Media Guide: The 2001 Authorization for Use of Force (AUMF)

Media Guide: The 2001 Authorization for Use of Force (AUMF)

By Research Fellow Andrew Lumsden

In the context of escalating tensions between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran, a bipartisan group of six U.S. Senators sent a letter to President Donald Trump on June 18, 2019 bluntly warning that “Congress has not authorized war with Iran and no current statutory authority allows the U.S. to conduct hostilities against the Government of Iran.” The signatories of this letter, among other U.S. lawmakers, have expressed concern that the Trump Administration may utilize a nearly 20-year-old law to initiate military action against Iran without Congressional approval.

This Media Guide will explain the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), how has it impacted America’s post-9/11 foreign policy and the possibility that it may play a role in a potentially escalating U.S-Iran conflict.

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Media Guide: U.S. Designation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a Terrorist Organization

Media Guide: U.S. Designation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a Terrorist Organization

By AIC Research Fellow Andrew Lumsden

On April 8, 2019, U.S. President Donald J. Trump announced that the United States would formally designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), as a terrorist organization. President Trump argued that the IRGC “actively participates in, finances, and promotes terrorism,” and that by labeling it a terror group, the U.S. would send “a clear message” to Iran that “support for terrorism has serious consequences.”

Trump’s move represents the first time the United States has labeled a part of another country’s government a terror group and it has sparked widely varying reactions from all over the world and intense scholarly speculation as to how the move will impact global politics.

This Media Guide will explain what the IRGC is, what it means to be labeled a terrorist organization by the U.S., how the move has been received in Iran and internationally, and what consequences it is projected to have for both Iran and the United States.  

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Media Guide: Chief Justice Ebrahim Raisi

Media Guide: Chief Justice Ebrahim Raisi

By AIC Research Fellow Andrew Lumsden

On March 7, 2019, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei appointed Ebrahim Raisi,  a conservative cleric and 2017 presidential candidate, as the country’s Chief Justice. Raisi’s selection for this powerful position immediately set off a firestorm of international controversy. Human Rights Watch labeled it “disturbing and frankly frightening,” the U.S. Department of State called it “a disgrace,” and the Center for Human Rights in Iran went further, saying that “Raisi should be prosecuted, not head of Iran’s judiciary.”

This Media Guide will explain who Ebrahim Raisi is, why his appointment as Chief Justice is causing such consternation among human rights activists and what impact he could potentially have on Iran in the coming years.  

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Media Guide: US Coalition Against Iran

Media Guide:  US Coalition Against Iran

By Gabriela Billini, AIC Research Fellow

Introduction:

In January 2019, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo took the opportunity of a regional trip to announce a new foreign policy strategy regarding Iran. This new strategy is to build a coalition that will actively counter Iranian regional influence and build an overall consensus against Iran. This strategy is to be reinforced in an upcoming conference in Warsaw, Poland, titled the Ministerial to Promote a Future of Peace and Security in the Middle East.

Below are some key details regarding the new coalition and background on the conference in Warsaw, taking place on February 13th-14th, which is expected to promote this foreign policy

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Media Guide: Inflation

Media Guide: Inflation

By AIC Research Fellow Andrew Lumsden

The term “inflation,” for most, brings to mind images of 1920s Germany or, more recently, Venezuela where the currency has been so devalued that a loaf of bread or a cup of coffee can cost million. Though not to the same degree as in these cases, nearly all economies around the world experience inflation and keeping it in check often requires diligent efforts on the part of governments.

Iran has struggled with relatively high inflation since the late 1970s, but seemed to have been making substantive progress in curtailing inflation during President Rouhani’s first term. However, the United States' monetary policies and its November 2018 re-imposition of economic sanctions has sent Iran’s economy into a tailspin, sending inflation soaring to high levels. What follows is a brief overview of Iran’s experience with high inflation over the past three decades and the ways in which its government and population have reacted to it and how they plan to approach the coming uncertain, potentially difficult years.

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Media Guide: Regime Change

Media Guide: Regime Change

By Research Associate Marykate McNeil

Given the broadening conversation regarding the concept of regime change in Iran, and pursuant to AIC’s mission to further dialogue and understanding between the US and Iran, our media guide series may be a helpful platform on which to elucidate the details and complexities surrounding the concept of regime change in Iran. We hope this guide may help our readers and constituents better understand the issues involved.

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Media Guide: Sanctions Against Iran

Media Guide:  Sanctions Against Iran

By Research Fellow Gabriela Billini

Sanctions are a perennial subject in American political discussion about Iran as the US tries to curtail what it views as Iran’s destabilizing activities in the region. Over the years, many rounds of sanctions have been imposed on Iran, in varying forms.  Some have primarily targeted institutions and individuals related to Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs, others have either directly or indirectly affected ordinary Iranian citizens.

This Media Guide will present a brief overview of the history of sanctions on Iran and highlight the effects that American and international sanctions have had upon the broader Iranian economy and average Iranians.

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Media Guide: IRGC and al-Quds Force

Media Guide: IRGC and al-Quds Force

By Research Fellow Gabriela Billini

Aspiring to grow its clout across the Persian Gulf and the broader Middle East, Iran has increasingly engaged its military in other countries in the region. From intervening in civil wars to fighting terrorism in foreign states, Iran’s security forces are playing a larger role in regional affairs and have thus emerged as a critical focus of the West.

The U.S. media typically covers Iran’s military involvement abroad as unfoundedly aggressive or destabilizing, without examining the broader role these organizations play within Iran itself, or Iran’s interests and goals for participation abroad. This media guide will focus on the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the al-Quds force of the military with the aim to demystify these organizations, their role, as well the reasons and timing behind the government’s decisions to use them in foreign interventions.

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Media Guide: Iran's Government Structure

Media Guide: Iran's Government Structure

By Research Fellow Gabriela Billini

Iran’s government structure can be difficult for foreigners to understand. In part, this is due to the intrinsic complexity of Iran’s system, which some argue is due to the combination of modern institutions (like the Majles and Assembly of Experts) with pre-modern ones (like the Supreme Leader).

While this dual nature of Iranian government has contributed to the confusion, a lack of media coverage in the West is also part of the problem. Western media has a mixed record with coverage of the Iranian government – at times covering the democratic process in Iran (as it did recently in the 2017 Presidential elections), but at others, portraying Iran as a dictatorship run by the Supreme Leader. This is unfortunate since understanding Iran’s government structure and process for decision making is crucial in order to interpret the government’s actions and policy positions. With this guide, we hope to provide some foundational information about each government body, its powers, the democratic forces that underlie its authority, and the extent of religious influence in each branch.

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Media Guide: Naval Incidents between the US and Iran

Media Guide: Naval Incidents between the US and Iran

By Research Fellow Gabriela Billini

Naval incidents between American and Iranian ships in the Persian Gulf have recently received increased media attention. Although such incidents have been occurring for some time, the new US administration and changing political environment in Iran have heightened their significance. In keeping with the goal of our Media Guide series to clarify and explain topics in US-Iran relations, we hope this guide will promote increased understanding of the issues at hand.

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Media Guide: Iran's Ballistic Missile Testing

Media Guide: Iran's Ballistic Missile Testing

By Research Fellow Gabriela Billini

On January 29, 2017, the Islamic Republic of Iran conducted its first ballistic missile test since the beginning of the Trump administration. What followed was a throng of varied, often hyperbolic news reports, few of which contained basic information that would help their audience properly understand the news. In keeping with the goal of our new Media Guide series, this paper intends to explain and clarify the issues surrounding this news topic, for use by the media and news consumers. 

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