Iran Hedges Its Bets on Syria

Iran is courting the opposition to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, seeking to maintain a crucial alliance in the event that Assad falls. So far, Iranian officials have met at least twice with members of the National Coordinating Committee (NCC). The Damascus-based group opposes foreign intervention in Syria and advocates reform to resolve the nine-month-old crisis.  … Continue reading “Iran Hedges Its Bets on Syria”

Iran’s Growing Isolation a Dubious Win for the West

Scenes from Tehran Tuesday of bearded Iranian youth swarming over the walls of the British embassy evoked memories of the 1979-81 hostage crisis that created the image of Iran as a pariah state. But the incidents vary in ways that are more worrisome for international peace than the seizure of the U.S. embassy by radical … Continue reading “Iran’s Growing Isolation a Dubious Win for the West”

MEK Allows Adherents in Iraq to Seek Refugee Status

In a development that could help resolve an 8-year-old diplomatic and humanitarian standoff, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), an Iranian opposition group that has several thousand adherents at a military camp in Iraq, has agreed to allow residents to apply for refugee status and be interviewed individually by U.N. officials. Vincent Cochetel, Washington representative for the … Continue reading “MEK Allows Adherents in Iraq to Seek Refugee Status”

Bitter Divides Persist Below Bahrain’s Relatively Calm Surface

When Bahraini ambassador Houda Ezra Nonoo arrived in Washington three years ago, she was greeted as the representative of a close U.S. ally with a reputation for more openness and tolerance than most Gulf nations. Nonoo was also a novelty as a woman representing an Arab country, and even more unusually, a Jew — one … Continue reading “Bitter Divides Persist Below Bahrain’s Relatively Calm Surface”

Threat of Attack on Iran Recedes, but Tensions Remain High

The likelihood of a U.S. or Israeli military attack on Iran’s nuclear installations seems miniscule during the remaining months of the Barack Obama administration’s first term. The U.S. is focused on domestic economic problems, winding down wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, and stabilizing emerging democracies in Egypt and Tunisia. Israel is preoccupied with Arab … Continue reading “Threat of Attack on Iran Recedes, but Tensions Remain High”

Sunni Monarchies Close Ranks

Reports that the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is considering some form of membership for two non-Gulf states—Jordan and Morocco—confirm that the conservative Sunni monarchies of the Middle East are closing ranks against Iran, Shi’ite-led Iraq, and the democratic wave sweeping the region. GCC Secretary General Abdullatif al-Zayani made the announcement Tuesday after a summit of … Continue reading “Sunni Monarchies Close Ranks”

Saudi Intervention Likely to Bring Regional Blowback

Saudi Arabia’s incursion into neighboring Bahrain is a risky move that could further inflame domestic unrest in both countries and give a propaganda boost to Tehran’s campaign to cultivate the Arab street. Saudi authorities and officials from the United Arab Emirates—which sent 500 police to augment 1,000 Saudi troops—said they had entered the island kingdom … Continue reading “Saudi Intervention Likely to Bring Regional Blowback”

Iranian Terrorist Group Courts Friends in High Places

For years now, supporters of the Iranian opposition group the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) have lobbied in vain to have the organization taken off the U.S. State Department’s terrorism list. That day may now be approaching. A growing number of high-profile defense and foreign policy big-wigs—from former Central Command chief Anthony Zinni to former congressman and … Continue reading “Iranian Terrorist Group Courts Friends in High Places”

As Talks Stall with Iran, US Steps Up Propaganda War

Egypt’s revolution appears to have stiffened the spine of the Barack Obama administration when it comes to Iran. In the wake of the mass protests that ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Washington has begun to "tweet" in Farsi as well as Arabic. President Obama – and to an even greater extent, Secretary of State Hillary … Continue reading “As Talks Stall with Iran, US Steps Up Propaganda War”

Behind the Spin, Egypt Gives Tehran Political Heartburn

Judging from official propaganda in both Iran and much of the Arab world, the uprisings that toppled Tunisia’s dictatorship and threaten Egypt’s authoritarian regime are the direct descendent of the 1979 Islamic Revolution. For the Iranians, that analysis is a boast; for the Arabs, it is a dire warning.  In both cases, state-run media assert … Continue reading “Behind the Spin, Egypt Gives Tehran Political Heartburn”