AIC Board Member Marvin Zonis: Saudi Arabia's Leadership in Uncertain Hands

AIC Board Member Marvin Zonis: Saudi Arabia's Leadership in Uncertain Hands

Originally Published in EconoMonitor

By Marvin Zonis
AIC Board Member

Saudi Arabia has entered a period of unusual danger from internal as well as external threats. The man apparently in charge of overcoming these threats appears ill equipped to do so.

Salman bin Abdul Aziz al Saud became King of Saudi Arabia on January 23, 2015. The 79 year old Monarch is reported to suffer from dementia and has had a stroke, both of which have been denied by the Royal Court. But he uses a walking stick and reportedly looks puzzled during meetings with foreigners. In mid-May, King Salman failed to attend a summit meeting of Gulf leaders in Washington and Camp David hosted by President Obama. In his place he sent the new Crown Prince, Muhammad bin Nayef, and the new Deputy Crown Prince, Muhammad bin Salman, his sixth son from his third wife.

Who actually runs the Kingdom is not clear but increasingly it appears to be that son.

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Iran Digest: Week of June 26-July 3, 2015

Iran Digest: Week of June 26-July 3, 2015

Diplomacy with Iran enjoys strong support from US public

By a 2-to-1 margin, more Americans support the United States and other world powers pursuing a nuclear deal with Iran than oppose it, according to new results from the most recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

Thirty-six percent of respondents say they back the deal, which intends to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon by increasing inspections into the country’s nuclear sites in exchange for reducing economic sanctions that are currently in place. By comparison, 17 percent oppose it. (MSNBC)

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Dr. Hooshang Amirahmadi speaks with Russia Today on the nuclear negotiations

Dr. Hooshang Amirahmadi speaks with Russia Today on the nuclear negotiations

In this June 30 interview with Russia Today, AIC Founder and President Dr. Hooshang Amirahmadi shares his thoughts on the P5+1 nuclear negotiations with Iran. He points out that the US might not be truly seeking a comprehensive deal and does not prefer negotiating in a way that locks it into a given agreement. He says, "Yes, there is some kind of a political will...but I think that will is not fully for a comprehensive deal but rather for melting this problem away gradually".

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Emad Kiyaei debates Dennis Ross on the scope of nuclear concessions

Emad Kiyaei debates Dennis Ross on the scope of nuclear concessions

AIC Executive Director Emad Kiyaei talks with KCRW radio along with Dennis Ross, Thomas Erdbrink, and Dalia Dassa Kaye regarding the announcement that negotiators in the Iran nuclear talks have extended their deadline until July 7. Kiyaei mentions the challenge of convincing Iran to open its military sites to inspection, saying, "There is a history of mistrust between Iran and the Western powers. When Iran did open up its military sites...twice in the whole span of the negotiations from 2003 to 2005, it was followed by the assassination of Iranian scientists, sabotage and covert operations on Iranian military facilities and also nuclear facilities. So of course there is a level of mistrust."

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AIC Executive Director Emad Kiyaei tells Al Jazeera America: the West has backtracked on previous nuclear promises

AIC Executive Director Emad Kiyaei tells Al Jazeera America: the West has backtracked on previous nuclear promises

In an interview with Al Jazeera America, AIC Executive Director Emad Kiyaei stresses that Iran is invested in reaching a final deal.

When asked whether the Supreme Leader's recent red line comments display political posturing or attempt to give Iran leverage in the negotiations, Kiyaei said, "It is a little bit of both. Over time Iran has seen that the West has backtracked on previous promises."

He added, "Khamenei is trying to make sure that Iran's national interest is kept at bay and that the guarantees on sanctions relief will occur.

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AIC’s Amb. Thomas Pickering discusses Iran nuclear negotiations and non-proliferation in exclusive interview

AIC’s Amb. Thomas Pickering discusses Iran nuclear negotiations and non-proliferation in exclusive interview

Diplomat Thomas R. Pickering draws upon his 40 years of experience in the US State Department to give the Bulletin’s Dan Drollette Jr. his take on a wide range of current affairs—such as the progress of negotiations with Iran over its nuclear capabilities, the assassination of Iranian scientists, North Korea’s weaponry, Russia’s attitudes toward the West, the effectiveness of realpolitik, and the possibilities for eliminating all nuclear weapons.

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AIC Statement on Extension of Nuclear Negotiations

AIC Statement on Extension of Nuclear Negotiations

Negotiators representing the P5+1 and Iran announced an extension to the self-imposed June 30 deadline to secure a final nuclear deal. The new date they have set for themselves is July 7. The outstanding issues are, reportedly, the timing of sanctions relief, access to military sites, and access to Iranian nuclear scientists.

The AIC throws its full support behind a fair, diplomatic resolution to the nuclear issue that (1) reduces tension between the United States and Iran, (2) lifts sanctions that are contributing to that tension, and (3) further ensures the international community of Iran’s sustained commitment to restrict its nuclear program to peaceful purposes.

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Iran Talks: Days Dwindle Down to a Precious Few

Iran Talks: Days Dwindle Down to a Precious Few

Originally published in Lobelog

By Robert E. Hunter
AIC Board Member
Former US Ambassador to NATO

For some time, key US opponents of an agreement have been pursuing Plan A: to try derailing in advance an agreement that would in fact significantly constrain Iran’s ability to get the bomb. One tactic has been to push the Obama administration to harden its terms to the point of driving Iran away from the bargaining table. So far, Plan A has not been working, so there is Plan B: to get Congress to turn down whatever is agreed. But since, as argued above, the success of Plan B is problematic, a shift is taking place to Plan C: to try ensuring that there will be no further development of US relations with Iran.

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Iran Digest: Week of June 19-26, 2015

Iran Digest: Week of June 19-26, 2015

US, Allies Ready To Offer Nuclear Equipment To Iran In Exchange For Limits On Weapons Program: Report

The United States and other Western nations attempting to finalize a nuclear deal with Iran are willing to offer the latter state-of-the-art nuclear equipment, including high-tech reactors, if it agrees to pare down its program to develop nuclear weapons, the Associated Press (AP) reported Wednesday, citing a “confidential document.”

The document, which AP reported is part of the main text of the agreement to be finalized by June 30, promises Iran a supply of light-water nuclear reactors instead of the heavy-water facility that is currently under construction near Arak in western Iran. In order to produce weapons-grade plutonium using a light-water reactor, greater quantities of fissile material are needed. (International Business Times)

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Sir Richard Dalton discusses his experience negotiating with Iranians in The Guardian

Sir Richard Dalton discusses his experience negotiating with Iranians in The Guardian

AIC Board Member and former British Ambassador to Iran Sir Richard Dalton was recently quoted in The Guardian, discussing what it is like to negotiate with Iranians. He said, “A revolutionary country, its diplomats and negotiators, can be outflanked by radicals claiming to be the true exponents of national values. They [Iranian politicians or diplomats] often speak of external enemies as a way of fostering internal unity. There is usually lively argument [in Tehran] among the factions and the personalities in the leadership and it takes time to resolve them - hence the need for [anyone negotiating with Iran to have] patience and a thick skin.”

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Iran Digest: Week of June 12-19, 2015

Iran Digest: Week of June 12-19, 2015

Neighboring countries and some of our own provinces are the cause of dust pollution in Iran: official

Ziaudin Shoayee, head of Iran’s national plan to fight dust pollution, said that Iran is exposed to two different sources of dust storms: an internal and an external one, the IRNA reported. Shoayee voiced his concerns during an exclusive interview aired on Thursday on channel two of state TV.

During the interview Shoayee blamed neighboring countries for the external sources while seven provinces including: Khuzestan, Ilam, Hormozgan, Sistan and Balochestan are to blame for the internal ones.

He attributed poor management on the one hand, and natural events on the other for Iran’s failure in dealing with dust pollution. (Tehran Times)

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Emad Kiyaei Participates in PeaceGame Simulation

Emad Kiyaei Participates in PeaceGame Simulation

The fourth biannual PeaceGame simulation tackled the issue of the global rise of radical groups and violent extremism. AIC Executive Director Emad Kiyaei was invited to participate in the simulation and take on the role of an Iranian official.

"We need to think about a long-term vision for the Middle East, perhaps with broader regional collaboration and dialogue that creates something like the post-WWII sequences that led to the European Union," Mr. Kiyaei said.

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Marvin Zonis quoted in Pensions & Investments

Marvin Zonis quoted in Pensions & Investments

Originally published in Pensions & Investment

By Christine Williamson

“The clash of civilization within Islam” is creating “inevitable chaos” that is likely to continue, said Marvin Zonis, AIC board member and professor emeritus, Booth School of Business, University of Chicago.

Mr. Zonis said it is unlikely the U.S. will be able to “destroy or degrade the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria,” adding there is a real possibility that “we are going to have to live with an actual ISIS state in parts of Iraq and Syria.”

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2002- Senator Joe Biden Argues for better US-Iran relations at AIC Conference

2002- Senator Joe Biden Argues for better US-Iran relations at AIC Conference

Well before he became Barack Obama's Vice President, Delaware Senator Joe Biden addressed the need for improved US-Iran relations at a major American Iranian Council conference. To understand the VP's opinion on American foreign policy toward Iran, it is perhaps best to consider his previous statements.

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Dr. Amirahmadi on Voice to America

Dr. Amirahmadi on Voice to America

AIC President Dr. Hooshang Amirahmadi spoke to Voice to America on the approaching nuclear deadline. Dr. Amirahmadi believes that a "comprehensive deal" will not be finalized, but that there will be an extension and both parties will announce progress has been made.

Dr. Amirahmadi added, "I cannot see a normalization on the nuclear dispute, while Iran and the U.S. have no normal relations.

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Dr. Amirahmadi's Interview with Russia Today

Dr. Amirahmadi's Interview with Russia Today

AIC Founder Dr. Amirahmadi discusses with Russia Today the recent revelation of the virus used to spy on the P5+1 nuclear negotiations, which he believes is of Israeli origin. He says that Israel would have been especially interested in the "positions of the parties" as well as private negotiations between just the United States and Iran.

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Iran Digest: Week of June 5-June 12, 2015

Iran Digest: Week of June 5-June 12, 2015

Drying lake Urmia threatens environment in Middle East

Dying Lake Urmia is endangering the broader negative environmental impacts in the entire Middle East after becoming one of sources of sandstorms in Iran.

The sandstorms negatively affect the air condition in the Iranian province of West Azerbaijan, the Iranian news agency IRNA quoted Jabbari as saying.

It appears in five zones which are the source of sandstorms on the territory of the Urmia Lake, Jabbari added. If the dying Urmia Lake is not revived, parts of Iran will face serious problems.

Some Iranian experts believe that the Urmia Lake can turn into a swamp unless serious measures are undertaken. (AzerNews)

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Iran Digest: Week of May 30-June 5, 2015

Iran Digest: Week of May 30-June 5, 2015

Israeli military cautiously upbeat on Iran nuclear deal

The Israeli military cautiously welcomed on Thursday the expected international deal which would curb Iran's nuclear program, though Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has lobbied for tougher terms to be imposed on Tehran.

In remarks carried by several Israeli media outlets, an unnamed senior military officer said that if agreed by its June 30 deadline, the deal would provide clarity on the direction of Iran's nuclear program.

Western powers fear that Iran harbors ambitions to build an atomic bomb and years of talks have centered on eradicating the alleged threat. Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

The officer said that for now, measures sought by world powers such as stepped-up international inspections of Iran's nuclear facilities and scaling back of its uranium enrichment "allow for the supposition that, in the coming period of years, this is a threat in decline". (Reuters)

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AIC Executive Director Emad Kiyaei to participate in PeaceGame

AIC Executive Director Emad Kiyaei to participate in PeaceGame

AIC Executive Director Emad Kiyaei will participate in the fourth biannual PeaceGame, hosted by the U.S. Institute of Peace and the FP Group, on Tuesday, June 2, 2015. This PeaceGame will seek to tackle one of the most challenging issues confronting the U.S. government and stakeholders worldwide: the global rise of radical groups and violent extremism.

Building upon previous sessions which explored the political and economic roots of extremism and violence, this event will focus on the issue's human element: why do today's extremist movements attract recruits worldwide, and how can the international community more effectively counter this appeal and manage the reintegration of radicalized individuals. Participants will work together through a range of complex, scenario-based challenges centered around both the recruitment and the return of foreign fighters. 

To view the live webcast beginning on Tuesday 8:30am, click here.

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