Experience Suggests That Renewed Sanctions on Iran Are the Best Course of Action

Nov. 16 2018

Despite the many flaws in the 2015 nuclear agreement with Tehran, most of the West has declined to support Washington’s decision to reinstate the sanctions that the deal suspended. Emily Landau explains why they are mistaken:

When assessing the potential effectiveness of sanctions as a means of getting Iran back to the [negotiating] table, it is important to keep in mind that they are not a perfect tool, and that they have a mixed record on compelling states to comply with the demands [of the sanctioners]. But of the tools available at . . . the current juncture, imposing harsh pressure on Iran is the best hope that the Trump administration has for turning things around so far as Iran’s nuclear [program] and regional [troublemaking] are concerned.

Indeed, empirical evidence shows that in the specific history of dealing with Iran’s nuclear ambitions since 2003, pressure is the only strategy that has led to a positive change in Iran’s decision-making in the nuclear realm, namely, one that is in line with the goals of the international community. Inducements—or “carrots”—have always been regarded by the regime as a sign of weakness to be exploited, and never as a goodwill gesture that should be answered in kind. Various carrots and expressions of diplomatic cooperation have never convinced the regime of the benefits of adopting a similarly cooperative stance toward the international actors trying to alter its behavior.

Unfortunately, and despite clear evidence to the contrary, the belief that goodwill will beget goodwill remains a steadfast hope among many—especially in Europe—who cling to the assessment that cooperative dialogue is the only route to success. Against all evidence, they continue to hold that pressure will only cause Iran to be more hardline, not recognizing that the hardliners—or basically one hardliner, the supreme leader—have always called the shots.

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Read more at National Interest

More about: Europe, Iran, Politics & Current Affairs, U.S. Foreign policy

“Ending the War in Yemen” Would Lead to More Bloodshed and Threaten Global Trade

Dec. 13 2018

A bipartisan movement is afloat in Congress to end American support for the Saudi-led coalition currently fighting the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. With frustration at Riyadh over the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, reports of impending famine and a cholera outbreak in Yemen, and mounting casualties, Congress could go so far as to cut all funding for U.S. involvement in the war. But to do so would be a grave mistake, argues Mohammed Khalid Alyahya:

Unfortunately, calls to “stop the Yemen war,” though morally satisfying, are fundamentally misguided. . . . A precipitous disengagement by the Saudi-led coalition . . . would have calamitous consequences for Yemen, the Middle East, and the world at large. The urgency to end the war reduces that conflict, and its drivers, to a morality play, with the coalition of Arab states cast as the bloodthirsty villain killing and starving Yemeni civilians. The assumption seems to be that if the coalition’s military operations are brought to a halt, all will be well in Yemen. . . .

[But] if the Saudi-led coalition were to cease operations, Iran’s long arm, the Houthis, would march on areas [previously controlled by the Yemeni government] and exact a bloody toll on the populations of such cities as Aden and Marib with the same ruthlessness with which they [treated] Sanaa and Taiz during the past three years. The rebels have ruled Sanaa, kidnapping, executing, disappearing, systematically torturing, and assassinating detractors. In Taiz, they fire mortars indiscriminately at the civilian population and snipers shoot at children to force residents into submission.

[Moreover], an abrupt termination of the war would leave Iran in control of Yemen [and] deal a serious blow to the global economy. Iran would have the ability to obstruct trade and oil flows from both the Strait of Hormuz and the Bab el-Mandeb strait. . . . About 24 percent of the world’s petroleum and petroleum products passes through these two waterways, and Iran already has the capability to disrupt oil flows from Hormuz and threatened to do so this year. Should Iran acquire that capability in Bab el-Mandeb by establishing a foothold in the Gulf of Aden, even if it chose not to utilize this capability oil prices and insurance costs would surge.

Allowing Tehran to control two of the most strategic choke points for the global energy market is simply not an option for the international community. There is every reason to believe that Iran would launch attacks on maritime traffic. The Houthis have mounted multiple attacks on commercial and military vessels over the past several years, and Iran has supplied its Yemeni proxy with drone boats, conventional aerial drones, and ballistic missiles.

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Read more at The Hill

More about: Iran, Oil, Politics & Current Affairs, Saudi Arabia, U.S. Foreign policy, Yemen