The American Iranian Council is deeply concerned about the recent outbreak of violence in the Gulf of Oman and state of escalating tensions in the region. Although relations between the United States of America and the Islamic Republic of Iran have been poor since the Iranian Revolution in 1979, the current situation is among the worst AIC has seen since we began our work twenty-six years ago, and risks breaking out into a fully armed regional conflict.
The Council urges both the U.S. and Iran to contemplate the policies they have enacted that have led to this dangerous crossroads, and also to consider the deep responsibility they bear to their citizens and the world in ensuring that a peaceful off-ramp for the current tensions be secured.
Last year, the AIC expressed grave concern about the United States’ decision to withdraw from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) without evidence of Iranian non-compliance and/or the support of other signatories. At the time, we labeled this decision not just provocative but potentially militaristic and moreover, inconsistent with the values of moral leadership and the rule of law that America has long championed. In the Council’s view this withdrawal was the most significant action leading to the current tensions. Other, more recent moves Washington has made against Tehran, including designating Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist group and the deployment of additional U.S. military equipment and personnel to the Middle East without the support of its allies and to the alarm of many in Congress, have only further stoked tensions while accomplishing little to change Iran’s regional activities
After Oil, Washington Weighs Sanctions on Iran’s Other Sources of U.S. Dollars
The Trump administration is considering a more-aggressive enforcement of its economic sanctions on Iran—targeting more companies and financial institutions that do business with the Islamic Republic in an attempt to cut off lucrative sources of U.S. dollar-denominated hard currency, U.S. officials said.
The new sanctions on banks and businesses would be aimed at choking off trade including Iran’s petrochemical sales to Singapore and its consumer-goods sales to Afghanistan.
The prospect of added pressure on Iran comes as Washington kicked off a fresh round of sanctions on Iranian oil exports on Thursday. The U.S. ban is aimed at coercing Iran into reaching a new nuclear and security pact. In targeting the country’s crude—its main income source—the U.S. hopes to sever the financial and trade ties that are keeping Iran’s economy afloat. (WSJ)
AIC’s President Dr. Amirahamadi was recently interviewed by VOA News about US sanctions and Iran’s foreign minister Zarif. His responses were incorporated into the article below written by Michael Lipin and published in Voa News.
VOA News: US Sanctions on Iran’s Zarif May Target his Assets, New York Visits
Iran’s wealthy top diplomat, who has spent a third of his life in the United States, could see Washington sanction his assets and further limit his ability to visit the U.S. in the coming days.
In a White House press briefing Monday, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said President Donald Trump had instructed him to impose sanctions on Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif by the end of the week.
Mnuchin’s announcement coincided with the Trump administration sanctioning Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and eight senior commanders of Khamenei’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) for the first time. Mnuchin said the new sanctions target individuals whom Washington sees as responsible for Iran’s perceived malign behaviors, including its shoot-down of a U.S. drone over the Persian Gulf last week.
After a long break, Iran Chat is back and we felt this year’s series should begin with a deep dive into the current state of US-Iran relations, focusing on the very real and growing possibility of war with Iran.
To help sort through all the recent news and issues concerning US-Iran relations, we spoke with journalist Jim Lobe. He served as chief of the Washington DC bureau of Inter Press Service from 1980 to 1985 and again from 1989 to 2016. Currently he is an Associate Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies where he directs LobeLog, an award-winning web blog focused on foreign policy, featuring posts by expert contributors on a variety of global issues, with an emphasis on US policy towards the Middle East.
Recently, he co-wrote an article for Lobelog entitled War Against Iran Becoming Ever More Likely. We discuss his rationale for this assessment during our conversation.
While all sovereign nations have relationships with other states for a variety of reasons ranging from economic to cultural to security concerns, some of the most important ties are with states that lie in one’s immediate region and geographic neighborhood. Such bilateral relations are helpful for garnering influence via soft power and may influence decisions a state’s government makes concerning its domestic policies and international engagement. They are particularly important for addressing key regional issues and conflicts. Iran is no exception, and has a dossier of shifting relations.
This series on Iran and the Middle East (part I) will elaborate on Iran’s connections with Middle East states and its eastern neighbors in political relations, economic, security, and civil society matters. Knowing what lies at the core of these relations is key to understanding Iran’s role in the region and can shed light on bigger issues that contribute to the complexities of the Middle East. Understanding Iran’s relationships with its neighbors is particularly important for comprehending its ambitions for regional influence. Three key features that help define Iran’s relationships with its neighbors include each state’s relationship with the outgoing Pahlavi Dynasty, the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988) and each state’s relationship with Saudi Arabia.
When AIC last reported on Iran’s oil and gas sector in February 2018, there was a great deal of optimism surrounding its future among Iranian officials and many international investors. The sector had been boosted by the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which relieved some U.S., UN and EU restrictions on Iran’s access to foreign investment and export markets.
Much however, has changed since May 2018, when the Trump Administration announced its intention to withdraw from the JCPOA. Despite the country being home to the world’s fourth largest reserves of crude oil and second largest reserves of natural gas, the future health of Iran’s fossil fuels sector is now shrouded in uncertainty.