Iran

British Media: Iran May Have Fired On, Boarded American Cargo Ship; UPDATE: Marshall Islands Ship, Pentagon Tried to Help, Iranians Have Reportedly Release Ship

By on 4.28.15 | 11:42AM

Reports on this are unconfirmed and the United States is denying, but British media (including the Telegraph and the BBC) is reporting that a US cargo vessel was fired on and then seized by Iranian officials this morning, and has been taken to an Iranian port. The Iranians maintained that the ship was trespassing in the Persian Gulf.

Iranian forces have reportedly fired at and seized a US cargo ship with 34 sailors on board, according to Saudi Arabian state TV.

The vessel has been directed to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas on the southern coast, Al-Arabiya has reported.

It remains unclear why or if the ship was captured, and whether the shots injured anyone on-board, as neither US nor Iranian officials have confirmed the allegations. The US Fifth Fleet off the coast of Bahrain had no immediate comment on the report, according to Reuters.

Iran's semi-official Fars news agency suggested that the ship was trespassing in the Persian Gulf.

State Dept. May Give Iran $50B Just for Showing Up

By on 4.21.15 | 1:22PM

The Iranians aren't quite at the same point the United States is when it comes to inking a deal over their nuclear ambitions, to put it mildly. They see this nuclear agreement as a way to end economic sanctions against their country, promoting their domestic economic stability, while giving them an exceptional harassment-free period in which to concoct a plan that would wipe most of the Eastern world off the face of the planet. The United States sees this as the only way Barack Obama can successfully navigate his way to deserving a Nobel Peace Prize and a global post-Presidency speaking tour.

Fortunately, it seems that the State Department has found a way to bridge the gap and bring Iran to the table to at least sign the agreement, even if they rip it up almost immediately: if Iran inks on the dotted line, John Kerry will show up to the signing ceremony with one of those oversized novelty checks, made out to Ayatollah Khomeini, in the amount of $50 billion. 

US Considers Letting Iran Have an Underground Nuclear Bunker

By on 3.26.15 | 3:27PM

Good news, everyone! It turns out, if Iran likes its secret, underground, bomb-proof nuclear bunker, thanks to the actions of the Obama Administration, Iran can keep its secret, underground, bomb-proof nuclear bunker

Iran Talks Stall, But Not Because of “Death to America” Comments

By on 3.24.15 | 12:18PM

I'm a tiny bit late picking this up because I had to wait in a ridiculous online queue for Lollapalooza tickets which I didn't get anyway. I suppose that's not that big of a deal, since Kanye West is rumored to be the primary headliner, but still. Can't something remind me that summer is only a few short months away?

Anyway, while I'm busy feeling sorry for myself over concert tickets, John Kerry, who should feel sorry for himself for being in any way involved with foreign policy, will allow another deadline to pass: the original deadline by which the international negotiations team was supposed to have a deal that would halt the progress of a nuclear Iran. Unsurprisingly, that deadline has been rendered all but meaningless, and Kerry will not even return to the barganing table until Thursday. 

The original Tuesday deadline in the Iran nuclear talks will pass without a framework for a final agreement nor congressional action on bills to impose new sanctions or require approval of a deal.

Nuclear Deal to Allow Iran 6,000 Centrifuges

By on 3.19.15 | 12:13PM

I won't spend too much time parsing this out, since I'm sure others on the site will have much to say about it, but good news everyone! We've apparently reached some sort of deal with Iran, and it appears that it will put Iran in a position where, in just under a year, they'll be able to enrich enough uranium to produce a nuclear weapon. 

We're just so good at this foreign policy thing. 

Dems Defecting on Iran Deal

By on 3.16.15 | 12:47PM

They may not be happy that Sen. Tom Cotton went to the trouble of drafting a letter to the President reminding him that he needs to run any Iranian nuclear deal by Congress before emptying the silos and shipping off the yellowcake (which, it seems, was never actually sent to Iran), but that doesn't make Congressional Democrats any less likely to bristle at the thought of coming to the bargaining table with the mullahs.

Democrats - including the Administration - assumed, at least according to POLITICO and other media outlets, that Cotton's letter would make it easier to pick off Democrats who had previously expressed conscern at the Administration's willingness to engage in talks with Iran. After a week of signature-gathering and snarky responses, however, the White House hasn't managed to pick up any support it didn't already have. And skeptical Democrats are still being maddeningly skeptical.

Obama: We’ll Have to Pass the Iran Deal to Know What’s In It

By on 3.10.15 | 11:55AM

I can't say for certain whether the Republican strategy of warning Iran, individually, that Congress has the power to override whatever deal the President thinks he's striking in Iran, is a winning one. My confidence in the Republican leadership to follow through on the threat of having a backbone has been eroded, and while I understand the need to do something before this all really goes off the rails, this might have been too much, too soon.

New York Times Now Offers Affordable Tours of Iran

By on 10.14.14 | 12:36PM

The New York Times may no longer be able to sell you papers, but it's hoping that it can sell you on an ill-advised trip to a foreign nation that routinely expresses its hatred for any Westernized nation.

For a mere $6,995 (plus taxes, fees and extras like upgrades), you can now, thanks to the brilliant minds at America's finest newspaper, take a luxurious, 13-day tour of Iran, complete with "insights into the life and accomplishments" of the always-charming Ayatollah Khomeni (on your Day 4 tour of the "mountain villages"). One assumes his prowess at hostage-taking and undercover nuclear bomb manufacturing go unaddressed.

Journey 2,500 years back in time to discover the ancient secrets of Persia on this 13-day itinerary incorporating some of most well preserved archaeological sites in the world. Welcome to the once-forbidden land of Iran.

Nuclear Weapons Are Against Shiite Islam

By on 7.17.14 | 5:51PM

"Tales of 1001 Nights" (which, ironically enough, is not respected as fine literature in the Middle East itself) is the story of an ancient Persian king. In a fit of disillusioned anger, the king declares he will marry a new maiden every evening and execute her the next morning. He is thwarted when one bride distracts him with a story that never seems to end properly. The king is too eager to hear the story's end to kill the storyteller, and his wife saves her life by telling an endless spiral of stories for 1,001 nights. 

The land of Persia is now called Iran, and its nuclear negotiations with the West don't look any more likely to end by the July 20 deadline than Princess Shaharazad's stories were to end at daybreak. Iran has more than hinted at an extension of the planned six months of negotiations with Western powers in Vienna, reported Reuters. 

Sectarian War Across the Middle East: A Matter of Semantics

By on 6.26.14 | 4:01PM

There is something going on that I may not have told you about.

It is really a matter of semantics, but it has turned out to be rather significant. You may have noticed the multiplicity of English translations for ISIS, the extremist Sunni group that has been terrorizing Syria and especially Iraq in recent weeks. The varied translations exist because the Arabic name—الدولة الاسلامية في العراق و الشام—contains a word, "the Sham," that only roughly translates into English. It refers to a geographic area that has not existed since the Ottoman era, but which includes all the land we now call Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Israel.

This helps to explain the worrying scope of ISIS's ambition. Evidence of this was reported by Reuters:

The al Qaeda-linked Abdullah Azzam Brigades had urged Lebanese Sunni Muslims to attack the Iranian-backed Shi'ite militant group Hezbollah a day before Wednesday's suicide bombing in central Beirut.

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