by Robin Wright (source: New Yorker) March 25, 2017

ISISISISWhen Abu Yasser was dispatched to lead one of twenty sleeper cells in Baghdad, he was allowed to rape a woman after assassinating a male member of her family. The majority of his targets were Shiites, whom Sunnis view as heretics. “If we killed a guy, and we saw that he had a sister or mother, we could do whatever we wanted to them because they were Shiite,” he said. He spent almost a year in Baghdad, where he carried out assassinations, facilitated suicide bombers, and planted roadside explosive devices. ››read more

Exploring Iran, a land maligned and misunderstood

by WILLIE CAMPBELL (source: Otago Daily Times) March 20, 2017

A travel book is ... well, it is either about places, or people, or everything or sometimes despite having lots of words, nothing. Lois Pryce, in her third book, manages a compelling everything. In 2011, she finds a note on her motorbike, requesting her to visit Iran: ``Please do not think of what happened here and in Teheran. We are not terrorists. The Persian people are the most welcoming in the world''. This invitation intrigued her as she realised that her knowledge of Iran came entirely from the British and US media, and it wasn't pretty. ››read more

The Dangerous Reality of an Iran War

by Sharmine Narwani (source: American Conservative) March 16, 2017

BEIRUT—After weeks of saber-rattling over Iran as the “number one terrorist state” in the world, the Trump administration appears to have quietly dialed down the rhetoric a notch.

Here in the Middle East, however, where every peep and creak out of Washington is scrutinized to death, interested parties haven’t stopped speculating about a U.S. confrontation with Iran. Fifty days into his term, Trump’s foreign-policy course remains an enigma. He swears “all options” remain on the table with Iran—but do they?

There are already some early actions that hint at Trump’s policy directions—and limitations—in the Middle East. In three key military theaters where U.S. forces are currently engaged, some important corners have been turned ››read more

Trump’s Executive Order Is an Existential Threat to America

by ames J. Zogby (source: Lobelog) March 12, 2017

This week President Donald Trump issued a revised Executive Order (EO or Order) restricting immigration from six majority Muslim countries and more than halving the US refugee program. This version includes some significant changes: it is more carefully written; it removes Iraq from the list of countries falling under the ban; and it exempts those with green cards and valid visas. Nevertheless, it remains a false, dangerous, cruel, arbitrary, and bigoted assault on Muslims and the very idea of America as an open, welcoming society. ››read more

The Five Blinding Myths About Iran

by Ted Snider (source: Antiwar.com) March 11, 2017

One of the promises that President Trump has kept is his promise to be tough on Iran. Though he has not canceled the nuclear weapons agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), he has "officially put Iran on notice," and he has imposed new sanctions.

More seriously, the New York Times reports that Secretary of Defense General James Mattis considered ordering the Navy to intercept and board an Iranian ship in international waters to search it for weapons being shipped to Yemen in support of the Houthis. According to White House officials, the operation was called off, not because it would likely have been an act of war, but because word of the operation leaked.

Mattis and the rest of the Trump administration have based this canceled operation and other plans to get tough on Iran on a number of myths about the Islamic Republic. ››read more

US ship changed course towards Iran vessels: IRGC commander

(source: Press TV) March 8, 2017

A commander with Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) says an American warship recently drew its warning by sailing “unprofessionally” close to the force’s vessels near Iranian territorial waters. ››read more

Iran: Unfair for US to Seize Our Money to Pay for 9/11 Lawsuit

by Jason Ditz (source: Antiwar.com) March 8, 2017

Iranian Foreign Ministry officials issued a statement today criticizing the attempt by US lawyers to seize Iranian money held abroad to pay for a US-based lawsuit in which a New York judge ordered Iran to pay $7 billion in damages for 9/11.

That Iran didn’t do 9/11 was a key part of Iran’s unsuccessful defense in the lawsuit, which seemed very much beside the point in the case, and the Obama Administration and Congress authorized seizing Iranian funds irrespective of long-standing sovereign immunity prohibitions against such lawsuits. ››read more

Iran complies with nuclear deal, slashes low-enriched uranium stockpile by half – IAEA

(source: RT) February 25, 2017

Iran has been found in full compliance with a nuclear deal with leading world powers, a UN nuclear watchdog said in a report. It comes amid heightened fears the US may walk out of the milestone pact, with tensions flaring up between Tehran and Washington.

The latest report on the deal’s implementation produced by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and obtained by Reuters and AFP on Friday confirms that the Islamic Republic is far from exceeding the limit for the amount of the low-enriched uranium it is allowed to keep. ››read more

American wrestlers in Iran welcomed with roses and selfies

by Erin Cunningham (source: Washington Post) February 17, 2017

Nima Jan said he was traveling to the stadium to cheer for Burroughs. “You proved that you are a noble man.… This is a big chance for us,” Jan said. “We do not pay attention to the behavior of America's government” toward Iran. The two-day tournament began Thursday, when U.S. wrestlers faced off against Georgia, Russia and Azerbaijan. But it wasn't always certain that the Americans would get to compete. Just as in years past, the athletes were at the mercy of tensions between the two governments. ››read more

Ignore the Tough Talk – Trump’s Iran Policy Will Be Much Like Obama’s

by Gareth Porter (source: Middle East Eye) February 15, 2017

The first public pronouncements by President Donald Trump’s administration on Iran have created the widespread impression that the US will adopt a much more aggressive posture towards the Islamic Republic than under Barack Obama’s presidency.

But despite the rather crude warnings to Tehran by now ex-national security adviser Michael Flynn and by Trump himself, the Iran policy that has begun to take shape in the administration’s first weeks looks quite similar to Obama’s. ››read more

Trump will not be able to spark war with Iran: American scholar

(source: Press TV) February 11, 2017

US President Donald Trump is in no position to threaten Iran, and will not be able to spark a war with the country in the next couple of years as some analysts have suggested, says Professor Dennis Etler, an American political analyst who has a decades-long interest in international affairs. ››read more

A New Security Order Needed in the Persian Gulf

by Javad Heiran-Nia (source: Lobelog) February 8, 2017

History has already provided a model for Persian Gulf states to emulate. Philosopher Arshin Adib-Moghaddam has argued in several front-page interviews in the Iranian press that regional powers could learn from the Helsinki Final Act, which emerged from the 1975 Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe. The treaty, agreed to by 35 countries in the midst of the Cold War, created a process whereby NATO and Warsaw Pact member states could conduct diplomacy, reduce tensions, and ultimately avoid military conflict on the basis of non-intervention in internal affairs and respect for legitimacy, borders, and territorial integrity. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is another regional organization whose mission and coordination could serve as an inspiration to the Persian Gulf area.

The history of the region demonstrates that security institutions that are not inclusive and collective, such as the GCC, increase tensions. In the Persian Gulf itself the security of the monarchies of the Arabian Peninsula cannot be fully guaranteed if other littoral states such as Iran and Iraq are excluded. Lasting security requires institutions that encompass all stakeholders in the region and that are not tainted by the politics of identity. ASEAN and the 35-member Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development are good templates in that regard. ››read more

        Editor's note: Javad Heiran-Nia is the head of the international desk of Mehr News Agency (MNA), one of the biggest news outlets in Iran.

‘Emotion mustn’t override reason’: Russia questions Trump’s tensions with Iran & China

(source: RT) February 8, 2017

ChurkinChurkinCommenting on recent remarks by US President Donald Trump, who branded Iran terrorist threat No.1, Churkin pointed to the active role the Islamic Republic is playing in the fight against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL). With Russia having close relations with Iran, while US-Iranian relations are increasingly strained, Churkin acknowledged that Washington and Moscow “have differences in a number of areas, including on the role of Iran.”

With that, Churkin believes that some of the recent US rhetoric on Iran might have been influenced by emotions rather than rational policy-making and cold, hard facts. ››read more

New US sanctions on Iran unacceptable: Russia

(source: Press TV) February 8, 2017

FlynnFlynnRussian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov has expressed his regret over the new United States’ sanctions against the Islamic Republic, saying bans are not an appropriate means to resolve issues. ››read more

Anti-Iranism in the Trump Administration

by Paul R. Pillar (source: Nationa Interest) February 6, 2017

Paul PillarPaul PillarOne of the most direct indications of Donald Trump’s failure, or refusal, to understand issues involving Iran is his tweeted declaration this week that the Iranians “should have been thankful for the terrible deal the U.S. made with them!” It supposedly should be an occasion for Iranian thankfulness when Iran, subjected to economic punishment, gains only partial relief from that punishment through difficult negotiations in which it subjects itself to greater restrictions and more intrusive monitoring than any other state has willingly accepted for its nuclear program, even though some neighbors unfriendly to Iran not only have nuclear programs without those restrictions but also nuclear weapons. No mention is made of Iran abiding by the agreement while most of the questions about compliance concern U.S. behavior and sanctions relief—which is why many Iranian hardliners argue that the nuclear agreement was a bad deal from Iran’s perspective. ››read more

Pentagon chief advocates restraint in response to Iran, China

by Missy Ryan (source: Washington Post) February 5, 2017

Trump and MattisTrump and MattisOn Thursday, Michael Flynn, President Trump’s national security adviser, told reporters that the new administration was “officially putting Iran on notice.” He provided no details on what that may mean. But Mattis, a former commander of U.S. operations in the Middle East and a hawk on Iran, said the United States did not need to add military assets, potentially including additional troops or an aircraft carrier, to the region. ››read more

The Trump Administration Is Recklessly Escalating Tensions With Iran

by Phyllis Bennis (source: The Nation) February 4, 2017

Steven BannonSteven BannonThe Trump administration is continuing to make reckless threats against Iran. On Wednesday, in response to recent missile tests, National Security Adviser Michael Flynn announced that the White House was “officially putting Iran on notice,” and refused to say whether military force is under consideration. The administration is now escalating sanctions against Iran, which will further ratchet up tensions—even though the missile tests are not a violation of the Iran nuclear agreement, and the White House hasn’t even tried to say they are. But that’s not stopping Trump. Just hours ago, he tweeted: “Iran is playing with fire—they don’t appreciate how ‘kind’ President Obama was to them. Not me!” ››read more

        Editor's note: Phyllis Bennis, director of the Institute for Policy Studies’ New Internationalism Project, is the author of Understanding ISIS and the New Global War on Terror: A Primer.

Iran unmoved by US threats, relies on own defense means: Zarif

(source: Press TV) February 3, 2017

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says Tehran is “unmoved” by the United States’ threats and only relies on its own defense means amid hostile rhetoric against the Islamic Republic, including hints of military aggression, emanating from Washington. ››read more

        Editor's note: You can watch Zarif's speech on the Press TV page above.

White House Press Secretary Falsely Accuses Iran of Attacking US Navy Vessel, an Act of War

by Zaid Jilani and Alex Emmons (source: The Intercept) February 3, 2017

Sean SpicerSean SpicerThe White House press corps wanted to know what being put “on notice” entailed, and Spicer responded by claiming that Iran’s government took actions against a U.S. naval vessel, which would be an act of war. “I think General Flynn was really clear yesterday that Iran has violated the Joint Resolution, that Iran’s additional hostile actions that it took against our Navy vessel are ones that we are very clear are not going to sit by and take,” he said. “I think that we will have further updates for you on those additional actions.” Major Garrett of CBS News quietly corrected him, saying “a Saudi vessel,” and Spicer then responded almost inaudibly: “Sorry, thank you, yes a Saudi vessel. Yes, that’s right.” He did not in any way address his false claim that it was an Iranian attack, however. ››read more

Trump Stands for War

by Andrew Murray (source: Stop the War Coalition) February 2, 2017

The main fact which needs to be understood is this: Trump is a war president – there is no room for doubts of illusions on that point. His slogan of “America First” does not bear the isolationist interpretation it may have done in the 1930s and early 1940s. It is, in the hands of the Trump team, a slogan for aggressive imperialism. Let us count the ways in which this is true:

Third, Trump is set on confrontation with Iran, vowing to unpick the nuclear accord signed by Obama, one of his few progressive steps in foreign affairs. For many years, either a US attack on Iran, or a proxy attack by Israel seemed a present danger. That is now back on the agenda. ››read more