The terrorist attacks in Tehran on Wednesday — in bright daylight and at two very different yet entirely related locations — up the ante in what has become a battle royale for influence in the Middle East, and in the fight against the terrorists wreaking havoc in the region and in the West. While Iran may seem to Americans a million miles away, what happens in Tehran most definitely does not stay there.
On his recent trip to Saudi Arabia, President Trump joined many of his Arab counterparts in denouncing Iran as the foremost sponsor of terrorism, perhaps unaware of the irony of doing so while being feted in the country of Al Qaeda and the Islamic State’s ideological forefathers.… Seguir leyendo »
A close friend — educated in the West but who moved back to Tehran after the revolution and who has spent the last 35 years hoping that things one day might improve to the point where he could sell some assets, recover others, make a couple of business deals and retire in the West with the proceeds — said to me on the day of the announcement of the nuclear deal with the United States and its partners: “Well, I’ve waited 35 years. Now I can wait a couple more if that’s what it’ll take to get to normal.”
Yes, normal.… Seguir leyendo »
Iran and what we would once have called the great powers – the five permanent members of the UN security council plus Germany – have been engaged in negotiations over the Iranian nuclear programme for well over a decade now. At times the US has been directly involved, and at other less friendly times, indirectly – but never in the years since, to great alarm if not outright panic, the world discovered that Iran possessed a nuclear programme have we been as close to resolving its fate as we are now.
The reasons are myriad; certainly primary among them is the election of a pragmatist US president in 2008, one who, unlike his we-don’t-talk-to-evil predecessor, promised to engage directly with Iran on its nuclear program as well as on other issues of contention between the two countries, and the election of an Iranian president in 2013 who, unlike his predecessor, promised to pursue a “win-win” solution to the crisis.… Seguir leyendo »
What is striking about traveling to Iran these days, less than a couple of months since the inauguration President Hassan Rouhani, is how little seems to have changed since the latter years of the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who was perhaps the most destructive force in Iranian politics in a generation, reviled in the West for his anti-Semitic remarks and at home for his vainglory and destruction of the nation’s economy.
A little below the surface, of course, there are differences, from the less conspicuous presence of the gasht-e-ershad, the morality police, to a gradual easing of some social restrictions. But wariness remains, as if the political clouds and the rumble of thunder auguring calamity are permanent fixtures in the Iranian sky — winds of change, stiff breezes really, notwithstanding.… Seguir leyendo »
Iranians went to the polls on Friday in what turned out to be — against all expectations — a peaceful, if not entirely fair, presidential election.
The international media, analysts and even Western government officials had dismissed the election in advance as a farce, with the outcome to be determined by only one man — Ayatollah Ali Khamenei — or saw it as a tightly controlled contest among a half-dozen handpicked, indistinguishable candidates servile to the supreme leader’s wishes.
Many Iranians, too, initially saw their elections in much the same way.
But people have a funny way of defying expectations, sometimes even their own.… Seguir leyendo »
There’s an old saying, attributed to the British Foreign Office in colonial days: “Keep the Persians hungry, and the Arabs fat.” For the British — then the stewards of Persian destiny — that was the formula for maintaining calm; it still is for Saudi Arabian leaders, who simply distribute large amounts of cash to their citizens at the first sign of unrest at their doorstep.
But in the case of Iran, neither America nor Britain seems to be observing the old dictum. Keeping the Persians hungry was a guarantee that they wouldn’t rise up against their masters. Today, the fervent wish of the West appears to be that they do exactly that.… Seguir leyendo »