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Jahanshah Javid

Age: 56 |

Birth City: آبادان |

Joined on October 02, 2012

'Shame and sorrow'

Cartoon by Rayma Suprani

Vatican expresses 'shame and sorrow' over abuse of 1,000 children by more than 300 priests in Pennsylvania

The Independent: The Vatican has expressed "shame and sorrow" in its first response to a groundbreaking US Grand Jury report detailing decades of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.

The report accuses over 300 "predator" priests throughout Pennsylvania of abusing nearly 1,000 children — and the Church of conducting a systematic cover-up. However, the actual number of total abuses in those dioceses since 1947 may be far higher than the reported figure. "We believe that the real number of children whose records were lost or who were afraid ever to come forward is in the thousands," the grand jury noted in its lengthy report.

In the Vatican's response, Pope Francis said he understands how "these crimes can shake the faith and spirit of believers," vowing to "root out this tragic horror."

"Regarding the report made public in Pennsylvania this week, there are two words that can express the feelings faced with these horrible crimes: shame and sorrow," said Greg Burke, director of the Vatican's Press Office. "The Holy See treats with great seriousness the work of the Investigating Grand Jury of Pennsylvania and the lengthy Interim Report it has produced. The Holy See condemns unequivocally the sexual abuse of minors."

The report includes harrowing details about the abuses priests allegedly carried out over the years. It also says the priests shared photos with each other of their sexual abuse victims.

"Priests were raping little boys and girls, and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing; they hid it all. For decades," the report said.

Most of the accusations detailed in the new report are “too old to be prosecuted,” according to the grand jury, which found the majority had occurred before 2002.

That was the year US Catholic Bishops implemented new guidelines surrounding sexual abuse, which included removing accused clergy from office almost immediately and reporting allegations to the police.

"By finding almost no cases after 2002, the Grand Jury's conclusions are consistent with previous studies showing that Catholic Church reforms in the United States drastically reduced the incidence of clergy child abuse," the statement continued.

Still, the Vatican said it "encourages continued reform and vigilance at all levels of the Catholic Church, to help ensure the protection of minors and vulnerable adults from harm."

"Victims should know that the Pope is on their side," the statement continued. "Those who have suffered are his priority, and the Church wants to listen to them to root out this tragic horror that destroys the lives of the innocent."

Here's Your Problem

New Yorker Cartoon

Impact of social media on children’s mental health a 'real tragedy for our time', says new private schools chief 

The Telegraph: Performing is in Shaun Fenton’s blood. He may be the new leader of Britain’s top private schools, but he is also the son of 1970s rock star Alvin Stardust, his mother was a dancer and his brother is an award-winning DJ and record producer.

“The advantage my dad always had was that people had chosen to turn up by buying a ticket. The disadvantage for teachers is the students haven’t any choice. That’s why teaching is a performance art,” he explained, sitting in his study in Reigate grammar school where he is head teacher.

“You have a different audience seven times a day that you have to enthral, inspire, engage and help to learn as well as enjoy your lesson.”

It is a vocation that has taken him from PPE at Oxford University (the first in his family to stay on at school beyond 15) to a career in a state comprehensive (the Ridings was then seen as the toughest in Britain), state grammar, state academy and now chairman of the Headmasters’ and Headmistress’ Conference (HMC), overseeing schools from Eton and Harrow to Manchester and Reigate.

No previous chairman has had such a breadth of school experience to draw on to articulate a vision for HMC. In an interview to open his year in charge, he outlined that vision: it will focus on tackling the rise in child mental ill health, helping children cope with social media and ensuring HMC schools play a key part in helping disadvantaged pupils.

Social media, he believes, is contributing to a mental health crisis among children that is “a real tragedy for our time”. He said emerging evidence pointed to the constant pressure to be online and incessant stream of negative information damaging children’s mental health.

“The tragedies in the world, the problems in conflict areas, the disease, issues causing mass migration are in the consciousness of young people more than ever before,” he said.

“They are now on their phone feed constantly, every 10 seconds. Those complexities are very different to what they have been for young people before.

“The technology also chases children into what were private spaces in their family homes and can create new opportunities for anxiety, bullying and destruction.”

Endorsing The Daily Telegraph’s campaign for a statutory duty of care on the industry, he said it was time for social media firms to do more to provide “a safe and managed” environment online for children which could include “healthy” time limits.

He also backed new laws to rein in the firms, saying our relationship with social media needed to be “recalibrated.” “The platform providers have a part to play and I am sure there is a role for regulation,” he said.

He was, however, concerned mental ill health, unlike physical illness, was still shrouded in stigma which meant children found it difficult to tell parents, teachers or carers they were suffering. “We need to normalise it to encourage people to come forward and get support,” he said.

Education – and in particular “character education” – was critical in helping children develop mental resilience to handle crises, he said. For social media, they also needed a “tool kit” of tips such as no phones in bedrooms to ensure a “healthy” approach.

“Part of the ethos of an independent school is helping children to embrace first match nerves, rise to the challenge of speaking in front of 100 people, or having stickability on a hike in November for a Duke of Edinburgh award,” said Mr Fenton >>>

Heinous acts of violence

Cartoon by Mikail Çiftçi

Hold to account those who regard heinous acts of violence against children as acceptable

Kevin Watkins
Chief Executive, Save the Children UK

The Saudi Emirati-led coalition’s decision to investigate the attack in Yemen’s Sa’ada province which left dozens of children dead lacks credibility (“Saudi-led coalition to probe deadly Yemen strike”, August 10). Both the scale and the circumstances of the tragedy, a missile strike on a school bus in a crowded market, demand the independent investigation called for by the UN secretary-general.

None of the parties to the conflict in Yemen have honoured their responsibility to protect civilians. But last week’s strike plumbed new depths — as did the coalition’s response. Senior military and political leaders have variously maintained that the air strike “conformed to international and humanitarian law”, and that the civilian victims constituted “collateral damage” in pursuit of a “legitimate military operation”.

All of which raises some fundamental questions. Are the coalition’s political and military leaders familiar with the Geneva Conventions and the Rome Statutes which define their responsibilities to protect civilians, and prosecute those who commit potential war crimes? Or do they feel they can violate international laws with impunity, safe in the knowledge their arms suppliers and political allies will turn a blind eye?

There is a legal term that any investigation into this latest tragedy should consider. “Depraved indifference”, in the US legal codes, refers to acts that are so callous, wantonly reckless and lacking in moral concern for the welfare or safety of others as to warrant investigation for criminal liability. The Saudi-led coalition’s consistent failure to protect Yemeni children since the conflict escalated in 2015 would certainly appear to meet the depraved indifference test. What needs to be established now is whether a possible war crime has been committed.

What is happening in Yemen is part of a wider culture of impunity surrounding the perpetrators of heinous acts of violence against children in armed conflict — a culture on display from Syria and Iraq to the Rohingya crisis and South Sudan. It is time for those who believe in international law to stand up and hold to account those who see children as targets or as acceptable “collateral damage”.

EU and Trump’s sanctions

Cartoon by Paresh Nath

European Failure to Safeguard Iran Deal Shows EU is Still a Paper Tiger 

Atlantic Council: Just a few weeks ago, it seemed that the Iran nuclear deal could be saved. Now, it is highly likely that, even if the agreement is not formally cancelled, it will soon become a façade without any real meaning.

President Donald Trump’s recent threats to block any companies still engaging with Iran from business in the US are a clear and serious incentive for foreign firms to leave Iran as soon as possible. Despite European Union (EU) efforts to protect companies and neutralize US threats, major European businesses have already announced their departures.

A sad conclusion is that the EU, despite its promises, is unable to negate punitive US actions. Again, the EU has failed to achieve anything spectacular, even though the Joint Comprehensive Pan of Action (JCPOA) was supposed to be a flagship achievement of the EU’s common foreign policy and a symbol of the organization’s growing strength. In fact, recent developments clearly show that the EU is still just a paper tiger. It is doubtful that European companies will heed a so-called blocking statute or that the EU will implement provisions penalizing firms for abiding by US secondary sanctions.

Despite the blocking statute and strong EU political support for the JCPOA, many large firms have already left Iran. Total has already announced that it will not develop the South Pars gas field. Maersk and Peugeot have also quit Iran. It was also recently reported that many German companies, including truck and auto manufacturer Daimler, are suspending Iran ventures despite receiving an export credit guarantee, or so-called Hermes cover, from the government in Berlin.

It is not difficult to understand the calculations made by large companies – the Iranian market is tempting but, at the same time, difficult, hard to comprehend and, above all, unpredictable. Even if European companies decided to ignore US warnings and do business with Iran anyway, what could they gain? Investing in Iran is extremely risky – nobody can guarantee European businesses that their investments in Iran are safe and will not be nationalized. Average Iranians are now not even sure whether their economy is on the brink of collapse or whether the country is descending into civil war. Why would anybody want to invest in such a challenging economy, especially when compared to the much larger, richer and investor-friendly US economy? For instance, German exports to the US are worth $110 billion per month, while, in the whole of 2017, Germany sold goods worth just $3 billion to Iran.

So, if large, international giants are now afraid to have economic ties with the Islamic Republic, maybe smaller ones could fill the gap? That seems to be the Plan B for EU decision makers.

Central and Eastern Europe have many local companies that are not present in the US market, meaning they have no reason to fear US secondary sanctions. But, even for them, any business with Iran is a challenge. A good friend of this author, based in Warsaw, works for a local, medium-sized company, which found a reliable partner in Tehran keen to import Polish medical equipment. The price had already been discussed and agreed. The next step was to pay for the goods but the company has been unable to find any bank in Poland (most of them are foreign-owned) or nearby that would handle the transaction. This is so even though the sale of medicine and medical equipment to Iran has never been sanctioned. Banks are not willing to get involved because their potential profit would be too low while the potential risk remains high.

Countries such as Poland had also hoped that, thanks to Iranian oil, they would be able to trade with Iran and increase their energy security and decrease their dependence on Russia. But Central and Eastern European countries remain dependent on the security provided by US troops against Russia. Therefore, they weigh the question about whether to persist with the JCPOA and participate in some small-scale business ventures with Iran against the possibility of angering the Trump administration and seeing the withdrawal of the US military umbrella. The decision is easy to make.

What would have to happen to save the JCPOA? The Trump administration says that is ready to meet Iranians and negotiate a new more comprehensive deal. The Iranian government, for now, appears to have ruled out such talks. But many ideas once considered dreams have, at some point, become a political reality.

Robert Czulda is an Assistant Professor at the University of Lodz, Poland and a former visiting professor at Islamic Azad University in Iran, the University of Maryland and National Cheng-chi University in Taiwan. He is the author of "Iran 1925 – 2014: From Pahlavis to Rouhani."

Time to back Canada

Cartooon by Sabir Nazar

Time to back Canada


The Guardian: It is famously hard to pick a fight with Canadians, but Saudi Arabia’s forceful crown prince Mohammed bin Salman is not a man to be held back by what others think. That trait has led to both reforms (allowing women to drive) and a crackdown on those advocating them (arresting women who campaigned for the right). When Ottawa responded by calling for the immediate release of peaceful activists, including Samar Badawi, who has family in Canada, Riyadh lashed out at what it called reprehensible interference in its internal affairs. It expelled the Canadian ambassador, cancelled flights to Canada, froze new trade and investment, and is reportedly selling Canadian assets. Some measures – withdrawing students, and transferring home patients currently undergoing treatment – seem more damaging to those Saudi citizens than their hosts.

This absurd overreaction reflects the bullishness of the man who led the charge to war in Yemen and the blockade which has failed to bring Qatar to its knees as planned. But he has surely been emboldened by Donald Trump’s embrace, and the US president’s own attacks on Canada. It was little surprise when the state department said it would stay out of this row; more disappointing is the reticence of others. The UK has merely urged restraint on its two “close partners” and said it regularly raises rights concerns, including recent arrests.

Riyadh is sending a message to others, and while these measures are harsh, they are not entirely unprecedented: German businesses have reportedly paid for Berlin’s criticism of Riyadh’s role in Lebanese politics last year. It is in European countries’ own interests to stand together and tell the crown prince that such actions are not cost-free for Saudi Arabia. Like his anti-corruption coup, they are unlikely to reassure potential partners; and his mission to modernise the kingdom will require foreign support.

Sanctions Gloom

Cartoon by Stephane Peray

Iranians Sink Back Into Economic Gloom as U.S. Sanctions Return

TIME: On a stifling hot morning almost four years ago, Alireza Mowlapasandi headed to Tehran’s Mehrabad Airport to fly to the small desert town of Tabas in eastern Iran, a trip he made regularly as an engineer. The plane to be used on the route was a locally built Antonov — not built for Iran’s searing summer temperatures, but usually reliable enough. Not this time, however; shortly after takeoff, the pilot realized one of the two turboprop engines had stopped, and despite his best efforts the remaining engine was just not powerful enough for the plane to return. Sephan Airlines Flight 5915 crashed a short distance away from Mehrabad Airport and all but 9 passengers perished. Alireza, sitting at the front, never stood a chance.

His brother Akbar was told by one of Alireza’s colleagues he was missing. “We didn’t know if he was among the wounded or the dead, so some of his colleagues and I divided into teams and started checking the hospitals where the wounded had been taken to,” Akbar, now 35, said. “It was late afternoon when it became increasingly obvious my brother hadn’t made it.”

Alireza Mowlapasandi was just one of nearly 2,000 Iranians to have lost their lives in aviation accidents, many of which were, to a great degree, due to a decades-old U.S. sanction on sale of aircraft and spare parts to Iran, making the Islamic Republic’s civil aviation fleet one of the oldest and least reliable in the world.

The lifting of this particular sanction in the wake of the 2015 nuclear deal forged between Iran and six world powers was one of the agreement’s more tangible results. Within months Iranian airlines had signed contracts or made agreements to purchase more than 300 planes from Airbus and Boeing, among others.

But when President Donald Trump announced in May the U.S. would withdraw from the nuclear deal, those plans quickly collapsed. By the time the first round of sanctions were re-imposed on Aug.6, which included the sale of airplanes and parts, Iran had only received 16 new planes.

The renewal of Iran’s creaking commercial air fleet is just one victim of the U.S. U-turn on the nuclear deal. When the U.S. President declared he would make good on his campaign promise to tear up the agreement, the already wobbly Iranian economy went into freefall. The rial fell to a third of its original value at the beginning of 2018, and draconian fiscal policies implemented by the government to arrest its fall made things worse. And that was before the first round of sanctions, which also restricted the purchase of U.S. dollars and precious materials, were restored.

For Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who staked his political future on the promised benefits of a nuclear deal, things could scarcely have gone worse. Yet despite Trump’s offer of talks without preconditions, Islamic Republic statesmen, from the western educated foreign minister Javad Zarif, to the nominally moderate president, to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, who has final say on all matters of foreign affairs, are all adamant that there can be no talks with the Trump administration in the present circumstances.

Within hours of Trump signing the sanctions back into effect, Rouhani went on state TV on Tuesday to explain to Iranians why he believes the offer of talks without preconditions is not sincere. “How can someone re-impose sanctions and claim they want to negotiate at the same time?” he said. “You can’t stick a knife into someone’s arm and claim you want to talk with them.”

The faltering economy, under pressure both from sanctions and unpopular attempts to rescue it, has driven some Iranians to the streets to demonstrate. But others still believe renewed negotiations with the U.S. could prove fruitful. “Trump needs a foreign policy success now, so Iran should try get the U.S. back into the nuclear deal, with the offer of also talking on regional influence and its missile program should it do so, all within national interests of course” said Soheil Fadaie, a 37 year old electric engineer.

In truth, there are few alternatives available to Iran’s leaders. The U.S. has promised to bring in even more severe sanctions in November targeting Iran’s oil exports, and has warned its allies anyone doing business with the Islamic Republic will suffer too. Iran might yet respond by closing access to the Straits of Hormuz, the waterway through which 30% of the world’s seaborne oil supply passes every year. But such an action would certainly cause a global energy crisis, and could even provoke a military response by the U.S.

Fadaie believes if the worst comes to the worst the Islamic Republic should consider some sort of dialogue, even if it’s just to wait out the current administration. “If the situation becomes uncontrollable,” he said, “then the government should sit down to talks with Trump, even if it’s just to stretch it on till another U.S. administration takes over or the situation changes for the better. Who knows,” he added, “maybe Trump will turn out to be much more reasonable when you speak to him directly.”

That appears to be a vanishing possibility. Trump’s aggressive actions have forced Rouhani to swing to the right to accommodate hardliners who see the reimposition of sanctions as proof they were right all along to distrust the United States. Speaking to a gathering of Iranian ambassadors last month, Rouhani — once known as the “diplomat sheikh” — didn’t mince his words. “Today, negotiating with America is paramount to capitulation.”

His change of stance did not go unnoticed inside Iran. The Revolutionary Guards’ most famous general and the head of its extraterritorial Quds Force, Qasem Soelimani, sent him a letter lauding him for his return to the revolutionary fold. Even as the economy begins to disintegrate, Iran’s moderates and revolutionary stalwarts are more united than they have been in years.


Cartoon by Bill Day

Trump Goes From Threatening Iran to Threatening the World

The Atlantic: Donald Trump and his advisers have a consistent record of confronting and threatening Iran, most prominently by withdrawing from the nuclear deal. But on Tuesday, Trump expanded the threats against Iran to all those who do business with the country, declaring on Twitter they “will NOT be doing business with the United States.”

If taken literally, this would mean a new front in America’s economic battle with the Europeans, who have remained in the nuclear agreement—not to mention many other countries around the world determined to do business in Iran.

There’s already discord among the United States and the other parties to the accord—China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the European Union—over a range of issues beyond the Iran deal. These include trade and tariffs (China and the EU), defense spending (EU members of NATO), climate change (China, Russia, and the EU states), and sanctions (Russia). While the Trump administration might view these issues as distinct from the Iran nuclear issue, these countries and their publics will almost certainly see them as part of a larger confrontation with the United States over how Trump views the world. It’s also not clear the U.S. can get other countries—including its allies—to do its bidding. U.S. companies and the largest foreign firms will leave Iran under the threat of sanctions, but smaller firms and those with limited U.S. exposure could continue to seek opportunities in the Islamic Republic, ensuring the U.S. sanctions won’t have the intended impact, and certainly won’t be “the most biting sanctions ever imposed.”

“I think that the easiest way for them to circumvent the sanctions comes from the way in which we’re implementing them, which is by dividing our own partnership,” said Richard Nephew, the former deputy coordinator for sanctions policy at the U.S. State Department who was on the U.S. team that negotiated the Iran deal, in a conference call. “The fact that we are not working with Europe but rather confronting Europe means that we won’t have an EU-wide system of sanctions that we’re working with them. Instead it’s going to be all about who has benefit in the United States and who doesn’t, who has economic interests in the United States and who doesn’t. And that’s a bad way to have sanctions work, especially with our closest partners. And I think it’s going to just breed loopholes, even amongst some of our closest allies.”

Barack Obama’s administration succeeded in putting together coordinated international sanctions on Iran. Those restrictions sunk Iran into a recession and ultimately drove it to negotiations with the international community that resulted in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as the Iran deal is formally known. Trump’s sanctions, strong though they are, are unlikely to have the same impact, primarily because they don’t have the same kind of international cooperation. But Trump administration officials have met with their counterparts from more than 20 countries to discuss the sanctions, working to build a coalition against Iran. “What I can tell you very specifically is that we have made it very clear that we’re going to aggressively enforce this executive order and the other authorities that we have pursuant to statute,” a senior administration official said in a background call to reporters Monday. “We will work with countries around the world to do so, but make no mistake about it, we are very intent on using these authorities.”

France, Germany, and the U.K. have criticized the U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA. They say, and indeed Trump administration officials concede, that Iran is complying with the accord. The Trump administration says the Obama-era agreement does not go far enough to stop Iran’s regional meddling, its missile program, and the threat it poses to Israel. The deal’s other signatories—including China, Russia, and the EU—say the JCPOA was meant only to address the threat of Iran’s nuclear program, which it did >>>


Cartoon by Kostas Koufogiorgos

Trump’s Iran policy gets even less coherent. Now what?

Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Washington Post, offering reported opinion from a center-right perspective. 

The Washington Post:  We are now in a battle — with our allies. (“The European Union and U.S. allies Britain, France and Germany announced what they called a ‘blocking statute’ to take effect Tuesday that would attempt to nullify U.S. legal action against European firms doing business with Iran.”) In other words, as we predicted when President Trump set out on his harebrained, unilateral scheme, the United States has isolated itself by reneging on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), while Iran can claim to be in good standing under international law.

The administration has never revealed a coherent strategy for getting from the Iran deal to something better. Former Middle East negotiator Aaron David Miller points out that once again, as was the case with the withdrawal from the Paris climate accord and the Trans-Pacific Partnership and with opening an embassy in Jerusalem, “the Administration has come up with solution to a problem it never had.” He asks: “What is the end game on withdrawal from the JCPOA and snapped-back sanctions: weaken Iran; change the regime or alter its behavior with the goal of renegotiating a new nuke deal, including ending its regional activities?” He concludes: “The first is possible; the second a fantasy and the third would cost more than either Trump or Tehran are willing to pay.” He observes that, like the fictional character Jay Gatsby, “Trump believes in some elusive green light on Iran he’ll never find.”

Moreover, all the problems we do have — namely, Iran’s regional aggression, its poor record on human rights, its support for terrorist groups — could have been addressed (since they were excluded from the JCPOA). But Trump never did address them. Why not actually create a policy that does this and get our allies to go along? Oh, that’s right — we acted unilaterally and now are threatening their businesses.

International sanctions worked to bring Iran to the table because the United States and its European allies, China and Russia were all on board with sanctions. “The Europeans will stand firm politically because they fear the consequences of Iran pulling out of the JCPOA,” Dennis Ross, former Middle East negotiator says. “Recall that the E.U. went along with the sanctions in 2012, including the boycott on buying Iranian oil, because its members feared that the alternative was Israel (and maybe the U.S.) going to war to stop the Iran nuclear program.” That has changed now, Ross points out. “Now they fear that if Iran pulls out of the deal, it will mean the resumption of its program and the likelihood of war. So the governments will hold firm. But the governments don’t determine what private companies will do.” He predicts that even with the blocking statute, European companies “are reluctant to lose the ability to operate in the American market or banking system. The real issue with Europe will become starker in November when they can be subject to secondary sanctions for buying Iranian oil.” Even if European countries stop buying oil, China won’t and, Ross predicts, neither will India. “Because governments won’t be joining us, won’t be vigilant in terms of sanctions implementation, Iran will have room to evade sanctions.” Whatever pressure is applied will be less than that which prompted the JCPOA talks.

And that has been the flaw in the cockeyed Trump policy all along. Even if Europe goes along, it’s an illogical leap to say that Iran will then start negotiating a new deal. “I don’t see Iran leaving the JCPOA any time soon because they want the Chinese, Russians, and Europeans to withstand as much of the U.S. push on sanctions as possible,” Ross notes. Nor is there any indication that Iran is easing up on its regional aggression (having won in Syria). To the contrary, Ross anticipates that “the Iranians do more in the region to raise the costs to our friends and to us.” He mentions, “The Houthi firing of anti-ship missiles provided by the Iranians against Saudi oil tankers in the Bab el Mandeb is a case in point; much safer and deniable than trying to do something [with] the Strait of Hormuz and yet something that could also drive oil prices up.”

Once more, we see Trump doing much to hurt international cooperation and order — and very little to improve American security or prosperity. His aides keep predicting that victory is around the corner; they’d do best to present a workable strategy first.

Trump drops the sanctions hammer

Cartoon by Marian Kamensky

Trump drops the sanctions hammer on Iran — but Putin could come to Tehran's rescue

Business Insider:  President Donald Trump's administration announced on Monday it would reinstate sanctions Tehran after it withdrew from the Iran deal — and the Islamic Republic has made no shortage of vitriolic threats about what it might do in response.

At the stroke of midnight on Tuesday, the US will sanction Iran's central bank, sending a clear message to its European allies: Do business with the US, or do it with Iran, but not both.

In November, the US will follow up with another round of sanctions targeting Iran's lifeblood: its oil exports.

In response, Iran has shuffled around its policies regarding foreign currency, fired the head of its central bank, jailed scores of people involved in currency exchange, and made threats to shut down regional oil shipping with military force . They even threatened to destroy everything Trump owns .

"It's pretty clear the Iranians are suffering a fair degree of anger over the economy," Ambassador Dennis Ross, who has worked on Middle East policy in four US administrations, told reporters on a call set up by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Iran's currency, the rial, has tanked, losing about half its value against the dollar. "In the past week, the price of toothpaste has risen three times," said Ross.

As a result, Iran has seen wave after wave of protests from both rich and poor citizens, which it often suppresses with violence. Ross said it was unusual to have bazaar vendors, truckers, and conservative towns protesting and beaten back by riot police, and that the recent protests were "noteworthy."

But "all of this unhappiness, all of the economic difficulties related to the devaluation, has taken place before the sanctions had been reimposed," said Ross. Trump's election and mounting anticipation that sanctions would snap back have had some effect on Iran's economy, but "it's not the root cause," said Ross.

Instead, deep corruption, talent mismanagement, years of isolation from international business standards, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' massive role in the economy, and total lack of transparency have proven inhospitable to investment, said Ross.

Basically, Trump withdrawing from the deal dealt Iran a huge blow, which will significantly hurt its earning potential and liquidity. Ross said that, while China may still buy Iranian oil, it could ask for a discount; while India may still buy Iranian oil, it may only offer to pay in rupees.

Michael Eisenstadt, an expert on Middle Easter security and defense told reporters on the Washington Institute's call that while Iran had talked a big game, it carefully measured its actions to avoid a strong US response.

"Iran faces a dilemma," said Eisenstadt. "In the past, Iran's main response was to redouble efforts in the nuclear domain" as a response to US pressure, but now with the Iran deal in place, that option is out.

Iran has made threats to close the Strait of Hormuz , where about 30% of oil exports pass through, but Eisenstadt and other experts dismissed this as bluster.

Instead, Iran could send missiles to its Houthi allies in Yemen to target oil shipping from US allies, as it already has . Iran could attack US troops in Syria. Iran could detain US citizens in its borders, wage a cyber attack, or harass US Navy ships in the Persian Gulf.

Iran hasn't really done any of those things yet. When Iran's military has lashed out or tested the US in Syria, the US has beaten them back emphatically , as has Israel .

Meanwhile, Trump has dangled the humiliating prospect of a summit with Iran as the country increasingly finds itself boxed in by US pressure.
Putin the peacemaker?

"Iran, and it's economy [sic], is going very bad, and fast! I will meet, or not meet, it doesn't matter - it is up to them!" Trump tweeted on Saturday.

A summit with Trump would greatly shame the theocratic rulers of Iran, as they frame their whole government as a revolutionary act opposing US hegemony and cry "death to America."

But according to Ross, Iran may have another option: Russia.

"I have a suspicion that even if it doesn't come directly, I can easily see in six months the Iranians turning to the Russians and letting the Russians be their channel," to negotiate with Trump, said Ross."Given the Trump-Putin relationship, we can see Russia coming and offering something, opening up a negotiation."

By dealing through Putin and not Trump, Iran can save face while it deals with the defeat dealt to it by Trump's withdrawal from the deal, and its own economic incompetence. 

Iranian-American Summit

Cartoon by Schot

How we talk about Iran matters

Sophia A. McClennen, Professor of International Affairs, Pennsylvania State University. 

Slaon: We should be used to this by now. Wake up, check the news, notice that President Trump has insulted yet another sovereign nation, and then wait for the news media to have a field day with it. But recent events have surpassed all expectations of a leader who regularly tweets threats at foreign leaders in all caps, when Trump took to Twitter to threaten President Hassan Rouhani of Iran:

There is something deeply ironic and more than a little disturbing in Trump’s final warning to “Be cautious!” given the fact that being cautious is simply not something he ever does.

But there’s more to it — we have to take note of the way that Trump rhetoric itself becomes the story rather than the actual actions of his administration. All signs suggest that his administration is poised to increase conflict and confrontation with Iran and possibly work to topple the government. As Roxane Farmanfarmaian, who directs the University of Cambridge – Al Jazeera Center for Studies media project, writes, “Trump's new flock of advisers are long-term anti-Iran hawks, and his regional allies Saudi Arabia and Israel have themselves intensified threats to destabilise Iran from within, so as to hasten regime change.”

Farmanfarmaian outlines why a full-blown war with Iran is unlikely: Trump’s weak ties to Europe, his strong ties to Russia (who does not want war to its south) and Trump’s dependence on Russia in Syria. But as she explains, Trump’s aggressive stance on Iran is cause for real concern, most especially because “the region's razor-edge politics are as mercurial as Trump's own.”

One of the reasons why the region is so mercurial, argues journalist and author Vijay Prashad, is the high concentration of military weapons. As he puts it in a recent column on the astonishing increase in weapons sales under the Trump administration, “Half of all arms sales are to the Middle East. It is well-worth considering that the arms sales, rather than fundamentalism, fuel the conflicts in the Middle East.”

While the Unites States has curtailed its sale of weapons to Iran, having been their top provider from 1950-1970, it does provide weapons to Iran’s adversaries, especially Saudi Arabia, which is the largest purchaser of U.S. weapons. In May 2017, Trump posed for a photo op during his visit to Saudi Arabia holding a glowing orb. He would leave the Kingdom having put in place arms sales deals worth $110 billion. More recently, in March the U.S. government approved a $1 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia.

As Prashad notes, there is a direct human cost to these deals, one which is increasingly affecting civilian populations. He focuses on the war in Yemen where Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have created what the UN calls the world’s “worst humanitarian crisis.” Prashad notes that 75 percent of the country’s population — around 22 million people — are in terrible straits, with hunger and disease rampant. Half of the population — over 11 million — are children. A child dies in Yemen every 10 minutes >>>