20/17

Iran Rejects U.S. Pressure Tactics, Urges 'Mutual Respect'

- Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has said his country rejects threats and coercion and seeks diplomatic solutions based on "mutually acceptable scenarios." Speaking at the Munich Security Conference on February 19, Zarif rejected U.S. sanctions and a recent announcement by U.S. President Donald Trump that Iran had been "put on notice" over a recent ballistic-missile test. - 2/20/17

US Hesitates to Confirm Sanctioned Iran's General Soleimani Visited Russia

- The Trump administration says it cannot confirm that an Iranian general barred from foreign travel by the U.N. Security Council visited Russia this week, despite a prominent U.S. congressman and news outlet saying he had made the trip. -Michael Lipin, VOA - 2/18/17

Iran Announces New Military Drills Despite U.S. Warnings

- Iran says its elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) will conduct massive military drills next week in eastern and northeastern parts of the country. General Mohammad Pakpour, commander of the IRGC's ground units, said in Tehran on February 18 that the maneuvers, Grand Prophet 11, will begin on February 20 and last for three days. - 2/18/17

European Parliament Condemns Human Rights Violations in Bahrain

- While the Trump administration is escalating tensions with Iran and moving closer to the Persian Gulf monarchies, the European Parliament (EP) took a step in the opposite direction. At its plenary session on February 16, it adopted a resolution condemning human rights violations in Bahrain and Kuwait, with a particular focus on Bahrain -Eldar Mamedov, LobeLog - 2/18/17

Why America needs the Muslim Ms. Marvel now more than Ever!

- During the first few weeks of the Trump administration, we've seen increased pressure on Muslim and immigrant communities in the United States. In the face of these threats, which Marvel superhero might be best equipped to defend the people, ideals and institutions under attack? Some comic fans and critics are pointing to Kamala Khan, the new Ms. Marvel. -Katie M. Logan, Informed Comment - 2/18/17

Targeting Iran's Regime Will Strengthen, Not Break, the Moscow-Tehran Alliance

- In a Wall Street Journal op-ed published on February 13, hawkish scholar Michael Ledeen argued that "dismantling the Khamenei regime as peacefully as possible" is the best way to end what he describes as the Russian-Iranian alliance. His argument, though, contained several questionable assertions that cast doubt on the feasibility of his policy recommendations. -Mark N. Katz - 2/17/17

The Problem with Thinking on Your Knees

- Take the Trump administration's recent threats against Iran. The Iranian public does not seem particularly alarmed. These are threats that it has heard a thousand times before. The more fatalist among them shrug and say, "God does what God wills." But the more combative say, "Let them come and get a taste of us. Iran isn't Iraq or Afghanistan." The group that is driven to despair by Trumps threats is the small minority of intellectuals in and out of Iran. -Mahmoud Omidsalar - 2/17/17

No Breakthroughs At Second Round Of Syrian Peace Talks In Astana

- Syrian peace negotiators have failed to make any breakthroughs at talks in Kazakhstan, but power brokers Russia, Turkey, and Iran said they would move to shore up a shaky cease-fire. - 2/17/17

Don't Call Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps Terrorists

- According to news reports, the Trump administration is weighing the option of designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO). In parallel, Congress also seems to be taking steps in that direction. Some of the most hawkish and ideological elements of the American foreign-policy establishment, as well as hardcore opponent of the nuclear agreement such as United Against Nuclear Iran and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, have long pursued this designation for the IRGC. -Reza Nasri - 2/16/17

Iran's Rohani Seeks To Mend Frayed Ties With Persian Gulf Arab Neighbors

- Iranian President Hassan Rohani has sought to mend ties with his Gulf Arab neighbors on a one-day trip to Oman and Kuwait, his first since taking power in 2013. Relations between predominantly Shi'ite Iran and the mainly Sunni Arab countries of the Persian Gulf, particularly Saudi Arabia, remain strained over their support for opposing sides in the conflicts in Syria and Yemen. - 2/16/17

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