262 Items

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump are welcomed by King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud Saturday, May 20, 2017, on their arrival to King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

White House

Analysis & Opinions - The National Interest

The United States Cannot Afford to Pick a Side in the Shia-Sunni Fight

| June 25, 2018

While many Shia movements may have differences of opinion with Iran, as long as the Trump presidency uncritically supports Saudi Arabia and the threat of military conflict with Iran remains on the horizon, it is unlikely that any popular Shia group will side with the United States. The administration’s narrow focus on Iran will provoke precisely what the Trump White House aims to prevent—a more cohesive regional Shia movement under Iran’s protection and aggrieved Shia supportive of countering U.S. influence in the region. In other words, the current U.S. course is narrowing policy discussions both within individual Shia organizations as well as across transnational Shia alliances by closing the door to pro-U.S. policy alternatives. This further consolidates Iran's position as the center of the Shia world and its long-standing partnership with various Shia transnational movements throughout the Middle East such as the Lebanese Hezbollah, many of Iraq's Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), and Yemen's Ansarallah (the Houthis) all of whom are engaged in critical regional hotspots.

- Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center Newsletter

Symposium Aims to Reduce Sectarianism in Muslim World

| Summer 2018

The Belfer Center’s Iran Project presented the First Annual Symposium on Islam and Sectarian De-escalation at Harvard Kennedy School on April 14-15. The symposium was organized by Iran Project director Payam Mohseni and co-sponsored by Harvard’s Center for Middle East Studies, the Asia Center, the South Asia Institute, and the Alwaleed Islamic Studies Program. 

Tehran Bazaar market

Wikicommons

Analysis & Opinions - Brookings Institution

With the US Out, How Can Iran Benefit from the JCPOA?

| May 16, 2018

From Iran’s point of view, the JCPOA is much more than a nuclear deal. Rouhani and the middle class that elected him twice see the JCPOA as a way to anchor the Islamic Republic’s economic system to the Western world. They see this as more consistent with Iran’s cultural ties to the West developed over the last 100 years. These ties have been further solidified by Iranian migration to the West, where traveling Iranian businessmen are sure to find a close relative. Not so in China or Russia, to which Iran will have to turn if it is rebuffed by Europe. The Islamic Republic’s early orientation summed up by the slogan, “Neither West, nor East,” is rapidly shifting toward the East as Trump humiliates Iran’s moderates.

President Trump withdrawing from the JCPOA

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Analysis & Opinions - Aljazeera

Closing the Deal: The US, Iran, and the JCPOA

| May 13, 2018

The US withdrawal from the JCPOA has laid bare the strategic contradictions inherent in this approach. The United States has abrogated its leadership position on global nuclear non-proliferation while demanding trust and support from allies. It has also reopened the prospect of Iranian nuclear armament while forfeiting the moral and institutional ammunition the US would need to clinch a better deal.

Qassem Suleimani Iran

Tasnim News

Analysis & Opinions - Foreign Policy

What Iran Really Wants in Syria

| May 10, 2018

At such a delicate moment, when the risk of miscalculation and confrontation is growing, it is essential that policymakers in Washington gain a clearer understanding of Iran’s goals in Syria, which are not offensive but focus on deterring Israel and other major foreign stakeholders in Syria. Misperceptions of Iran’s strategic intentions could lead to military confrontation and an escalatory cycle — especially on the heels of U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear agreement.

Tehran Vali Asr

Tasnim News

Analysis & Opinions - Project Syndicate

How Iran Will Respond to New Sanctions

| May 02, 2018

Even before US President Donald Trump began threatening to re-impose sanctions on Iran, foreign investors looking to do business there were wary. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani failed to get his pro-market agenda off the ground, and now international political developments are playing into Iranian hardliners' hands.

Trump MBS Saudi

White House

Analysis & Opinions

How Effective is Saudi Arabia’s ‘Counter-Iran Policy’?

| Apr. 07, 2018

This article is aimed at scrutinizing Saudi Arabia’s new policy toward Iran in the Middle East. While King Salman’s ascendance to power brought a new leaf to Iran-Saudi relations, Mohammad bin Salman’s approach has led to a trend of continued escalation between the two countries. And yet, that is not the whole story. The change of leadership in Saudi Arabia came alongside shifts in the regional balance of power, which, coupled with Trump’s presidency, created a momentum for an active – and opportunistic – Riyadh in the Middle East. Accordingly, there has been a growing focus on Iran’s regional role on the part of Saudi Arabia. The defeat of the Islamic State (ISIS) and the Syrian opposition, the regaining of control by Syrian and Iraqi governments over their territories and the continuation of the Yemeni war without any light at the end of the tunnel have all driven Riyadh to see its rival’s position as having been strengthened and its own weakened. Therefore, Riyadh came up with a counter-Iran policy aimed at controlling and, ideally, reversing that regional trend.

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Analysis & Opinions - World Politics Review

Iran and Pakistan Navigate Regional Rivalries as They Push for Deeper Ties

| Apr. 06, 2018

In mid-March, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif traveled to Islamabad for a three-day visit, heading a 30-member Iranian delegation. During talks with Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Zarif pledged to increase bilateral trade between Iran and Pakistan from around $1.16 billion today to $5 billion by 2021. They also discussed other areas of cooperation. In an email interview, Payam Mohseni, the director of the Iran Project at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, discusses how Iran and Pakistan’s mutual desire for a deeper relationship must contend with regional rivalries. 

Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani

Tasnim News

Analysis & Opinions - The National Interest

Geopolitical Fight Club: Why Iraq Must Square off with Saudi Arabia

| Mar. 26, 2018

High mistrust of Saudi Arabia by Iraqi Shi’as is hampering any meaningful outreach Saudi is undertaking toward Iraq and any policy of balancing Iraq and Iran will not succeed unless serious steps toward sectarian de-escalation is taken in the region. In order to bridge the gap, there needs to be broad religious dialogue to discuss the role of Shia’s and Sunnis in the region and forge a common space for the inclusion of both denominations. Major Grand Ayatollahs—the highest authorities in the Shi’a world—have taken positive steps of forbidding the ritual cursing of certain companions of the Prophet Muhammad and the early caliphs considered reverential to the Sunni community. In this endeavor the role of Ayatollah Sistani in Najaf will be crucial as he has a track record of promoting better relations between Shi’as and Sunnis and is an authoritative moderating figure who can reign in hardline elements in Iraq who might be opposed to a détente.