Category Archives: Iran

Video of PIIA Roundtable on Iran with Dr Syed Mohammad Kazem Sajjadpour

On Friday, July 19 2019, Dr. Syed Mohammad Kazem Sajjadpour, President of the famous Institute for Political and International Studies (IPIS), visited us at The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) for a roundtable on Iran’s relationship with the United States and how it is influencing the course of events in the region. He said that in order to understand the question of why Iran is the way it is today, it is important to comprehend three integral factors – the United States’ contradictory policies with Iran, the resulting state of bitterness, and an uneven assessment of the available possibilities. By laying emphasis on the contradictory policies of the United States, during very tense times, Dr. Kazem sought to explain how certain inconsistencies in the harsh policies of the United States have been a significant source of tension between the two countries, especially when pursuing negotiations and settling agreements.

Syria: Partial Ceasefire Agreed

As reported, the US secretary of state, John Kerry, says the partial Syria ceasefire agreed at talks in Munich ‘will apply to any and all parties in Syria with the exception of the terrorist organisations Daesh and al-Nusra’. However, the Syrian Centre for Policy Research (SCPR) on Syria conflict finds that in all, 11.5% of the country’s population have been killed or injured since the crisis erupted in March 2011. The number of wounded is put at 1.9 million. Life expectancy has dropped from 70 in 2010 to 55.4 in 2015. Posts on Syria’s war are available on Pakistan Horizon here, here, herehere and here.

Continue reading

Ian Black: Saudi Arabian Trilogy

As noted on our Pakistan Horizon Blog, the Guardian’s Ian Black is among the world’s elite Middle East correspondents. And over the past three days he has published a brilliant trilogy of articles on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (or KSA as the Saudis are otherwise known). The three articles are (1) Saudi king’s son drives reforms and war in a year of anxiety and change (2) Saudi Arabia and Isis: Riyadh keen to show it is tackling terror threat and (3) Austerity, Saudi-style: cheap oil nudges Riyadh toward economic reform (see also Saudi Arabia v Iran: Riyadh defiant and angry after turbulent week and John Kerry reassures Gulf states over US relationship with Iran.) As noted in our event with Ambassador Ghori, Pakistan’s economy is inextricably linked to Saudi Arabia’s as 1.5 million of our country’s workers are employed there and send home remittances. According to Black, Khaled, a taxi driver touting for custom at Riyadh’s international airport, manages to keep his family comfortable with the help of an army pension, but he worries what will happen when all subsidies end in five years. Mohammed, a fifty-something from Medina who has 10 children, moonlights on top of his undemanding government job, and his wife also works in an effort make ends meet. “Look,” he says. “There’s a war in Yemen. Of course it causes economic problems, but it’s not so bad.” Continue reading

Iran Deal: Vienna Agreement, JCPOA

Following on from our two recent posts (The Iran Deal: Diplomacy Update and Iran Nuclear Deal: Challenges and Opportunities) it is worth noting that the text of the germane Vienna Agreement (or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)). We take the present opportunity to apprise our readers about this hugely important instrument of change in the international world order. As we saw in our series of posts, the deal between the United States, Germany, Britain, China, Russia, France, the European Union and Iran – which ambitiously aims to draw the poison out of the West’s relations with Iran – can be quite misunderstood. Those who want to wreck the deal think that Tehran has been given carte blanche to propagate fundamentalism and to expand its support of terrorism. However, the mood is decidedly different in Iran itself because hardliners – who see the pact as dovish capitulation – accuse their government of ceding too much ground. In fact, president Hassan Rouhani and foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif are internally under attack for appeasing the Americans (the Great Satan) and making overtures to evil Europeans. For example, it is proving hard for Rouhani and Zarif to Continue reading

Treasury’s War

For more than a decade, America has been waging a new kind of war against the financial networks of rogue regimes, proliferators, terrorist groups, and criminal syndicates. Juan Zarate, a chief architect of modern financial warfare and a former senior Treasury and White House official, pulls back the curtain on this shadowy world. In this gripping story, he explains in unprecedented detail how a small, dedicated group of officials redefined the Treasury’s role and used its unique powers, relationships, and reputation to apply financial pressure against America’s enemies. This group unleashed a new brand of financial power—one that leveraged the private sector and banks directly to isolate rogues from the international financial system. By harnessing the forces of globalization and the centrality of the American market and dollar, Treasury developed a new way of undermining America’s foes. Continue reading

Revolutionary Iran: A History of the Islamic Republic

Ayatollah Khomeini’s return to Tehran in February 1979 was a key moment in post-War international politics. A large, well-populated and wealthy state suddenly committed itself to a quite new path: a revolution based on the supremacy of Islam and contempt for both superpowers. For over 30 years the Islamic Republic has resisted widespread condemnation, sanctions, and sustained attacks by Iraq in an eight-year war. Many policy-makers today share a weary wish that Iran would somehow just disappear as a problem. But with Iran’s continuing commitment to a nuclear programme and its reputation as a trouble-maker in Afghanistan, Lebanon and elsewhere, this is unlikely any time soon. The slow demise of the 2009 ‘Green Revolution’ shows that Revolutionary Iran’s institutions are still formidable. Continue reading

Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran, and the United States

This is available as an e-book here and the description is as follows. In this era of superheated rhetoric and vitriolic exchanges between the leaders of Iran and Israel, the threat of nuclear violence looms. But the real roots of the enmity between the two nations mystify Washington policymakers, and no promising pathways to peace have emerged. This book traces the shifting relations among Israel, Iran, and the United States from 1948 to the present, uncovering for the first time the details of secret alliances, treacherous acts, and unsavory political maneuverings that have undermined Middle Eastern stability and disrupted U.S. foreign policy initiatives in the region. Trita Parsi, a U.S. foreign policy expert with more than a decade of experience, is the only writer who has had access to senior American, Iranian, and Israeli decision makers. Continue reading

ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror

ISISInitially dismissed by US President Barack Obama, along with other fledgling terrorist groups, as a “jayvee squad” compared to al-Qaeda, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has shocked the world by conquering massive territories in both countries and promising to create a vast new Muslim caliphate that observes the strict dictates of Sharia law. In ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror, American journalist Michael Weiss and Syrian analyst Hassan Hassan explain how these violent extremists evolved from a nearly defeated Iraqi insurgent group into a jihadi army of international volunteers who behead Western hostages in slickly produced videos and have conquered territory equal to the size of Great Britain. Beginning with the early days of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Continue reading