Trita Parsi

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Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson attends a NATO summit meeting in Vilnius, Lithuania, on July 12. Kay Nietfeld/Picture Alliance via Getty Images

NATO members breathed a sigh of relief as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan finally approved Sweden’s entry into the military alliance. To most NATO members, Sweden’s membership is a no-brainer: The peace-loving Swedes—the country has not been at war since 1814, has played a crucial role in the formation of the U.N. system, and has a well-earned reputation for peace-making and mediation—deserve to be defended by the alliance and will also be able to add to the security of NATO members with their modern and NATO-compatible military, the reasoning goes.

Yet the Sweden soon joining NATO is not the same country that once mediated conflicts in Africa, used its active diplomacy to reduce tensions between the two blocs during the Cold War, supported peaceful resolutions to armed conflicts, or championed disarmament and nuclear nonproliferation.…  Seguir leyendo »

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks to Iranian Air Force commanders in Tehran, 08 February 2007. Khamanei vowed today the Islamic republic would hit back at US interests worldwide if attacked, amid mounting tension with the West over its nuclear programme.

Rumors are abounding that after 10 months of almost no diplomatic activity, the United States and Iran are close to reaching an informal agreement that will prevent a further escalation between the two. What is on the table is not the renewal of the 2015 nuclear agreement—which remains in a comatose state—but rather an unwritten understanding that neither side will pull the plug on the respirator.

Diplomacy between the United States and Iran has steadily degraded over the years. From the intense and, at times, weekslong direct negotiations that produced the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—a more than 100-page written agreement embodied in a unanimously approved U.N.…  Seguir leyendo »

Representatives of Iran, China and Saudi Arabia in Beijing on March 10. China Daily, via Reuters

There was a time when all roads to peace went through Washington. From the 1978 Camp David Accords between Israel and Egypt brokered by President Jimmy Carter to the 1993 Oslo Accords signed on the White House lawn to Senator George Mitchell’s Good Friday Agreement that ended the fighting in Northern Ireland in 1998, America was the indispensable nation for peacemaking. To Paul Nitze, a longtime diplomat and Washington insider, “making evident its qualifications as an honest broker” was central to America’s influence after the end of the Cold War.

But over the years, as America’s foreign policy became more militarized and as sustaining the so-called rules-based order increasingly meant that the United States put itself above all rules, America appears to have given up on the virtues of honest peacemaking.…  Seguir leyendo »

Why Are American Troops Still in Iraq?

U.S. troops in Iraq quietly thwarted two separate drone attacks on bases hosting American soldiers in the first week of 2022. The attacks, attributed to Iraqi Shiite militias, are no surprise: America’s presence in Iraq is increasingly unwelcome. More attacks are bound to come as long as the Biden administration decides to keep forces there. With each passing day, the risk of a deadly attack increases.

And for what?

The presence of U.S. troops won’t stop terrorist attacks from happening and they can’t contain Iran, which has cemented its hold on some Iraqi military institutions since 2003. American soldiers are likely to die in vain because, just as in Afghanistan, they have been given the impossible task of acting as an ephemeral thumb on the scale of a foreign country’s politics.…  Seguir leyendo »

Almost a week after Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif submitted his resignation over Instagram, it's become clear that Zarif made a high-risk gamble -- and it paid off handsomely. Calculating that both the public and many in the political elite would rally behind him, his wager compelled key Iranian leaders to renew their confidence in him.

And with the Iran nuclear deal facing existential challenges over the next few months, the boost for Zarif could not have come at a better time.

Zarif is not the first Iranian official to make this gamble. In 1952, Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh found himself curtailed by Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.…  Seguir leyendo »

n a matter of days, protests in Iran have quickly spread across the country, taking the government by surprise and leaving analysts and pundits alike confused. Part of the reason many have been caught off guard is because these protests appear quite different from their 2009 predecessor -- in terms of size, leadership and objective.

But another reason is that the drivers of these protests are from a segment of the population that has rarely figured into Iran's political developments in the past two decades -- those who never believed or have lost hope in the idea of real change through reform.…  Seguir leyendo »

Eric Lafforgue/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images. A painting that reads, “Honesty and friendship of America,” on the pavement near the former US embassy, Tehran, 2015

If Donald Trump decertifies the nuclear deal this week, the political fallout within Iran will be no different from earlier instances of Washington’s punishing of Iran’s moderates. Voices against the deal in Iran will strengthen, and those who favor a more confrontational policy toward Washington will once again have the wind in their sails. This help to Iran’s hard-liners could not come at a more opportune time.

While many in Washington believed that conflict with America constituted a pillar of the Iranian Revolution and that Tehran would therefore never agree to direct talks with the United States on the nuclear issue, Iranian hard-liners were driven by a different concern: that the nuclear negotiations would become a stepping stone toward a broader US-Iran rapprochement that could enable the US to regain a foothold in the Iranian economy.…  Seguir leyendo »

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaking in Washington on Wednesday. Credit Mark Wilson/Getty Images

President Trump has flip-flopped many times during his first months in office. But none may be as consequential as his decision on April 18 to certify that Iran is abiding by the nuclear deal of 2015, paving the way for further waiving of sanctions. In just a few months, Mr. Trump has gone from promising to “tear up” the nuclear deal to allowing its extension.

The administration has now said it will conduct a 90-day review of whether lifting sanctions — as required by the nuclear deal — will be in line with American national security interests. But that timeline is not long enough to save the deal and stop the United States and Iran from sliding dangerously back to a path toward war.…  Seguir leyendo »

As American and Iranian negotiators prepare to implement their historic interim nuclear deal, a handful of hawkish lawmakers are on the cusp of destroying the last remaining pathway to peace.

This month, Sens. Robert Menendez, Charles Schumer and Mark Kirk introduced ill-timed legislation -- the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013 -- that would implement new Iran sanctions in clear violation of the recently brokered Geneva agreement.

Calling such actions in Washington "a major setback," Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif used the opportunity to send a clear message to his Western audience: "It shows a lack of understanding of how to proceed in order to resolve the nuclear issue.…  Seguir leyendo »

Talks with Iran over its nuclear program resume Thursday. Make no mistake: The deal the Obama administration is pursuing with Iran over its nuclear program is a good deal. It will leave Iran with neither a nuclear weapon nor an undetectable breakout capability. And by ensuring that the deal also is a win for Iran, Tehran won't have incentives to cheat and violate the agreement.

Based on conversations with diplomats on both sides of the table, I believe it is a durable deal that enhances America's security and nonproliferation goals while making Iran much less hostile and U.S. allies in the region much more safe.…  Seguir leyendo »

The last round of nuclear negotiations with Iran ended in stalemate, and prospects appear dim for a breakthrough at next week’s meeting in Moscow.

Two central factors are driving Washington’s negotiation strategy at this point. The first is Congressional obstructionism and President Obama’s limited room to maneuver in an election year. The second is outsize expectations about what the current sanctions against Iran can achieve. Both must be abandoned if talks are to succeed.

Mr. Obama needs a continuing diplomatic process to calm the oil markets because of the coming election. Yet, precisely because of the election, he has limited ability to offer the Iranians relief from sanctions in return for nuclear concessions.…  Seguir leyendo »

Just 13 minutes into his presidency, Barack Obama indirectly reached out to Iran in his inaugural address, offering America’s hand of friendship if Tehran would unclench its fist. After eight years of the George W. Bush administration’s ideological contempt for diplomacy with America’s foes, it was a bold move born out of necessity, not desire.

But Obama’s diplomacy has fallen short. After two rounds of talks in October 2009, in which Tehran refused to accept a U.S. confidence-building measure to exchange its low-enriched uranium in return for fuel for a medical research reactor, the sanctions track was activated. Ever since, Iran and the United States have been on a confrontational path.…  Seguir leyendo »

The world has grown accustomed to Iranian bluster. But even by the standards of the Islamic Republic, Adm. Habibollah Sayari's call last week to deploy the Iranian navy near the U.S. coast is stunning. The Pentagon knows, of course, that Iranian war vessels won't come near America's shores any time soon. As White House spokesman Jay Carney said, "We don't take these statements seriously, given that they do not reflect at all Iran's naval capabilities." The Iranian admiral may bark, but he doesn't have much of a bite.

Still, the loss of a sense of proportion revealed by the rhetoric of Iranian leaders tells us several things about the country's disorientation in the face of citizen uprisings that are still shaking the region.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ever since Iran publicised its nuclear fuel cycle plans in 2003, western experts have tried to downplay its rate of progress in nuclear engineering. The Iranian scientific community is often viewed as technologically inept. Relatively minor obstacles have been portrayed as next to insurmountable. These arguments are now growing increasingly false – Tehran is adding centrifuges faster than the UN security council can step up the pressure. Time is not working in the favour of the west.

Iran is making good progress in many key areas of nuclear engineering. Presently, it has some 4,000 operational centrifuges at its facility in Natanz.…  Seguir leyendo »