Mordad 5 1400 - July 27 2021
Iraqi militias grow in power as Iran's military strongman proves too weak

On a baking early summer evening last month, Iran's man in Iraq sat down in Baghdad with a group of militiamen to try to bring calm to the capital's foreboding streets. Assembled in a room were leaders of the most feared militias in the land, men who had days before taken over a checkpoint leading to the seat of power, and were planning a military parade of their own through the Iraqi capital. -Martin Chulov, Guardian 7/26/21

Qatar's foreign minister visits Iran to meet top officials

Qatar's foreign minister Sheikh Mohammad bin Abdulrahman Al Thani travelled to Tehran for an unannounced visit and met top officials, days after visiting Washington, Iran's state news agency reported. IRNA said that Al Thani, who is also Qatar's deputy prime minister, met president-elect Ebrahim Raisi on Sunday and the two discussed bilateral relations. -Al Jazeera 7/26/21

The phoniness of opposition to the Iran nuclear agreement

The negotiations, currently in hiatus, to restore compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action - known familiarly as the Iran nuclear deal - have elicited opposition arguments that are stale and dated. Many of those arguments not only suffer from a deficiency of logic but also ignore what is now a substantial empirical record of what happens with and without the JCPOA. That record constitutes what social scientists would call a natural experiment. -Paul R. Pillar, Responsible Statecraft 7/23/21

Iran opens oil terminal to bypass strategic Strait of Hormuz

Outgoing President Hassan Rouhani has said Iran opened its first oil terminal in the Gulf of Oman, a move that will allow it to avoid using the Strait of Hormuz shipping route that has been a focus of regional tension for decades. "This is a strategic move and an important step for Iran. It will secure the continuation of our oil exports," Rouhani said in a televised speech on Thursday. -Al Jazeera 7/22/21

No Clean Hands: The Interventions of Middle Eastern Powers, 2010-2020

Instability in the Middle East has often been blamed on a single expansionist U.S. opponent, whether that be Libya, Iraq, or Iran. However, a qualitative and quantitative view of the region's conflicts over the past 10 years shows several states to be interventionist to roughly the same degree, contradicting the argument that regional instability is primarily caused by a single "malign actor." -Matthew Petti and Trita Parsi, Quincy Institute 7/22/21

Europe's self-inflicted irrelevance on the Iran nuclear deal

The European signatories of the 2015 JCPOA, Britain, France and Germany, known as the E3, issued a statement on July 6 in which they responded to the IAEA's latest report on Iran's enrichment activities. While, on the face of it, the statement looks like just another expression of "grave concern," its timing makes it different. -Eldar Mamedov, Responsible Statecraft 7/21/21

Trump Administration knew Soleimani killing risked war with Iran

The Trump administration acknowledged that assassinating Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani in January 2020 could have escalated into war with Tehran, a newly declassified memo shows. Last week, the Biden administration released a heavily-redacted version of the legal justification for killing Soleimani, in response to a lawsuit filed by the civil liberties organization Protect Democracy. -Matthew Petti, Responsible Statecraft 7/21/21

Surprise: no one 'bad guy' responsible for violence in the Middle East

Americans love a good-guy, bad-guy story - especially in the Middle East. In the 1980s, Muammar Ghaddafi was "the mad dog of the Middle East." Two decades later, overthrowing Saddam Hussein was supposed to be a death blow to the "Axis of Evil." Around the same time, Syria became a "rogue nation" that exports "killers." Throughout this whole time, Iran has remained the "evil hand" behind all of the instability in the region. -Matthew Petti, Responsible Statecraft 7/20/21

Iran and Israel's Naval War Is Expanding

Early this month, one Iranian and one Israeli tweet created a storm in the already troubled waters of the Mediterranean Sea. On June 26, the Iranian Embassy in Lebanon wrote a vaguely worded tweet with a picture of an Iranian ship and said that Iran did not need America's approval to send fuel to Lebanon. The tweet implied the ship carried fuel and was headed to Lebanon. -Anchal Vohra, Foreign Policy 7/20/21

Biden administration rips Iran over delay in prisoner exchange talks

A spokesman for the State Department slammed Iran in response to claims that the U.S. and UK were linking a humanitarian exchange with the Iran Nuclear Deal, calling the allegations "outrageous." Iran's deputy foreign minister, in a tweet on Saturday, accused the U.S. and British governments of holding a proposed prisoner swap "hostage" over negotiations for the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). -The Hill 7/19/21

33 years after getting demolished by the US, Iran's navy is flexing its new muscles

Thirty-three years ago, the US inflicted a devastating defeat on the Iranian navy. Since then, Iran has rebuilt and modernized its fleet, equipping it for operations on the high seas. Its progress was visible in June, when two Iranian warships sailed into the Atlantic for the first time. -Business Insider 7/16/21

33 years after getting demolished by the US, Iran's navy is flexing its new muscles

Thirty-three years ago, the US inflicted a devastating defeat on the Iranian navy. Since then, Iran has rebuilt and modernized its fleet, equipping it for operations on the high seas. Its progress was visible in June, when two Iranian warships sailed into the Atlantic for the first time. -Business Insider 7/16/21

Grand ayatollah warns against Iran's Taliban approach

Grand Ayatollah Lotfollah Safi Golpaygani, one of Iran's most senior clerics, lashed out at the Islamic Republic's softened policy at a moment of rapid Taliban advances and widespread atrocities in Afghanistan. Such an approach, the ayatollah warned, "is a grave and irreparable mistake." He cautioned the Iranian government not to trust a "terrorist" group "whose evil and murderous nature is no secret to the world." -Al-Monitor 7/16/21

Iran is a red herring in the debate over repealing the Iraq war authorization

Congress's momentum toward finally repealing the decades-old Iraq war authorization has hit a speed bump. After the House of Representatives in June overwhelmingly voted on a bipartisan basis to pass Rep. Barbara Lee's (D-Calif.) bill to revoke the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force, similar efforts in the Senate have hit a temporary standstill. -Elizabeth Beavers, Responsible Statecraft 7/15/21

US, Afghan's neighbors scramble to address Taliban surge

A Taliban surge has put the insurgent force in control of key border posts, opened up fresh sources of revenue and rattled many of Afghanistan's neighbors. In recent weeks, the Taliban have gained control of key border posts with neighbors Iran, Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. -AP 7/15/21

Has Biden Botched Diplomacy with Iran?

The Biden administration's effort to reenter the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is languishing, and there is an increasing likelihood that the nuclear deal won't be salvaged: Hopes for a quick re-entry to the accord that Donald Trump abandoned have dimmed after six rounds of negotiations in Vienna, with little sign of when a seventh might start. -Daniel Larison 7/14/21

The Iran nuclear deal, six years on

Signatories of Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers have seen their hopes of restoring the landmark accord by its signing anniversary on Wednesday dashed as multiple factors complicated the process. A clear date has yet to be decided for the start of the seventh - and likely final - round of talks in Vienna to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the deal that was signed by Iran, China, Russia, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States on July 14, 2015. -Maziar Motamedi, Al Jazeera 7/14/21

Fear and Misery in an Afghan City Where Taliban Stalk the Streets

The Afghan way of war in 2021 comes down to this: a watermelon vendor on a sweltering city street, a government Humvee at the front line just 30 feet away, and Taliban fighters lurking unseen on the other side of the road. When the shooting starts, the vendor makes himself scarce, leaving his melons on the table and hoping for the best. When it stops, selling resumes, to customers now all too rare. -New York Times 7/14/21

Biden-linked expert backs regime change at event sponsored by Iranian militant group

Former defense official Michèle Flournoy called for regime change in Iran at a conference on Saturday sponsored by the Mojahedin-e Khalq - an Iranian militant group once listed as a terrorist organization. A spokesperson for Flournoy's consultancy, WestExec Advisors, which she co-founded with President Joe Biden's now-Secretary of State Antony Blinken, attempted to walk back her appearance -Eli Clifton and Matthew Petti, Responsible Statecraft 7/14/21

Conservationist Fights for Persian Leopards in Iraqi Kurdistan

Hana Raza is determined to overcome conflict- and gender-related obstacles to establish a network of protected areas for the endangered big cats. After the Iran-Iraq War, which severely degraded Iraqi nature, Persian leopards were thought to be locally extinct. The war left the country with mountains covered with millions of landmines and many species with vastly depleted numbers. So nobody expected this endangered species to remain in the Zagros Mountains of Iraqi Kurdistan. Veronika Perkova, Earth Island Journal 7/13/21

Iran's Election: Making Your Iranian Nightmares Come True

On June 18, 2021, Ebrahim Raisi was elected President of Iran. It was not the first time he had run, but it was the first time he had won. The first time he ran, he was defeated by the moderate Hassan Rouhani. But there were influential Americans who had hoped the hardline Raisi would win. In 2017, Elliott Abrams, who would later be Trump's special representative for Iran, published an article in which he called Raisi "as hard-line an Iranian cleric as one can find." -Ted Snider, Antiwar.com 7/13/21

America's Afghan War Is Over, so What About Iraq-and Iran?

Let's hope Biden has learned another history lesson: that the United States should stop invading and attacking other countries. If Biden had quickly rejoined the JCPOA nuclear agreement with Iran on taking office, tensions would be lower by now, and the U.S. troops in Iraq might well be home already. - Medea Benjamin & Nicolas J.S. Davies, Common Dreams 7/13/21

What to expect from the new Iranian president - a view from the Caucasus

Like the rest of Iran's neighbors, Armenia and Azerbaijan are trying to make sense of how the country's newly elected conservative president Ebrahim Raisi may change Tehran's orientation toward the region. Seen from an Azerbaijan perspective, continuity with the policies implemented by the outgoing moderate administration of Hassan Rouhani would be the preferred course. -Eldar Mamedov, Responsible Statecraft 7/12/21

Report: US smuggled 2 scientists out of Iran before assassination of nuclear programme mastermind

The US smuggled two Iranian Defence Ministry scientists out of the country only two weeks before the assassination of nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, Ensaf News quoted a former security official as stating. Ensaf News's report has reportedly prompted the Iranian authorities to threaten the news website, which is known for its ties to reformist forces, and pressure it to remove the report from the website. -MEMO 7/12/21

Armed Afghan women take to streets in show of defiance against Taliban

Women have taken up guns in northern and central Afghanistan, marching in the streets in their hundreds and sharing pictures of themselves with assault rifles on social media, in a show of defiance as the Taliban make sweeping gains nationwide. One of the biggest demonstrations was in central Ghor province, where hundreds of women turned out at the weekend, waving guns and chanting anti-Taliban slogans. -Guardian 7/9/21

Iran and Russia move to fill diplomatic vacuum in Afghanistan

Iran, Turkey, Pakistan and Russia have moved to fill the military and diplomatic vacuum opening up in Afghanistan as a result of the departure of US forces and military advances by the Taliban. In Tehran the Iranian FM, Javad Zarif, met Taliban negotiators to discuss their intentions towards the country, and secured a joint statement saying the Taliban do not support attacks on civilians, schools, mosques and hospitals and want a negotiated settlement on Afghanistan's future. -Guardian 7/9/21

Taliban says it controls '85 percent' of Afghan territory, made no ceasefire promise to US

The Taliban said Friday it now controls 85 percent of Afghanistan's territory and that the group made no promise to the US to refrain from attacking Afghan administrative centres, as its militants mount an offensive amid a final pullout of US troops. The group's territorial claims cannot be independently verified. -France 24 7/9/21

Keeping up attacks, some Iraq militias challenge patron Iran

Iran's expeditionary Quds Force commander brought one main directive for Iraqi militia faction leaders long beholden to Tehran, when he gathered with them in Baghdad last month: Maintain calm, until after nuclear talks between Iran and the United States. But he was met with defiance. -AP 7/9/21

U.S. 'Failed' in Afghanistan, Iran Foreign Minister Says Amid Taliban, Afghan Peace Talks

Iran on Wednesday hosted the first significant talks in months between the Taliban and Afghan government representatives-a previously unannounced meeting that comes as the U.S. completes its withdrawal from Afghanistan and districts increasingly fall to the Taliban across the country. -Newsweek 7/8/21

Iran hosts high-level Afghan peace talks as fighting surges

Iran on Wednesday hosted the first significant talks in months between Taliban and Afghan government representatives, a surprise meeting that comes as the U.S. completes its withdrawal from Afghanistan and districts fall to the Taliban across the country. The high-level peace talks between the warring sides follow months-old discussions in Qatar that have been stalled by a diplomatic stalemate and escalating violence. -AP 7/7/21

Would-be monarch of Iran to brief umbrella org for US Jewish groups

The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, an umbrella group representing various Jewish American and pro-Israel organizations, is planning to host Reza Pahlavi, the heir apparent to the last Shah of Iran, for an off-the-record "special leadership briefing" on Thursday, bringing questions and condemnations from other pro-Israel and Iranian American groups. -Eli Clifton, Responsible Statecraft 7/7/21

'Caught in a geopolitical struggle': US-Iran tug of war in Iraq

With ISIL largely defeated, there are serious questions as to why the United States needs to keep 2,500 troops in Iraq, particularly since their presence could provoke a major military confrontation with Iran. -Thomas O Falk, Al-Jazeera 7/7/21

France, Germany, China push to revive Iran nuclear talks

French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed there is "a window of opportunity" now for talks aimed at reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, the French presidency said. The three leaders, who spoke via videoconference on Monday, agreed on the need to move negotiations forward in order to get a deal "as soon as possible" and avoid the risk of nuclear proliferation, a French top official said. -AP 7/6/21

Iran accuses Israel of June attack on civilian nuclear site

Iran accused Israel on Tuesday of mounting a sabotage attack on a nuclear facility near Tehran last month, the country's state-run news agency reported as authorities acknowledged for the first time that the mysterious assault had caused structural damage to the site. Authorities announced in late June that they had prevented saboteurs from attacking a site located in Karaj, a city about 40 kilometers northwest of the Iranian capital. -AP 7/6/21

Thirsty Iran faced with scorching summer

Iran is ranked among the world's arid countries with its annual precipitation levels at about one-third of the global average. But this year, significantly lower rainfall means the country is experiencing one of its driest years, if not the driest, in several decades. -Sadeq Lavasani, Tehran Times 7/5/21

China blames US for conflicts from Afghanistan to Iran

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi accused the US of being "the source" of a series of conflicts in the world, seeking to present Beijing as a "defender" and "friendly neighbour" for countries in conflicts. Addressing an international relations conference in the Chinese capital on Saturday, Wang listed a series of international conflicts - from Afghanistan to Iran - that he said the US was directly responsible for. -South China Morning Post 7/5/21

Demonization of Iran Is a "Mistake" That Has Trapped the U.S. in Perpetual Middle East Conflict

After the Biden administration launched airstrikes targeting an Iranian-backed militia in Syria and Iraq, military historian Andrew Bacevich says the United States needs to reassess its decades-long hostility toward Iran. "The demonization of Iran is now a well-established reality of our contemporary politics. It's a mistake," he says. -Democracy Now 7/2/21

Revisionists want to downplay U.S. role in 1953 Iran coup. Don't listen.

U.S. involvement in the 1953 coup in Iran is not debatable, but there continues to be a fight over the extent of that involvement and how significant the U.S. and U.K. roles were. According to a recent surge of revisionist accounts, the U.S. role was not that great, but hundreds of documents released by the U.S. government in 2017 have confirmed the standard view that the U.S. role was significant and indeed crucial to the toppling of the popular prime minister, Mohammed Mossadegh. -Daniel Larison, Responsible Statecraft 7/2/21

How the downing of Iran Air flight 655 still sparks US-Iran enmity

This tension and deep mistrust, however, is not novel, but historic. Thirty-four years ago this month, on July 3, a critical moment amid decades of U.S.-Iranian enmity unfolded. The distrust generated from the event rivals even that of the 1953 CIA and MI6 coup that overthrew a democratically elected premier in order to reimpose the despotic shah. -Nick Danby, Responsible Statecraft 7/2/21

Iran's 2022 World Cup qualifiers fixtures revealed

Iran will start the 2022 World Cup qualification Round 3 with a match against Syria on Sept. 2. The 'Persian Leopards' discovered their path to the 2022 Qatar World Cup, with the groups for the third round of Asian qualification announced on Thursday. 7/1/21

US must guarantee it will not leave nuclear deal again, says Iran

A US guarantee that it will never unilaterally leave the Iran nuclear deal again is vital to a successful conclusion of talks in Vienna on the terms of Washington's return to the agreement, the Iranian ambassador to the UN, Majid Takht-Ravanchi, has said. His comments are the clearest official signal yet that disagreements between the US and Iran on how such a guarantee might be constructed remain a serious obstacle. -Guardian 7/1/21

UN chief urges US to remove Iran sanctions as agreed in 2015

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appealed to US President Joe Biden's administration to lift or waive all sanctions on Iran as agreed under a 2015 deal aimed at stopping Tehran from developing a nuclear weapon. In a report to the UN Security Council, Guterres also urged the United States to "extend the waivers with regard to the trade-in oil with the Islamic Republic of Iran, and fully renew waivers for nuclear non-proliferation projects". -Al-Jazeera 7/1/21

Sonita: How an international human rights rapper found a home as a Bard student

Sonita Alizada's eyes are bruised, her scratched cheeks dripping blood. Stamped in the middle of her forehead is a barcode, just below a sparking tiara with a white veil attached. Wearing a wedding dress and holding a bouquet of flowers, she raps. "I scream to make up for a woman's lifetime of silence, I scream on behalf of the deep wounds on my body" -Katelyn Cordero, Poughkeepsie Journal 7/1/21

The strikes against militias and the future of US troops in the Middle East

The United States is in yet another dust-up with militias in Iraq and Syria, with U.S. aircraft striking facilities that the Pentagon says are associated with recent drone attacks against bases in Iraq that house U.S. military personnel. Such attacks, using drones and other means, have become frequent. The U.S. reprisals for such attacks thus risk also becoming a regular occurrence. -Paul R. Pillar, Responsible Statecraft 7/1/21

America wants to be known in Mideast as Champion of Free Speech, so Why is it Censoring Iranian Websites?

The Bureau of Industry and Security, an agency of the United States Department of Justice, in a statement on Tuesday 22 June announced that it had seized 33 websites and news outlets used by the Iranian Islamic Radio and Television Union (IRTVU), and another three run by the "Iran-backed" Kata'ib Hezbollah in Iraq for allegedly engaging in "disinformation campaigns and malign influence operations". -Farhang Jahanpour, Informed Comment 6/30/21

US airstrikes in Iraq and Syria are blatantly unconstitutional

Last Monday, President Joe Biden ordered unconstitutional airstrikes in Iraq and Syria against two alleged Iranian-sponsored militias that were purportedly implicated in drone attacks on American personnel in Iraq weeks before. The airstrikes were sequels to President Biden's unconstitutional bombing of Syria in February, killing at least 22. Thereby hangs a tale of power corrupting. Biden and absolute power corrupting him absolutely. -Bruce Fein, Responsible Statecraft 6/30/21

Iran power cuts fuel fears in Iraq as scorching summer peaks

Iran halted its crucial supply of power to Iraq, fueling fears of protests Tuesday amid instability following the resignation of Iraq's electricity minister. Cash-strapped Iran has put pressure on Iraq's government to release payments for power after falling into arrears. The development comes with months of scorching summer temperatures still to come, and ahead of much anticipated federal elections. -AP 6/30/21

What America's seizure of websites says about the 'rules-based' order

This week Peter Beinart, writing in the New York Times, took aim at one of the Blob's favorite terms: the "rules-based order." The Biden administration often invokes the term, typically in reference to the threat allegedly posed to that order by China. The problem, Beinart notes, is that no one ever bothers to explain what rules constitute the order-what rules America is supposedly abiding by while its adversaries violate them... -Robert Wright and Connor Echols, Responsible Statecraft 6/29/21

The U.S. and Iran near a breaking point

The brinkmanship between Tehran and Washington is getting all the more tense. Even as indirect negotiations proceed over bringing both countries back into compliance with the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal, American and Iranian officials fired angry broadsides at each other, blaming the opposite side for a lack of progress. And then there's the actual shooting war. -Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post 6/29/21

Biden Assures Israeli President He Won't Allow Nuclear Iran

President Biden has met with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Monday, in the wake of an overnight attack on Iraq and Syria. He aimed to present this as proof that he is being "tough on Iran." Reassuring Israel seems to be a never-ending task for US officials, as there is no evidence is Iran is even seeking nuclear weapons, but being tough and stopping Iran remains job one for the US in currying favor with Israeli lobby groups. -Antiwar.com 6/29/21

U.S. Website Seizures Targeting Iran Cast Wide Net Over Dissident and Religious Broadcasters

On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Justice seized and censored 33 websites as part of a retaliatory action on the grounds that they violate U.S. sanctions on Iran. Some of the websites belonged to Iranian propaganda networks. Others were Shiite Muslim religious outlets that appeared to have nothing to do with - or were even at odds with - the Iranian regime. -Matthew Petti, Intercept 6/28/21

US and France warn Iran time is running out to return to nuclear deal

The United States and France have warned Iran that time is running out to return to a nuclear deal, voicing fear that Tehran's sensitive development program could advance if talks drag on. On the first high-level visit to Paris by president Joe Biden's administration, secretary of state Antony Blinken and his French hosts saluted a new spirit of cooperation after four years of turbulence under Donald Trump. -AFP 6/28/21

Raisi's election creates opportunities and pitfalls for Iran's Islamic Republic

Faced by a new Iranian president who has been sanctioned by the United States and accused by human rights groups of crimes against humanity, Biden and his allies in Western Europe-even if they do secure an agreement on the JCPOA-will have to rethink an Iran strategy that is only beginning to emerge. -Daniel Brumberg, Responsible Statecraft 6/28/21

US raids slammed as 'blatant violation' of Iraq's sovereignty

Iraq's Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi has condemned the overnight US air attack on Iran-backed armed groups in Iraq and Syria which a monitor said killed at least seven fighters. In a statement on Sunday, the US military said it targeted operational and weapons storage facilities at two locations in Syria and one location in Iraq in response to drone attacks against the US personnel and facilities in Iraq. -Al-Jazeera 6/28/21

US seizure of Iran-linked websites 'shortsighted', analysts say

Just like its abandonment of Iran's 2015 nuclear deal, another unilateral move by the United States once more promises to affect life in Iran for the worse, this time in terms of internet freedom, analysts say. In a surprise move on Wednesday, the US Justice Department seized 36 websites with links to the Iranian state for engaging in "disinformation campaigns and malign influence operations". -Al-Jazeera 6/25/21

Why Raisi Is the West's Best Hope for a Deal With Iran

The election of Ebrahim Raisi as president of Iran has completed a hard-line conservative sweep of all key political institutions in the country. Raisi won handily in last week's election, but his victory came after the Guardian Council that vets candidates blatantly gerrymandered the race by eliminating all notable moderate and reformist contenders. Public anger and apathy then led a record low turnout. -Vali Nasr, Foreign Policy 6/24/21

The Economic War on Iran Needs To End

The U.S. economic war on Iran hasn't ended, and one of the costs of that war has been the increasing authoritarianism of the Iranian government. The "maximum pressure" campaign is not solely responsible for empowering Iranian hard-liners and contributing to the rigged victory of Ebrahim Raisi, the head of Iran's judiciary, but it has significantly undermined reformists, impoverished middle class Iranians, stifled the political opposition, and strengthened the hand of the most repressive elements in Iran's government. -Daniel Larison, Antiwar.com 6/23/21

Iran: 'Sabotage attack' on civilian nuclear center thwarted

Iranian authorities have thwarted what they called a "sabotage attack" targeting a civilian nuclear facility near the country's capital, state TV reported Wednesday, as details about the incident remained scarce. The attempted attack against a building belonging to Iran's Atomic Energy Organization "left no casualties or damages and was unable to disrupt the Iranian nuclear program," Iranian state television reported, adding that authorities were working to identify the perpetrators. -AP 6/23/21

Iran's President-elect Raisi unlikely to derail nuclear deal return, experts say

With seemingly 100 microphones set in front of him, Iranian President-elect Ebrahim Raisi announced himself to the world on Monday, taking on a combative tone against Washington and ruling out meeting with US President Joe Biden. Descriptions like "ultra-conservative" and "hardliner" preceded Raisi's name in global headlines. The former judiciary chief was elected with ease last week in a contest that appeared engineered to guarantee the outcome - with many serious contenders barred from running. -MEE 6/23/21

The US Could Be Using Iran's Election to Sabotage Nuclear Deal

Biden administration officials are downplaying the idea that Iran's presidential election will impact negotiations to revive the nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA. But the election of Ebrahim Raisi, a judge under US sanctions who is close to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, might give President Biden the excuse to blame the failure to salvage the JCPOA on Tehran. -Dave DeCamp, Antiwar.com 6/23/21

Another Turning Point in U.S.-Iranian Relations

MUTUAL COMPLIANCE with the 2015 nuclear deal can restore hope for the deeply troubled relationship between the United States and Iran. Failure to honor the accord, on the other hand, would propel the two nations further down a well-worn path of confrontation, which has been one of the hallmarks of America's disastrous foreign policy in the modern Middle East. History shows that the United States has been primarily responsible for the failed state of U.S.-Iranian relations. -Washington Report on Middle East Affairs 6/22/21

What the election of Ebrahim Raisi tells us about the future of Iran

There is one thing to know about Iran's recently elected president Ebrahim Raisi: he has been appointed to every job he has ever held, always by the Supreme Leader, or with his close approval. So he has never had to please anyone but his supreme patron. There is no doubt that Ayatollah Khamenei trusts and appreciates the loyalty of Mr. Raisi. It is widely believed that Khamenei, who is 82, sees Raisi as his preferred successor. -Gary Sick, Responsible Statecraft 6/22/21

Inside Iran's Shadow War for the Middle East

Iran and the US are fighting a shadow war for influence in the Middle East, and it's a war that Iran seems to be winning. In March VICE sent a crew, including VICE founder Suroosh Alvi to Iran. We wanted to do a story on the rash of assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists - most recently Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the apparent head of the country's nuclear programme. We were stunned when our visa applications were granted, and our crew ended up getting unprecedented access. -VICE 6/22/21

Iran's next president gives Biden a new nuclear headache

Ebrahim Raisi, the victor in Iran's recent, tightly controlled election, is not just any hardline Iranian politician. He stands accused of an array of human rights abuses, including the mass killing of political dissidents, and former President Donald Trump imposed sanctions on him. Now, Biden and top aides, led by U.S. special envoy for Iran Robert Malley, are facing pressure over whether to lift the sanctions on Raisi as they negotiate with Iran to revive the 2015 nuclear deal. -Nahal Toosi & Stephanie Liechtenstein, Politico 6/22/21

Iran's election unsettles Biden's hope for a nuclear deal

Biden administration officials are insisting that the election of a hard-liner as Iran's president won't affect prospects for reviving the faltering 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran. But there are already signs that their goal of locking in a deal just got tougher. Optimism that a deal was imminent faded as the latest talks ended Sunday without tangible indications of significant progress. -AP 6/22/21

As Iran Elects New President, Experts Urge Biden to Rejoin Nuclear Deal, Lift Sanctions

Progressive Iran-watchers on Saturday reacted to the election of Ebrahim Raisi, the country's conservative judiciary chief, with concern and appeals to the Biden administration to choose conciliation over confrontation with the Islamic Republic, beginning with a U.S. return to the Iran nuclear deal and the easing of crippling economic sanctions. -Brett Wilkins, Common Dreams 6/21/21

EU hails 'progress' on talks with Iran to restore 2015 nuclear deal

Top diplomats said Sunday that further progress had been made at talks between Iran and global powers to try to restore a landmark 2015 agreement to contain Iranian nuclear development that was abandoned by the Trump administration. They said it was now up to the governments involved in the negotiations to make political decisions. -France24 6/21/21

Iran elected a hard-liner. Let's see what he does now

Perhaps now that Iran has chosen to install a new, ultra-conservative judiciary chief as its next president, it's time the world, but especially the United States, needs to adopt a new approach to dealing with this determinedly anti-American government. Global heads of state must pay attention to what Iranian leaders do, not what they say. -David A. Andelman, , CNN 6/21/21

Iran floats reports of imminent Shanghai Cooperation Organization membership

Eager to enhance its negotiating leverage with the United States and Europe, Iran is projecting imminent membership of the China-led Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in much the same way it pushed the signing of a much-touted 25-year cooperation agreement with the People's Republic that has yet to have any real legs. -James M. Dorsey, Responsible Statecraft 6/21/21

Saudis agree oil deal with Pakistan to counter Iran influence

Saudi Arabia has agreed to restart oil aid to Pakistan worth at least $1.5bn annually in July, according to officials in Islamabad, as Riyadh works to counter Iran's influence in the region. Riyadh demanded that Pakistan repay a $3bn loan last year after Islamabad pressured Saudi Arabia to criticise India's nullification of Kashmir's special status. -FT 6/21/21

Raisi victory secures control for Iran's hardliners

When Ebrahim Raisi first contested Iran's presidency in 2017, the sombre conservative cleric lost badly, failing to win over aspirational voters who had pinned their hopes on the republic's nuclear deal to open up the country. Four years on, the collapse of the 2015 accord Iran signed with world powers, a withering economic crisis triggered by US sanctions, disillusioned voters and the regime's determination to have a hardliner back in office paved the way for his election victory with 62 per cent of the vote. -FT 6/21/21

Iran Is Too Often Viewed Through the Lens of Our Rulers. Try Looking Through the Eyes of Our People

No child should lose a mother because the hospital suddenly runs out of blood; no father should feel ashamed for not being able to put food on the table in a country as rich as Iran; and no college graduate should live with the constant anxiety of finding work, let alone surviving in their own homeland. Yet this describes the reality of living in Iran in 2021. -Tara Kangarlou, TIME 6/18/21

Iran votes for next president - and its future direction

Iran's presidential election on Friday will determine who will lead the country's civilian government. Here is what's at stake: Among the four candidates, hardline judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi appears to be the frontrunner based on state-linked polling. Abdolnaser Hemmati, the former head of Iran's central bank, appears to be representing moderates in the race. -Al-Jazeera 6/18/21

Where is the Middle East in the Quantum Race?

The quantum race, like the space race before it, is a technological marathon with major implications for international relations. This defining quality sets the stage upon which the race is run, presenting competitors with an opportunity to demonstrate their economic and technological prowess to the rest of the world. -Gabriella Skoff, Project Q Sydney 6/17/21

EU sees progress on key obstacles at Iran nuclear talks

A top European diplomat said Tuesday he believes international negotiations with Iran will ultimately succeed in re-imposing limits on its nuclear program, but indicated that more time may be needed. Enrique Mora, who is coordinating the talks in Vienna, said progress had been made on overcoming key obstacles at the talks. -AP 6/16/21

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