Iran is "Officially on Notice" and Donald Trump is President. Now what?

Iran is "Officially on Notice" and Donald Trump is President. Now what?

There are two possible Flynn-Bannon-Trump strategies on Iran worth considering.

I. The first is that they're setting the table for war with Iran, plain and simple. The administration will use the recent missile test and subsequent Iranian noncompliance to create a pretext for starting a war. Look at what Flynn thinks about Iran's role in the Middle East, and it's clear that he feels Iran needs to be met directly by force for countering the US's designs for the broader region (see Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and the ailing peace process)

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Obama’s Strategy to Win Senate support for an Iran Nuclear Deal

Obama’s Strategy to Win Senate support for an Iran Nuclear Deal

Originally published by the American Iranian Council
By Kayvon Afshari and Michael Brooks

Now that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has passed a bill to give Congress oversight over a comprehensive nuclear deal with Iran, the Obama administration would be wise to devise a strategy to turn Congressional review to its political advantage. Despite the ‘anti-Iran-deal’ money generously provided by big name donors, there are key vulnerabilities that the administration can exploit to put the pressure on both Democratic and Republican Senators who will be struggling to decide whether to vote up or down on a deal. Here’s what the political landscape looks like, what the Obama administration is already doing, and how we think they should play it in the months to come

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Iran’s anti-American rhetoric is a good sign for nuclear negotiations

Iran’s anti-American rhetoric is a good sign for nuclear negotiations

Originally Published in The Middle East Eye

By Kayvon Afshari and Michael Brooks

Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, anti-American rhetoric has appeared frequently in Iranian politics. That rhetoric flared up again at the Supreme Leader’s recent speech in his home city of Mashhad. With the deadline for a political framework for a nuclear deal fast approaching, some have argued that Iranian chants of “Death to America” at that speech and elsewhere should delegitimise the negotiations. 

While the rhetoric isn’t helpful from an American perspective, its presence is counterintuitively a good sign for a diplomatic resolution. Look forward to hearing more provocative language from Iran’s Supreme Leader, and possibly even from the generally soft-spoken President Rouhani, from now until the ink dries on a potential comprehensive deal.

This is due to the fact that for Iran to make pragmatic nuclear concessions to the US and its P5+1 partners, the Islamic Republic’s leaders must reconcile their revolutionary anti-Americanism with their unprecedented public diplomatic engagement with the US. In order to best understand this tension, one must consider the ideological foundations of the Islamic Republic, the history of US intervention in Iran, as well as the international and economic pressure empowering Iran’s pragmatic politics

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Can US-Israeli relations be repaired after Israel’s election?

Can US-Israeli relations be repaired after Israel’s election?

By Kayvon Afshari and Michael Brooks

The fallout from Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s address to Congress on the nuclear negotiations with Iran poses an important question: is there a long-term structural fissure between the US and Israel, or is this simply a personality conflict between Obama and Netanyahu?

With the Israeli elections coming up on 17 March, the answer is particularly important, as it indicates whether a change in leadership can resolve a potential structural fissure, or if it will simply mask over those deep policy differences with more welcoming handshakes and cosmetic smiles.

Obama and Netanyahu certainly do not get along well, indicating that, at the very least, there is a real conflict between leaders. However, this personality conflict has metastasised to the extent that it has laid bare the significant policy disagreements on Iran’s nuclear programme and, to a lesser extent, the Palestinian issue.

This public rift between the US and Israel likely cannot be resolved by a new Israeli prime minister, as Netanyahu’s opponents, if elected, are unlikely to implement significantly differing policies from those of the Likud leader

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