Devon Profile picture
5 Mar, 69 tweets, 15 min read
THREAD: Dealings with Iran

In the last few weeks, the Middle East has seen

-Attacks on US coalition forces in Iraq by Iranian proxy militias (,…)

-An Israeli minister accuse Iran of eco-terrorism… Ayatollah Khomeini, first supreme leader of Iran after the I
-US and Israeli strikes on Iranian proxy militias in Syria (…,…)
With this alarming uptick in hostile actions between the US/Israel and Iran, many in the international community are eager to get back to the diplomatic negotiating table and quell the rising tensions that are inching towards open conflict.
Leaders in Europe and Asia are calling for the US to reenter the Iran Deal (AKA the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA) that was struck in 2015 during the Obama administration, and members of the Biden administration seem open to negotiations.…
International leaders' main concern is Iran's nuclear ambitions, which the JCPOA sought to directly address. But if regional stability and balance of power is the goal, did the JCPOA succeed where sanctions failed? Perhaps a brief survey of history will help answer our question.
(Before I continue with what will likely be a rather long thread, I invite you to read the article I'm threading, which will be less interactive but possibly easier on the eyes.…)

-----The History of Iran’s Regional Ambitions-----
The Islamic Revolution in 1979, like so many other revolutions, did not remain inside the borders of Iran. A demonstrator in Tehran carries a portrait of Grand Ayatoll
Though the first couple of years after the Shah’s overthrow were chaotic, the new regime consolidated power, put down internal conflicts, and eke out a stalemate in the Iran-Iraq War.…
It would not belong, however, until the broad hegemonic ambitions of Iran were open and apparent. As early as 1982, efforts to mobilize and recruit Shiite communities across the Middle East as Iranian proxies began in earnest. U.S. marines search for survivors in the rubble of their Bei
Over decades, Arab capital after capital would become under the control of the Persian power. Beirut, Damascus, Baghdad, Gaza City, Sana’a—all would fall victim to the rule of Iran-affiliated militias such as Hezbollah, Hamas, and the IRGC.…
The worst humanitarian crises of the early 21st century, such as the Syrian and Yemeni civil wars, are directly and substantially sustained by Tehran’s funds and troops.……
The strategic progression of regional dominance has paid off for Iran, but one might wonder what the end goal might be? While one might summarize Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Islamist regime in Turkey’s expansionist ambitions as “Neo-Ottoman,” ... the corresponding Iranian imperialism to be described as “Neo-Persian” harkening back to a time of glory, influence, and control?
While the Neo-Ottoman purpose is explicitly territorial, with “lebensraum” maps and public speeches justifying and celebrating Turkish conquest past and present, the “Neo-Persian” empire is far more subtle and religiously motivated.…
From the 1953 CIA-assisted coup in Iran to the Hostage Crisis of 1979-81, to the Iran-Contra Affair of 1985, to Bush’s “Axis of Evil” characterization in 2002, to the killing of Qasem Soleimani in 2020, the American-Iranian relationship has been fraught with tension and mistrust.
Iran has not only gained influential ground territorially, building a “land bridge” giving Tehran unbroken access to the Mediterranean, but Iran also was able to hold the United States’ regional allies as “hostages.”…
These states are in quick striking distance should the US become too aggressive in its counter-measures against Iran’s interests. (Saddam Hussein had a similar strategy, striking Israel during the Persian Gulf war, though Israel was not a member of the US Coalition fighting Iraq)
As other states such as Egypt and Jordan made peace with Israel, Iran set itself up as Israel’s chief opposition, providing Hezbollah in Lebanon with an arsenal of rockets and missiles.
In addition to these weapons kept mere kilometers from Israel’s northern border, Iran also pumped millions of dollars to Hamas in Gaza to Israel’s south, and stationed militias in Syria in Israel’s northeast, encircling the country.…
But Iran does not consider Israel merely a pawn of their arch-enemy, the United States, or even a competitor for regional influence, but an evil to be eradicated.
Karim Sadjadpour of the Carnegie Endowment summarizes the position: “Distilled to its essence, Tehran’s steadfast support for Assad is not driven by the geopolitical or financial interests of the Iranian nation, nor the religious convictions of the Islamic Republic,
but by a visceral and seemingly inextinguishable hatred of the state of Israel. Though Israel has virtually no direct impact on the daily lives of Iranians, opposition to the Jewish state has been the most enduring pillar of Iranian revolutionary ideology.
Whether Khamenei is giving a speech about agriculture or education, he invariably returns to the evils of Zionism.”…
It is no wonder, then, that though the US might view a nuclear Iran as disastrous for regional stability and flourishing, Israel must view a nuclear Iran as an existential threat.

Israel goes to great lengths, from the Stuxnet worm sabotage,…
to Mossad seizure of stacks of secret Iranian nuclear records,…
to bombing Iranian proxies in Syria,…
to the alleged assassination of a nuclear scientist to ensure that Iran cannot develop a nuclear weapon or entrench military assets close enough to launch a conventional attack on Israel.…
----Overview of the JCPOA----
With the historical background and the stakes of this conflict in mind, we can better evaluate the Iran Deal’s (JCPOA) effectiveness after it was struck in 2015.
In its final form, the JCPOA was a 159-page agreement between Iran, China, France, Germany, Russia, the UK, and the US.
Under the accord, Iran agreed to limit sensitive nuclear activity and be subject to international inspections in return for the UN, EU, and US ending crippling economic sanctions.
The regulation of Iran’s activity would center around monitoring uranium enrichment, the redesigning and re-designating of nuclear facilities to produce non-weapons grade plutonium, the cessation of all nuclear research and the development of nuclear technology.
After an era of non-existent diplomatic relations between the US and Iran, the JCPOA was viewed by proponents as a triumph of diplomacy. The JCPOA did limit Iran’s immediate ability to enrich enough uranium for a bomb.
With the limitations imposed by JCPOA, the “breakout time” Iran needed to enrich enough uranium for a single bomb went from approximately three months to a year.
(“Breakout Time” is a technical phrase used to refer to the time required to produce enough weapons-grade uranium for one nuclear weapon. See…)
Should Iran fail to uphold its end of the deal, under the JCPOA the international community would have enough time to respond.
Detractors of the deal saw numerous flaws, however. If the broader goal was regional stability and limiting Iran’s “malign” influence, the deal missed the mark.
(In the 159 pages of the JCPOA, only half a page was dedicated to activities such as terrorism and conventional weapons development, which were all classed as “malign activities.”)
The JCPOA was weak in long-term nuclear deterrence. It allowed Iran to retain its massive nuclear infrastructure by not shutting down a single nuclear facility or destroying a single centrifuge.
Iran could easily and speedily resume producing large amounts of more highly enriched uranium when the agreement terms ended, some monitoring terms ending as early as 2024.…
Constructors of the agreement knew this downside. “If in year 13, 14, 15 after making the deal, Iran has advanced centrifuges that can enrich uranium fairly rapidly, the breakout time would have shrunk almost down to zero,” was openly stated by President Barack Obama.
That means, assuming full compliance on the part of Iran, that JCPOA merely delays the inevitable. But perhaps the diplomatic delay is worth it if only to give the international community time to formulate another deterrence strategy.
But what is the price paid for the temporary delay?
Ending sanctions pumped tens of billions of dollars into the Iranian economy, with the promise of hundreds of billions more. One main problem with sanctions is that the average Iranian suffered just as much if not more than the regime they were meant to target.
The hope was that the ending of sanctions would bring relief to Iranian citizens and be an incentive for constructive domestic reform.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t to be. As soon as the sanctions lifted and Iranian assets were unfrozen, hundreds of secret police were hired to increase the Iranian regime’s stranglehold over the Iranian people.
(A friend of mine in Tehran reported to me that at least 800 new secret police were hired with funds released under the JCPOA)
Not only did the cash go to fortifying the Islamic Republic domestically, but it also went to bolster Iran’s extensive web of militias in Syria, Lebanon, and Gaza, increasing and extending disastrous conflicts throughout the region.…
The only winner of the JPCOA was the Iranian regime, which used the vast influx of cash released by the terms of JPCOA to continue to fortify its positions domestically and regionally by growing its foreign militias and increasing its ballistic missile capabilities.
In addition, we know that Tehran has not sacrificed its ambitions to be a nuclear power. To the regime, a decade’s delay is a small price to pay in exchange for the billions of dollars that would fund every other aspect of Iranian regional hegemony.
Advocates of JPCOA will remind us that the agreement includes clauses that account for “malign activity” such as terrorism, heavy arms, and ballistic missile development.
But even when there is direct evidence of “malign activity” on Iran’s part, signatories were hesitant to hold Iran accountable.
Iran never faced any consequences under the JCPOA, rendering the clauses meant to make the agreement more holistic nearly toothless, and international intervention extremely unlikely.…,….
----A Return to Sanctions----
In 2018, President Trump unilaterally withdrew from the JCPOA, citing its general ineffectiveness at deterring Iran’s human rights abuses at home, a growing network of terror, and aggressive foreign policy.
Trump instead reinstated "maximum pressure" sanctions, cutting off some of Iran’s resources to build its militias and prop up cooperative dictators.…
A now much more desperate Iran again began enriching uranium as levels near weapons-grade, attacking US bases in the region, threatening US boats in the Persian Gulf—moves all designed as threats to bring the US back to JCPOA and relief from sanctions.
In 2020, the US killed Qasem Soleimani, commander of the elite al-Quds Force of the IRGC, in response to attacks on the US embassy in Baghdad, bringing an already tense relationship to the point of war.

Though ultimately military conflict was avoided, sanctions became a waiting game. Would the "maximum pressure" of the sanctions overwhelm Iran before Iran had a chance to develop nuclear weapons? The Trump presidency ended before that question could be answered.
----A Way Forward----
With the change in administration in the US came the question if there would be a corresponding change in policy towards Iran.
Would that policy more closely match President Obama, who went the route of diplomacy but failed to hold Iran accountable for atrocities funded by the JCPOA?
Or will it more closely resemble the crushing sanctions that punish the regime and Iranian civilians alike, with the possibility that the Iranian government would beat the clock, building a nuclear weapon before being utterly economically gutted?
Many Middle Eastern countries, including Israel, have been encouraging cautious renegotiation. These countries have far more at stake than the superpowers negotiating on their behalf.…
The terms of the JCPOA were absurdly in Iran’s favor and financially fanned the flames of regional instability. Suppose the broader goal is stability and balance of power in the Middle East rather than a highly narrow focus on one part of nuclear development.
In that case, a more holistic approach is needed that focuses equally on nuclear deterrence, “malign activity,” funding of terrorism, human rights abuses and war crimes, Iranian proxies within sight of the Israeli border, as well as ballistic missile and heavy arms development.
Rather than bribing Iran not to behave horrifically, the international community should back a new Iran Deal with credible threats of sanctions and military action should any of these diverse forms of aggression are pursued, ...
...if they are able to pull Iran back to the negotiating table.…
Combining the threat of economic ruin and a military conflict with a superpower will be enough to bring Iran into compliance. Anything less, however, will likely not be useful in changing the course Iran has been pursuing for decades.

• • •

Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh

Keep Current with Devon

Devon Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!


Twitter may remove this content at anytime! Save it as PDF for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video
  1. Follow @ThreadReaderApp to mention us!

  2. From a Twitter thread mention us with a keyword "unroll"
@threadreaderapp unroll

Practice here first or read more on our help page!

More from @devoninMENA

25 Feb
THREAD: Universe Reversed: A Meditation on Purim

[Image: “The Festival of Esther” by Edward Armitage. The Royal Academy of Arts Collection.]

Of all the holidays of the Jewish liturgical calendar, Purim is perhaps the most exuberant.
Children dress up in costumes, and friends send portions of food to each other. Many give gifts to the poor and throw lavish parties with plenty of food and drink.
While the Books of Moses mandate many other feasts on the calendar, Purim is a later addition, with an entire book to tell the story of why the Jewish people have been keeping the holiday for the 2500 odd years since the event it celebrates.
Read 89 tweets
3 Jan
On January 3, 2020, a US drone strike killed Iranian major general Qasem Soleimani—the second most powerful man in Iran after Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei—near the Baghdad International Airport in Iraq.

Who was this man, and why had the US deemed him too dangerous to live? Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani ...
Suleimani was born in Rabor, a poor village in the mountains of eastern Iran. Because of his family's poverty, he was forced from a young age to manual labour.
A young man with only a high school education, he eventually worked for the local municipal water department. And there Suleimani might have stayed, if not for the events of 1979.
Read 42 tweets
12 Nov 20
THREAD: The Covenants of YHWH and Supersessionism

I just started reading the book, “The Hebrew Bible: A Critical Companion” edited by John Barton, and this paragraph on page 5 arrested my attention:
“The Letter to the Hebrews describes the new covenant in Christ as superseding the old one, so that old is not just a temporal but in a sense an evaluative term: ‘He abolishes the first in order to establish the second’ (Heb 10:9); ‘In speaking of a “new covenant,” he has…
…made the old one obsolete. And what is obsolete and growing old will soon disappear’ (Heb. 8:13).”
Read 59 tweets
26 May 20
Sisterhood of the Serpent-Crushers
-or- The Shadow of the Seed of the Woman

A thread on women who crushed the heads of evil men and the great host of women in Psalm 68.

Image: "Virgin Mary consoles Eve" by Sr. Grace Remington OCSO, Sisters of the Mississippi Abbey
For the last few months, I have been studying Psalm 68 on and off. It's a magnificent song of David about the ultimate triumph of God over his enemies.
While powerful enough with a surface-level reading, (🔥Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation, v. 5🔥), the cross-references and allusions to the stories of women in the Bible add considerable depth and color to the Psalm.
Read 29 tweets

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just two indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3/month or $30/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!

Follow Us on Twitter!