Ali Vaez

Nota: Este archivo abarca los artículos publicados por el autor desde el 1 de agosto de 2007. Para fechas anteriores realice una búsqueda entrecomillando su nombre.

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi meets with Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, political chief of Afghanistan's Taliban, in north China's Tianjin, 28 July 2021. Li Ran Xinhua via AFP

On 15 August, the Taliban capped their drive for power in Afghanistan by taking Kabul, the country’s capital, for the first time since they ruled most of the country from 1996 to 2001. With the previous government’s collapse, the group is now the de facto power throughout the country and is in the process of forming a new government and revamped state system. Questions are swirling about how they will govern, such as whether they will attempt to exercise a monopoly on power or give some roles to other political forces and whether they will try to reimpose the harsh social restrictions, including on women, that they enforced in the late 1990s.…  Seguir leyendo »

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The conventional wisdom in Washington is that Iran’s elections are insignificant. Regardless of who wins, the argument goes, in the end, it’s the supreme leader who calls the shots.

That is shortsighted. Yes, the coronation of Chief Justice Ebrahim Raisi as president in one of the least competitive elections in the Islamic Republic’s history — an outcome Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader, intended — consolidates all power into the hands of the hard-liners. And yes, the hard-liners’ win might spell a tougher security approach domestically to stifle critics and ensure they preserve their grip on power as the system prepares for transitioning to what comes after the 82-year-old supreme leader.…  Seguir leyendo »

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, left, meets with his Iraqi counterpart, Fuad Hussein, right, in Tehran, Feb. 3, 2021. Iranian Foreign Ministry photo via AP

Dialogue seems to be in vogue in today’s Middle East. Iranian and American negotiators are in Vienna to find a way to restore the 2015 nuclear deal that President Donald Trump withdrew from in 2018. Iranian and Saudi security officials recently held meetings in Baghdad to mend their relations. and United Nations-led efforts to deescalate and end the war in Yemen are picking up steam. While these processes remain fragile, they present an important opportunity to establish a broader regional dialogue that aims to lessen tensions by opening new channels of communication, the time for which is ripe.

Part of the backdrop to these conciliatory efforts is the failure of former President Donald Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign, the cornerstone of his attempt to extract better terms from Iran on the nuclear front and reduce its regional influence.…  Seguir leyendo »

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani meets Rafael Mariano Grossi, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Tehran, Iran on August 26, 2020. Iran's Presidency / Handout / Anadolu Agency via AFP

The Biden administration is facing formidable challenges in delivering on one of its campaign promises: returning to the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Domestic politics are a significant obstacle. The agreement remains highly contentious among members of Congress. Many Republicans but also key Senate Democrats, who could hold up confirming senior administration officials, are opposed to lifting Trump-era sanctions on Iran. The Biden administration’s lagging pace now threatens to undo an agreement that was already faltering as a result of the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign.

et Iran’s nuclear program is growing by the day, as the time it would take to enrich enough uranium for a single nuclear weapon shrinks.…  Seguir leyendo »

‘Last year, Iran submitted an IMF loan request to help deal with the Covid-19 pandemic, an added burden on an already beleaguered economy.’ Photograph: Abedin Taherkenareh/EPA

For nearly three years, the fate of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal has hung precariously in the balance. The Trump administration withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – to use its official name – in 2018, arguing that a policy of economic coercion, dubbed “maximum pressure”, would deliver an improved agreement. But all it achieved was the hollowing out of the existing one. Europe, which has played a key role in preventing the JCPOA’s total collapse, now must seize the opportunity to help revive and even strengthen it.

The JCPOA’s original bargain was straightforward: limiting and monitoring what the international community viewed as the most concerning aspect of Iranian policy – the proliferation risks of its nuclear programme – and in return delivering relief from international sanctions built up over years.…  Seguir leyendo »

Iranian firefighters disinfect streets in Tehran in a bid to halt the spread of the coronavirus on March 13. AFP via Getty Images

If Iran’s leaders thought things couldn’t get worse, they were wrong. The country faces three simultaneous crises: a public health emergency that is worsening by the hour, tensions with the United States that have once again grown in the past few days, and an economic picture that could go from troubled to dire in a matter of months.

The confluence of a coronavirus pandemic, security threats, and financial troubles has deepened the political system’s legitimacy crisis in the wake of last month’s parliamentary elections that saw the lowest turnout in the Islamic Republic’s history. Washington might view this as a validation of its so-called maximum pressure strategy against Tehran, but if it fails to capitalize on this moment to de-escalate tensions and lay the groundwork for a mutually beneficial diplomatic settlement, the leadership in Tehran is likely to become more aggressive in the region, increasing the risk of a conflict that neither side appears to want.…  Seguir leyendo »

Iranian women sit on a bus in Tehran on February 25, 2012. ATTA KENARE/AFP

On 21 May 2018, less than two weeks after the U.S. withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo launched Washington’s “New Iran Strategy” before an audience at the Heritage Foundation. In his remarks, he insisted that Iranian women’s long struggle for inclusion and equality matters dearly to Washington. As if to prove the point, the U.S. State Department’s social media feeds since that day have interspersed announcements of new choking sanctions with twinkling reminders of Iranian women’s potential (“Congratulations to Iranian-American and new #NASA Astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli!”). In January 2020, the State Department released a two-minute video on the history of Iranian women’s rights.…  Seguir leyendo »

A United Nations staff member moving the flags of Iran and the United States after a group photo during the 2015 Iran Nuclear talks.Credit...Carlos Barria/Reuters

The momentous protests in Iran this autumn came at a delicate time in a tense standoff between the United States and Iran. Despite the recent prisoner swap, officials in Washington may see the prospects for diplomacy dimming. But that would be wrong. Iranian elections are coming, and without any American agreement to relent on sanctions, the current relatively conciliatory government might well lose all its influence in favor of far more confrontational hard-liners.

That calculus makes this exactly the time to take diplomacy seriously. While the opportunity for success may be slim, failing to reverse rising tensions now risks a serious escalation in frictions that would be more impervious to diplomacy down the road.…  Seguir leyendo »

President Hassan Rouhani visits the exhibition of nuclear technology on April 9, 2019. Office of the Iranian President.

Iran announced on 5 November that it is moving ahead with incremental breaches of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). According to President Hassan Rouhani, as of 6 November, Tehran will start “injecting [uranium hexafluoride] gas into the centrifuges in Fordow”, a bunkered enrichment facility that under the deal is meant to be converted “into a nuclear, physics and technology centre”.

This move is the latest in a series of staggered steps toward downgrading Tehran’s adherence to the nuclear agreement. The process began in May 2019, when the Rouhani administration set a 60-day rolling ultimatum for the agreement’s remaining parties (France, Germany, the UK, Russia and China) to deliver the deal’s expected economic dividends in the face of unilateral U.S.…  Seguir leyendo »

Smoke is seen following a fire at Aramco facility in the eastern city of Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia on 14 September, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer

For much of 2019, Crisis Group has warned that a trigger event could spark direct military confrontation between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, on one side, and Iran on the other, precipitating a regional conflagration. The combination of the U.S. “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran, Iranian pushback, the spiralling civil war in Yemen and the paucity of de-escalation channels available to the rival actors has primed the region for such an outcome, even if neither side wants it. Now more than ever, cooler heads are needed to lower the temperature, break the escalatory cycle and chart a diplomatic off-ramp.

The exact nature and provenance of the attacks remains disputed.…  Seguir leyendo »

Plus d’un siècle après l’assassinat de l’archiduc François-Ferdinand qui a plongé l’Europe dans la première guerre mondiale, le Proche-Orient fait face à son propre « 1914 ». Une roquette, un drone abattu ou une mine marine peuvent suffire à déclencher une escalade militaire incontrôlable entre les Etats-Unis et l’Iran. Ce scénario cauchemardesque peut encore être évité et la diplomatie européenne a un rôle crucial à jouer.

Le compte à rebours de la crise actuelle a commencé en mai 2018 quand les Etats-Unis se sont retirés de l’accord nucléaire de 2015 (Plan d’action global commun, PAGC). Téhéran et Washington sont depuis lors enfermés dans une dangereuse escalade.…  Seguir leyendo »

On January 31, 2019, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom announced their most substantive move yet to save the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, to which they are signatories, from collapse. With the European Union’s blessing, the three states established a special channel that shields trade with Iran from U.S. sanctions. The Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges, or INSTEX, as the channel is called, holds out the possibility that Europe can yet salvage the nuclear agreement’s core bargain: that Iran was to limit its nuclear activities in return for the normalization of economic relations. The preservation of this arrangement will depend not only on the modicum of European-Iranian trade that INSTEX might help preserve but on whether Europe can navigate a narrow path between what Iran expects and what the United States can tolerate.…  Seguir leyendo »

A magnificent fresco adorns the main pavilion of the royal palace in the Iranian city of Isfahan, depicting the 16th-century Battle of Chaldiran, fought between the Turkish-Ottoman and Persian-Safavid empires. The fresco appears to show the Persian army victorious, having crushed its Turkish adversary. The truth is that Chaldiran marked a decisive victory for the Ottomans, who went on to annex eastern Anatolia and northern Iraq. But what the self-serving historical distortion suggests is not shame of defeat but pride in the heroic valor with which the Iranians resisted a foe that outnumbered them and, unlike them, possessed heavy artillery. Donald Trump’s administration, which has made bringing Iranians to their knees the cornerstone of its Mideast policy half a millennium later, should draw a lesson from the battle and the way the Persians digested defeat.…  Seguir leyendo »

A gas flare on an oil production platform in the Soroush oil fields is seen alongside an Iranian flag in the Persian Gulf, Iran, 25 July 2005. OPEC-OIL/ REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi

The U.S. decision on 22 April to end sanctions exemptions for Iran’s remaining oil customers, following on an earlier designation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO), significantly escalates the Trump administration’s coercive campaign against Tehran. The intent is clear: bankrupt Iran into acceding to unilateral U.S. demands or, even better, imploding its regime. But while there is little doubt that the policy of "maximum pressure" has inflicted considerable economic duress – and stands to push Iran’s economy into further decline by starving it of a key source of external revenue – it is far less certain that it will achieve its strategic objectives.…  Seguir leyendo »

Trump's unintended allies in Iran: the hardliners

If champagne were halal, the hard men of the Islamic Republic of Iran would still be raising glasses to toast President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal. They had long scorned the agreement as a futile parley with perfidious Washington; now they can claim to be prescient.

But their festive mood stems mostly from self-interest: The U.S. president has arguably lifted their political and economic fortunes for years to come.

Since 2013, the more hardline forces of Iranian politics, known as the Principlists (for their professed deep belief in the principles of the 1979 Islamic revolution), have lost every election: local, parliamentary and presidential.…  Seguir leyendo »

President Donald Trump’s decision to exit the nuclear agreement with Iran earlier this month has set off a scramble to save the deal. But while European diplomats hope to scrape by through preserving as much of the deal’s dividends for Iran as possible, business leaders are planning for the worst. The fate of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) may lie in the balance between these two outcomes.

The JCPOA is, at its core, a straightforward trade: Iran pledged to cap its nuclear program and allow for international inspections in return for much-needed relief from a web of international sanctions that largely froze Tehran out of the global financial system.…  Seguir leyendo »

On 12 January, the administration of Donald Trump bought the United States four additional months to decide whether it would remain in the nuclear deal with Iran. In reissuing the sanctions waivers, the White House held to the agreement’s terms, but used the opportunity to impose new sanctions and to threaten withdrawal from the accord if Congress and Europe failed to amend it by 12 May. This approach has injected a high degree of uncertainty over whether the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) will survive, meanwhile placing the burden of action on the deal’s other signatories, particularly Europe.…  Seguir leyendo »

The protests in Iran seem to have died down, but if Iranian leaders fail to recognize that the status quo has become untenable and major reforms are unavoidable, they are only buying time until the next uprising, which could lead to greater instability.

It is easy for the leadership in Tehran to dismiss the outpouring of popular ire over economic and political stagnation. The latest protests were leaderless, too amorphous, too scattered, too provincial, and too shallow. Above all, they lacked a unifying objective. Protesters knew what they did not want, but differed on what they wanted. Slogans ranged from “death to inflation” to “death to embezzlers” to “death to the dictator” and “give up on Syria!…  Seguir leyendo »

Daily street protests across Iran since 28 December 2017 have pitted many young Iranians against the government, but the state’s response is revealing deep fractures in the political establishment

Manifold reasons lie behind Iran’s ongoing protests, but the immediate trigger appears to be widespread disgruntlement over the country’s economic performance, especially cuts in President Hassan Rouhani’s new budget. Neither a revolution nor a political movement, the crisis is an explosion of the Iranian people’s pent-up frustrations over economic and political stagnation.

Beyond a struggle between state and society – or a standoff between security forces and political figures on the one hand, and young, working-class, unemployed citizens on the other – the demonstrations are putting on full display the fault lines that also divide Iran’s political establishment.

That the protests originated on 28 December in Mashhad, a bastion of Rouhani’s opponents and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s hometown, is highly significant.…  Seguir leyendo »

Volatility is rising across the Middle East as local, regional and international conflicts increasingly intertwine and amplify each other. Four Crisis Group analysts give a 360-degree view of the new risks of overlapping conflicts that involve Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Lebanon and Israel.

On 4 November 2017, Huthi/Saleh forces in Yemen fired a Burkan 2-H long-range ballistic missile at the Saudi capital, Riyadh. It was intercepted and destroyed before reaching its target. The attack occurred during a profound political shakeup in Saudi Arabia, where Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is seeking to consolidate power, and amid dramatic Saudi political manoeuvrings in the region which led to the resignation of Lebanon’s prime minister, Saad Hariri. Adding to the volatility, Israel has been making veiled – and not so veiled – threats about its intent to prevent Hizbollah from developing an indigenous capacity to build sophisticated precision missiles.…  Seguir leyendo »