Iran and Ayatollah Khamenei are more influential today than at any time since 1979.
The supreme leader and Trump may well end the long-running, region-defining clash. We just don't know yet quite how.
ICYMI: Last December, Hal Brands, Kenneth Pollack, and Steven Cook noted in Foreign Policy that President Trump sees himself as a leader who shatters generations of conventional wisdom in US foreign policy. In the case of Iran, he is right. And unless the president changes course, he will usher in a brave new era in US relations with the Persian Gulf — one that may well help Iran claim its long-sought ascendancy in that region and leave Americans longing for the good old days of the Carter Doctrine. Read more here.
The geoeconomics and geopolitics of the world are in free fall because of COVID-19, the oil price war, and a severe economic shutdown. For the Middle East and the Gulf monarchies in particular, the oil price war against Russia and U.S. shale and the shutdown of economies around the world have increased the pressure on the Gulf’s already-depleted financial resources, which usually act as a safety valve for the turbulent region.
by Wyn Bowen and Matthew Moran
Middle East Quarterly
Spring 2020 (view PDF)
Four decades since its Islamic Revolution made it a pariah, Tehran has cobbled together one of the world’s most bizarre air forces—a combination of rebuilt U.S.-supplied planes dating from the 1970s plus homegrown designs of highly varying value and, most strangely of all, scores of aircraft essentially stolen from Iraq after they fled to Iran to escape American attack during the 1991 Gulf War. – The National Interest
Amos Yadlin and Ari Heistein write: The urgency of the situation at hand should not cause us to lose sight of the broader strategic picture. Humanitarian assistance to the Iranian people is a moral necessity at this time, but it would be preposterous to entrust such aid without adequate oversight to the very government which is responsible for murdering thousands of its own citizens as well as tens of thousands more throughout the region. – Times of Israel
Ilan Berman writes: It would also indicate that, notwithstanding the rhetoric of regime officials and policymakers, the Islamic Republic is not actually persevering in its battle with the disease. To the contrary, the statistics suggest that the country is slowly succumbing to it, even as authorities hide the true extent of the health crisis from both the international community and their own captive population. – Radio Farda
Rahim Hamid and Mostafa Hetteh write: If international bodies do not condemn these atrocities, the regime will see the international preoccupation with coronavirus as a way to mask its abuse of prisoners and refusal to prevent mass infections within its prison systems in Ahwaz and throughout Iran. So far, those released in amnesty have masked Iran’s continued human rights abuses against those political prisoners still trapped in Iran’s jails. In the midst of a crisis, the international community must take this opportunity to pressure Iran on this crucial issue. – Washington Institute
Algeria, under pressure to find new sources of finance, set up a religious body in charge of Islamic finance on Tuesday in a final step towards launching sharia-compliant services. […]The government is targeting local savers rather than foreign investors as many Algerians distrust the country’s state banks and prefer to keep large sums of money at home. – Reuters
Principlists—often called hardliners in the West—are regaining influence in key institutions and trying to undermine so-called moderates. Iran will likely transition from relative moderates to principlists controlling all three branches of government by mid-2021. Expanding hardliner control will facilitate increasingly aggressive and authoritarian Iranian behavior while exacerbating economic turmoil and domestic dissent.
Read the full article here.
- Yemen File: 2019 in Review | December 2019
- Questions for the Record: Taking the Lead Back in Yemen | Katherine Zimmerman | April 2019
- Yemen’s anti-al Houthi coalition is collapsing, and America’s Gulf partners are partially to blame | James Barnett | August 2019
- A New Model for Defeating al Qaeda in Yemen | Katherine Zimmerman | September 2015
- Yemen's Pivotal Moment | Katherine Zimmerman | February 2014
In Al-Monitor's latest longform, we look at young people throughout the Mideast who have been at the forefront of efforts to turn the page on decades of sclerotic and rigged politics in favor of a more democratic alternative.
Iraqi President Barham Salih has appointed Mustafa al-Kadhimi, director of Iraq's National Intelligence Service, as Iraq's next prime minister-designate after Adnan Al-Zurfi withdrew his candidacy.