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Analysis and Comment (53)

Iranian president Hassan Rohani with his old mate Vladimir Putin. EPA

Russia’s borders: Iran’s cautious friendship with Moscow

This week’s instalment in our series on Russia’s relations with its neighbours turns the spotlight on Iran. Clément Therme, a specialist in relations between the two countries, looks at how Ukraine and…
The start of a beautiful friendship? The US’s John Kerry and Iran’s Javad Zarif. EPA/Carolyn Kaster/Pool

US must not miss another chance to mend fences with Iran

It’s a desperately sad historical irony: in 2003, the United States invaded Iraq because its secular dictator was allegedly about to supply Islamist terrorists with weapons of mass destruction. About three…
Jimblah isn’t the only Indigenous rapper delivering witty and nuanced social messages. AAP/ NUZULU/ Averie Harvey

Aboriginal hip-hop meets Iranian diaspora in a cross-border rap

Rap music is a transnational genre with many socially and culturally aware artists pursuing important collaborative projects – not least a current pairing in south-west Sydney. Indigenous rapper Izzy (Jacob…
Young Iranians, like these supporters of President Rouhani, must take care when expressing themselves not to push conservative clerical leaders too far. EPA/Abedin Taherkenareh

‘Happy’ in Iran: the trials of the young and disenfranchised

In Iran everything is possible, and everything is impossible. – Football Undercover, 2008 Iranian filmmaker Ayat Najafi’s words sum up the conflicting nature of government policy on artistic expression…
Fast-growing Tehran is at the heart of the economic and demographic pressures for change in Iran. EPA/Abedin Taherkenareh

Iran peeks from behind the veil

Iran is involved in P5+1 talks with the US and Europe ostensibly about nuclear capacities. But the real talk in Iran and around the world is that Iran’s government knows things have to change. As Egypt…
After a tip-off from an Egyptian vet, Animals Australia sparked a government investigation into what an industry leader described as “horrific” slaughtering practices in Egypt last year. Tougher rules have now been promised. Animals Australia

Live animal export rules are useless without enforcement

Australia looks set to resume exporting live sheep to Iran, after Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce this week flagged the end of a 40-year ban following Iran’s Islamic revolution. Flanked by the chief…
The UN has singled out Iran for discrimination against women, so why is it elected to the main UN body dedicated to gender equality? EPA/Stefan Zaklin

Having Iran as its standard-bearer for women’s rights discredits UN

In March, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reported to the General Assembly on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Ban expressed concern that women in Iran “are subject to discrimination…
Comprehensive sanctions on Iraq started the modern debate on targeted measures. Adrian Dennis/EPA

Explainer: do sanctions work?

There seems to be a near-consensus that the West must “do something” to prevent instability in Ukraine and Russia’s other neighbours. But should that something include wider sanctions, targeting not just…
After destroying towns and cities, Syria’s civil war is spilling into Lebanon. Christiaan Triebert

No end in sight as Syria misery spreads across region

The second round of the Geneva II talks on Syria have ended with no agreement and without even a decision on the date of a further meeting. The highly experienced UN mediator, Lakhdar Brahimi, was clearly…
Kamiar Alaei: ‘It was the right thing to do’.

I was jailed for my work on HIV in Iran, but the tide is turning

Brothers, Kamiar and Arash Alaei were imprisoned in Iran in 2008 for their work with HIV. Under a new government, Iran’s health minister, Hassan Hashemi, has blamed “misinformation and unscientific claims…
All smiles in Geneva: but there are some unhappy people in the Middle East. Carolyn Kaster/AP/Press Association Images

Iran’s nuclear weapons deal will rebalance the Middle East

Signed by the P5 + Germany and mediated by the EU’s foreign policy chief, Baroness Catherine Ashton, the deal achieved with Iran on the latter’s nuclear programme has important implications for regional…
Flying high: John Kerry and Baroness Ashton after signing the deal. Carolyn Kaster/AP/Press Association Images

Obama must face down hawks and Israel over Iran deal

The nuclear deal reached between the United States and Iran represents both a breakthrough and a risk for Barack Obama. A breakthrough because it stalls Iran’s progress towards nuclear weapons capability…
Iran and western powers have reached a deal that will lead to a temporary nuclear detente in the Middle East state. But what does it all mean, and what is its chance of success? EPA/Martial Trezzini

Why now? Understanding the Iranian nuclear breakthrough

Elation and relief were palpable as weary diplomats from Iran and the P5+1 states emerged from a Geneva conference room on Sunday with a deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program. The six month Iranian uranium…
New best friends? Catherine Ashton and Iran’s Javad Zarif in September. European External Action Service

Containment, not rollback, is the key to Iran’s nuclear future

To gauge just how important a successful outcome to the latest round of nuclear negotiations with Iran is to the West – and how far the thaw with new president Hassan Rouhani has progressed – you only…
Phone a friend: Barack Obama talking with Hassan Rouhani recently. White House

Trust crucial in high-stakes nuclear talks with Iran

Talks begin in Geneva on Tuesday to discuss with Iran the thorny issue of its nuclear program, an area that has previously proved to be a stumbling block in normalising relations between the Islamic Republic…
Is Iran’s new president Hassan Rouhani proposing a new way forward in thawing the relations between his country and the United States? EPA/Brendan McDermid

Iran-US relations: is this Rouhani’s ‘grand bargain’?

As the presidents of Iran and the United States converged on the United Nations headquarters in New York this week, optimism seemed to be in the air. Washington and Tehran have eyed each other icily ever…
Dilma day. redebrasilatual

Multipolar moment brings chance of golden age for UN

The annual opening of the United Nations General Assembly always draws distinguished speakers, but their speeches rarely have much international impact. General Assembly speeches are heavy on rhetoric…
Millions of people are being displaced across the region. Freedom House

Middle East map blurs as old order breaks down

It is about 100 years since the then-imperial powers of Britain and France first demarcated the boundaries between Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Jordan and Mandate Palestine. Now, it looks like those borders are…
‘One hand’: Once again it is the military which is calling the shots in Egypt. Zeinab Mohamed via Creative Commons

No change without trauma in Middle East’s political logjam

In the past four weeks, a major political earthquake seems to have hit the Middle East, where three key regional constituencies: Iran, Qatar and Egypt, experienced more or less unexpected changes of leadership…
The grim cost of conflict. Freedom House via Creative Commons

Syria casts its shadow as G8 leaders gather

President Obama’s confirmation that the United States would begin arming Syrian rebels has prompted an urgent debate about both the legality and the effectiveness of the decision. The announcement, ahead…
Iran’s ruling class have engineered the result of elections to their favoured candidate - will Friday’s presidential election be any different? EPA/Abedin Taherkenareh

Iranian elections: true legitimacy, or the country’s Achilles heel?

Iranian elections have often been the country’s Achilles heel, or as Iranians say, pashneye achil. Since the Islamic Republic of Iran’s inception in 1979, the ruling clergy has incorporated electoral procedures…
Increased sanctions against Iran could weaken more than its national currency, the Rial. EPA/Abedin Taherkenareh

New sanctions could be hindering progress in Iran

Bob Carr’s announcement yesterday that Australia would increase sanctions against Iran will be greeted with praise from some quarters. There is a growing understanding among analysts, diplomats and leaders…
Iranian students demonstrate in Tehran to mark the 33rd anniversary of US Embassy takeover. EPA/Abedin Taherkenareh

Obama’s legacy could lie in the Middle East, but will he go for it?

The re-election of Barack Obama to a second term will have significant ramifications for an America struggling with economic and social difficulties. But will it have the same impact on residents of the…
Iran’s gas could make a difference to the world’s carbon-reduction efforts, if only the world was allowed to use it. EPA/Abedin Taherkenareh

US–Iran normalisation could fight climate change

The problem of climate change policy at an international level is not only about reaching agreement on sharing the mitigation burden. It is also about how dysfunctional foreign policies - not directly…
A group of Iranian pilgrims captured by the Free Syria Army who claim are Iranian Revolutionary Guards. Al Arabiya

Iran – Syrian ally to the bitter end

This week the Islamic Republic of Iran made a blunt statement, reiterating its position in relation to the on-going conflict in Syria. According to Saeed Jalili, a senior advisor to the Iranian Supreme…
President Nixon’s meeting with China’s Communist Party Leader Mao Tse Tung in 1972 began closer ties between the two countries. Wikimedia/Office of Presidential Libraries

Stabilising the Middle East: lessons from the US rapprochement with China

Now, as at the time of the Vietnam war, the global primacy of the United States is increasingly being questioned. Among the reasons are its role in the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), the continued and…
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad addresses Iran “Nuclear Day” gathering. EPA/Press TV

An attack on Iran: the legal basis, or lack thereof

Talk of a possible Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities has re-ignited debate over the right of self-defence under international law. Some academics, including Anthony D'Amato and Alan Dershowitz…
President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meet at the White House in early March, 2012. EPA/Martin H Simon

On Iran, Obama shows he loves Israel a little too much

A key facet of America’s extended, depressing election campaigns is that every serious presidential candidate has to prove their fanatical, unswerving devotion to the Israeli government. As part of this…
Partial boycotts don’t work; it’s too easy to secure new buyers and sellers. AAP

Half-hearted Iran embargo won’t push up oil prices

The European Union (EU) voted last week to ban oil imports from Iran. The EU will immediately ban the signing of any new oil contracts with Iran, while the existing ones will be fulfilled up to 1 July…
The aftermath of a bombing in Tehran that killed a nuclear scientist. EPA/STR

Are we stumbling towards war with Iran?

Relations between Iran and the United States and its ally Israel have descended into the worst crisis in years. Concern is growing that the situation could quickly degenerate into conflict. The origins…
A proposed EU oil embargo may push Iranian President Mahmoud Amadinejad closer to China and Venezuela. AAP

An EU oil embargo is unlikely to curtail Iran’s nuclear ambitions

Last week the European Union indicated that it is likely to enact an oil embargo on Iran. The move is aimed at damaging Iran’s crucial oil export business enough so the country’s regime curtails its nuclear…
Iranian protestors storm the UK embassy in Tehran this week. AAP/Taberkenareh

The long history of Iranian distrust of the West

Iran’s relations with the West have been difficult for years. The growing international condemnation of Iran for its less-than-transparent nuclear program, based on a report by the International Atomic…