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Killing Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr

It’s hard to believe that Saudi Arabia, currently heading up the UN Human Rights Commission, started 2016 with the beheading of 47 prisoners. When was the last time the head of a global human rights commission executed 47 people in one day? The crude symbolism of who was executed and who wasn’t was supposed to[…]

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Shia Militias, Sectarianism & Sovereignty in Iraq

In recent months there has been an important shift in American strategic thinking about Iraq, with key government officials and analysts arguing that Shiite militias are displacing the Islamic State as the most serious threat to Iraqi stability. In January 2015, Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told lawmakers that increased Iranian influence[…]

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Critical Context on Iran’s Nuclear Program

Iran’s nuclear program was founded in 1957 as part of U.S. President Eisenhower’s “Atoms for Peace” initiative. As part of this deal, the United States helped provide the training, technology and infrastructure allowing Iran to become a nuclear power. It was America that built Iran’s first nuclear reactor in 1967, subsequently providing them with the[…]

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SISMEC EVENT “Iran: Charting New Horizons”

The Southwest Initiative for the Study of Middle East Conflicts (SISMEC), in conjunction with the School of Middle Eastern and North African Studies (MENAS), the Center for Middle Eastern Studies (CMES) and the School of Government and Public Policy (SGPP) at the University of Arizona, will host an event entitled “Iran: Charting New Horizons.” Friday[…]

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Iranian Perspectives on the Nuclear Deal

In the months following the interim nuclear deal it negotiated with the P5 + 1, the Iranian government has lost no time in adopting a simultaneously conciliatory and proud attitude on the international stage and in selling the nuclear deal at home.  Internationally, the government has emphasized the peaceful, civilian ends of its nuclear program[…]

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Negotiations with Iran: Nuclear Breakthrough or Nuclear Meltdown?

Initially, Bashar al-Asad had developed his chemical weapons programs as a deterrent against Israeli and Western aggression—lately, he has discovered that these arms are more of a liability than an asset, nearly provoking the very invasion they were intended to ward off. For its part, Iran has been unyielding in their condemnation of the use[…]

Presidential Election – one small step for the ayatollah, one giant leap for Iranians

Despite choice limitations, Iranians elected a new president and with him comes hope for the future The recent presidential elections in Iran may signal a slow march towards reform, although there is no sign of a new “spring” just yet.  In an election in which over 70% of the country turned out to vote, Iranians[…]

Play it again, Sam

Maybe sanctions will work this time, unlike all of those other times… At the recent SISMEC sponsored symposium “10 Years Later: Lessons from Iraq,”  Dr. Joseph Sassoon discussed the legacy of violence created by the practices of Saddam Hussein’s regime.  Drawing on the extensive research found in his book Saddam Hussein’s Ba`ath Party: Inside an[…]

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Moammar Gaddhafi, Giantslayer

The Libyan Intervention in Retrospect It would not be surprising if there are many in the Obama Administration who occasionally think, “I miss Moammar Gaddhafi.” And if no one there is thinking that, they should. And not just because of the camping trips he would take in New York City, his amazing sense of style, his[…]

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And to the Victor Goes the Ruins

The next phase of the Syrian Civil War As the Syrian conflict has dragged on, growing in intensity with no sign of resolution or international intervention, the regime may seem incredibly resilient: they have been able to push the rebels out of Damascus, to protect the majority-Alawite territories, to hold Aleppo, and to keep pressure[…]

With this cast of characters, who needs cartoons?

The 2012 UNGA meeting proved to be entertaining, but was it productive? The annual United Nations General Assembly meetings are a time for countries to come together, speak to each other in a neutral location, and attempt to work out their problems.  Unfortunately, they have become an opportunity for states to battle for status via[…]

“Battleship 2012” – more than a game, more than a movie

Persian Gulf: US and Iranian naval activity could be the blockbuster of the summer Recent history has seen US military forces focused on the ground, but the summer has brought an old battleground to the forefront: the sea.  Specifically, the Persian Gulf in which merchant ships, national navies, and pirate forces consistently vie for an[…]

And the beat goes on…

Violence continues as the political process stagnates A recent wave of bombing attacks has made June 2012 one of the deadliest months since the height of the American invasion in Iraq.  In both coordinated and seemingly isolated attacks, approximately 200 people were killed this month with hundreds more wounded.  The violence occurred throughout Iraq, although[…]

Iranian Sanctions: Greatest Hits of the 90’s

The West hits replay on its 90’s Iraq strategy: Lessons Learned & Forgotten? The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) reported that Iranian oil production is down by 12% and is expected to fall even further due to continuing international sanctions. With the final phase of the European Union ban scheduled to begin on[…]

Bidding Sarko Adieu?

The Future of French Middle East Policy As the final round of voting for the French presidential election approaches, it looks like Sarko might need to start looking for a new job. Socialist candidate François Hollande has been consistently leading the polls and remains ahead after Wednesday’s big debate. Foreign policy somehow did not make[…]

Til Death do us Apart

Syria and Iran: Bros Before Foes According to Syrian lore, former President Hafez al-Assad often told his young son Bashar that he could always rely on the Iranians, but never other Arab leaders. Indeed, almost all of Syria’s Arab neighbors have now deserted it. Egypt has withdrawn its ambassador, while a UN General Assembly resolution[…]

Is anyone coming to dinner?

Prospects for negotiation over Iran’s nuclear program: As likely as an enjoyable meal with the in-laws In the ongoing acrimonious relationship between Iran and the West regarding nuclear development, old solutions have been applied to new problems. European leaders imposed an oil embargo on Iran in an attempt to force it to resume negotiations. In[…]