For more than a decade, Iran has looked to the United States to improve its caliber of basketball. In 2000, the national team even hired American coach Gary LeMoine. Since then, dozens of Americans ― reportedly 37 during one season ― have played on Iranian teams. Jonas Lalehzadeh is among the best-known.
Since 2011, the six-foot-five-inch point guard from California has played for the national team and two professional clubs in the Super League, Iran’s equivalent of the National Basketball Association. He was the league’s top scorer in the 2012-2013 season.
Lalehzadeh has ties to both cultures, which makes him unusual among the Americans who play ball in Iran. His Iranian parents were completing their degrees in the United States during the 1979 revolution and decided to stay. He was born in 1989. He grew up in southern California, but was immersed in Persian culture and spoke Farsi at home. He had hoped to play professional basketball in the United States, but didn’t get drafted. So he turned to his parent’s homeland. In an interview, he discussed his experience playing basketball and living in Iran as an American.
The United States may be pressed to adopt a containment strategy if efforts to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran fail, according to a new report by the Center for a New American Security. U.S. intelligence officials have testified that Tehran has not yet decided whether or not to pursue nuclear weapons. But Iran “may be able to achieve an unstoppable breakout capability or develop nuclear weapons in secret before preventative measures have been exhausted,” the report warns. The authors, including Colin Kahl, former deputy assistant secretary of defense for the Middle East from 2009 to 2010, outline a strategy for the potential “day after” Iran gets a bomb. The following are excerpts, followed by a link to the full text.
Nuclear arms would be unlikely to change Iran’s fundamental interests and strategy in the Middle East, according to a new report by the Rand Corporation’s Alireza Nader. Tehran is primarily concerned with survival. So it probably would not attack Israel or U.S. interests in the Persian Gulf if it were to attain nuclear weapons, according to the report. The Islamic Republic would not likely use them against its Muslim neighbors either. Iran “does not seek to invade, conquer, or occupy other nations,” argues Nader. The following are excerpts, with a link to the full text at the end.
be the American-dominated order in the Middle East. However, it does not have
territorial ambitions and does not seek to invade, conquer, or occupy other nations.
including deterring a U.S. or Israeli attack.
view of its diminishing influence and deteriorating economy; it is unlikely to use them
against Israel given Israel's overwhelming military superiority.
support for terrorism is motivated by cost and benefit calculations, with the aims of
maintaining deterrence and preserving or expanding its influence in the Middle East.
An inadvertent or accidental nuclear exchange between Israel and Iran is a dangerous
possibility. However, there is not much evidence to suggest that rogue elements could
have easy access to Iranian nuclear weapons, even if the Islamic Republic were to
Mahdists or millenarians, but their beliefs are not directly related to nuclear weapons
and will not shape Iran's nuclear decision making.
In talks in Damascus and Amman in early May, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi called on the Syrian government to engage in dialogue with its “peaceful opposition.” But he made clear that Tehran still fully backs the government of President Bashar Assad. “Iran stands at the side of Syria in the face of Israeli aggression,” Salehi said in Damascus.
Salehi met with Assad on May 7 after a two-day visit to Jordan. At a press conference in Amman, the Iranian foreign minister called for the formation of a “transitional government” that included both the current government and the opposition movements that had not taken up arms. He pointedly rejected any role for the al Nusra Front, a Sunni Islamist militia affiliated with al Qaeda.
Salehi’s trip followed reported Israeli airstrikes on Iranian-made missiles bound for Lebanon’s Hezbollah on May 3 and a military complex near Damascus on May 5. The following are excerpted remarks by top Iranian and Syrian officials.
The Islamists Are Coming
The Islamists Are Coming, edited by Robin Wright, surveys the rise of Islamist groups in the wake of the Arab Spring. Often lumped together, the more than 50 Islamist parties with millions of followers now constitute a whole new spectrum—separate from either militants or secular parties. They will shape the new order in the world’s most volatile region more than any other political bloc. Yet they have diverse goals and different constituencies. Sometimes they are even rivals.
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