Ali Vaez

Nota: Este archivo abarca los artículos publicados por el autor desde el 1 de abril de 2009. Para fechas anteriores realice una búsqueda entrecomillando su nombre.

Trumps 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 »

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 »

The inauguration of Hassan Rouhani on Saturday as president of Iran for a second term may be a bittersweet moment for him.

He appears at once stronger and weaker: His 19-point margin of victory in May after a bruising campaign against hard-line opponents surely increased his confidence. Yet, perhaps for that very reason, the conservative establishment, led by Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, is trying to stymie his efforts to translate his electoral mandate into policies aimed at opening Iran economically and politically. This augurs trying times, made more difficult by the belligerent stance of President Trump toward Iran.

History suggests that Mr.…  Seguir leyendo »

How unusual are these attacks for Iran?

If this indeed was, as it claimed, an attack by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), it would constitute the first time the organisation has been able to strike Iran inside its borders. But terrorist attacks are not new to Iran. In the early years of revolutionary turmoil, the leftist-Islamist Mojahedin Khalq (MEK) resorted to violence. In the 1980s, up to 120 terrorist attacks occurred in Tehran perpetrated by MEK and other violent groups, killing hundreds of Iranian officials, including the president and prime minister in August 1981. Even the current supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, was targeted.…  Seguir leyendo »

Who are the leading candidates in the 19 May election and what should we know about the top two?

The May 2017 election is essentially a two-way race between the incumbent Hassan Rouhani and Ebrahim Raisi, the custodian of Iran’s holiest shrine in Mashhad. Their shadow candidates, incumbent Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri and Tehran mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, withdrew their candidacy in support of Rouhani and Raisi, respectively. The other two contenders would play a marginal role or could drop out at the last minute.

Never before has an incumbent Iranian president faced such a serious challenge to his re-election. The closest a challenger came to unseat a first-term president was in 2009 when then-President Mahmood Ahmadinejad faced Mir Hossein Mousavi – an election that ended in a highly-disputed outcome and a subsequent popular uprising against what many viewed as rigged results.…  Seguir leyendo »

It took only 12 days in office for U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration to put Iran “on notice” that the era of compromise had been replaced by an era of confrontation. In a stern message on Feb. 1, then-National Security Advisor Michael Flynn accused Iran of a “provocative ballistic missile launch and an attack against a Saudi naval vessel conducted by Iran-supported Houthi militants.” Two days later, Washington slapped sanctions on 25 individuals and entities involved with Iran’s ballistic missile tests, even though U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231 had only called on, not enjoined, Iran to refrain from such tests.

In response, Iran threatened its own sanctions and held a military drill, including rocket launches.…  Seguir leyendo »

Today’s competition between Turkey and Iran is the latest iteration of an old power game: a struggle their progenitors, the Byzantine and Persian empires, started over the control of Mesopotamia — today’s Iraq and Syria. While the rivalry outlived their transformation from empires to nation-states, they have managed to keep the peace between themselves for nearly 200 years.

Yet Turkey and Iran are now on a collision course, mostly because of their involvement as the region’s major Sunni and Shiite powers in the deepening sectarian conflicts in Iraq and Syria. Their inability to accommodate each other has the potential to undermine or even undo the strong ties they have developed over the past two decades, as their economies became increasingly intertwined.…  Seguir leyendo »

Much remains uncertain about President-elect Donald Trump’s foreign policy. But the future of the multilateral nuclear accord with Iran is in grave doubt given his campaign rhetoric and the enthusiasm of his first appointees for regime change in Tehran. It might now be up to the co-signatories – China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United Kingdom – to take action to save it.

The agreement has been a success so far. More than a year after going into force, the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), negotiated between Iran and the E3+3 (France, Germany, and the UK, plus China, Russia, and the United States) has effectively and verifiably blocked all potential pathways for Tehran to race toward nuclear weapons.…  Seguir leyendo »

A review of the main-stream news and analyses surrounding Iran’s recent elections for the parliament and the Assembly of Experts – the body in charge of selecting the Supreme Leader’s successor – leaves the impression that President Hassan Rouhani and his pragmatist allies have scored a major victory that will pave the way for their vision of integrating Iran into the global economy.

If that is what you think, think again.

While the pragmatists (an amalgam of reformists, centrists, and moderate conservatives) did better than expected – especially in a few major cities, like Tehran, where they had a clean sweep of all 30 seats allocated to the capital — it is premature to declare them victors.…  Seguir leyendo »

Many in the West had hoped that the nuclear accord with Tehran would bolster the more pragmatic forces in Iranian politics that promoted it. Many in Iran, especially the country’s conservatives, feared exactly the same.

The conservatives, to limit the deal’s aftershocks and preserve their power, moved to disqualify as undesirable a great many candidates for parliament and the Assembly of Experts in the Feb. 26 elections. The disqualified candidates, a mix of political aspirants, include a significant number of politicians eager to reform the system.

Of more than 12,000 candidates who threw their hats and turbans into the parliamentary ring, nearly 58 percent were struck from the ballot in the first round of vetting by the conservative-dominated Guardian Council, the 12-member panel that vets Iran’s laws and candidates for office.…  Seguir leyendo »

Many in the West had hoped that the nuclear accord with Tehran would bolster the more pragmatic forces in Iranian politics that promoted it. Many in Iran, especially the country’s conservatives, feared exactly the same.

The conservatives, to limit the deal’s aftershocks and preserve their power, moved to disqualify as undesirable a great many candidates for parliament and the Assembly of Experts in the Feb. 26 elections. The disqualified candidates, a mix of political aspirants, include a significant number of politicians eager to reform the system.

Of more than 12,000 candidates who threw their hats and turbans into the parliamentary ring, nearly 58 percent were struck from the ballot in the first round of vetting by the conservative-dominated Guardian Council, the 12-member panel that vets Iran’s laws and candidates for office.…  Seguir leyendo »

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani waves as he arrives to attend a ceremony marking the 37th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, in Tehran's Azadi Square, February 2016.

The stakes could not be higher for Iran’s February 26 elections for the parliament and the Assembly of Experts, the body charged with electing and removing the country’s Supreme Leader. With Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei now 77, it is likely that the next assembly will choose his successor, possibly reshaping the course of the Islamic Republic.

The polls follow the July 2015 nuclear agreement, a significant achievement for Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who was elected, in part, to resolve Iran’s protracted standoff with the West. His foreign policy victory could strengthen his pragmatist allies, allowing them to gain an upper hand in the legislature.…  Seguir leyendo »

The nuclear agreement reached in Vienna on 14 July 2015 between Iran and the P5+1/E3+3 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) is a significant diplomatic achievement and a testament to the possibilities that principled and patient diplomacy hold for resolving even the most intractable international conundrums. Negotiated outcomes by nature are imperfect. But both sides have protected their core interests and rightfully can claim victory – a precondition for any sustainable solution.

If implemented, the agreement could put an end to a prolonged and multidimensional standoff; effectively block overt and clandestine pathways to nuclear militarisation; set a positive precedent for the non-proliferation regime; provide the Iranian people with economic relief; and offer a path for normalising Iran’s relationship with the international community.…  Seguir leyendo »

The agreement reached between Iran and the P5+1 (France, Britain, China, Russia, the United States and Germany) on the key parameters of a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is an important step forward. Now that the parties have overcome major hurdles for sealing the deal, however, they need to worry about selling it to skeptics back home. This is particularly true for Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.

They are right to be concerned. President Barack Obama faces an antagonistic Republican-controlled Congress and pushback from key members of his own party. Yet it is Congress that holds the key to removing the sanctions.…  Seguir leyendo »

A nuclear research reactor in Tehran may hold the key to resolving the prolonged nuclear stalemate between Iran and the West. The Iranian government is running out of the 20 percent-enriched uranium it needs to operate the reactor, and that appears to be making it amenable to compromise.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad recently proposed that Iran suspend production of some uranium-enrichment activities in exchange for fuel supplies from the United States. Whether the offer is an olive branch or an act of necessity, it is an unprecedented opportunity for Washington and its allies.

The proposal arose earlier this month amid the habitual bombast that surrounds Ahmadinejad’s annual trip to the U.N.…  Seguir leyendo »