Iran Digest Week of December 1 - 8

Iran Digest Week of December 1 - 8

CIA Director Sent Warning To Iran Over Threatened U.S. Interests In Iraq

The CIA director said on Saturday he sent a letter to a top Iranian military official warning him that the US would hold Tehran accountable for any attacks it conducted on US interests in Iraq.
Mike Pompeo, who has voiced staunch opposition to Iran and was this week reported to be under consideration to become secretary of state, said he sent the letter to Gen Qassem Soleimani, a leader of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and elite Quds Force, but the general did not read it.
“I sent a note. I sent it because he had indicated that forces under his control might, in fact, threaten US interests in Iraq,” Pompeo said at a defense forum at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute in Simi Valley, California. “He refused to open the letter – didn’t break my heart, to be honest with you. (The Guardian)

Read More

AIC's Emad Kiyaei Moderates Discussion with Ambassadors Thomas Pickering and Seyed Hossein Mousavian at Hamilton College

AIC's Emad Kiyaei Moderates Discussion with Ambassadors Thomas Pickering and Seyed Hossein Mousavian at Hamilton College

On Thursday, November 30th, 2017 former ambassadors Thomas Pickering and Seyed Hossein Mousavian discussed US-Iran relations and the JCPOA (otherwise known as the “Iran Nuclear Deal”) at an event at Hamilton College moderated by Emad Kiyaei. Pickering served as the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, as well as US Ambassador to the United Nations, Russia, India, Israel, and Jordan. Mousavian served as the Iranian Ambassador to Germany, Head of the Foreign Relations Committee on Iran’s National Security Council, General Director of the Foreign Ministry for West Europe, and as Iran’s spokesman during the P5+1 nuclear negotiations. Kiyaei is the Sol M. Linowitz Visiting Professor at Hamilton College, a principal at the IGD group, and a policy advisor to the AIC.

Photography courtesy of Nancy L. Ford

Read More

Iran Digest Week of November 24 - December 1

Iran Digest Week of November 24 - December 1

Turkish Gold Trader Implicates Erdogan In Iran Money Laundering

A Turkish-Iranian gold trader on Thursday told jurors in a New York federal court that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan authorized a transaction in a scheme to help Iran evade U.S. sanctions.
Reza Zarrab is cooperating with U.S. prosecutors in the criminal trial of a Turkish bank executive accused of helping to launder money for Iran. At the time of the alleged conspiracy, Erdogan was Turkey's prime minister.
Zarrab said he had learned from Zafer Caglayan, who was Turkey's economy minister, that Erdogan and then-treasury minister Ali Babacan had authorized two Turkish banks, Ziraat Bank and VakifBank, to move funds for Iran. (U.S. News)

Read More

Iran Digest Week of November 10 - 17

Iran Digest Week of November 10 - 17

Criticism Of U.S. Sanctions Returns In Iran After Earthquake

With Iranian-Americans abroad unable to send money directly to Iran to aid those affected by this week’s powerful earthquake that killed over 530 people, criticism of U.S. sanctions on Iran flared up anew on Thursday.
The 2015 nuclear deal Tehran struck with world powers lifted some sanctions but others, dating back as far as the days after the 1979 U.S. Embassy takeover, still stand, including those that prohibit about 1 million Iranian-Americans from directly sending cash to Iran.
The state-run IRNA news agency, as well as other media, published articles criticizing the rules. “Despite all the difficulties, Iranians living in the U.S. are doing their best to devise innovative solutions to send their humanitarian supplies to the quake-hit areas in western Iran,” IRNA’s report said. (The Washington Post)

 

Read More

Iran Chat: Interview with Dr. James Miller about Health Diplomacy

Iran Chat: Interview with Dr. James Miller about Health Diplomacy

Our latest Iran Chat is with Dr. James Miller, Managing Director of the Oxford International Development Group, a health research and project management consulting company in Oxford, Mississippi.  

Dr. Miller began working in the area of health diplomacy in 2004 while seeking ways to improve health outcomes and access to medical care for people in the impoverished rural Mississippi Delta region.  For this, he turned to Iran’s primary health care model, which is known for its system of health houses staffed by citizen health workers who provide health education and preventative health services to their local communities.  Recognized by the World Health Organization for its success in improving medical outcomes for rural communities in Iran,  Dr. James Miller began working with the architects of this system to develop and adapt the Iranian model in ways that could address the health disparity challenges in the impoverished Delta regions.   

Read More

Iran Digest Week of November 3 - 10

Saudi Accuses Iran Of Potential 'Act Of War'

Saudi Arabia has lashed out at Iran over the firing of a ballistic missile towards Riyadh by Houthi rebels in Yemen, citing evidence that Tehran was behind the attack and labeling it a potential "act of war".
A statement issued on Monday via the state news agency SPA denounced the "flagrant military aggression by the Iranian-controlled Houthi militias" and said that an examination of the debris "confirmed the role of Iran's regime in manufacturing [this and a previous missile] and smuggling them to the Houthi militias in Yemen for the purpose of attacking the Kingdom, its people, and vital interests".
The statement accused Iran of violating the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2216, which prohibits states from supplying weapons to Yemeni armed groups. "Iran's role and its direct command of its Houthi proxy in this matter constitutes a clear act of aggression that targets neighboring countries, and threatens peace and security in the region and globally," the SPA statement noted. (Al Jazeera) 

Read More

AIC's President Dr. Amirahmadi Speaks with Radio Farda

AIC's President Dr. Amirahmadi Speaks with Radio Farda

AIC's President Dr. Amirahmadi recently spoke with Radio Farda regarding US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's explanation of US policy towards Iran.  The audio is in Persian; the English translation is below.

Translated and transcribed by: Celine Aslinia

After meeting with his counterpart in New Delhi, India, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that America’s policy towards Iran had three axes:  “one was dealing with the nuclear agreement between Iran and 5 + 1 countries. The second important pillar of that policy is to deal with Iran’s other destabilizing activities.” The ‘destabilizing activities’ [Tillerson] mentioned included the manufacturing of ballistic missiles, procurement of weapons for terrorist groups, delivery of fighters to foreign countries, and intervention in Yemen, Syria, and other areas. [Tillerson continued], “And the third pillar - which does not get talked about much - is a support for moderate voices inside of Iran. We know there are strong feelings and values inside of Iran that we want to promote in terms of one day the Iranian people being able to retake control of their government.”

Read More

Iran-Iraq Earthquake Kills More Than 450

Iran-Iraq Earthquake Kills More Than 450

Published in the NYTimes by Thomas Erdbrink

Iranians dug through rubble in a frantic search for survivors on Monday, after a powerful earthquake struck near the Iraqi border, killing more than 450 people and injuring thousands of others in the world’s deadliest earthquake so far this year.

The quake, recorded at 9:18 p.m. on Sunday, was felt as far away as Turkey and Pakistan. The epicenter was near Ezgeleh, Iran, about 135 miles northeast of Baghdad, and had a preliminary magnitude of 7.3, according to the United States Geological Survey. Seismologists in the country said it was the biggest quake to hit the western part of Iran.

Read More

The United States should stand by the Iran deal

The United States should stand by the Iran deal

Originally published in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette
By AIC's Honorary Board Member Thomas R. Pickering.  

President Donald Trump has taken the first step toward pulling the United States out of the international agreement that is preventing the development of an Iranian nuclear weapon.

With no factual basis, this decision looms like pure domestic politics over America’s international commitments and leadership. Trust is the coin of the realm in foreign affairs, and we have just begun to debase it in the eyes of much of the world. Who will make a deal with us if we can confect a reason out of thin air to pull out of our agreements? U.S. leadership is imperiled, especially in dealing with Iran and North Korea.

Read More

Copy of Iran Digest Week of October 27 - November 3

Copy of Iran Digest Week of October 27 - November 3

Supreme Leader Khamenei Says U.S. Is Iran's 'Number One Enemy'

The United States is Iran’s “number one enemy” and Tehran will never succumb to Washington’s pressure over a multinational nuclear deal, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a televised speech on Thursday. 
U.S. President Donald Trump broke ranks with other major powers last month by refusing to formally certify Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal. Under that deal, most sanctions on Iran were lifted in exchange for Tehran curbing its nuclear work.
“The American president’s foolish remarks against our people show the depth of America’s hostility towards the entire Iranian nation,” Iran’s top authority Khamenei told a group of students. (Reuters)

Read More

Iran Digest Week of October 20 - 27

Iran Digest Week of October 20 - 27

Tillerson Tells Iranian Militias In Iraq To 'Go Home'

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Sunday urged Iranian-backed militias in Iraq to “go home,” and warned European companies doing business with the Revolutionary Guard in Iran that they could face “great risk” from sanctions.
Shiite militias mostly composed of Iraqi citizens but backed by Iran were instrumental in helping the Iraqi army drive the Islamic State from Mosul and other strongholds in Iraq. There have been reports of Iranian advisers among them. Tillerson said they have no business being on the battlefield now that the Islamic State has been routed.
“Certainly, Iranian militias that are in Iraq, now that the fight against Daesh and ISIS is coming to a close, those militias need to go home,” Tillerson said at a news conference with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, using two common acronyms for the Islamic State. “Any foreign fighters in Iraq need to go home, and allow the Iraqi people to rebuild their lives with the help of their neighbors.” (The Washington Post)

Read More

"Towards a Nationism Political Thought"

"Towards a Nationism Political Thought"

By: AIC's President, Dr. Hooshang Amirahmadi

Please note: This is a summary of a paper to be presented at Cambridge University on November 1, 2017

The speech will start with the question: where does Iran stand today and what could happen to its future given the many forces at play, domestically and internationally? I will argue that the Iranian political system is at a standstill as the political Islam that guides it has lost its organizing and development potentials for real change. Iran is also facing the challenge posed by the Trump administration, who is hostile to its Islamic ideology and behavior. This is the case for a country in which no other serious ideas have emerged to challenge the establishment’s ideology. I will argue that the void can be filled by the nation-builder idea of “Nationism” (mellat garaei).

Read More

Iran Digest Week of October 13 - 20

Iran Digest Week of October 13 - 20

U.S. Ambassador to U.N. Escalates Confrontation With Iran

The Trump administration escalated a bitter confrontation with Iran on Wednesday, demanding that the United Nations Security Council punish the Iranian government for what the American ambassador called its "outlaw behavior" across the middle east.
"The United States will not turn a blind eye to these violations," the United Nations ambassador, Nikki R. Haley, told a Security Council meeting that had been meant to focus on developments in the Israeli - Palestinian conflict. 
Ms. Haley used her speaking time instead to deliver a critique of Iran. Her remarks were among the most strident denunciations Ms. Haley has made of Iran since she became President Trump's ambassador in January. (The New York Times)
 

Read More

Iran Digest Week of October 6 - 13

Iran Digest Week of October 6 - 13

Trump Won't Certify Iran Nuclear Deal, But He Also Won't Unravel It

President Trump will make good on Friday on a long-running threat to disavow the Iran nuclear deal that was negotiated by his predecessor, Barack Obama. But he stop short, for now, of unraveling the accord or even rewriting it, as the deal's defenders had once feared.
In a speech on Friday afternoon, Mr. Trump will declare his intention not to certify Iran's compliance with the agreement. Doing so essentially kicks to congress a decision about whether to reimpose sanctions on Iran, which would blow up the agreement. 
But the Trump administration made it clear that it wants to leave the 2015 accord intact, at least for now. Instead, it is asking congress to establish "trigger points,' which could prompt the United States to reimpose sanctions on Iran if it crosses thresholds set by congress. (The New York Times)

Read More

AIC's Director in the Huffington Post: "President Trump Just Broke the 'Spirit' of the Iran Deal"

AIC's Director in the Huffington Post: "President Trump Just Broke the 'Spirit' of the Iran Deal"

Stephanie Lester, AIC's Director of Operations
Originally published in the Huffington Post

A total solar eclipse passed through the U.S. mainland this past August and I had the wonderful opportunity to view it. It was, coincidentally, the very “same” eclipse I had seen in Iran eighteen years earlier. It’s called a saros: a repeating pattern of eclipses that happens every eighteen years, eleven days and eight hours, when the “same” eclipse appears one third of the way around the world.

Typically, celestial wonders remind us that human beings and our politics and activities are insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but this eclipse had the opposite effect on me. Given the locations from which I viewed the respective events, I focused instead on how frustratingly little US-Iran relations had changed during the saros period – the continued lack of diplomatic relations and rampant mistrust between the countries. In a way, the saros pattern of eclipses reflected for me the obstinate way in which humans are unable to break from their own familiar historical and political patterns.

Read More

AIC's Statement on President Trump's Decision Not to Recertify the Iran Deal

AIC's Statement on President Trump's Decision Not to Recertify the Iran Deal

On July 14, 2015, the American Iranian Council (AIC) celebrated the signing of the JCPOA as an important day for diplomacy and the international community – a day that demonstrated how diplomacy could achieve what threats and coercion could not.  Today, as an organization that has worked for nearly thirty years to promote understanding and dialogue between the US and Iran, the American Iranian Council strongly rejects the Trump administration’s decision to refuse to re-certify the JCPOA.  The AIC further expresses its deep concern that the Trump administration’s decision will be a “black eye” for diplomacy and the US’s reputation around the world.  We oppose this action for a variety of reasons, including:  

1.  The fact that Iran has complied with the terms of the JCPOA.  The IAEA has repeatedly confirmed Iran’s compliance with the deal, including as recently as August 2017.  Top US military and State Department officials have also confirmed that Iran is complying with the deal;

Read More

Iran Digest Week of September 29 - October 6

Iran Digest Week of September 29 - October 6

Family Splits Drive Suit Over 'Most Cruel' Trump Travel Ban

A pair of Iranian romances are at the center of the first lawsuit targeting President Donald Trump’s latest travel ban against several Muslim-majority countries, Venezuela and North Korea.
A complaint filed late Monday in federal court in Greenbelt, Maryland, pits the Trump administration against a nonprofit group, Iranian Alliances Across Borders, and six unnamed U.S. citizens of Iranian descent, including two women who are seeking visas for the Iranian men they love.
Trump’s Sept. 24 proclamation will indefinitely limit most travelers from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen, all of which were part of the original ban. It will also restrict travel to the U.S. from Chad, North Korea and Venezuela. (Bloomberg)

Read More

The Gathering JCPOA Storm and the Way Forward

The Gathering JCPOA Storm and the Way Forward

Hooshang Amirahmadi, PhD
Professor, Rutgers University
 

The JCPOA: From Despair to Hope

The North Korean crisis has pushed the future of the 2015 nuclear deal among Iran and the P5+1 (US, UK, France, Germany, Russia, China), commonly referred to as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), into the background. Yet, this temporary situation will soon reverse itself as a powerful storm is gathering around the subject.  The JCPOA, which was intended to reduce tension between the US and Iran, has been criticized repeatedly by President Donald Trump as a highly deficient agreement, and this change in the White House's attitude under a new president is the primary cause of this developing storm. Indeed, US-Iran relations have unexpectedly become highly explosive in the post-JCPOA period. President Donald Trump’s speech at the UN was a clear indication of this new situation. To mitigate this emerging danger, the policy community must overcome complacency, act with urgency, offer an even-handed and realistic analysis, and propose a fair solution.    

Read More

Iran Digest Week of September 22 - 29

Iran Digest Week of September 22 - 29

U.S. Sees No 'Indication' Iran Launched A Ballistic Missile, Despite Trump Tweet

US intelligence radars and sensors "picked up no indication" of an Iranian ballistic missile launch in the days surrounding a reported test, according to a Trump administration official familiar with the latest US assessment.
Iranian reports that the nation tested a new ballistic missile so far does not appear to be true, the official said, adding: "As far as we can see, it did not happen."
State-run broadcaster Press TV reported the launch on Saturday, according to footage broadcast on Iranian state television."Iran has released footage of the successful test-launch of its new ballistic missile, Khorramshahr, a few hours after it was unveiled during a military parade in the capital city of Tehran," Press TV said. (CNN) 

Read More

A History of Franco-Iranian Relations

A History of Franco-Iranian Relations

Marielle Coleman, Research Associate

Iran is one of the world’s oldest nations. Yet when people think about the country, they tend only to think of the Islamic Republic, which represents just a fraction of the country’s history. Put simply, if the complete history of Iran was represented as a calendar year, its time as the Islamic Republic would be a little more than two and a half days. The truth is that Persia, Iran’s pre-1932’s name in the West, has a vast and rich culture, one that extends far beyond the image of Iran familiar to the Westerners today. Its history was shaped not just by forces within, but also from its interactions with other countries, including France, the focus of this paper.

Relations between Persia and France were established in the 13th century after France became an important power in the region. Since then, the two countries have maintained and fostered connections nearly as often as they have disagreed and disrupted their bonds.  This paper will provide a summary and analysis of the variable nature of their relations since the Crusades.

Read More