Four years after plunging into Syria’s civil war, Hizbollah has achieved its core aim of preserving the Assad regime. Yet with no clear exit strategy, the Lebanese “Party of God” faces ever greater costs unless it can lower the sectarian flames, open dialogue with non-jihadist rebel groups and help pave the way for a negotiated settlement.
Originally published in Foreign Affairs
Then U.S. National Security Advisor Michael Flynn 1 Feb accused Iran of “provocative” ballistic missile launch and attack against Saudi Arabian navy ship “by Iran-supported Houthi militants”. U.S. 3 Feb put sanctions on 25 people and entities involved in Iran’s ballistic missile tests. In response Tehran threatened sanctions on U.S. individuals and entities and 4 Feb held military drill. Navy 26 Feb launched drills in Persian Gulf; govt 27 Feb said it had successfully tested new marine cruise missile as part of drills. Govt 20 Feb summoned Turkish ambassador over Turkish president and PM’s comments that Iran was destabilising Middle East, said its patience “had limits”.
The one-year-old Iran nuclear deal has succeeded in its goal of blocking nuclear proliferation and opening the door to Iranian economic recovery. But it remains in jeopardy unless both Washington and Tehran defend and extend the spirit as well as the letter of the accord.
New frictions in Iraq and Syria threaten Ankara and Tehran’s usually peaceful management of their Middle East rivalries. To rebuild trust and avert open conflict, they should coordinate de-escalation, exchange intelligence and designate representatives to open a new channel between their leaders.
Some in the West hope the nuclear deal with Iran will empower the country’s moderates. But playing Iranian domestic politics directly could backfire. The West should recognise that any change will be gradual, best supported by implementing the nuclear accord, resuming trade, and diplomacy that balances Iranian and Arab interests in the Middle East.
When twelve months of intense negotiations between Iran and the P5+1/EU3+3 ended with yet another extension, sceptics saw this as confirmation that the talks are doomed. But it would be as grave a mistake to underestimate the real progress as to overstate the chances of ultimate success. A landmark agreement is still within reach if both sides adopt more flexible postures on enrichment capacity and sanctions relief.
November’s deadline could be the last chance to avoid a breakdown in the Iran and the P5+1 nuclear talks. Compromise on Iran’s enrichment capacity is key to ending the impasse, requiring both sides to walk back from maximalist positions and focus on realistic solutions.
It is very unlikely that [Iran's political] system disqualifies Rouhani [from reelection]. Doing so amid concerns over Trump’s policy toward Iran could add instability to uncertainty.
With the [Iran nuclear] deal in jeopardy, the system will be in vital need of Rouhani’s team of smiling diplomats and economic technocrats to shift the blame to the U.S. and keep Iran's economy afloat.
It’s either an empty threat or a clear statement of intent [by the Trump administration] to go to war with Iran. Both are reckless and dangerous.
In an attempt to look strong, the [U.S.] administration could stumble into a war [with Iran] that would make the Afghan and Iraqi conflicts look like a walk in the park.
Besides tearing apart many families, this [U.S. travel] ban is ... turning Iranians hostile towards the United States. The top-down enmity towards the U.S. risks becoming bottom-up.
The [Iran nuclear] agreement's collapse appears neither imminent nor inevitable. What seems more likely is its gradual erosion under the new U.S. administration.
Donald Trump wants to ramp up Yemen's proxy fight against Iran. One small problem: Tehran doesn't really have a proxy there.
Originally published in Foreign Policy
Tweets about putting Iran "ON NOTICE" are no replacement for appreciating the sources of Iranian conduct in the Middle East.
Originally published in The New York Times
In this video, Crisis Group's Middle East and North Africa Program Director Joost Hiltermann lays out the dangers that the nuclear accord with Iran may face under a future Trump administration and calls for the international community to unite in support of their deal with Tehran.