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Entries in Trita Parsi (9)


Iran Special: Sanctions, "Analysis", and the Never-Ending Circle of Propaganda --- From NIAC to Neo-Cons

Most of what passes in the US press and circles of influence as "analysis" of Iran is actually political posturing, trying to put forward self-interested opinion as the Truth.

This is a story of how that "analysis", caught up in a false "either-or" of Iran --- it is either menacing, or it is oppressed by the "West"; it is either pursuing a Bomb, or it has no such intention; there will be regime change or a dominant regime which will never be changed --- leads us,  again and again, to political dead-ends.

This is the story of the 32-page report that Trita Parsi and Reza Marashi of the National Iranian American Council, working with economist Bijan Khajehpour, put out this week, "Never Give Up, Never Give In".

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Iran Analysis: Why There is Much Posing --- But No Progress --- On Nuclear Talks

Nuclear negotiators Catherine Ashton & Saeed JaliliWhat is not being made explicit is that the US does not expect reciprocity from Iran. It expects those unilateral concessions.

That offers a stark prospect for Tehran. The Islamic Republic has proclaimed loudly that it wants the renewed talks with the 5+1, accepts the January date, then it does so with the signal that it is willing to make those concessions.

Which is why I'm betting that next week, next month, and beyond January, we will be in a Groundhog's Day of this chatter --- and then the declared March "window" will close for the Iranian Presidential elections.

And then?

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EA Video Analysis: Iran Sanctions, Human Rights, and the Nuclear Issue

A seven-minute commentary on how and why the US-based discussion of sanctions on Iran --- and indeed the sanctions themselves --- miss the most important point about life inside the Islamic Republic:


The Latest from Iran (29 April): The Ayatollahs and the Revolutionary Guards

See also Iran Feature: Tehran Sees US Nuke Proposal as "Good Start"?
The Latest from Iran (28 April): Nuclear Step Forward, Nuclear Step Back

1947 GMT: Currency Watch. The head of the Central Bank, Mahmoud Bahmani, has admitted that the effort to establish a single currency rate --- sought earlier this year after the Iranian Rial fell 50% in value --- has failed. He said there was "no possibility" to consolidate the rate against the US dollar. "Floating" (open-market) rates would continue, although there would be subsidised rates for importers and students.

1940 GMT: Supreme Leader Watch. Ayatollah Khamenei has declared today that those who get huge loans are equal to "traitors and looters of national income" and should be confronted. He continued, "The right way to promote national production is confronting disturbers and looters of national wealth."

An Iranian correspondent for EA ponders, "So when will the Supreme Leader confront those who have taken national wealth, say, his son Mojtaba, some senior clerics, and the Revolutionary Guards?"

The correspondent continues, "This is a clear order to the judiciary to sentence main agents of [the $2.6 billion] bank fraud --- with usual exceptions of course."

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Iran Feature: Is Civil Disobedience Taking Off? (Tait)

Protest over Lake UrmiaWhen Leon Panetta, the new United States defense secretary, declared on September 6 that it was only "a matter of time" before an Arab Spring-style revolution came to Iran, it seemed to smack of wishful thinking. 

And since this year's outbreak of popular uprisings that have unseated dictatorships in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya, and destabilized authoritarian regimes elsewhere in the Middle-East countries, there have been numerous expressions of desire for a "Persian Spring" to go with the Arab variety. 

Yet now opponents of the Tehran regime feel its nemesis may finally have arrived -- in the form of proliferating acts of civil disobedience.

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Iran Feature: Could the Economy Bring Down Ahmadinejad...and the Regime? (Setrakian)

Sanctions are biting harder than ever, but business still gets done through the leaks and loopholes. So it’s not changing the regime’s behavior where it counts: on its nuclear policy, specifically, its accelerating enrichment of uranium. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s policies have been largely bad for business and made life harder for most Iranians. Together, that could get Ahmadinejad booted from office, but it probably won’t topple the regime. Iran is rolling in oil money – a salve for all its economic wounds. But Iran can’t effectively tap the wealth underground, given the bans on foreign investment in the energy sector. That, combined with overall mismanagement, makes Iran’s economy is “fundamentally unsustainable,” in the words of one analyst – a “patient with many viruses.”

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Libya-Syria-Yemen-Bahrain: Is It All About the US and Iran? (Tait)

Iranians Protest in front of the Saudi Embassy"The U.S. is applying a relatively old strategy of linking up with elites in the region to a new situation and I don't think they're really thinking through the consequences" argues Lucas, who says the approach is unsuited to an "asymmetrical battle" that is being waged. "The issue of political legitimacy is the one that people are pushing. It's not the U.S.-Iran contest, it's not even the question of economic factors and if you are seen in any way as basically not really being on board with that question of political legitimacy, if you are seen as in effect trying to impose this Iran question on top of it, I think it'll bite you on the backside."

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Iran Opinion: How Obama Can Help the Iranian People (Abdi and Parsi)

On March 20, President Obama marked Norooz, the Iranian New Year, with his strongest words to date in solidarity with the people of Iran. "Though times may seem dark," he told Iranians, "I am with you."

Days later, with significant US backing, the UN Human Rights Council voted to establish a human rights monitor on Iran, answering the call of Iranian human rights and democracy activists.

There are a number of crucial measures to build on the monitor effort. Though they may not appear sweeping enough to some, they actually make a difference. The absence of a silver bullet should not prevent us from taking these small but important steps to stand with the Iranian people.

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Iran Guidance: How Should the US Talk with Tehran?

An EA correspondent writes:

Marginalising Ahmadinejad and his stubbornly anti-Western thought is the only way forward for meaningful dialogue with people inside the regime, but even then at the cost of throwing the human rights issue under the train: no regime insider, not even more flexible ones such as Tehran Mayor Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf, will come to terms on that front.

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