Foreign Policy and the Establishment of Religion

by Paul R. Pillar The opening line of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution bans any law “respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”. It is no accident that this prohibition has pride of place in the Bill of Rights. It is fundamental to the founding of the republic. Several … Continue reading “Foreign Policy and the Establishment of Religion”

A Survey of Arab Youth Highlights Gaps between Policies and Aspirations

by James M. Dorsey Results of a recent annual survey of Arab youth concerns about their future suggest that Arab autocracies have yet to deliver expected public services and goods, explain autocratic efforts to promote nationalism, and indicate that jobs and social freedoms are more important than political rights. The survey provides insights that should … Continue reading “A Survey of Arab Youth Highlights Gaps between Policies and Aspirations”

Trump’s “Emergency” Sale to Saudi Arabia Must Not Stand

by William D. Hartung Congressional opposition to U.S. support for the brutal Saudi/UAE war in Yemen has been growing in the past few years. It has underpinned the work of a network of peace, human rights, and humanitarian aid groups who are moved to end what the United Nations has described as the world’s worst … Continue reading “Trump’s “Emergency” Sale to Saudi Arabia Must Not Stand”

Palestinians Need a State, Not a ‘Business Plan’

by Sam Bahour President Donald Trump is taking part in an all-out attempt to batter the Palestinians into political surrender, and his weapon of choice is money. In full coordination with the Israeli government, he is overseeing a global campaign to ensure funds supporting Palestinians are drying up. Everything from Palestinian hospitals in East Jerusalem … Continue reading “Palestinians Need a State, Not a ‘Business Plan’”

Russia and the Future of Europe

by John Feffer Europe is gearing up for much-anticipated elections this week to the European parliament. Austria, however, now has to deal with a very unexpected snap election — thanks to a drunk politician, a Russian honeypot, and a leaked video. This scandal currently rocking Austria may ultimately play a decisive role in the European … Continue reading “Russia and the Future of Europe”

Chabahar: Still Exempted from Iran Sanctions

by James M. Dorsey The Indian-backed Iranian port of Chabahar has emerged as a major loophole in a tightening military and economic noose and ever harsher U.S. sanctions that President Donald J. Trump, reluctant to be sucked into yet another war, sees as the best way to either force Tehran to its knees or achieve … Continue reading “Chabahar: Still Exempted from Iran Sanctions”

Iran’s University Admissions: Barrier to Corruption

by Shervin Malekzadeh The unfolding university admissions scandal here in the United States has been an education in American exceptionalism. That the standard of entry to higher education might include the ability to play squash or ride a show horse proves difficult to explain to much of the rest of the world, where high-stakes standardized … Continue reading “Iran’s University Admissions: Barrier to Corruption”

War with Iran: The Pretext of Proxies

by Kevin L. Schwartz The prospect of war between the United States and Iran is more likely than it has been in decades, with the pretext for justifying a U.S. military strike or invasion already in place. In recent weeks, leading Iran hawks in the Trump administration have presented a framework to assign culpability to … Continue reading “War with Iran: The Pretext of Proxies”

Does the Soviet Regime-Change Analogy Apply to Iran?

by Eldar Mamedov Among regime-change advocates, it´s long been de rigeur to invoke the way the President Ronald Reagan dealt with the Soviet Union as a template for hastening the demise of the Islamic Republic. According to this view, Reagan, armed with moral clarity, almost single-handedly defeated the USSR. If only current Western leaders had … Continue reading “Does the Soviet Regime-Change Analogy Apply to Iran?”

Iraq: Beyond Oil and ISIS

by Austin Bodetti As Iraq continues its lengthy recovery from a ruinous four-year showdown between the Islamic State (ISIS or IS) and an American-led coalition, Iraqi officials are determining which aspect of their country’s reconstruction to prioritize. Among the most pressing challenges remains confronting the twin phenomena of climate change and environmental degradation, problems that … Continue reading “Iraq: Beyond Oil and ISIS”

Qatar: The Mouse Whose Roar Might Prevent a War

by Mark Perry America’s 18-year war on terrorism just got complicated—or, perhaps, it just got more complicated. At the center of the complication is the tiny state of Qatar, the Persian Gulf emirate that hosts the sprawling al-Udeid Air Base, U.S. Central Command’s forward headquarters for the region and home of the Air Force’s 379th … Continue reading “Qatar: The Mouse Whose Roar Might Prevent a War”

Lessons from the Gulf of Tonkin Incident

by Paul R. Pillar Disturbing similarities between the run-up to the Iraq War of 2003 and the Trump administration’s bellicosity toward Iran keep accumulating. They include war-selling rhetoric seemingly derived from the same script. But in some respects, the more striking parallel to the present occurred over half a century ago, beyond the living memory … Continue reading “Lessons from the Gulf of Tonkin Incident”

The Real Reason Iran’s Hardliners Don’t Want to Talk to America

by Shireen T. Hunter     Recently, President Donald Trump gave Iran’s leaders a telephone number, saying that he is waiting to talk to them. Observers and analysts in both in Tehran and Washington dismissed this gesture as meaningless. Given the background of U.S.-Iran relations under Trump, especially American withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of … Continue reading “The Real Reason Iran’s Hardliners Don’t Want to Talk to America”

Iran’s JCPOA Exit: Strategic Mistake or Stepping Stone?

by Jalil Bayat Iran’s recent decision to leave the 2015 nuclear deal (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA) stage by stage can only mean one of two things. It is either a strategic mistake or a stepping stone for new talks with all the signatories to the deal, including the United States. Following … Continue reading “Iran’s JCPOA Exit: Strategic Mistake or Stepping Stone?”

Misreading the 1953 Coup

 by Gregory Brew On May 8, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) invited U.S. Special Representative Brian Hook to an event commemorating one year of the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran. During the event, Hook briefly touched on the overthrow of Mohammed Mossadegh in the infamous coup of August 1953. “Mossadegh … Continue reading “Misreading the 1953 Coup”

Palestinians Won’t Buy Economic Peace

by Mitchell Plitnick On Sunday, the Trump administration said that it would release the economic component of the “deal of the century” in late June. That statement is a walkback of an earlier pledge to release the whole plan after the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and the Jewish holiday of Shavuot, which end on … Continue reading “Palestinians Won’t Buy Economic Peace”

Dealing with Iran: Today’s Yellow Journalism?

by Robert E. Hunter At long last, the U.S. mainstream media (print division), much of Congress, and the Washington think-tank commentariat are waking up to the prospect of a war with Iran and not liking what they see. Iran as a problem? Yes. But worth yet another Middle East war? No thanks. This epiphany is … Continue reading “Dealing with Iran: Today’s Yellow Journalism?”

U.S. Complicity in Israel’s Violations of International Law

by James J. Zogby Last week, I addressed a United Nations Security Council meeting on “Israeli Settlements.” Because I knew that other speakers, experts, and diplomats would address the illegality of Israeli settlements, the economic and human rights impact on the Palestinian people, and the stated design of the entire settlement enterprise to eliminate the … Continue reading “U.S. Complicity in Israel’s Violations of International Law”

The Explosive Road to Peace in Yemen

by Khalid Al-Karimi Hopes for peace in Yemen—or at least progress towards constructive political talks—rose this week. The Houthis began on Saturday to withdraw from Hodeida’s three ports, marking a tentative breakthrough in the four-year war in the country. Initially, the UN hailed the Houthi pullout from some zones in Hodeida as “very good.” This … Continue reading “The Explosive Road to Peace in Yemen”

How to Lobby Washington to Death

by Mashal Hashem and James Allen A springtime wedding in Northern Yemen’s Al-Raqah village took place in April 2018, a moment of reprieve from the turmoil and devastation of that war-torn country, a moment to celebrate life, love, and the birth of a new family. From the tents constructed for the event, music flooded into … Continue reading “How to Lobby Washington to Death”

Algerian Uprising’s Regional Repercussions

by Ghassan Michel Rubeiz On May 9, Algeria’s authorities arrested Louisa Hanoune and charged her with “conspiracy against the state” and “undermining the military.” Hanoune is not involved in the ongoing uprising, but she consistently spoke out against the harsh government liquidation of the Islamists parties in the 1990s. She is the leader of the … Continue reading “Algerian Uprising’s Regional Repercussions”

Russia and the Iran Crisis

by Mark N. Katz As tensions ratchet up between Washington and Tehran, Moscow has adopted a more measured approach. Putin, along with many of Washington’s Western allies, has criticized the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreement reached during the Obama years. Moscow also joined with the other signatories—the UK, … Continue reading “Russia and the Iran Crisis”

What Makes Iran Look Like an Immediate Threat

by Paul R. Pillar The current crisis atmosphere in U.S.-Iranian relations, in which the risk of open warfare appears greater than it has been in years, is solely and unequivocally due to the policies and actions of the Trump administration. To point this out does not mean that actions of the Iranian regime have not … Continue reading “What Makes Iran Look Like an Immediate Threat”

Israeli Right: Keep Hamas in Power

by Meron Rapaport The idea that Hamas is an Israeli creation is nearly as old as Hamas itself. Researchers, journalists, high-ranking Israeli military and government officials — even Americans — have found substantial evidence to that effect. And yet the Israeli narrative presents Hamas as a zealous, murderous terrorist group — the sworn enemy of … Continue reading “Israeli Right: Keep Hamas in Power”

Britain’s Post-Brexit Future in the Middle East

by Jonathan Fenton-Harvey Amid economic and political uncertainty over Britain’s exit from the European Union (Brexit), the United Kingdom may drift closer toward the United States and other traditional allies like Saudi Arabia and Israel. Yet such an outcome could force Britain to follow Washington’s Middle East policy, while diminishing London’s influence over other countries, … Continue reading “Britain’s Post-Brexit Future in the Middle East”

Taking the U.S. and Iran Off Collision Course

by International Crisis Group A series of escalations in both word and deed have raised fears of U.S.-Iranian military confrontation, either direct or by proxy. It is urgent that cooler heads prevail – in European capitals as in Tehran and Washington – to head off the threat of a disastrous war. For the past year, … Continue reading “Taking the U.S. and Iran Off Collision Course”

Surprise: Pentagon Finds Money for Wall!

by Gordon Adams It’s a miracle!  The wall can be funded!  The Pentagon can pay for it!  Hooray for America and for a bottomless Pentagon budget that is so full of excess funds that money can be found for this vital project, essential to the safety of all Americans! Somehow over the past couple of … Continue reading “Surprise: Pentagon Finds Money for Wall!”

It’s Time to Stop Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia

by William D. Hartung The Senate’s failure to override President Trump’s veto of its effort to end U.S. military support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen is not the end of the story. A way can and must be found to stop U.S. assistance in refueling, targeting, and other activities that bolster the Saudi/United Arab Emirats (UAE) war effort, … Continue reading “It’s Time to Stop Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia”

Bolton in Wonderland

by John Feffer Only 70 days into his presidency, Ronald Reagan faced an assassination attempt. While he was in surgery and the vice president was mid-flight over Texas, Secretary of State Alexander Haig famously declared in front of the press, “As of now, I am in control here, in the White House.” Haig’s statement was … Continue reading “Bolton in Wonderland”

Pompeo Gets Cold-Shouldered on Iran in Brussels

by Eldar Mamedov Amid worrying signs of the United States escalating its “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran, the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo paid an impromptu visit to Brussels on May 13. Taking advantage of an ordinary meeting of EU 28 foreign ministers and High Representative for Foreign Policy Federica Mogherini that day, Pompeo sought … Continue reading “Pompeo Gets Cold-Shouldered on Iran in Brussels”

Newspaper of Wreckage

by Derek Davison The New York Times is often called the “newspaper of record,” which is supposed to sound very authoritative. But when you consider its performance in obfuscating, overhyping, under-investigating, and/or outright lying the United States into war, maybe “newspaper of wreckage” makes more sense. From Iraq to Libya to Syria and now maybe … Continue reading “Newspaper of Wreckage”

A General with a Bias for Action

by Andrew J. Bacevich In late March, General Kenneth McKenzie became the twenty-fourth commander of CENTCOM (more formally known as United States Central Command).  On May 8, at an event sponsored by the Institute for the Perpetuation of War and the Promotion of Regime Change, more formally known as the Foundation for the Defense of … Continue reading “A General with a Bias for Action”

Iran and the U.S.: Still Possible to Escape the Worst and Work for the Best

by Francois Nicoullaud The U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal—the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)— could be an ill-advised, even absurd decision. Like it or not, however, it’s not a violation of international law. Let’s remember the care taken by the American negotiators in Vienna to avoid giving the JCPOA any formal attributes … Continue reading “Iran and the U.S.: Still Possible to Escape the Worst and Work for the Best”

The Rising Tide of the Populist Right

by John Feffer In the Americas, the Trump tsunami has swept across both continents and the “pink tide” of progressivism has all but disappeared from the southern half of the hemisphere. In Europe, with the recent exception of Spain, the left has been banished to the political margins. In Africa and Asia, socialism has devolved … Continue reading “The Rising Tide of the Populist Right”

Power Struggle over Socotra  

by Giorgio Cafiero Throughout the Yemeni civil war, President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have been nominal allies. Yet relations between the two have been, to say the least, tense due to conflicting visions for the future of Yemen once the dust settles. The UAE supports southern separatists in Yemen … Continue reading “Power Struggle over Socotra  “

Iran Debates Trump’s Invite

by Kaveh L. Afrasiabi As expected, Trump’s offer of talks with Iran on May 8 has generated a lively debate in Iran. As of this writing, neither Supreme Leader Khamenei nor President Hassan Rouhani has made any public comments, perhaps because they have not taken Trump’s offer as serious or warranting a response. But other … Continue reading “Iran Debates Trump’s Invite”

For Iranians, the War Has Already Begun

by Elham Pourtaher Not a day goes by without the Trump administration imposing a new challenge on us, the Iranian people. Those who think that the travel ban has been the hardest obstacle for Iranians need to catch up with latest foreign policy developments. Encouraged by Donald Trump’s foreign policy advisors, the Iranian people today … Continue reading “For Iranians, the War Has Already Begun”

60 Days to Save the JCPOA

by Ellie Geranmayeh The strings holding the Iran nuclear deal together are gradually snapping. Ever since the Trump administration came to power, the agreement has deteriorated. The U.S. withdrawal dealt it a major blow. A year on, the remaining parties to the deal are in an uphill battle to salvage it following unprecedented U.S. sanctions … Continue reading “60 Days to Save the JCPOA”

The Media’s Shameful Handling of Bolton’s Iran Threat Claims Recalls the Run-up to the Iraq War

By Ben Armbruster   Media-savvy U.S. government officials, political operatives, and lawmakers and their staffs from all political parties and ideological persuasions have no doubt, throughout the history of our great country, duped a fair-minded but unwitting reporter into writing a juicy story in order to get a piece of information into the public bloodstream … Continue reading “The Media’s Shameful Handling of Bolton’s Iran Threat Claims Recalls the Run-up to the Iraq War”

Iran’s Patience May Be Running Out

by Derek Davison The Iranian government’s decision to reduce its adherence to the 2015 nuclear deal (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA) reflects a “move from strategic patience to strategic action” in the face of mounting U.S. sanctions, according to a recent media call organized by the European Leadership Network. Although Iran’s moves have … Continue reading “Iran’s Patience May Be Running Out”

Is Kushner’s Plan a Peace Plan?

by Paul R. Pillar First son-in-law Jared Kushner has been tantalizing onlookers so long with a yet-to-be-announced plan for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that it is hard to remember when the tantalizing began. The process has appeared to be an exercise in buying time.  The recent Israeli election, probably as much as anything else, has … Continue reading “Is Kushner’s Plan a Peace Plan?”

The Looming War and Tehran’s Ostrich Politics

by Shireen T. Hunter                    Last week, tensions between Iran and the United States reached even more alarming levels. First, Iran’s  Supreme Leader admonished Iranians that since the enemy—read America—is in war mode, Iran, too, should prepare for war (Arayesh Jangi Begirad). Then there was the news of the U.S. aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln … Continue reading “The Looming War and Tehran’s Ostrich Politics”

Islam and Environmentalism

by Austin Bodetti Across the Global South, community leaders, politicians, and scientists are wrestling with how to rally their compatriots to combat climate change and prepare their countries for the dangers of environmental degradation. In several corners of the Muslim world, academics and environmentalists have looked for inspiration from a source that has mobilized countless … Continue reading “Islam and Environmentalism”

Global Game of Thrones

by John Feffer I was surprised to learn that Dagmar Havlova had become a monarchist. In 1990, when I first met the sister-in-law of Czech playwright and later president Vaclav Havel, she was a spokesperson for Civic Forum, the movement that would guide Czechoslovakia from communism to democracy. Virtually everyone in the country at the … Continue reading “Global Game of Thrones”

New Iran Metals Sanctions Target Jobs, Not Government Revenue

by Esfandyar Batmanghelidj The Trump administration has announced a new wave of sanctions on Iran’s steel, aluminum and copper industries. A statement from President Trump declares, “Today’s action targets Iran’s revenue from the export of industrial metals—10 percent of its export economy—and puts other nations on notice that allowing Iranian steel and other metals into … Continue reading “New Iran Metals Sanctions Target Jobs, Not Government Revenue”

Iran’s Nuclear Deal Threat

by Aveek Sen Iran recently announced a series of steps to reduce its commitments to the nuclear deal (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA). It announced that, invoking articles 26 and 36 of the JCPOA, it will not abide by stockpile limits for enriched uranium (LEU) and heavy water. Further, Iran announced that … Continue reading “Iran’s Nuclear Deal Threat”

Al-Qaeda: Still Deadly Threat in Yemen

by Jonathan Fenton-Harvey As peace talks to end Yemen’s four-year-long war stall, al-Qaeda carried out a deadly attack the Hadramawt province on May 3 that killed several civilians, showing the faction still poses a threat in Yemen. Despite being contained in Yemen’s eastern and central provinces of Hadramawt, Shabwa, and Abyan, the faction still poses … Continue reading “Al-Qaeda: Still Deadly Threat in Yemen”

22 European Security Experts Call on US to Rejoin Iran Deal

A European Joint Call on the US to Reconsider its Approach to the JCPOA One year ago, on 8 May 2018, President Donald Trump announced that the United States would cease compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the nuclear agreement struck in July 2015 by the United States and Iran, along with China, … Continue reading “22 European Security Experts Call on US to Rejoin Iran Deal”

Grim Outlook for Iran Nuclear Deal

by Peter Jenkins Iran’s patience with Europe’s feeble submission to one of the most villainous U.S. administrations of all time finally ran out on May 8. That day President Hassan Rouhani told the European parties to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), via remarks at a session of his Cabinet, that henceforth Iranian performance … Continue reading “Grim Outlook for Iran Nuclear Deal”

Bolton, Iran, and Hegemonic Hubris

by Shahed Ghoreishi On Sunday, National Security Advisor John Bolton announced that the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln and Air Force bombers were rerouted to the Persian Gulf because of “new threats” emanating from Iran and its Shiite militias in Iraq and Syria. U.S. officials have privately declared that the vague intelligence, which Israel apparently passed … Continue reading “Bolton, Iran, and Hegemonic Hubris”