Russia may do Biden a favor by killing the Iran deal

“The original deal was reached during Barack Obama’s presidency, after years of talks among Iran, the United States and other leading countries, including Russia and China. It lifted an array of nuclear sanctions on Iran in exchange for severe curbs on its atomic program. The deal had limits, however, including provisions that would expire over time, technically starting within the next three years. (Supporters of restoring the deal argue that the most important provisions won’t expire for several more years and some elements last in perpetuity.)”

“the original Iran nuclear deal involves the Russians taking special roles in helping Iran implement the agreement, such as shipping out Iran’s excess enriched uranium. If Russia refuses to play that role, the deal is once again undermined.”

Negotiating With Iran Isn’t Working, But Biden Has a Better Option

https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2022/02/18/biden-threat-conflict-iran-nuclear-bomb-diplomacy-00010162

Strikes on U.S. Troops Show the Need To Withdraw From Iraq and Syria

“Just days into 2022, multiple military bases housing U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria came under attack. Two drones carrying explosives were destroyed last Tuesday as they headed toward U.S. troops in western Iraq. The next day, rockets and indirect fire hit bases in western Iraq and eastern Syria. And last Monday, two armed drones were shot down as they approached a facility housing American advisers at the airport in Baghdad.

Though there were no casualties, the Iran-backed militias behind the attacks have made clear that they will continue. That alone should encourage the Biden administration to get American soldiers out of harm’s way”

Iranian Operatives Plotted To Kidnap Brooklyn Journalist

“On Tuesday, an unsealed Justice Department indictment exposed a shocking international kidnapping plot. According to federal prosecutors, Iranian intelligence official Alireza Shahvaroghi Farahani and three other foreign intelligence assets conspired to kidnap Iranian American author and journalist Masih Alinejad from her home in Brooklyn.

Alinejad is a champion of women’s rights and an outspoken critic of the Islamic Republic of Iran. As host of Voice of America Persian’s show Tablet, she has reported extensively on the regime’s human rights abuses, particularly those carried out against women.”

“Although the FBI caught on before the plot could be carried out, these events nonetheless set a terrifying precedent for dissidents, journalists, and human rights advocates at home and abroad. Iran’s abduction attempt is an assault not just on Alinejad but on the very tenets of freedom. No person on American soil should live in fear of retaliation for simply speaking out to defend human rights.”

Iran’s next president gives Biden a new nuclear headache

“Iran has chosen a new president, which means Joe Biden faces a new dilemma.

Ebrahim Raisi, the victor in Iran’s recent, tightly controlled election, is not just any hardline Iranian politician. He stands accused of an array of human rights abuses, including the mass killing of political dissidents, and former President Donald Trump imposed sanctions on him. Now, Biden and top aides, led by U.S. special envoy for Iran Robert Malley, are facing pressure over whether to lift the sanctions on Raisi as they negotiate with Iran to revive the 2015 nuclear deal.”

“Raisi, 60, is a cleric with long experience in Iran’s regime, including overseeing its judiciary. He is implicated in many human rights abuses, among them an alleged role in the mass executions of political prisoners in the 1980s. Raisi, who will take over the presidency in August, won an election Friday that was manipulated in his favor after many candidates were disqualified. That manipulation upset a large number of ordinary Iranians, and voter turnout was unusually low.”

What Ebrahim Raisi’s election means for Iran — and the U.S.

“Ebrahim Raisi, a hardliner favored by Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, handily won Saturday’s Iranian presidential election, which saw historically low turnout. He’ll take over for the more moderate incumbent President Hassan Rouhani in August. That will obviously mean changes at home, but it should also affect the Tehran-Washington relationship.”

“Raisi’s victory, meanwhile, may actually help solidify the re-establishment of a nuclear pact between the U.S. and Iran, despite Raisi harboring more hostility toward Washington than his predecessor. Vaez and The New York Times contend Khamenei is pulling the strings here and will push Rouhani to finish negotiations in the next few weeks, understanding that getting the U.S. to lift oil sanctions is paramount to Iran’s economy bouncing back. But this way, the moderates will take the heat for “capitulating to the West and bear the brunt of popular anger inside Iran if sanctions relief doesn’t rescue the nation’s stricken economy,” the Times notes. And if the sanctions relief does bring about improvement? Well, then Raisi can take credit for the success.”

A deadly fight 33 years ago shows just how destructive a war between the US and Iran could get

“a future conflict is unlikely to go as smoothly for the US as Operation Praying Mantis did, mainly due to Iran’s military modernization and expansion.

Iran’s Navy has gotten larger and more capable, with more vessels able to launch anti-ship missiles and at least three Russian-built Kilo-class attack submarines in service.

Last year, an Iranian Navy exercise included an attack on a barge designed to look like a US aircraft carrier. In January, Iran unveiled the Makran, a “forward base ship” capable of carrying drones and helicopters.

The IRGCN has also been expanding its numbers and capabilities, including recent reports that it is building large missile-laden catamarans.

Iran’s sea mines remain potent, but the biggest threat comes from Iran’s missile arsenal, which is considerably larger and more advanced than it was in the 1980s.

In recent years, Iranian missiles have been used to attack Saudi oil facilities and civilian sites, as well as ships. In January 2020, Iranian cruise missiles hit US bases in Iraq, injuring over 100 service members.

Iran’s missiles failed to hit their targets during Operation Praying Mantis, but things could be very different in the future.”