On behalf of everyone here at the American Iranian Council, we wish you a warm Nowruz greetings! Nowruz is the first day of spring and also the first day of the new Iranian calendar year, which will be 1396 on March 21 (2017). Nowruz has been celebrated for over 3000 years, and Iranians of all religious and ethnic orientations share in the joys and prosperity it promises. We sincerely hope that this Nowruz will usher in better US-Iran relations.
The closure of 1395 was admittedly a rocky period in US-Iran relations, with increased rhetoric on both sides, the imposition of a blanket travel ban on Iranians, ballistic missile testing by the Iranian government, and the new Trump administration putting Iran “on notice.” Of course, rocky times are not new. As a long-standing organization with nearly three decades of experience in this field, we recognize that US-Iran relations have always been challenging. And yet, with time and effort, real progress has been made in the past and can be made moving forward.
Trump Sends Holiday Greetings to Iranians, Does Not Mention Travel Ban
U.S. President Donald Trump, who has sought to ban travelers from Iran and other Muslim-majority nations from entering the United States, issued a holiday greeting on Wednesday to Iranians celebrating the New Year holiday known as Nowruz. Trump, who has also criticized the nuclear deal between Iran and western powers negotiated during President Barack Obama's administration, did not refer to the travel ban in his statement. "Nowruz means 'new day' in Persian. It is an occasion to celebrate new beginnings, a sentiment that is particularly meaningful for so many Iranians who have come to our country in recent decades to make a new start in a free land," Trump said in a statement issued by the White House. (Reuters)
Originally published on The LobeLog by Robert E. Hunter, AIC Board Member
Last week, President Donald J. Trump began moving from words and executive orders to the basic stuff of foreign policy and national security. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) delivered its budget estimates under the headline: “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again.” Over the next several months, Congress will decide out how much of this blueprint to use in building the government’s structure for the next fiscal year. This includes the hardware and software and “people-ware” of the tools of American statecraft.
It was no surprise that, as promised, President Trump is asking for a hefty rise in money for the Pentagon, more than 10%, or $52 billion, from the appropriation signed into law by President Barack Obama last December. This brings the total to $639 billion and is the sharpest rise since President Ronald Reagan sought to intimate the Soviet Union during the Cold War. As OMB put it: “This increase alone exceeds the entire defense budget of most countries.”
Less than one week after President Donald Trump’s executive order banning immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries, our latest Iran Chat is with Ian Samuel, Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School. Ian previously served in the United States Department of Justice in the Office of the Solicitor General and on the appellate staff of the Civil Division. Following his government service, Ian joined the appellate litigation practice at the law firm Jones Day.
Our conversation covers the legal issues surrounding President Trump's executive order as well as Ian’s offer to personally provide legal services to any government employee who refuses to help implement this ban. You can follow Ian on Twitter at @isamuel, and subscribe to his podcast about the Supreme Court at firstmondays.fm/subscribe.
In July 2015, the United States partnered with other members of the P5+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United Kingdom) along with the European Union and Iran to sign the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The plan was officially implemented in January 2016, and the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the U.S. Department of Treasury issued numerous accompanying documents as guidelines on the JCPOA.
Both due to - and also despite - this abundance of language, there is often confusion surrounding what is and is not permitted in U.S.-Iran business operations under the new agreement. Hence, this article seeks to clarify some of these guidelines. Imagine this as “OFAC 101.”
In addition to its cultural significance, Iran’s book industry also plays a role in the economy and in matters of public policy. In 1992, the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance commissioned the creation of the Iran Cultural Fairs Institute in order to establish book fairs across the country and around the world. As part of this directive, in May 2017 Tehran will host its largest literature-related event of the year, the 30th annual Tehran International Book Fair (TIBF).