Report

U.S. to Consider New Sanctions after Iranian Missile Tests

Members of the U.S. Congress are pushing for new sanctions in response to Iran’s recent ballistic missile tests. Iran denies that the tests violated its international nuclear agreement or U.N. resolutions. Yesterday, a U.N. spokesperson said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is urging Iran to show restraint and stop its missile testing, saying, “In the current political ...

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Members of the U.S. Congress are pushing for new sanctions in response to Iran’s recent ballistic missile tests. Iran denies that the tests violated its international nuclear agreement or U.N. resolutions. Yesterday, a U.N. spokesperson said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is urging Iran to show restraint and stop its missile testing, saying, “In the current political atmosphere in the Middle East region, and so soon after the positive news of the lifting of sanctions against Iran, the secretary-general calls on the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to act with moderation, caution and the good sense not to increase tensions through any hasty actions.”

Assad Regime to Participate in Talks, Russia Says

Russia’s Foreign Ministry has confirmed that the Assad regime will participate in proximity talks with the Syrian opposition next week in Geneva. “They said straight away that they are taking part, they’re ready, they will be the first to arrive, wherever is needed,” Russian spokesperson Maria Zakharova said Friday. U.S. Secretary of State is traveling today — over the weekend, he will visit Saudi Arabia and France to discuss diplomatic prospects in Syria, Yemen, and Libya. A coalition of 30 Syrian and international non-governmental organizations have issued a report that states that the fifth year of Syria’s civil war was the “worst yet for people as warring parties have continued to wreak havoc, increasingly blocked aid and placed more communities under siege.” The coalition, mostly humanitarian organizations, calls on Russia, the United States, Britain, and France to safeguard the current ceasefire, which they call “a glimmer of hope.”

Headlines

  • The Arab League has selected Ahmed Aboul-Gheit, a former foreign minister and ambassador to the United Nations under Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, to be the organization’s new secretary-general; Aboul-Gheit will begin his five-year term in July, replacing Nabil Elaraby.

 

  • A new U.N. report has found that the Islamic State has expanded its control and base of support in Libya, and that it is becoming an increasingly attractive destination for foreign fighters.

 

  • Israeli security forces raided and shut down a West Bank-based television station owned by the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad which was inciting Palestinian attacks against Israelis.

 

  • Egyptian authorities arrested Islam Salama, a lawyer working on forced disappearances of individuals, at his home in Cairo on Tuesday; his father says he has been unable to determine where his son is being detained.

 

  • Responding to comments by Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump that “Islam hates the West,” Lt. Gen. Dhahi Khalfan Tamim, a senior security official in Dubai, tweeted that the his election would prompt a “clash of civilizations” fomented him and the Islamic State, citing Samuel Huntington’s notorious book.

Arguments and Analysis

Where’s My Mercedes? Egypt’s Financial Crisis Hits the Rich” (Declan Walsh, New York Times)

“Wealthy Egyptians were among President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s most ardent supporters after he seized power in 2013, favoring stability and a harsh crackdown on Islamists, even at the cost of civil liberties. But that loyalty is being tested now, as Egypt’s severe shortage of foreign currency cripples businesses, impedes luxury imports and crimps their lifestyles. And that has prompted a tide of unusually sharp criticism of Mr. Sisi. Mr. Sisi is using what scarce resources he has mainly to help the poor — and the seven million people on the state’s payroll — by propping up the value of Egypt’s currency. Politically, that makes sense: Mr. Sisi is mindful of the popular protests that drove President Hosni Mubarak from office in 2011. Even so, the poor have suffered from shortages of some staples, like cooking oil, while the rich are confronted with restrictions that amount to a sharp pinch, if not quite pain.”

 

The Alternative to Regime Change in Iran” (Akbar Ganji, The National Interest)

“Since the nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1 was signed in July 2015, the main problem in Iran has been national reconciliation. In other words, just as Iran and the P5+1 resolved their long-held and difficult differences diplomatically, Iranians from all walks of life also want to resolve the issues that are dividing their nation. Iranians call the nuclear agreement Barjam, the Farsi acronym for Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. The reformists and moderates are now talking about the second Barjam, or Barjam 2, which they hope will lead to the release of all political prisoners, an end to the house arrest of the Green Movement’s leaders, freedom for political parties, independence for the universities and colleges and the resolution of other important issues. These were also Rouhani’s promises during his campaign for the presidency, which have been opposed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who favors controlling cultural affairs as well as the universities.”

-J. Dana Stuster

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