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December 17 2014
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Friends, Not Just Enemies, of an Iranian Nuclear Deal are Imperiling It

- U.S. and Iranian negotiators are in Geneva resuming work on an agreement to limit Iran's nuclear program. Whether the negotiations succeed in producing a deal is still very much in doubt, but not because it is doubtful that there is a deal to be had. -Paul R. Pillar - 12/17/14

Why Does ISIS Hate Shi'a?

- ISIS is a close kin to the Wahhabi /Salafi school of Islam in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. In fact, these people don't see Christians or Jews as first and foremost their main enemy-they see other Muslims who don't share their narrowly exclusionist views as the chief target. Shi'a top the list, for sure, but so do more liberal schools of Sunni Islamic thinking-that is, nearly everybody else. -Graham E. Fuller, LobeLog - 12/17/14

It's Egypt That Needs Higher Oil Prices

- The country that could ultimately suffer the most damage from a sustained depression in the world price of oil could be one that is not a major producer: Egypt. Unable to sustain itself, Egypt is being propped up by big infusions of cash from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). -homas W. Lippman, LobeLog - 12/16/14

The IAEA Faces a Major Credibility Test

- On December 11, the spokesman for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed that his agency was, as Gareth Porter asserted on this website earlier this month, not interested in accepting a recent invitation by Iran to visit Marivan, at least at this time. -Robert Kelley, LobeLog - 12/15/14

What Is Genuine Leadership in the Middle East?

- A supreme challenge to US policies in the Middle East-especially in the Arab world-has been dealing with the no-win dilemma of leadership in the Arab world. As we look out across the wreckage of the present scene in the Middle East, many observers, including myself, highlight the striking absence of any genuine Arab leadership in the region today. -Graham E. Fuller, LobeLog - 12/15/14

Photos: 20 million converge on Karbala for Arbaeen

- The number of pilgrims who flocked to the holy city of Karbala for the Arbaeen ceremonies passed the 20-million mark, Iraqi officials announced on Saturday. The head of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI), Ammar al-Hakim, stated last Monday that the Arbaeen pilgrimage confirms the citizens' stance against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) terrorists. - 12/14/14

Visas renewed for 450 thousand Afghans in Iran

- Iran says it has renewed the visas of 450,000 Afghan nationals for another six months while talks over their residency status continue with the Afghan foreign ministry. - 12/14/14

Attack Kills One Amid Huge Shi'ite Pilgrimage In Iraq

- Iraqi police said a mortar attack killed one person and wounded four others near Karbala on December 12 as record numbers of Shi'ite pilgrims gathered in the shrine city for one of the largest annual religious gatherings in the world. Iraqi Defense Minister Khaled al-Obeidi said on December 11 that more than 17 million pilgrims had come to Karbala for the Arbaeen commemoration. - 12/13/14

US Navy Tests New Laser Weapon in Persian Gulf

- The U.S. Navy says it has, for the first time, successfully tested an experimental laser weapon aboard a ship deployed in the Persian Gulf. The Office of Naval Research has released a video showing the weapon in action during the tests. - 12/13/14

Iran Documentary Lifts Lid On One Syria-Bound Fighter

- Martyrdom was one of the greatest wishes of Iranian Basij member Mohammad Hassan Rasoul Khalili. In the words of his father, "this world was like a cage to him." Khalili, a devotee of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, finally achieved his death wish last year in Syria, when a bomb he was trying to defuse exploded. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE - 12/13/14

Oil prices fall below $60 for first time since July 2009

- Oil prices have fallen below USD 60 for the first time since July 2009 amid mounting evidence that global supplies are far outstripping demand. US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for January delivery decreased by 86 cents to USD 59.09 in Friday morning trade in Asia. Brent was also down 52 cents at USD 63.16. - 12/12/14

Mortar shelling hits Karbala suburbs as 17 million pilgrims gather for Arbaeen rituals

- No Iranian was among the victims of the multiple Karbala suburb explosions Thursday night, the cause of which is cited to be mortar or mini katyusha shelling. The attacks on the largest peaceful gathering of Shia Muslims occured at a time that according to Iraqi sources at least 17 million pilgrims had arrived in Karbala until Thursday to participate in Arbaeen rituals - to be held on Saturday -- and the number is still increasing. - 12/12/14

Israel must pay Iran for pipeline project loss: Arbitration panel

- A Swiss arbitration panel has ruled that Israel should pay Iran for the loss of its stake in the Eilat-Ashkelon pipeline. The pipeline project was a joint venture by the former Iranian regime and Israel in 1968, but it crashed after the 1979 Islamic Revolution of Iran. - 12/12/14

Extremism should not be associated with any religion, nationality, or culture: Tehran statement

- The participants at the international conference against violence and extremism in Tehran issued a statement on Wednesday declaring that "violent extremism and violence is a global challenge and is not and should not be associated with any religion, nationality, civilization, culture, race, and ethnic group." - 12/11/14

Latest International Crisis Group Report on Iran Negotiations

- When twelve months of intense negotiations between Iran and the P5+1/EU3+3 ended with yet another extension, sceptics saw this as confirmation that the talks are doomed. But it would be as grave a mistake to underestimate the real progress as to overstate the chances of ultimate success. -Jim Lobe, LobeLog - 12/11/14

Israeli Nukes Meets Atomic Irony in the Middle East

- The stated rationale for the United States casting on Tuesday one of the very lonely votes it sometimes casts at the United Nations General Assembly, on matters on which almost the entire world sees things differently, warrants some reflection. The resolution in question this time endorsed the creation of a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East and called on Israel to join the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, ... -Paul Pillar, National Interest - 12/10/14

Iran's President Rouhani Calls Global Oil Price Fall Political Scenario

- Iran's President Hassan Rouhani has warned that the current drop in global crude prices is not simply an economic issue, but rather a political plot by some countries. "The fall in crude price is not merely an economic issue. Rather, it is caused by a plot and political planning by certain countries," Rouhani said at his Wednesday cabinet meeting. - 12/10/14

Violence-free world can be realized through cooperation: Iran's President Rouhani

- Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has said that a world without violence can be realized through governments' cooperation and coordinated policy making. Rouhani made the remarks during the International World Against Violence and Extremism Conference in Tehran on Tuesday. - 12/10/14

Iran Military Option: An Increasingly Daunting Challenge

- Although the Obama administration appears to be currently focused on resisting calls to increase sanctions on Iran while negotiations over its nuclear program are in session, the far more dangerous "military option" is alive and well in Washington despite its many pitfalls. -Wayne White, LobeLog - 12/10/14

Photos: Over one million Iranian pilgrims flock to Iraq to mark Arba'een

- Iran's Traffic Police Chief Eskandar Mo'meni on Monday estimated that more than 1,200,000 Iranians would attend this year's Arba'een procession, which falls on December 13 this year. Iranian officials have announced that more than 900,000 Iranians have entered Iraq so far. - 12/9/14

Iranian official claims 109 NATO personnel arrested in Bandar Abbas last September

- The Iranian Air Defence Command announced on Monday December 8 that it arrested 108 NATO military personnel in Bandar Abbas as they tried to pass through Iranian airspace. A report on Tasnim indicates that Amir Farzad Esmaili said in a ceremony in Mashhad that the plane carrying these detainees was forced to land by Iranian jets. - 12/9/14

Syria, Iran Condemn Israel's Airstrikes Near Damascus

- The foreign ministers of Syria and Iran are condemning Israel for airstrikes Sunday near Damascus. At a news conference in Tehran, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif drew parallels between the Israeli government and what they call "terrorists" in Syria - the rebel groups fighting President Bashar Assad. - 12/9/14

Poll: Increasing Support In US For One-State Solution

- Shibley Telhami, the Anwar Sadat Professor for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland, regularly produces polls that are always worth looking at. Unlike most surveys of American views on US policy in the Middle East, Telhami tends to dig deep as opposed to simply establishing general opinions. -Mitchell Plitnick, LobeLog - 12/9/14

Why Hasn't the IAEA Followed Up Iran's Inspection Offer?

- When Iran offered last month to allow the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to visit the Marivan region near the border with Iraq, the IAEA might have been expected to respond with alacrity to the opportunity. -Gareth Porter, LobeLog - 12/8/14

IRGC Adviser Says Quds Force Commander Soleimani Is 'No Rambo Or Rocky'

- Qassem Soleimani is no "Rambo" or "Rocky" from Hollywood movies, says a senior media adviser to the commander of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE - 12/8/14

ISIS Eclipses Iran as Threat Among US Public

- Shibley Telhami, the Anwar Sadat Professor for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland, has just released a major new poll of US public opinion on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The survey also contains some very interesting data that suggest Islamic State (ISIS or IS) is now seen as a significantly greater threat to the United States than Iran. -Jim Lobe, LobeLog - 12/8/14

Biden: Chance of Nuclear Deal With Iran is Less Than 50-50

- But he said new sanctions at this time, as some in Congress are pushing, would produce "the worst of all worlds." The vice president said new sanctions would break up the coalition pressuring Iran and give negotiators less leverage with which to reach a peaceful resolution. - 12/8/14

Unexpected Backlash to New Iran Sanctions in Senate Committee

- A new Iran sanctions bill being floated by Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) would force the P5+1 into a weaker deal or backfire by leading to Iranian nuclear expansion, according to experts handpicked by Menendez to testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday. -Ryan Costello, NIAC - 12/6/14

NIAC Policy Memo: Additional Iranian Concessions Under Extended Nuclear Deal

- New information has been released outlining significant new nuclear concessions by Iran under the extended Joint Plan of Action (JPOA) secured on November 24, 2014. -Jamal Abdi and Ryan CostelloRyan Costello, NIAC - 12/6/14

Previously unknown details about Iranian F-4, F-5, Su-24 and UAVs involvement in air strikes on ISIS targets in Iraq

- Al Jazeera footage aired a few days ago exposed an IRIAF F-4 Phantom performing an air strike on ISIS positions in Iraq. The news of a cooperation between Washington and Tehran, later confirmed by the Pentagon, quickly spread across the world and images of the Iranian Phantoms in the colors of the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force have appeared on worldwide media outlets. -Aviationist - 12/6/14

Kerry: Any Iranian Military Action Against Islamic State 'Positive'

- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says Washington and Tehran are not coordinating their fight against Islamic State (IS) militants in Iraq but that any Iranian military action against the IS would be "positive." - 12/5/14

The Phantom F-4 Phantom? Iran Denies Air Strikes On IS In Iraq

- Iran has denied claims by the Pentagon that its F4 Phantom fighter jets carried out strikes against Islamic State (IS) militants in Iraq. U.S. officials told Reuters on December 3 that Iran's F-4 phantoms had struck IS positions in the eastern Diyala province in the last several days. -Joanna Paraszczuk, RFE - 12/4/14

Iran's Enrichment Offer: A Postscript

- Since Nov. 11, 2013, Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have been cooperating better on the so-called "possible military dimension" (PMD) of the Iranian case. Will this incline the IAEA secretariat to react more forensically than in the past to this latest Iranian dismissal of material allegedly found on a laptop a decade ago? -Peter Jenkins, LobeLog - 12/4/14

Al-Qaida Behind Car Bomb at Iran Envoy's Home in Yemen

- Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula claimed responsibility for a car bomb attack on the Iranian ambassador's house in the Yemen capital Sana'a early Wednesday. The U.S. State Department condemned the bombing and expressed condolences to the families of the victims. It said attacks on diplomatic facilities and against diplomats can never be justified or excused. -VOA - 12/4/14

U.S. and Iran Both Attack ISIS, but Try Not to Look Like Allies

- Iranian fighter jets struck extremist targets in Iraq recently, Iranian and American officials have confirmed, in the latest display of Tehran's new willingness to conduct military operations openly on foreign battlefields rather than covertly and through proxies. -NY TImes - 12/4/14

Iraqi Kurds Seek Greater Balance Between Ankara and Baghdad

- After a period of frostiness, Iraq's Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and Turkey seem intent on mending the ties, as each of the parties show signs of needing the other. But the Kurds appear more cautious this time around, leery of moving too close to Ankara lest they alienate the new Iraqi government in Baghdad with which they signed a breakthrough oil deal Tuesday. -Mohammed A. Salih, LobeLog - 12/4/14

Photos: Iran, Turkmen, Kazakh presidents attend landmark ceremony to open joint railway

- Iranian, Turkmen and Kazakh Presidents met and conferred in Incheborun railway station on Wednesday in a landmark ceremony to celebrate putting into operation of joint railway networks. President Rouhani said the project will pave the way for economic development of the three nations and the entire region. - 12/3/14

We have gotten very close to nuclear pact: Iranian FM

- Iranian Foreign Minister Mohamamd Javad Zarif said on Tuesday that Iran and the major powers are now closer than ever to striking a final accord on the Iranian nuclear program. Zarif said the extension of talks was needed to draft the details of the agreement, and most of the negotiators believe that much less time is needed to reach an agreement. - 12/3/14

Guards Killed In Bombing At Iranian Envoy's Residence In Yemen

- A security official in Yemen says a powerful car-bomb blast that apparently targeted the Iranian ambassador's residence has killed Yemeni and Iranian security guards. Guards said Ambassador Hassan Sayed Nam was not in the house when the attack took place in a diplomatic district of Yemen's capital, Sanaa, on December 3. - 12/3/14

Iran wary of oil 'shock therapy' as OPEC vies for market

- The "shock therapy" of a steep drop in crude prices, which have fallen to a five-year low, is no solution for OPEC's loss of market share to U.S. shale producers, Iran's Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said. - 12/2/14

The Parchin Puzzle

- In the seemingly never-ending debate over Iran's nuclear program, specifically the "possible military dimensions," or PMD, of its past work, much has been made over the thus-far frustrated demands by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to inspect a building at the sprawling Parchin military complex near Tehran. -Robert Kelley, LobeLog - 12/2/14

Iran Bombing Islamic State In Iraq, U.S. Official Confirms

- The list of countries bombing Islamic State targets in Iraq has thus far featured a host of classic United States partners -- Canada, the U.K., France. Now, it looks like the U.S. has a new quasi-partner in the air: Iran. -Akbar Shahid Ahmed, Huffington Post - 12/2/14

Oil at $40 Possible as Market Transforms From Caracas to Tehran

- Oil's decline is proving to be the worst since the collapse of the financial system in 2008 and threatening to have the same global impact of falling prices three decades ago that led to the Mexican debt crisis and the end of the Soviet Union. -Bloomberg - 12/1/14

The ISIS Phenomenon: How Does It End?

- The ISIS Phenomenon continues to astonish--to notch up innovative new features in Islamist politics that suggest a deepening ability to exploit and feed off long-term accumulated Muslim grievances. What are the logical end-points of extremism at which these forces finally reach terminal collapse? What kind of prognosis can we offer about this phenomenon? -Graham E. Fuller, LobeLog - 12/1/14

Nemesis: The Shadowy Iranian Training Shia Militias in Iraq

- "He (Qasem Soleimani, leader of the Quds Force, whom many military leaders regard as an excellent, and highly strategic commander) is here often in Baghdad, and Northern Iraq," said one of Iraq's leading Shia politicians who asked to remain anonymous. "Of course the Iraqi government knows about this. He is smart. He is also a man who loves war. He knows he is good at it." -Janine Di Giovanni, Newsweek - 11/30/14

US Congress and the Iran nuclear deal

- Republican victories in the midterm Congressional elections have raised wide speculation that the new Congress would choose a more hawkish position on Iran that could potentially torpedo a final nuclear deal between the US and Iran. The Republican-controlled Congress convenes on January 3rd. -Shahir ShahidSaless, Gulf News - 11/29/14

Malarkey on the Potomac

- "Iraq no longer exists." My young friend M, sipping a cappuccino, is deadly serious. We are sitting in a scruffy restaurant across the street from the Cathedral of St. John the Divine on Manhattan's Upper West Side. It's been years since we've last seen each another. It may be years before our paths cross again. As if to drive his point home, M repeats himself: "Iraq just doesn't exist." -Andrew J. Bacevich, LobeLog - 11/29/14

New Era of Cheap Oil Tilts Geopolitical Power Toward U.S.

- A new age of abundant and cheap energy supplies is redrawing the world's geopolitical landscape, weakening and potentially threatening the legitimacy of some governments while enhancing the power of others. -Bloomberg - 11/29/14

OPEC Maintains Output, Prices Hit 4-year Low

- The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries has decided to maintain current levels of production, despite a worldwide oil glut that has driven market prices down more than 30 percent since June. Meeting Thursday in Vienna, Austria, OPEC oil ministers decided to maintain the present output target of 30 million barrels a day. - 11/28/14

Iran's Supreme Leader Supports Extension of Nuclear Talks

- Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, says he supports the move to extend the Iranian nuclear talks, but he says the United States has the most to lose if the negotiations fail. In a speech broadcast on state television Thursday, Khamenei said he does not oppose the seven-month extension for the same reason he has not opposed the talks thus far. - 11/27/14

Tales from the Vienna Woods

- It's too early to tell all there is to be told about the negotiations in Vienna between the so-called P5+1 and Iran on the latter's nuclear program. The "telling" by each and every participant of what happened will surely take place in the next several days, and then better-informed assessments can be made. -Robert E. Hunter, LobeLog - 11/26/14

Quds Force Chief Suleimani Reportedly Helped Peshmerga Defeat IS In Diyala

- The commander of Iran's Quds Force, Qassem Suleimani, has reportedly assisted Iraqi Kurdish and Shi'ite militias to defeat Islamic State (IS) militants in the towns of Jalawla and Saadiya in Diyala Province. Kurdish Peshmerga and Shi'ite militias said on November 23 that they had retaken the two towns, which are about 110 kilometers from the Iraqi capital, Baghdad. -Joanna Paraszczuk, RFE - 11/26/14

Under Rohani, Iranian Jews find greater acceptance

- Iran, a home for Jews for more than 3,000 years, has the Middle East's largest Jewish population outside of Israel, a perennial foe of the country. But while Iran's Jews in recent years had their faith continually criticized by the country's previous governments, they've found new acceptance under moderate President Hassan Rohani. -AP - 11/26/14

Israelis Sad to See Hagel Go

- The resignation of Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel on Monday, Nov. 24 after less than two years in his post was all over the morning news here in the United States. But the story was ultimately trumped by the imminent Grand Jury decision on whether or not to indict the officer who shot a black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, record snowfalls in upstate New York, and the extension of the talks on Iran's nuclear program. -Marsha B. Cohen, LobeLog - 11/26/14

Iranian Leader: Western Powers Failed to Bring Iran to its Knees

- Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says the United States and "European colonialist powers" failed in their efforts to bring Iran "to its knees" during negotiations on the country's nuclear program. The comments posted on his website Tuesday are his first since negotiators from Iran and a group of world powers agreed to extend talks on Iran's nuclear program through the middle of next year. - 11/25/14

Pro-Israel Hawks Take Wing over Extended Iran Nuclear Talks

- Buoyed by the failure of the US and five other powers to reach a comprehensive agreement with Iran over its nuclear program after a week of intensive talks, pro-Israel and Republican hawks are calling for Washington to ramp up economic pressure on Tehran even while talks continue, and to give Congress a veto on any final accord. -Jim Lobe, LobeLog - 11/25/14

Oil advances for a third day as Iran seeks OPEC production cut

- Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh may propose that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) trim supply by 1 million barrels a day when he meets with Saudi Arabia's Ali Al-Naimi before the group gathers on Nov. 27 - 11/25/14

Diplomats: Iran Nuclear Talks Extended Until July 1

- Iranian and Western diplomats said nuclear talks between Iran and six world powers will be extended until July 1, 2015. The diplomats spoke in Vienna on the final day of the group's self-imposed, year-long period to agree on a comprehensive deal to ensure Iran's nuclear program is peaceful. - 11/24/14

Foreign Ministers Make Final Push in Iran Nuclear Talks

- Seven foreign ministers are in Vienna working against a midnight deadline to settle the more than decade-long dispute over Iran's nuclear program, and potentially to begin to unravel crippling economic sanctions. But a year after they reached a landmark interim agreement, negotiators indicated they may need more time on the difficult, long-term issues. -Al Pessin, VOA - 11/24/14

Shi'ite, Sunni Clerics Meet In Iran To Discuss IS Threat

- Shi'ite and Sunni clerics from 80 countries have gathered in Iran's holy city of Qom discuss how to combat Islamic State (IS) militants. The conference organizer, Grand Ayatollah Nasser Makarem Shirazi, appealed on November 23 for consensus among Islam's two main branches -- urging all Muslim clerics to work together to discredit groups espousing extremism. - 11/24/14

Iran able to build aircraft carriers: Navy Chief

- Iran is capable of building aircraft carriers and heavy submarines, Navy Commander Habibollah Sayyari announced on Sunday. "As we have managed to produce warships and submarines, we also have the capability to build aircraft carriers and heavy submarines," the rear admiral stated. - 11/24/14

Iran Nuclear Deadline Likely to Be Extended

- Iran and six world powers appear likely to miss a midnight Monday deadline on reaching a nuclear deal and will reconvene next month, Western diplomats said. "Given progress made this weekend, talks headed to likely extension with experts and negotiating teams reconvening in December at a yet to be determined location," a diplomat said, adding, "we will meet again before the new year." - 11/24/14

The Danger of Derailing the Iranian Nuclear Deal

- Inflection points in the history of U.S. foreign relations sometimes are marked by new departures and new roads taken. But they might instead entail blown opportunities to take new and better roads, with significant damage resulting from the failure to take them. That failure involves opportunity costs at a minimum, and other costs as well. -Paul Pillar, National Interest - 11/23/14

Iran Nuclear Deadline Approaches

- Hassan Rohani has faced many obstacles in appointing and keeping a science minister because the conservative factions have been adamant that the post must not go to anyone connected to the 2009 election protests and those who challenged Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's victory with allegations of election fraud. - 11/23/14

Bahrain's Sham Election Ignores Calls for Reform

- Bahrain's national election planned for this Saturday portends no change in the al-Khalifa regime's anti-Shi'a stance and is yet another futile exercise in sham democracy. The mainstream al-Wefaq Shi'a opposition party has decided to boycott the election because of perceived bias in the recently gerrymandered electoral districts. -Emile Nakhleh, LobeLog - 11/23/14

Iran Talks Progress Behind the Scenes

- VIENNA-Talks on the future of Iran's nuclear program and international sanctions against the country continued in Vienna Friday, amid indications of behind-the-scenes developments that officials will not specify. The British and French foreign ministers joined U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry here Friday to urge their Iranian counterpart, Mohammed Javad Zarif, to make the compromises necessary to reach an agreement. -Al Pessin, VOA - 11/22/14

Obama Faces Tough Crowd At Home On Iran Nuclear Deal

- With the deadline for an agreement on Iran's nuclear program looming, the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama is under increased pressure to bring home a deal that is acceptable to a skeptical Congress. If he cannot do so by November 24, he faces an even tighter deadline to hammer out an agreement before a new, Republican-controlled, Congress convenes in January. -Carl Schreck and Luke Johnson, RFE - 11/22/14

Top Foreign Policy Experts Endorse Iran Nuclear Deal

- As Iran and six world powers scramble to reach a deal over Iran's nuclear program by the deadline of Nov. 24 in Vienna, Washington is seeing a flurry of last-minute events focused on the pros and cons of pursuing diplomacy with Tehran. -Derek Davison, LobeLog - 11/22/14

TAKE ACTION: They Almost Killed The Deal

- Last week, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) almost killed the Iran talks. He went to the Senate floor and attempted to pass a bill to give Congress the authority to kill any nuclear deal. Thankfully, Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) intervened and blocked Graham's gambit. But it was a close call -- too close. -Jamal Abdi, NIAC - 11/21/14

Kerry in Paris as Nuclear Talks Move Toward Deadline

- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is meeting Thursday in Paris with the foreign ministers of France and Saudi Arabia to discuss the ongoing negotiations over Iran's nuclear program. Later in the day he travels to Vienna, where officials from Iran and a group that includes the U.S., Britain, China, France, Russia and Germany have been trying to end a year of talks with a comprehensive agreement. -Victor Beattie, VOA - 11/20/14

Nuclear pact within reach if West drops excessive demands: Iran's President Rouhani

- Iranian President Hassan Rouhani reiterated on Wednesday that a nuclear agreement between Iran and the major powers is "within reach" if the West stops making "excessive demands". - 11/20/14

US: Iran Nuclear Deal by Deadline Difficult but Possible

- U.S. President Barack Obama's nominee for deputy secretary of state says it will be difficult, but not impossible, to reach a nuclear deal with Iran before a Monday deadline. - 11/20/14

Calling Sens. Mitchell, Daschle--Your "Bipartisan" Center Is In Funny Company

- On Thursday, BPC will co-sponsor a forum ("Looming Deadline and Unanswered Questions: What's Next for the P5+1 and Iran") at the Senate Visitors Center with two hard-line neoconservative groups closely tied to and funded by wealthy donors of the Republican Jewish Coalition (chaired by multi-billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson) -Jim Lobe, LobeLog - 11/20/14

IRNA: Iran to Hold Market Share Talks With Saudi at OPEC

- Iran's oil minister said he will talk with top oil exporter Saudi Arabia about market share when OPEC meets next week in Vienna, as Tehran plans for the possible end of sanctions and unfettered crude exports. -Reuters - 11/20/14

Security Council Resolutions: Barrier to Iran Nuclear Deal?

- We have not yet reached such a dramatic juncture with Iran. But should it become useful to rapidly lift the sanctions imposed by the four UNSC resolutions between 2006 and 2010 in order to secure a comprehensive agreement on Iran's nuclear program, the Western negotiators may find themselves incapable of delivering and may instead try to kick the can down the road to some point in the distant future. -Francois Nicoulaud, LobeLog - 11/19/14
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