Ali Hashem reports for Al-Monitor from Tehran that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad considers the candidacy of his close aide and cousin, the controversial Esfandiyar Rahim Mashaei (pictured below, at left, with Ahmadinejad), as key to his legacy.
On Monday, authorities detained for several hours two of Mousavi’s daughters and one of Karroubi’s sons in what may have been an attempt to pre-empt new protests around the anniversary of the detention.Mohammad Karroubi, a scholar of international law — and the only one of Karroubi’s four children currently outside Iran — told Al-Monitor in an interview from London that he was surprised at the latest detentions since the children have not done anything apart from issuing an open letter to the Iranian people asking for their parents to be freed.
Iran isn’t cracking under sanctions, writes Mohammad Ali Shabani in an original piece for Al-Monitor. He suggests the Islamic Republic is preparing for extended economic warfare with the West:
Key to Iranian calculations is not whether it will win, but how far the United States is willing to go. The situation suggests that Tehran is playing the long game of opting to see whether increasingly harsh Western-led measures will slowly lead to a fracturing of the international coalition on board with the Obama administration’s sanctions regime. Signs of tension in this direction are starting to appear. Just the other week, Turkey — which largely pays for Iranian natural gas in gold — clearly pushed back against the latest Senate sanctions targeting exports of precious metals to Iran.
|—||Iran’s foreign minister, Ali Akhbar Salehi, on Monday. Weeks of deliberations among the United States and its fellow negotiators have produced an offer to Iran very similar to the package Iran rejected last summer, casting doubt on chances for breaking the long stalemate over Iran’s nuclear program, our Washington correspondent Barbara Slavin reports for Al-Monitor.|
|—||The director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Yukiya Amano, explaining that the IAEA will share sensitive data with Iran “when appropriate.” Read more about the comments, which came in response to Iranian claims that the IAEA was biased against the regime, in a story by Al-Monitor’s Barbara Slavin.|
|—||Former White House national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, referring to the possibility of an Israeli strike on Iranian nuclear sites. He called a U.S. or Israeli attack on Iran the “worst option”. Read Barbara Slavin’s full report at Al-Monitor.|
In a sign of Iran’s interest in streamlining back channel contacts and reducing mixed messages ahead of anticipated nuclear negotiations next month, Iran was said to appoint a central point of contact for approaches from outside-government Americans, two Iran nuclear experts told Al-Monitor’s Laura Rozen this week.
Al-Monitor brings you two opposing views on the tricky issue of whether U.S.-led sanctions will get the Iranian regime to compromise:
- Meir Javedanfar argues that sanctions will force Iran to accede to Western demands on its nuclear program, in large part because Khamenei hasn’t managed to make the nuclear matter a strong nationalist issue for most Iranians.
- Reza Sanati responds that instead of compromise, the Western negotiating tack is likely to exacerbate the confrontation with Khamenei, partly because many analysts have failed to understand exactly how sanctions affect the day to day economy of Iran.
Efraim Halevy, former head of Israeli spy agency Mossad, in an interview with Al-Monitor. Halevy expressed a position rarely heard from top Israeli officials: that Israel and the US must engage in a dialogue with Iran to understand how their adversaries think. He also faulted Republican candidate Mitt Romney for making US policy toward Iran an issue in the presidential election. Read Laura’s full interview at Al-Monitor.
Al-Monitor’s Washington correspondent Barbara Slavin reports that the U.S. is looking to resume negotiations with Iran after the November presidential elections, according to people familiar with the planning, but the window for new talks is likely to be short no matter who wins. How might a Romney administration’s approach to negotiations differ from an second-term Obama administration? Barbara has the answers.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu toned down his ultimatums to President Barack Obama Thursday and focused on Iran, displaying a crude drawing of a bomb to dramatize his concerns about Iran’s growing stockpile of enriched uranium. Read Laura’s full report on his speech to the UN.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who told a group of reporters, including Al-Monitor’s Laura Rozen and Andrew Parasiliti, that he was fed up with talking about Iran’s nuclear intentions and that the issue has begun “to resemble a comedy show.” Rozen thinks Ahmadinejad, on his eighth and perhaps final visit to New York as Iran’s president, looked subdued and somewhat weary.
Oh, and Ahmadinejad also told a joke! Read the Iranian president’s puns over at Laura’s Back Channel blog.
Al-Monitor’s diplomacy and foreign affairs blogger Laura Rozen reports on a four-hour dinner meeting in Istanbul between the European Union’s foreign policy chief and Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator. Iran stressed its desire for continued negotiations, avoiding the hectoring tone that’s characterized some of their recent international negotiations. Read Laura’s full report.