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JUST WHISTLING A TUNE IN A HURRICANE Mr. Trump's Historic First Foreign Trip

- I watched with great disgust President Trump's long delivery at the gathering of Moslem heads of state in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. His half-hour-long speech was eloquently worded, obviously not his words, as he lacks the degree of literacy or the command of the language required for that. The content of his speech was rhetorical, hypocritical and transparently shallow and, I might add, disgracefully dishonest. -Kambiz Zarrabi - 5/23/17

Rouhani's Victory: The View from Brussels

- The first Western leader to congratulate Hassan Rouhani on his re-election as Iran's president on May 19 was the EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy Federica Mogherini. It is clearly an indicator of the importance the EU attaches to relations with Iran. Also remarkable is Mogherini's message lauding Iranians for "passionately taking part in the political life of their country." -Eldar Mamedov, LobeLog - 5/23/17

Iran's President Rohani Criticizes Trump's Saudi Summit, Says Vote Shows Iranians Want Engagement

- Iranian President Hassan Rohani has criticized a summit of Muslim countries that was attended by U.S. President Donald Trump, calling the meeting in Saudi Arabia a "a show with no meaning." Trump addressed dozens of leaders of Muslim states in Riyadh on May 21, urging leaders to fight against Islamic extremism and calling for the isolation of Iran, which he accused of fueling "the fires of sectarian conflict and terror." - 5/23/17

Iran finishes third in 2017 Islamic Solidarity Games

- Iran came third in the 4th Islamic Solidarity Games, winning 39 gold, 26 silver and 33 bronze medals and 98 in total in the 11-day long battle. - 5/23/17

Mr. Trump, When you were Dancing in Riyadh...

- Dear Mr. Trump, when you were dancing in Riyadh and calling for a "regime change" in Iran, the Iranians were changing their regime, just a little more. This is what they have been doing over the past decade, step by step, one election at a time, and without American boots on the ground. -Fatemeh Keshavarz, Huffington Post - 5/22/17

Iran's Zarif Scorns Saudi Deals With U.S., Alleged Ties To September 11 Terror Attacks

- Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif criticized U.S. President Donald Trump and Saudi Arabia for their weapons and investment deals and suggested that the Arab country's policies were to blame for the September 11 attacks in the United States. - 5/22/17

10 ways Iran is more democratic and modern than Saudi Arabia

- Though both Iran and Saudi Arabia define themselves Islamic states, in almost every respect Iran is a far more modern and democratic country and society than Saudi Arabia is or can ever be. -Alexander Mercouris, The Duran - 5/22/17

Trump Calls For Coalition To 'Stamp Out Extremism,' Slams Iran During Landmark Speech

- U.S. President Donald Trump has called for a "coalition of nations" in the Middle East to come together with the aim of "stamping out extremism" during a landmark speech on May 21, the second day of his visit to Saudi Arabia. - 5/22/17

Hassan Rohani Declared Winner Of Iran's Presidential Vote

- President Hassan Rohani has been declared the outright winner with nearly all the ballots counted from Iran's May 19 presidential election, a seemingly emphatic endorsement of the incumbent's efforts to reengage internationally and seek modest reforms within Iran's clerically dominated society. - 5/20/17

Scapegoating Iran Will Not Resolve Middle East Challenge

- During his Middle East trip, President Donald Trump is reportedly planning to pursue an ambitious list of objectives. Paramount among these is to strengthen regional cooperation in defeating the Islamic State (ISIS or IS) and Islamist terrorism in general... A key difficulty, however, is that President Trump and leaders of his administration clearly seek to achieve these ambitious goals by (mis)representing Iran as the world's leading exporter of terrorism and a threat to Israel and Arab states, especially those in the Persian Gulf. -Shirin T. Hunter - 5/20/17

NIAC Responds to President Rouhani's Reelection, Calls on Trump to Choose Diplomacy

- "The Iranian people have spoken by coming out in record numbers to vote in Friday's presidential elections. By continuing to engage at the ballot box, and once more demonstrating their preference for the most moderate option available, they have chosen a path of gradual transformation through peaceful participation. Once again, the Iranian people have shown their persistence to choose their own destiny and to reject all attempts to stymie that right." - 5/20/17

U.S. Bombs Syrian, Iranian-Backed Forces For First Time, Leaving Eight Dead

- U.S. forces have for the first time bombed a convoy of Syrian government and Iranian-backed militia forces after Russia was unable to keep them from entering an area where U.S. allies have been preparing to battle the Islamic State (IS) extremist group, the Pentagon says. - 5/19/17

Sherman: "We Are Safer" Because of JCPOA

- In a May 16 event held by the Cato Institute, Ambassador Wendy Sherman spoke at length about the Iran nuclear deal and its status under the Trump administration. Sherman, who served as Barack Obama's under secretary of state for political affairs from 2011-2015 and was one of the key figures in negotiating the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran, also discussed the administration's policy toward Iran more generally. -Derek Davison, LobeLog - 5/19/17

John Kerry, security experts team up to defend Iran deal from Trump

- Former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry along with other top security experts have come to defend the Iran nuclear deal, also known as the JCPOA, from the country's hardline President Donald Trump. Through a newly formed organization called Diplomacy Works, Kerry and several national security experts who served under former U.S. President Barack Obama are fighting to protect the nuclear agreement, The Independent reported. - 5/18/17

Rouhani Not a Sure Bet in Iran's Presidential Elections

- Iranians will go to the polls Friday, the same day Donald Trump begins his first foreign trip as U.S. President arriving in Saudi Arabia, where the kingdom's leaders vowed this month to start "the battle against Iran." Trump and America have figured prominently in Iran's presidential election campaigning with hardliners on the Principilist wing of Iranian politics claiming the legacy of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, who used to argue, "All our troubles are caused by this America." -Jamie Dettmer, VOA - 5/17/17

U.S. Signs Defense Deal With United Arab Emirates With Eye On Iran

- The United States has signed a new defense cooperation agreement with the United Arab Emirates, which like Saudi Arabia regards Iran as a strategic adversary that is fomenting conflicts throughout the Middle East. - 5/17/17

Turkey's Erdogan Expected To Press Trump On Syria, Gulen, Iran Case

- In a meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump on May 16, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to press the United States to refrain from arming Syrian Kurdish rebels that Ankara considers to be terrorists. The White House meeting comes amid intense and complex international diplomacy over the war in Syria, where Turkey and the United States both support forces in opposition to President Bashar al-Assad's government. - 5/16/17

As Trump Cozies Up to Saudi Arabia, War With Iran Becomes More Likely

- Many people view Donald Trump as the most dangerous man on the planet, but next week he flies to Saudi Arabia for a three-day visit during which he will meet a man who surely runs him a close second as a source of instability. This is deputy crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, 31 - the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia since his father King Salman, 81, is incapacitated by old age - who has won a reputation for impulsiveness, aggression and poor judgement in the two-and-half years he has held power. -Patrick Cockburn, Counterpunch - 5/16/17

Iran to tap southern coasts maritime tourism potential

- Iran aims to take advantage of southern coasts to make the best use of its maritime tourism potential by means of developing hospitality infrastructures, diversifying sea routes, and drawing private sector investors. "Constructing maritime hotels and building recreational vessels by the private sector in the country's free zones is currently on the agenda," Mana news agency quoted an official with the Cultural Heritage, Tourism, and Handicrafts Organization as saying on May 10. - 5/16/17

Will Proposed Wall Along Turkish-Iranian Border Keep Out Kurdish Separatists?

- Ankara's apparent intention to build a wall along its border with Iran is being met with skepticism by some regional experts who question its practicality and whether it will curb cross-border terrorism as Turkey intends. -Mehdi Jedinia, VOA - 5/15/17

U.S. Said Near $100 Billion Arms Deal With Saudis Ahead Of Trump Visit

- A week ahead of President Donald Trump's planned visit to Riyadh, the United States is preparing an arms deal for Saudi Arabia worth more than $100 billion, the Reuters news agency reported on May 12. - 5/13/17

The Moral Myopia of Trump's Foreign Policy

- Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaking May 4 at the State Department outlined a broad overview of President Trump's "America First" foreign policy. Since there has been concern about this new direction for America's global engagement, Tillerson's speech was both revealing and troubling. -John Bryson Chane, LobeLog - 5/13/17

Iran's Foreign Minister Zarif says Riyadh 'dangerously' seeking tension

- Days after the Saudi deputy crown prince ruled out dialogue with Tehran, Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that Saudi Arabia is pursuing a "dangerous policy" in seeking tension with Iran. "We believe that Saudi Arabia is seeking tension," Zarif told reporters in Tehran on Wednesday. "The policy is a dangerous one and has no use but insecurity for Saudi Arabia." - 5/12/17

Iran's non-oil growth to boost in 2017: IMF

- According to the latest report published by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Regional Economic Outlook, Iran is expected to see non-oil growth accelerate from 0.75 percent in 2016 to almost 3.5 percent in 2017. - 5/11/17

What Does Victory in Yemen Look Like?

- The Saudi-led war in Yemen, which was initially supposed to have lasted only a few weeks, has now dragged on for more than two years. The fighting has reached a predictable stalemate, in roughly the same place as it has so often before: the steep and nearly impenetrable mountains. It is widely conceded that there's no military solution to this conflict -James Spencer, LobeLog - 5/11/17

Iran upsets Japan to win Asian Men's U23 Volleyball Championship title

- The national Iranian volleyball team has lifted the trophy at the conclusion of the 2017 Asian Men's U23 Volleyball Championship following a resounding victory over Japan in the final showdown of the tournament in the northwestern Iranian city of Ardabil. - 5/10/17

Pakistan Criticizes Iran for Threatening Cross-Border Military Action

- Pakistan's Foreign Ministry says the Iranian ambassador in Islamabad was summoned Tuesday following the reported remarks by the Iran's military chief. A ministry statement said, "The Iranian side was urged to avoid issuance of such statements that could vitiate the environment of fraternal relations." - 5/10/17

Iran starts exports from South Pars oil layer

- Iran exported the first cargo of crude oil to the tune of 700,000 barrels from the South Pars oil layer last week. Hamid Bovard, the managing director of Iranian Offshore Oil Company (IOOC), made the remarks in a press conference on the sidelines of Iran Oil Show 2017 in Tehran. - 5/9/17

FIFA BEACH SOCCER WORLD CUP: Iran finishes third to make Asian history

- Iran ended their Bahamas 2017 campaign on a high with a 5-3 win against Italy in the play-off for third place to become Asia's highest ever finishers at the Beach Soccer World Cup. These two teams met during the group stage at Bahamas 2017 with Italy edging Iran 5-4 in a thrilling match. The Europeans scored first that day, but it was Iran's turn this time. - 5/8/17

Saudi kingdom will be destroyed if Riyadh does anything 'ignorant': Iran's Defense Minister

- Following Saudi deputy crown prince's comments about moving the battle to Iran, Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan says if the Saudis do anything stupid, the Iranian army will hit back and destroy all of the kingdom -- apart from Mecca and Medina. - 5/8/17

Iran Warns It Will Attack 'Terrorist Safe Havens' Inside Pakistan

- Iran has warned Pakistan that Tehran would hit militant bases inside the neighboring country if Islamabad does not confront Sunni insurgents who carry out cross-border attacks. Iranian state media quoted the army's chief of staff, Mohammad Hossein Bagheri, as saying on May 8 that Tehran expects "the Pakistani officials to control the borders, arrest the terrorists, and shut down their bases." - 5/8/17

Russia, Turkey, Iran Agree on 'De-Escalation Zones' for Syria

- Russia, Turkey, and Iran agreed to a Moscow-proposed deal Thursday to establish so-called "de-escalation" zones in Syria to try to end the six-year conflict in the country. Representatives of the three Syria cease-fire guarantor nations signed a memorandum to that effect at the end of the latest round of peace talks in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan. -Daniel Schearf, VOA - 5/5/17

Iran urges global action against Saudi support for extremism, terrorism

- "It is imperative for the international community to take necessary action to compel Saudi Arabia to stop its reckless sponsorship of terrorism and extremism in the region and across the globe," Iran's UN Ambassador Gholam-Ali Khoshrou wrote in a Thursday letter to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and the Security Council. - 5/5/17

China, Iran's biggest exporter after sanctions lifted

- Official figures show Iran's imports from China saw a major rise over the past four years in what is seen as a result of the removal of sanctions against the country and the subsequent return of global shipping lines to its ports. Figures reported by Iran's state news agency IRNA show that imports from China since 2013 - when President Hassan Rouhani was elected to office - had already reached $43.7 billion. - 5/4/17

Deadly Militant Attack Strains Fragile Pakistan-Iran Ties

- Iran is pressing Pakistan to capture and punish Sunni militants who staged last week's deadly terrorist attack on Iranian border guards before allegedly fleeing to the neighboring country. A high-powered 12-member Iranian delegation, led by Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, visited Islamabad Wednesday and raised the issue with Pakistani leaders. -Ayaz Gul, VOA - 5/4/17

Iran Denounces Saudi Refusal To Engage In Dialogue As 'Destructive'

- Iran has reacted to a rare televised interview by Saudi Arabia's deputy crown prince, accusing him of stoking tensions in the region with a "destructive" statement ruling out dialogue with Tehran. While Prince Muhammad leveled many criticisms at Iran's Shi'ite-led government, Qassemi said it was Saudi-backed Wahhabism that had bred "radical ideologies" espoused by the Islamic State group and Al-Qaeda and that is feeding the conflicts in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. - 5/4/17

Iran Conducts Failed Missile Launch in Strait of Hormuz

- An Iranian submarine has made an unsuccessful missile launch attempt in the Strait of Hormuz, a U.S. military official confirmed to VOA on Wednesday. The Yono-class submarine attempted to launch a cruise missile early Tuesday, the military official said. -Carla Babb, VOA - 5/4/17

Iran honoring JCPOA commitments: Nuclear Agency Head

- The director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has stressed that the historic deal between Iran and the group of six world powers is "a significant gain" for nuclear verification. Yukiya Amano made the remark in a message to the participants of the first session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2020 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons being held on Tuesday. - 5/3/17

Saudi Crown Prince Rules Out Opening Dialogue With Rival Iran

- In a rare televised interview, Saudi Arabia's deputy crown prince has said there is no possibility that he would open a dialogue with rival Iran because of its Shi'ite ambitions "to control the Islamic world." Ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran have been strained since Iran's 1979 revolution, with each side competing to be the more powerful force in the Muslim world. - 5/3/17

Commander Says Iranian Forces Will Stay In Syria As Long As Assad Needs Them

- Iran will continue providing military assistance to Syria despite the death of more than a thousand Iranian fighters in the conflict, a senior commander in Iran's Revolutionary Guards has said. "We will continue our advisory help as long as they need it," Mohammad Pakpour, head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps ground forces, told Iran's Fars news agency. - 5/3/17

Iran Khodro beging mass production of Peugeot 2008

- French auto giant Peugeot has started the mass production of its latest flagship crossover in Iran - a landmark move that could cement its presence in the Middle East's biggest vehicle market. The production of Peugeot 2008 subcompact SUVs officially started in the central site of Iran Khodro Industrial Group (IKCO) in capital Tehran in a ceremony attended by the country's President Hassan Rouhani. - 5/2/17

Much Ado About Nothing: Politico's Iran Deal Investigation Debunked

- It is a sign of the times that when we need to march in defense of facts, of women deserving equal rights, and of science not being a Chinese conspiracy, we also have to defend something as self-evident as the undeniable value of the nuclear deal with Iran from 2015. But in a post-fact era, even diplomatic triumphs that saved the United States from both the threat of nuclear weapons and another endless war in the Middle East face perpetual relitigation. -Trita Parsi, Huffington Post - 5/1/17

10 Iranian guards killed in clashes with outlaws at border with Pakistan

- Ten border guards have been killed in clashes with outlaws in southeastern Iran. The clashes, which erupted near the town of Mirjaveh in the province of Sistan-and-Baluchestan while the Iranian forces were patrolling the area, also left three other border guards injured, IRIB News Agency reported. - 4/27/17

Pentagon Says U.S. Warship Fired Warning Flare At Iranian Vessel

- The Pentagon has said that a U.S. warship fired a warning flare after an Iranian Revolutionary Guard vessel made a close approach to the ship in the Persian Gulf. The "unprofessional interaction" between the USS Mahan, a guided-missile destroyer, and an Iranian vessel occurred on April 25 in international waters, U.S. military officials said on April 26. - 4/27/17

Zogby Denounces Panel on Religious Freedom

- James Zogby, the founder and president of the Arab American Institute, is about to wrap up his tenure on the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). He is not leaving quietly. Zogby, who was appointed to two terms on the commission by former President Barack Obama, sent a stunning letter to the commission, expressing his dissent from the latest report as well as his dissatisfaction with the way the commission goes about its business. -Mitchell Plitnick, LobeLog - 4/27/17

Trump and the Yemeni Quagmire

- Building on Mohammed bin Salman's visit to the White House in March, which Saudi officials claimed marked a "historic turning point" in US-Saudi relations, Mattis' recent trip to Riyadh served to further strengthen Saudi confidence in the Trump administration's approach to countering "Iran's mischief." -Giorgio Cafiero and Shehab al-Makahleh, LobeLog - 4/26/17

Tolerance historically practiced in Iran: Jewish lawmaker

- Not like in the Western world where it was belatedly introduced, tolerance has been practiced in the historically multicultural context of Iran, where the Jewish community have been living in peaceful coexistence with other populations for centuries, Siamak Moreh Sedgh, the Jewish community representative in Majlis (Parliament), says. - 4/26/17

Iran's Kharg Terminal dispatches 780 million crude barrels in one year

- Head of Iran Oil Terminals Company's (IOTC) Export Department Gholamhossein Gerami said over 230 million barrels of light crude oil, 480 million barrels of heavy crude and about 70 million barrels of blazing oil were exported from the Iranian terminal in the previous year. - 4/25/17

Straining to be Anti-Iran

- The Trump administration is bending over backward to be, and to sound, hostile and confrontational toward Iran. This effort to flaunt a role for itself as a dedicated enemy of Iran has roots in the same factors that underlie the more widely established anti-Iranism in the United States, staying ahead of which is clearly an administration objective. -Paul R. Pillar, LobeLog - 4/24/17

Trump Accuses Iran Of 'Not Living Up To Spirit' Of 2015 Nuclear Deal

- U.S. President Donald Trump has accused Iran of "not living up to the spirit" of its nuclear agreement with world powers and said the United States would soon have a response. At a White House news conference with visiting Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni on April 20, Trump repeated his criticism that "it was a terrible agreement...as bad as I've ever seen negotiated." - 4/21/17

Championing Nuclear Non-Proliferation Rules: The EU and Iran

- In a newly published book, Tarja Cronberg contrasts EU and US conceptions of multilateralism in the nuclear field. Her work is titled Nuclear Multilateralism and Iran. A former member of the European Parliament (EP) and chair of the EP delegation for EU relations with Iran, Cronberg writes: "For the US multilateralism is a means to an end, but for Europeans it is an end in itself." -Peter Jenkins - 4/20/17

Iranian Foreign Minister slams 'worn-out' US accusations

- Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has slammed fresh accusations leveled by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson against the Islamic Republic, urging Washington to honor its obligations under the 2015 nuclear deal. - 4/20/17

Has Donald Trump Learned To Love The Iran Deal?

- All this Republican party fighting over the Iran nuclear deal, it's almost enough to forget that it's America's greatest foreign policy achievement in years. At least that's what the Trump administration has seemingly acknowledged. In a statement released late Tuesday evening, they certified that Tehran continues to comply with its end of the bargain. -Tyler Cullis and Reza Marashi, LobeLog - 4/20/17

Trump Orders Review of Iran Nuclear Deal

- Secretary of State Rex Tillerson revealed the review in a letter Tuesday to House Speaker Paul Ryan. Tillerson said that as of Tuesday, Iran is complying with its responsibilities under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which it agreed to in 2015 after negotiations with the U.S., Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany. - 4/19/17

Conflict and Famine in Yemen

- Yemenis are starving because of war. No natural disaster is responsible. No amount of humanitarian aid can solve the underlying problem. Without an immediate, significant course change, portions of the country, in the 21st century and under the watch of the Security Council, will likely tip into famine. -International Crisis Group, LobeLog - 4/19/17

The Syrian War: Two Lessons for Trump

- The roots of US involvement in the Syrian war run deep and wide. On our side we can start with the Korean conflict, which ended in a tie and a lesson taught: never fight a land war in Asia. Unfortunately, the lesson wasn't learned because about a decade later we were subbing for the French in Vietnam. From that losing fight we should have learned, but didn't, not to take the corrupt, unpopular side in an internal conflict. -Henry Precht, LobeLog - 4/18/17

Muslims in Abadan, Iran join city's only Christian to celebrate Easter

- Abadan's only church, Surp Karap, is adjacent to Musa ibn Jafar Mosque. Surp Karap Church was built in 1940 and damaged during the Iraq-Iran war. The church was renovated in 1991 and registered as national heritage. On Sunday, Muslims joined the single Christian citizen in the city to mark Easter. - 4/17/17

Foreign Minister Zarif in Central Asia as Iran seeks to fire up economy

- Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has started touring Central Asia and the Caucasus to boost Iran's ties with three major countries in the region, especially in the field of economy. The three-day tour spans Turkmenistan, Georgia, and Kyrgyzstan. A 20-member delegation of businessmen and company representatives is accompanying Zarif who cited transit cooperation among the objectives of the visit. - 4/17/17

Trump Administration Sees Bahraini Crisis Through Saudi Lens

- As tensions between Bahrain's marginalized Shi'ites and Sunni rulers escalate, the royal Al Khalifa family feels emboldened by Donald Trump's administration and its prioritization of security issues above human rights. Trump's ascendancy to the White House comes as a major relief to Bahrain's rulers whom Barack Obama's administration repeatedly irked. -Giorgio Cafiero, LobeLog - 4/17/17

Iran's President Rouhani inaugurates mega gas projects in Persian Gulf

- Iran has officially inaugurated several mega projects in its natural gas hub of South Pars - projects that can put the country in the lead over production from a giant field that it shares with Qatar. The projects included South Pars Phases 17 and 18, Phase 19, as well as Phases 21 and 22. They were inaugurated by Iran's President Hassan Rouhani. - 4/16/17

Russia, Iran, Syria Issue Warning Against Another Syria Strike

- Russia, Syria and Iran have warned the United States against launching new strikes on Syria and called for an international investigation into the chemical weapons attack in Syria. - 4/15/17

Iran's first ever cruise ship completes maiden voyage in Persian Gulf

- Iran says its first cruise ship since the 1979 Islamic Revolution has completed its maiden trip and docked in the Persian Gulf resort island of Qeshm. The ship - which reports said were built in Sweden - carried more than 200 passengers on the 127-kilometre voyage from Kish, Iran's other main resort island. The trip - that was made overnight -reportedly took around 12 hours. - 4/15/17

Russia Hosts Afghanistan Meeting Boycotted By Washington

- Russia opened meetings with top diplomats from Afghanistan, China, and several Central Asian countries in talks that are aimed at bringing peace to Afghanistan but are being boycotted by the United States. The Foreign Ministry said in a statement April 14 that India, Iran, and Pakistan were also attending the Moscow talks. - 4/15/17

Rebekah Mercer Joins Board of Anti-Muslim Think Tank

- Earlier this month, Rebekah Mercer, the daughter of billionaire Trump backer Robert Mercer, was listed as a member of the "Board of Governors," of the Gatestone Institute, a New York City-based anti-Muslim organization that has long opposed the immigration of Muslims to the West. -Eli Clifton, LobeLog - 4/14/17

Assad vs Regime of Warring Jihadis

- The Syrian agony poses a straightforward strategic question: which is worse, Assad or the opposition? Choosing between these two brutal sides is unpalatable. But there is a powerful case to be made that the motley grouping that makes up the armed opposition affects nearly all players far more negatively than the continuation of Assad's ugly regime. -Graham E. Fuller, LobeLog - 4/13/17

G-7 countries seek Iran's help to stabilize Middle East

- The Group of Seven foreign ministers who met in the Italian city of Lucca on Tuesday urged Iran to help end the conflicts in the Middle politically, IRNA reported. In their final statement, the foreign minister also requested Iran's help to fight terrorism in the region. - 4/12/17

Iran named as Afghanistan's biggest trade partner

- Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry Spokesman said Iran has turned into the biggest trading partner of Afghanistan. "With 1.8 billion dollars of trade exchange level between the two countries, Iran is now Afghanistan's biggest trade partner," Seyamuddin Pesarlai told IRNA correspondent in Kabul, on Monday. - 4/12/17

Restraining Trump: The Prometheus Strategy

- When Zeus was displeased with Prometheus, he chained him to a rock where an eagle feasted each day on his liver. Prometheus was immortal, so his liver regenerated each day. But even mortals, however immune they may be to criticism and scandal, can be bound so tightly that the harm they can do is minimized-perhaps not forever, but at least for the duration of a presidential term. -Gary Sick, LobeLog - 4/12/17

General: Game Changer in Iran-Pakistan Relations?

- Iran and Pakistan have experienced many ups and downs in their relationship dating back to the creation of Pakistan in 1947. Despite Iran's persistent conflict with Pakistan's closest ally Saudi Arabia and broad economic relationship with Pakistan's rivals India and Afghanistan, they have managed to maintain a relatively healthy relationship. Will this relationship be now influenced by the appointment of former army chief (retd) General Raheel Sharif as the leader of the Saudi military alliance? -Fatemeh Aman - 4/11/17

Iranians Express Solidarity With Victims Of Alleged Chemical Attack In Syria

- Iranians have demonstrated at the location of a decades-old chemical attack to condemn a suspected gas attack on a Syrian town last week that killed dozens of civilians, and to call for an end to the use of such weapons. -Golnaz Esfandiari - 4/11/17

Lies, Damned Lies, And The "Breaking News"

- The dust hasn't settled quite as yet over the recent events in Syria, the allegations against Bashar Assad for gassing innocent babies and the United States' "measured and proportional" surgical strike to punish him for that heinous crime. But there is enough light passing through the dust to give us reasons to question the whole scenario. -Kambiz Zarrabi - 4/10/17

How Will Iran Respond to US Missile Attack in Syria?

- Iran has been a major supporter of Bashar al-Assad, Syria's beleaguered president, throughout its civil war, which has entered its sixth year. In fact, until Russia decided to conduct airstrikes in Syria in September 2015, Iran was the only country that actively and meaningfully supported the Syrian regime. -Shireen T. Hunter - 4/9/17

Iran, Russia Presidents and top generals Condemn U.S. 'Aggression' In Syria

- The Russian and Iranian presidents have condemned in a phone call "aggressive" U.S. actions against Syria, the Kremlin says. Both Vladimir Putin and Hassan Rohani "noted the inadmissibility of U.S. aggressive actions against a sovereign state in violation of international law," the Kremlin said on April 9. - 4/9/17

Trump's Syria Strikes Don't Bode Well for Iran Policy

- Twenty-four hours after launching missiles at Syria, Donald Trump's decision to increase America's bombing campaign in the Middle East has received much fanfare and little public debate. Regardless of whether these strikes are a one-off, the beginning of a more robust regime change effort, or something in between, over 25 years of uninterrupted U.S. bombing in the region highlights an inconvenient truth: For every action, there is a reaction. -Tyler Cullis and Reza Marashi, LobeLog - 4/9/17

Bahrain Arms Sales Belie US Commitment to Human Rights

- The New York Times reported last Thursday that the US State Department has decided to lift human rights as a condition for the sale of F-16 fighter jets and other weapons to Bahrain, a small, Sunni, family-ruled kingdom in the Persian Gulf. Ostensibly, the justification that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson gave for his decision was that Bahrain is a key ally in the fight against Iran-supported Houthis in Yemen. The US Navy Fifth Fleet is also home-ported in Bahrain. -Emile Nakhleh, LobeLog - 4/5/17



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