Offside and Out of Bounds: LGBTQ Rights in Iran (Opinion)

Offside and Out of Bounds: LGBTQ Rights in Iran (Opinion)

By AIC Research Fellow Shiva Darian

When most people hear the terms “Iranian women” and “soccer,” they are reminded of Iran’s recently lifted ban on women entering sports stadiums.

A few months ago however, I discovered this hilarious and ironic 2015 news story about the Iranian women’s soccer team actually being comprised of a number of male players. The photos made for great laughs, but also sparked an interesting series of discussions and thoughts. Apparently, upon being caught using male players, the team manager defended the decision by stating the players were transgender. Unfortunately, this attempt to deflect the blatant cheating scandal by sparking dialogue on transgender rights was largely ignored, mostly due to the fact that the team had only won a single game that season.

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Iran – Turkey Relations

Iran – Turkey Relations

By: AIC Research Fellow Gabriela Billini

INTRODUCTION

Iran and Turkey have often competed with one another for regional control, with this struggle spanning many centuries, between several empires. Today, the Middle East presents the world with a picture of many competing states seeking dominance over economic, security, and political issues in the region, especially vis-a-vis the West. With high-stakes conflicts bubbling throughout the region, and borders becoming less defined, the competition for this control has become explosive, as demonstrated by various conflicts like the civil wars in Syria and Yemen, as well as the struggles for a Kurdish state. Given the stakes, there is room for the emergence of a new regional leader (or leaders) capable of stabilizing and securing   the Middle East.

Despite their historical position at odds with one another, today Iran and Turkey hold mostly complementary positions on some of the most important issues in the region,which the leaders of the two nations have certainly noticed.  The result has been an evolving security relationship between the two countries, which this paper aims to explain in detail. Furthermore, given the significant number of aligned goals and interests of both countries, this paper will also explore potential areas of future cooperation and the possible benefits to both nations should they enter into a new, more substantial regional partnership.

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The United States' Failures with JCPOA Compliance

The United States' Failures with JCPOA Compliance

By AIC Research Fellow Gabriela Billini

The United States has now withdrawn from the JCPOA, citing Iran’s failure to comply with its commitments, despite repeated confirmation from a diverse array of partners who solidly confirm the opposite. There have been accusations since the JCPOA’s signing that Iran has not acted in the spirit of the deal because of their legal ballistic missile tests and regional activity, both of which lie outside of the JCPOA’s areas of concern. What has rarely been discussed, however, is the fact that the US itself has violated the JCPOA. Given the US’ most recent violation of the JCPOA in pulling out of the deal without due cause, what follows is a summary of the ways in which the US has been in violation of the deal since President Trump assumed office. 

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Iran's Use of Religion as a Tool in its Foreign Policy

Iran's Use of Religion as a Tool in its Foreign Policy

By AIC Research Fellow Gabriela Billini

o   Introduction

Religion can be perceived as a core factor in the Islamic Republic of Iran’s foreign policy. As the only state in the Middle East whose government is guided by theology further encouraged by its constant usage of religiously-imbued messages, it is easy to come to such a conclusion, despite its fallacy. It is therefore important to analyze the limitations of religion in Iranian foreign policy to understand, instead, what drives it. This paper argues that religion is nothing more than a tool leveraged to aid Iran in its aspirations towards becoming a more significant regional player. I will discuss Iran’s foreign policy and show that despite the religious discourse, Iran’s foreign policy is shaped instead by the regime’s interests. It must not be overlooked that religion is an important tool and I will show how the regime leverages it in its involvements abroad. Religion, however, is not the core principle driving foreign policies. Further, it is crucial to discuss Saudi Arabia to address how both players use religion in their competition for regional power status. Analyzing Saudi Arabia is important because it has implications for the region’s future, as well as a mechanism of comparing Iran’s activity.

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Policy Recommendations for US-Iran Relations in the Trump Era

Policy Recommendations for US-Iran Relations in the Trump Era

By: Shiva Darian, Gabriela Billini, and Nicolás Pedreira
AIC Research Fellows

Introduction:

Allies for most of the 20th century, the United States and Iran were radically divided after the 1979 Iranian Revolution that overthrew Mohammad Reza Shah and replaced him with a theocratic government. Throughout the last 38 years, U.S. policy toward Iran has fluctuated between open animosity and cautious mistrust. Former President Obama’s unprecedented approach to U.S.-Iran relations involved increasing pressure on the nation through the implementation of sanctions, while conveying a willingness to negotiate in order to come to a deal on what was perceived as one of the biggest threats to international security.

The Framework for Cooperation Agreement was established after months of negotiations and multiple meetings with the IAEA and the P5+1 (the United States, France, the United Kingdom, China, Russia, and Germany). Finally, in July of 2015, a consensus was reached and unanimously ratified by the UN Security Council as Resolution 2231 (2015). Through diplomacy, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or Iran Deal, aimed to establish a somewhat comprehensive resolution to an outstanding issue between the two nations.

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راههای حل و خروج از مخمصه کنونی ایران

راههای حل و خروج از مخمصه کنونی ایران

By AIC Publication Committee Member Hamid Zangeneh

نظام جمهوری اسلامی در گذشته به خواستهای مردم توجه چندانی نکرده و با توسل به انتساب خواسته ها به تحریکات حقیقی و مجازی خارجیها به سرکوب ادامه داده است. هر از چند گاهی سر و صدای اصلاحات و تغییرات را راه میاندازند ولی میدانند که نمیتوانند مسائل را به نحوی قابل قبول حل کنند چون بقول معروف کارد دسته خود را نمیبرد. در نتیجه، اعتراضات بیشتر و بیشتر همه گیر و آشیل نظام ضعیف تر و ضعیف تر شده است.
به نظر میرسد که این بار اعتراضات به فرای عده ای تحصیل کرده که دسترسی به رسانه های مجازی دارند رفته و خطرناکتر شده است. نمیدانم که آیا نظام فکر میکند که میتوانند مجددا با دستگیری عده ای “آرامش” بر قرار کنند یا حداقل برای حفظ نظام حاضرند که تغییرات اساسی در نظام بوجود بیاورند. بنظر ما تغییرات اساسی که لازم است مسئله قیمت پوست و پیازنمیتواند باشد.
نظام جمهوری اسلام بر مبنای انحصارسیاسی و اقتصادی است. پستهای سیاسی به دوستان و آشنایان اختصاص دارد و بخشهای اقتصادی به وابستگان و قدرتمندان سپرده میشوند. درآمد نفت ازطرق مختلف درخارج از ایران در حسابهای شخصی سرمایه گذاری میشوند و به مردم کوچه و بازار سهمی نمیرسد. بانگها سپرده های مردم را چمع آوری میکنند و به وابستگان و قدرتمندان وامهای کلان در مقابل وثیقه های پوچ میدهند. بانکها اکثرا ورشکسته هستند ولی به رفتار خود در زیر سایه نظام ادامه میدهند. بقول آقای لاریجانی، رئیس مجلس شورای اسلام، فساد همه گیر شده است و بآسانی قابل حل نیست.
بنابراین اگر بخواهند مسائل مملکت را بدون خون ریزی و خرابکاری حل کنند باید از خودگذشتگی و خلوص نیت همه جانبه، بخصوص ار طرف اولیاء نظام جمهوری اسلامی، نشان داده شود. ما اگر بخواهیم کلیه خواستها و منویات مردم را ریز کنیم باید طوماری بی انتها تهیه کنیم. بنابراین ما در زیر فقط به خواستهای بنیادی که میتوانند گشایشی در زندگی سیاسی، اجتماعی، و اقتصادی ایرانیان باشند بطور سرخطی اشاره میکنیم:

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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.    

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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.

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The Effects of the JCPOA on the Iranian Economy

The Effects of the JCPOA on the Iranian Economy

By Michael Schwartz, Kriyana Reddy, and Dr. Reza Ghorashi

Over one year has passed since the formal implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), signed by the US and P5+1 members (China, France, Germany, Russia, and the UK), which lifted certain “nuclear-related secondary sanctions,” on various Iranian business sectors.[1] All parties to the JCPOA agreed to implementing it “in good faith and in a constructive atmosphere” and to “refrain from any policy specifically intended to ... affect the normalization of trade and economic relations with Iran.”[2]  While initially the JCPOA was met with optimism, critics in both Tehran and Washington have challenged the effectiveness and potential benefits of the agreement.  Iranian public opinion remains steadfastly in support of the deal, but the reality of Iran’s long transition from economic isolation has curbed some enthusiasm.  While the JCPOA has created significant opportunities for economic growth and normalization, the Iranian public has not yet seen many tangible economic benefits.

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OFAC 101

OFAC 101

By Kriyana Reddy, Research Associate

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).[1] 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.”

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The Many Sides of Iran’s Economic Troubles

The Many Sides of Iran’s Economic Troubles

By Dr. Hooshang Amirahmadi

The Iranian economy continues to face serious difficulties, with seemingly no solution in sight. The one area which the Rouhani government wishes to take credit for is with regards to inflation. Indeed, under the presidency of Hassan Rouhani, the inflation rate has reduced significantly relative to the tenure of his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. However, as critics have maintained, this decrease has been due primarily to the ongoing recession that plagues the country, rather than government policies. For the most part, the country remains mired in a deep economic depression, with little to show in way of recovery for the average Iranian.

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Now Is the Time To Act

Now Is the Time To Act

By Brayden Zimmerman, AIC Summer Research Associate

Please note that the views expressed in this publication, as with all articles written by AIC interns, do not necessarily represent the views of the American Iranian Council.  

In recent history, the world has seen the harm that can result from instability. As a result, governments around the world must work towards peace, particularly in places where conflict seems so inevitable. One way that America can work towards that goal of promoting peace, and reducing the chance of more unnecessary violence and instability is by working to lock in the benefits and improved relations ushered in by the adoption and implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).  The next 10-15 years are absolutely critical in this regard. We need to start focusing on doing what it takes to foster a peaceful, mutually beneficial, and trusting relationship with Iran. The risks of following any other path are too great and too real.

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AIC Iran Brief: The 2016 Elections in Iran

AIC Iran Brief: The 2016 Elections in Iran

By Bradford Van Arnum, AIC Research Associate

In the middle of March, Iran’s Interior Ministry announced that runoff elections for nearly 70 parliament seats would occur on April 29. The first round of voting had taken place on February 26, when Iran held elections for both its parliament and Assembly of Experts. The former is a 290-member body that is elected every four years, while the latter is the group responsible for choosing a new Supreme Leader when a vacancy arises. The elections for the two institutions, both of which have been dominated by conservatives in recent years, were seen as key tests of President Rouhani’s time in office, and in particular, a referendum on the nuclear accord that was signed in July 2015.

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Iran Brief— The New Silk Road: Using Iran as a Possibility for Sino-American Cooperation

Iran Brief— The New Silk Road: Using Iran as a Possibility for Sino-American Cooperation

The United States can best navigate the post-nuclear accord era by understanding how the easing of tensions will shape Iran’s role in Asia. Opportunities may arise through recognizing that Iran’s economic needs can work within US frameworks for improving the region. Chief among these is the chance that economically integrating Iran could help stabilize violence in nearby Afghanistan. This may be achieved through acknowledging that China has already begun a similar strategy of connecting Iran with Central Asian trade networks for the same goal, as well as investigating China’s achievements and failures here. Doing so may improve Iran’s view of the United States and be an opportunity for Sino-US cooperation

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AIC Iran Brief: The Iranian Economy under President Rouhani and the Economic Implications of the Nuclear Accord

AIC Iran Brief: The Iranian Economy under President Rouhani and the Economic Implications of the Nuclear Accord

By Bradford Van Arnum, AIC Research Associate

The Iranian presidential election in June of 2013 occurred against the backdrop of not only the issue of the country’s nuclear program, but also of an economy in crisis. The two were, in many ways, inextricably linked; the international sanctions regime at the time was significantly harming the Iranian economy, and unlike previous unilateral action by the United States, these sanctions had done much to block Iran’s access to the global financial system. With the election centered on these twin issues of addressing the nuclear standoff and restoring the economy, an opening was provided for more moderate leadership than that seen under President Ahmadinejad, who had not shied away from confrontation with the United States. Ultimately, it was Hassan Rouhani who won the election on the promise of ending the nuclear impasse and addressing the economic crisis. However, the economic challenges the new administration faced became abundantly clear as soon as Rouhani was inaugurated.

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AIC Policy Paper: Expanding U.S.-Iran Cooperation to Forge a Power-Sharing Deal in Yemen

AIC Policy Paper: Expanding U.S.-Iran Cooperation to Forge a Power-Sharing Deal in Yemen

By Arastoo Taslim, AIC Research Associate

During the “Arab Spring” of 2011, protests across Yemen called for President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s resignation. After 33 years in office, Saleh abdicated power in February 2012 to his vice president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, via a single candidate election. One of the groups both supporting the ouster of Saleh and rejecting his replacement were the Houthis.

In this policy paper, Arastoo Taslim describes the reality on the ground, the interests of the key stakeholders, and outlines policy prescriptions to help achieve stability and a negotiated settlement in Yemen.

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Full Text of the Iran Nuclear Deal

Full Text of the Iran Nuclear Deal

The P5+1 and the Islamic Republic of Iran welcome this historic Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which will ensure that Iran’s nuclear program will be exclusively peaceful, and mark a fundamental shift in their approach to this issue. World powers and Iran anticipate that full implementation of this JCPOA will positively contribute to regional and international peace and security. Iran reaffirms that under no circumstances will it ever seek, develop or acquire any nuclear weapons.

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Iran-US Relations: Learning from Experience, Marching toward Reconciliation

Iran-US Relations: Learning from Experience, Marching toward Reconciliation

Hooshang Amirahmadi

Institute of Mediterranean and Oriental Cultures

With some success in the negotiations over Iran.s nuclear program, hopes have been raised that the US and Iran may be able to conclude a final nuclear deal and then build upon it to ultimately mend relations. Assuming that the US and Iran can cultivate the political will for normal relations, the purpose of this paper is to assist the policy makers and others to realize the shift and prepare the ground for a realistic rapprochement. With this purpose and possibility in mind, the paper offers an overview of US-Iran relations including its historical development, difficulties in the relationship, imperatives for a better rapport, and remedial prescriptions.

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Fissile Material Controls in the Middle East

Fissile Material Controls in the Middle East

Frank N. von Hippel, Seyed Hossein Mousavian, Emad Kiyaei, et al

International Panel on Fissile Materials

A Nuclear Weapon Free Zone (NWFZ) in the Middle East was first proposed in the United Nations General Assembly in 1974 by Iran and Egypt in an effort to roll back Israel’s acquisition of nuclear weapons and to restrain further proliferation in the region by having all states join both a NWFZ and the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The proposal drew on the model of the 1967 treaty for a Latin American nuclear weapon free zone. In 1990, the proposal was broadened by Egypt to include a ban on chemical and biological weapons, i.e., to create a Weapon of Mass Destruction (WMD)-free zone

in the Middle East.

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