Posts Tagged Iran

Next Steps for the U.S.-Iran Deal

Next Steps for the U.S.-Iran Deal is republished with permission of Stratfor.”

Summary

What was unthinkable for many people over many years happened in the early hours of Nov. 24 in Geneva: The United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran struck a deal. After a decadelong struggle, the two reached an accord that seeks to ensure that Iran’s nuclear program remains a civilian one. It is a preliminary deal, and both sides face months of work to batten down domestic opposition, build convincing mechanisms to assure compliance and unthread complicated global sanctions.
That is the easy part. More difficult will be the process to reshape bilateral relations while virtually every regional player in the Middle East seeks ways to cope with an Iran that is no longer geopolitically encumbered. Read the rest of this entry »

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Israelis, Saudis and the Iranian Agreement

Israelis, Saudis and the Iranian Agreement is republished with permission of Stratfor.”

By George Friedman

A deal between Iran and the P-5+1 (the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany) was reached Saturday night. The Iranians agreed to certain limitations on their nuclear program while the P-5+1 agreed to remove certain economic sanctions. The next negotiation, scheduled for six months from now depending on both sides’ adherence to the current agreement, will seek a more permanent resolution. The key players in this were the United States and Iran. The mere fact that the U.S. secretary of state would meet openly with the Iranian foreign minister would have been difficult to imagine a few months ago, and unthinkable at the beginning of the Islamic republic.

The U.S. goal is to eliminate Iran’s nuclear weapons before they are built, without the United States having to take military action to eliminate them. While it is commonly assumed that the United States could eliminate the Iranian nuclear program at will with airstrikes, as with most military actions, doing so would be more difficult and riskier than it might appear at first glance. The United States in effect has now traded a risky and unpredictable air campaign for some controls over the Iranian nuclear program.  Read the rest of this entry »

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The U.S.-Iran Talks: Ideology and Necessity

The U.S.-Iran Talks: Ideology and Necessity is republished with permission of Stratfor.”

By George Friedman

The talks between Iran and the Western powers have ended but have not failed. They will reconvene next week. That in itself is a dramatic change from the past, when such talks invariably began in failure. In my book The Next Decade, I argued that the United States and Iran would move toward strategic alignment, and I think that is what we are seeing take shape. Of course, there is no guarantee that the talks will yield a settlement or that they will evolve into anything more meaningful. But the mere possibility requires us to consider three questions: Why is this happening now, what would a settlement look like, and how will it affect the region if it happens? Read the rest of this entry »

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U.S. and Iranian Realities

U.S. and Iranian Realities is republished with permission of Stratfor.”

By George Friedman

U.S. President Barack Obama called Iranian President Hassan Rouhani last week in the first such conversation in the 34 years since the establishment of the Islamic Republic. The phone call followed tweets and public statements on both sides indicating a willingness to talk. Though far from an accommodation between the two countries, there are reasons to take this opening seriously — not only because it is occurring at such a high level, but also because there is now a geopolitical logic to these moves. Many things could go wrong, and given that this is the Middle East, the odds of failure are high. But Iran is weak and the United States is avoiding conflict, and there are worse bases for a deal. Read the rest of this entry »

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Iran, Syria: Smuggling Weapons to Gain Influence in the West Bank

Iran, Syria: Smuggling Weapons to Gain Influence in the West Bank is republished with permission of Stratfor.”

Summary

There are growing indications that Iran, Syria and their local proxies may be attempting to build up militant capabilities in the West Bank to eventually threaten Israel. Physically transferring weapons into Fatah-controlled West Bank will remain a key challenge, as recent arrests of weapons smugglers in Jordan have shown. Though Iran and Syria face many constraints in trying to spread militancy to the West Bank, their quiet efforts are worth noting, particularly as Hamas and Iran are now finding reasons to repair their relationship after a period of strain. Read the rest of this entry »

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Redlines and the Problems of Intervention in Syria

Redlines and the Problems of Intervention in Syria is republished with permission of Stratfor.”

By George Friedman
Founder and Chairman

The civil war in Syria, one of the few lasting legacies of the Arab Spring, has been under way for more than two years. There has been substantial outside intervention in the war. The Iranians in particular, and the Russians to a lesser extent, have supported the Alawites under Bashar al Assad. The Saudis and some of the Gulf States have supported the Sunni insurgents in various ways. The Americans, Europeans and Israelis, however, have for the most part avoided involvement.

Last week the possibility of intervention increased. The Americans and Europeans have had no appetite for intervention after their experiences in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. At the same time, they have not wanted to be in a position where intervention was simply ruled out. Therefore, they identified a redline that, if crossed, would force them to reconsider intervention: the use of chemical weapons. Read the rest of this entry »

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A New Reality in U.S.-Israeli Relations

A New Reality in U.S.-Israeli Relations is republished with permission of Stratfor.”

By George Friedman
Founder and Chairman

U.S. President Barack Obama is making his first visit to Israel as president. The visit comes in the wake of his re-election and inauguration to a second term and the formation of a new Israeli government under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Normally, summits between Israel and the United States are filled with foreign policy issues on both sides, and there will be many discussed at this meeting, including Iran, Syria and Egypt. But this summit takes place in an interesting climate, because both the Americans and Israelis are less interested in foreign and security matters than they are in their respective domestic issues.

In the United States, the political crisis over the federal budget and the struggle to grow the economy and reduce unemployment has dominated the president’s and the country’s attention. The Israeli elections turned on domestic issues, ranging from whether the ultra-Orthodox would be required to serve in Israel Defense Forces, as other citizens are, to a growing controversy over economic inequality in Israel.

Inwardness is a cyclic norm in most countries. Foreign policy does not always dominate the agenda and periodically it becomes less important. What is interesting is at this point, while Israelis continue to express concern about foreign policy, they are most passionate on divisive internal social issues. Similarly, although there continues to be a war in Afghanistan, the American public is heavily focused on economic issues. Under these circumstances the interesting question is not what Obama and Netanyahu will talk about but whether what they discuss will matter much.  Read the rest of this entry »

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U.S.-Iranian Dialogue in Obama’s Second Term

U.S.-Iranian Dialogue in Obama’s Second Term is republished with permission of Stratfor.”

By Reva Bhalla
Vice President of Global Affairs

As U.S. President Barack Obama’s second-term foreign policy team begins to take shape, Iran remains unfinished business for the U.S. administration. The diplomatic malaise surrounding this issue over the past decade has taken its toll on Washington and Tehran. Even as the United States and Iran are putting out feelers for another round of negotiations, expectations for any breakthrough understandably remain low. Still, there has been enough movement over the past week to warrant a closer look at this long-standing diplomatic impasse.

At the Munich Security Conference held Feb. 1-3, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said the United States would be willing to hold direct talks with Iran under the right conditions. Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi responded positively to the offer but warned that Iran would not commit unless Washington shows a “fair and real” intention to resolve the issues dividing the two sides. Read the rest of this entry »

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Israeli President Pressuring U.S. to Strike Iran

From Business Insider:

Netanyahu said that Israel was simply not strong enough to force a halt to Iran’s nuclear enrichment program. In order to halt the program, Bibi said, the U.S. would have to strike, and they must do so this year.

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Former FBI Agent Kidnapped

From The Telegraph:

An expert on Russian organised crime, Mr Levinson, who would now be 64, retired from the FBI in 1998 and became a private investigator. He was investigating cigarette smuggling in early 2007, and his family has said that took him to the Iranian island of Kish, where he was last seen.

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Iran Stages ‘Cyber Warfare Drill’

From: Arutz Sheva

Iran has combined cyber warfare tactics and maritime war games in a drill for the first time as it stages maneuvers in the Strait of Hormuz.

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Iran Preparing for Nuclear War

From: The Washington Times

Despite the statement by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Israel’s red line on Iran’s illicit nuclear program could be reached by next spring, Iranian officials are adamant that war is close.

In analyzing Mr. Netanyahu’s recent speech to the United Nations General Assembly, an Iranian nuclear policy strategist boasted to state media outlet irannuc.ir that Mr. Netanyahu’s red line is based on the current enrichment process to the 20 percent level at the Fordow nuclear facility. A recent International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report shows Iran has 90 kilograms of 20 percent enrichment, needing just 130 kilograms of such material for a nuclear bomb, which the Israelis conclude will happen by next spring.

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Standard Chartered Bank Agrees to Forfeit $227 Million for Illegal Transactions with Iran, Sudan, Libya, and Burma

From FBI:

Standard Chartered Bank, a financial institution headquartered in London, has agreed to forfeit $227 million to the Justice Department for conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA). The bank has agreed to the forfeiture as part of a deferred prosecution agreement with the Justice Department and a deferred prosecution agreement with the New York County District Attorney’s Office for violating New York state laws by illegally moving millions of dollars through the U.S. financial system on behalf of sanctioned Iranian, Sudanese, Libyan, and Burmese entities. The bank has also entered into settlement agreements with the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.

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Iranian and US Citizens Plead Guilty to Export Violations

From FBI:

Two men pleaded guilty today to charges related to the unlawful export of aircraft and aircraft parts from the United States to Iran, announced David J. Hale, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Kentucky; Lisa Monaco, Assistant Attorney General for National Security; and Perrye Turner, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Louisville Division.

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U.S. Foreign Policy: Room to Regroup

U.S. Foreign Policy: Room to Regroup is republished with permission of Stratfor.”

By George Friedman

President Barack Obama has won re-election. However, in addition to all of the constraints on him that I discussed last week, he won the election with almost half the people voting against him. His win in the Electoral College was substantial — and that’s the win that really matters — but the popular vote determines how he governs, and he will govern with one more constraint added to the others. The question is whether this weakens him or provides an opportunity. That is not determined by his policies but by the strategic situation, which, in my view, gives the United States some much-needed breathing room.

The Structure of the International System

At the moment, the international system is built on three pillars: the United States, Europe and China. Europe, if it were united, would be very roughly the same size as the United States in terms of economy, population and potential military power. China is about a third the size of the other two economically, but it has been the growth engine of the world, making it more significant than size would indicate.  Read the rest of this entry »

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