Iran

How the Saudis and Israelis Fooled Trump

William O. Beeman

The Saudi government is continually looking for some acceptable justification to suppress this Shi’a minority, which Riyadh believes threatens the stability of the kingdom. The designation of Shi’a as heretics aids in cementing this justification. However, the Saudi rulers have gone one step further. They have tied the interests of their Shi’a citizens to Iran, creating a false narrative of Iranian hegemony. 

Obama Cites Progress in U.S.-Iran Nuclear Discussions

Richard Cowan

The United States and Iran have narrowed their differences in nuclear weapons negotiations, President Barack Obama said in the face of a renewed Republican warning on Sunday that any deal will face a tough congressional review. "We have made progress in narrowing the gaps, but those gaps still exist," Obama said in an interview on CBS News' "Face the Nation" that was recorded on Saturday and broadcast on Sunday.

A Sunni-Shi’a War in the Middle East? Not Likely

William O. Beeman

The success of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in capturing large territories in Syria and Northern Iraq, and now threatening Baghdad, has raised once again the specter of a Sunni-Shi’a war in the Middle East. Such a scenario is possible, but unlikely. That’s because Sunni and Shi’a believers throughout the world are divided into many factions living under different social conditions and with different religious, social and political agendas. 

Why Is Blasphemy Still A Crime?

Hal Gordon

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, an agency charged by Congress with monitoring liberty of conscience around the world, has just issued a report on prosecutions for blasphemy in other countries. Predictably, the leading offenders are Muslim countries, such as Egypt, Iran, Bangladesh, Sudan, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Pakistan is cited as “the most egregious example … where blasphemy charges are common and numerous individuals are in prison, with a high number sentenced to death or life terms.”

Syria and the Neoconservative Agenda

William O. Beeman

There is great division of opinion regarding potential U.S. military action in Syria. However, one group is ecstatic over President Obama’s endorsement of a military attack on Damascus. These are the neconservatives who dominated the George W. Bush administration, and who still hold tremendous influence in Washington. An attack on Syria would be one step in fulfilling “stage two” of a longstanding neoconservative plan to bring about regime change throughout the Middle East in three stages: Iraq, Syria and finally Iran. 

Success of Israeli-Palestinian Talks Is Crucial to Solving Regional Crisis

Ghassan Michel Rubeiz

While U.S. media heap praise on Secretary of State John Kerry for his efforts at restarting Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, more critical still are recent developments across the region. Four factors, specifically, have proven decisive in enticing the two sides to the negotiating table. The real question now is whether an agreement can be reached before the window of opportunity closes again. Surprisingly, a new round of negotiations began Monday in Washington D.C. after a three-year hiatus. 

Why Washington Should Mediate With Iran to Resolve the Syrian Crisis

Ghassan Rubeiz

Rowhani’s intent for reform, his popularity and the widespread desire for change in Iran provide the new leader with a unique opportunity to contribute positively to the Syrian crisis and to Iran’s relations with the West. And despite doubts about the limited power of Iran’s president – the office is subordinate to that of the nation’s Spiritual Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei -- several analysts argue Khamenei may be less able to control a popularly elected figure like Rowhani. 

Will Iran’s New Moderate President Usher in a New Era of Social Freedom?

William O. Beeman

The Iranian presidential elections did not turn out as expected—happily for many Iranians, and not so happily for Western critics of Iranian society. The victorious Mr. Rowhani, seen as the most moderate of all the six candidates, was not predicted to win by Western pundits, who followed their own ideological bias, predicting that the election would be rigged by ultra-conservative mullahs and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps to favor the most conservative contender. 

The Humanitarian Side Effects of Sanctions Against Iran

Maziar Shirazi

 Iran’s nuclear program, on the other hand, is alive and well. Vice President Joe Biden practically bragged of the economy-crippling effects of the latest round of sanctions during last year’s vice presidential debate, even as his Secretary of Defense acknowledged that despite U.S. efforts, Tehran remained intent on advancing its nuclear program. Indeed, the IAEA’s latest report shows that if anything, Iran is likely expanding its enrichment capacity. Iran’s civilians, however, find themselves in the midst of one of the worst medical supply shortages in the nation’s long history.

Iran’s Most Famous Political Prisoner Still Awaits Justice

Fariba Amini

He is the longest held prisoner of Iran, sometimes referred to as the Iranian Nelson Mandela. He was on a leave of absence, which is part of a prison furlough system in Iran. His name, Abbas Amirentezam, should be familiar to anyone who knows the history of the U.S. Embassy take-over in 1980 and the plight of the American hostages held for 444 days. He is not referred to in the film Argo. Amirentezam became the other hostage. 

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