Report

Iran Stops Removing Centrifuges under Political Pressure

Iran has reportedly stopped dismantling centrifuges at two nuclear enrichment facilities, according to Iranian state media. The hold on the removal of decommissioned centrifuges at Natanz and Fordow sites may have resulted from Iranian hardliners complaining to President Hassan Rouhani that the process was being rushed. The centrifuges must be removed for Iran to enter ...

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Iran has reportedly stopped dismantling centrifuges at two nuclear enrichment facilities, according to Iranian state media. The hold on the removal of decommissioned centrifuges at Natanz and Fordow sites may have resulted from Iranian hardliners complaining to President Hassan Rouhani that the process was being rushed. The centrifuges must be removed for Iran to enter compliance with the nuclear deal reached with the P5+1 in July, but hardline politicians have pointed to statements from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei that Iran should not dismantle its centrifuges until the International Atomic Energy Agency completes its investigation of the possible military dimensions (PMD) of Iran’s nuclear program. The IAEA is expected to release its final report by mid-December, or possibly as soon as later this month. The nuclear agreement’s provision on lifting sanctions does not take effect until Iran has verifiably dismantled centrifuges in accordance with the deal.

Rouhani said yesterday that Iran is looking to renew trade ties with France, particularly in fields of car manufacturing, agriculture, and aviation. Iran is reportedly looking into arrangements to lease new Airbus aircraft. Rouhani made additional comments today on the potential for improved relations with the United States after the nuclear agreement. “If it is well applied it can lay the foundation for fewer tensions with the United States, creating the conditions to open a new era. But if the Americans don’t respect their part of the nuclear accord, then surely our relationship will remain as it has been in the past,” he said. Rouhani also suggested that the countries could reopen their embassies and restore diplomatic ties if the United States changed its policies toward Iran and would “apologize to the Iranian people.”

Motive Still Unknown in Shooting in Jordan

Iran has reportedly stopped dismantling centrifuges at two nuclear enrichment facilities, according to Iranian state media. The hold on the removal of decommissioned centrifuges at Natanz and Fordow sites may have resulted from Iranian hardliners complaining to President Hassan Rouhani that the process was being rushed. The centrifuges must be removed for Iran to enter compliance with the nuclear deal reached with the P5+1 in July, but hardline politicians have pointed to statements from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei that Iran should not dismantle its centrifuges until the International Atomic Energy Agency completes its investigation of the possible military dimensions (PMD) of Iran’s nuclear program. The IAEA is expected to release its final report by mid-December, or possibly as soon as later this month. The nuclear agreement’s provision on lifting sanctions does not take effect until Iran has verifiably dismantled centrifuges in accordance with the deal.

Rouhani said yesterday that Iran is looking to renew trade ties with France, particularly in fields of car manufacturing, agriculture, and aviation. Iran is reportedly looking into arrangements to lease new Airbus aircraft. Rouhani made additional comments today on the potential for improved relations with the United States after the nuclear agreement. “If it is well applied it can lay the foundation for fewer tensions with the United States, creating the conditions to open a new era. But if the Americans don’t respect their part of the nuclear accord, then surely our relationship will remain as it has been in the past,” he said. Rouhani also suggested that the countries could reopen their embassies and restore diplomatic ties if the United States changed its policies toward Iran and would “apologize to the Iranian people.”

Motive Still Unknown in Shooting in Jordan

Investigators in Jordan are struggling to identify a motive for the shooting at a U.S.-supported police training facility in Amman on Monday that left five people dead, including two U.S. security contractors. The shooter, 29-year-old police captain Anwar Abu Zaid, had no known ties to extremist groups and had passed a background check to work as an instructor at the facility. No jihadist groups have claimed credit for the attack, but many jihadists on social media have expressed support for the shooting and called for more lone-wolf attacks.

Headlines

  • Undercover Israeli security forces raided a hospital in the West Bank, arresting a 27-year-old Palestinian man suspected of stabbing an Israeli settler last week; the man’s cousin was shot and killed as he exited a bathroom during the arrest.

 

  • Kurdish and Yazidi militias began a new offensive to retake Mount Sinjar, Iraq, from the Islamic State; earlier this week, Assad regime forces, backed with Russian support, broke the Islamic State’s siege of Kweires airbase near Aleppo, Syria.

 

  • Emails from Emirati government officials that leaked to the New York Times confirm that the United Arab Emirates has been illegally providing arms to Islamist groups in Libya and offered a high-paying job to a U.N. diplomat working on a peace accord; the emails threaten ongoing efforts to resolve the country’s ongoing political feuds.

 

  • Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister said he supports U.N.-backed peace talks in Geneva to resolve the war in Yemen; the U.N. special envoy to Yemen says those talks could begin this month.

 

  • Police in three countries across Europe conducted raids this morning, trying to find 17 people associated with a jihadist plot to free a radical cleric currently imprisoned in Norway; police believe suspects may have traveled to Iraq and Syria.

Arguments and Analysis

ISIS Is Not Winning the War of Ideas” (J.M. Berger, The Atlantic)

“The Nazi example is particularly instructive when compared to the case of ISIS. Perhaps tens of thousands of Americans were sympathetic to Nazi ideology, including important national figures like Henry Ford and Charles Lindbergh, academic elites, and many more, even the residents of entire U.S. towns. In comparison, ISIS has recorded only trifling victories in the war of ideas. The FBI is currently pursuing hundreds of investigations into suspected ISIS supporters in the United States, and the group’s committed followers in the U.S. are likely in the very low thousands (when comparing this figure to the number of American Nazi sympathizers, keep in mind that the population of the United States has more than doubled since 1941). There are no ISIS towns in America. ISIS can claim no support from major celebrities or captains of industry in America or abroad. ISIS supporters are not invited to prestigious academic symposia — not in America and not in the Middle East.”

 

The Gulf Monarchies Beyond the Arab Spring: Changes and Challenges” (European University Institute)

While there was consensus on the fact that the Gulf region had become an increasingly important actor, many questions about the future of these monarchies and their role in the global and regional arenas were left unanswered. Is the Gulf economic model sustainable in times of low oil prices? And what would the impact be of diminishing growth on political stability? How do structural factors such as demography and continuing dependence on oil and gas revenues limit the Gulf countries’ capacity to maintain sustained economic growth? What does the pivot towards Asia entail for the security of Gulf countries? How does the geo-political confrontation with Iran shape the deepening sectarianism? How successful can they be at insulating themselves from instability and projecting their interests in the Middle East? How united are the Gulf countries in their perceptions of and reactions against the external Iranian threat? What are the bases and consequences of the Gulf countries’ new interventionism? The conference was conceived as an attempt to understand the different dynamics at play in the region. It had the ambition to try to connect different levels, from the local to the transnational to the global, and to look at the unexplored links between domestic, regional and external factors.”

-J. Dana Stuster

ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images

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