On August 18, 2011, President Barack Obama strongly condemned the Syrian government’s crackdown on protestors and called for heightened sanctions against the country. Obama singled out Iran as the only country that Syria can now turn to. Here is the official White House statement:
We recognize that it will take time for the Syrian people to achieve the justice they deserve. There will be more struggle and sacrifice. It is clear that President Assad believes that he can silence the voices of his people by resorting to the repressive tactics of the past. But he is wrong. As we have learned these last several months, sometimes the way things have been is not the way that they will be. It is time for the Syrian people to determine their own destiny, and we will continue to stand firmly on their side.
Excerpts from White House Fact Sheet
- Since the unrest began in mid-March, we have designated 32 Syrian and Iranian individuals and entities, including Syrian businessmen and their companies. These actions freeze the assets of and prohibit all U.S. persons from doing business with the identified individual or entity, thereby isolating them from the U.S. financial system.
- On April 29, President Obama signed Executive Order 13572 imposing sanctions on certain individuals and entities listed in the Annex to the Order and providing the authority to designate persons responsible for human rights abuses in Syria, including those related to repressing the Syrian people. Notably, President Assad’s brother Maher al-Asad and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) were listed in the Annex to this Order.
Interview with Seyed Hossein Mousavian
- What are the prospects, realistically, for progress this year in diplomatic efforts? What are the realistic options for a U.S.-Iran rapprochement?
- What conditions need to be met for negotiations to be successful? What does Iran need to do? What does the U.S. need to do?
- What would convince Iran to cooperate with the world’s six major powers?
- What steps could Iran take to build confidence?
- Commit not to enrich uranium above 5 percent during a period of confidence-building—as long as the international community sells it fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor, which uses 20 percent enriched fuel (Iran’s Foreign Minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, made this offer in February 2010.)
- Adhere to all international nuclear treaties at the maximum level of transparency and cooperation as defined by the IAEA.
- Take steps toward regional and international cooperation for enrichment activities within Iran.
- Limit enrichment activities to its actual fuel needs.
- Export all enriched uranium not used for domestic fuel production and refraining from reprocessing spent fuel from research reactors for a period of confidence building.
- Resolve all IAEA’s remaining technical issues within the “Modality Agreement” or “Work Plan” signed between ElBaradei and Larijani in 2007.
- What role does domestic politics play in Iran’s position?
- How will heightened sanctions against Iran—both economic and human rights --affect future negotiations?
- Russia has proposed a "step-by-step" proposal for nuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5+1. What are the prospects, realistically, for the Russian initiative?
- Iran’s full rights to enrichment
- Lifting of sanctions
- Removal of Iran’s nuclear file from the U.N. Security Council and the IAEA Board of Governors
- What are the prospects for progress this year in diplomatic efforts?
- How will heightened sanctions against Iran, both economic and human rights, affect future negotiations?
Since the Arab Awakening, human rights have become a much more transparent issue throughout the Muslim world. Given what has happened in its neighborhood, Iran is unlikely to avoid further scrutiny of its own human rights record. This an issue on which both U.S. political parties and many Europeans agree should be strongly emphasized. Any suggestion that there could be a grand bargain with Iran that did not take into account human rights is no longer realistic.
Geoffrey Kemp, the director of Center for the National Interests' regional strategic programs, served on the National Security Council during the first Reagan administration. His latest book is, “The East Moves West: India, China, and Asia’s Growing Presence in the Middle East.”
Dear Mr. President:
Following the latest report of the International Atomic Energy Agency on Iran's nuclear program and recent Iranian missile tests, we remain seriously concerned that Iran continues to accelerate its uranium enrichment and ballistic missile programs. Meanwhile, the regime refuses to answer questions posed by the United Nations' nuclear watchdog regarding evidence Iran is working toward the development of nuclear weapons.
The time has come to impose crippling sanctions on Iran's financial system by cutting off the CBI. There is strong bipartisan support in Congress for the imposition of sanctions on the CBI. As recently as consideration of the FY10 National Defense Authorization Act, the Senate unanimously supported an amendment urging you to impose such sanctions. We urge you to strongly consider imposing U.S. sanctions against the CBI and to encourage key allies to join us in this important action.
- What is the status of Iran's relations with the Taliban today? Have there been significant changes since 2001?
- How has Iran’s view of the Taliban changed since the U.S. intervention in Afghanistan in 2001?
- Is Iran providing tangible financial, military or political support for the Taliban?
- What is Tehran’s position on a Taliban-controlled government in Kabul?
- What is the state of Tehran’s relations with the Afghan government of President Hamid Karzai?
- How does Iranian influence in Afghanistan compare to its influence in Iraq? Which of the two countries is more important to Iran strategically?
Mohsen Milani is chairman of the Department of Government and International Affairs at the University of South Florida.
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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