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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.

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

Relations with Iran: Questions to Consider

Spring 2016

With the successful implementation of the historic nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1, a new chapter has opened between Iran and the international community, including the United States. Nevertheless, the future path of bilateral relations between the United States and Iran is uncertain and many challenges exist as the two countries attempt to formulate new terms of engagement. What should U.S. policy be towards Iran after the nuclear agreement? Can the agree­ment open the door to effective collaboration on areas of mutual interest, especially given the rising security challenges and rapidly changing dynamics of the Middle East? Or, will strategic rivalries between Iran and the United States con­tinue to shape and impede cooperation?

Kurdish peshmerga forces stand by their armed vehicles in Mahmoudiyah, Iraq, a day after they take control of the village from the Islamic State group, as they patrol on Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014.

(AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)

Analysis & Opinions - The National Interest

Bad Move, ISIS: Why America and Iran Should Work Together

| Oct. 06, 2014

"While a threat to U.S. interests, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) presents us with a unique opportunity to 'reset' the Middle East equation—to actively transform regional relations, to abate the cold war between Iran and Saudi Arabia and to forge a new working relationship with Iran," writes Payam Mohseni. "As the United States moves to escalate its war against ISIS and forge a coalition against the terrorist group, it is important that Iran be included in the process. After all, U.S. and Iranian interests have increasingly converged in the Middle East with the emergence of a common enemy, and no power in the region is better suited to taking on ISIS than Iran and its affiliated Shi’a militias in Iraq."

An Iraqi army soldier stands guard at Tahrir Square in Baghdad, Iraq, June 16, 2014. Sunni militants captured a key northern Iraqi town along the highway to Syria a week after capturing a vast swath of territory in the country's north.

AP Photo

Analysis & Opinions - The National Interest

ISIS Challenge in Iraq: Why America Should Work with Iran

| June 16, 2014

"The U.S. should seize the opportunity presented by the Iraq crisis to reach out and engage Iran. The threat posed by ISIS and radical jihadism as well as the potential for further regional instability represent important areas of mutual strategic concern for both countries. By engaging the Iranians, the U.S. will gain the critical ability to shape the course of events without getting bogged down in the conflict. It will also help the U.S. build a working relationship with Iran that could ease the current nuclear negotiations forward and lay the groundwork for future cooperation when a successful deal is reached."