Homeland Security Portal

Homeland Security Portal

Area Studies: Iran

Jay Solomon, The Iran Wars: Spy Games, Bank Battles, and the Secret Deals that Reshaped the Middle East

, March 8, 2017

Jay Solomon, chief foreign affairs correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, has written a detailed diplomatic history of the Obama administration’s signature foreign policy initiative – the Iran Nuclear Deal, completed in the summer of 2015. Read More »

Yemen Has Become Iran’s Testing Ground for New Weapons

, March 2, 2017

  • The ongoing crisis in Yemen is giving Iran an opportunity to turn Yemen into a testing ground for various weapons it is developing for the maritime and military arenas.
  • The Houthi rebels are getting ongoing assistance from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), mainly via Hizbullah trainers, in the use of missiles and rockets, drones, explosive devices, and battlefield materiel.
  • Houthis have increased their missile fire, including Scuds, from Yemeni territory at different targets in Saudi Arabia, including airports and civilian infrastructures. Hizbullah advisers are taking part in some of the missile launches.
  • The Houthis have been increasingly active in the maritime arena in the strategic Bab el-Mandab area. In addition to the occasional launch of Iranian-supplied anti-ship cruise missiles, the Houthis have begun to deploy, apparently with Iranian assistance, unmanned remote-controlled maritime craft.
  • Iran’s active involvement in the conflict in Yemen, including the various weapons it is introducing and testing in the arena, has implications for the Palestinian terror organizations’ and Hizbullah’s future rounds of warfare against Israel.
Read More »

The False Narrative of Iranian Moderation

, February 23, 2017

The Iranian threat to Israel over the last number of years has been measured either by looking at the capabilities the Iranian armed forces have and are able to employ in any future conflict, and by the intentions that Iran harbors with respect to Israel’s future and its security. Read More »

Iranian Official and Social Media Call for the Destruction of Israel after the JCPOA

, February 16, 2017

The signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA, July 2015) between the P5+1 and Iran has not stopped Iran’s religious, political and military establishment – and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei – from propagating Israel’s destruction, terming the “illegal and filthy Zionist regime” a cancerous tumor in the very heart of the Middle East. The JCPOA failed to recognize that Iran’s extensive missile program is a direct factor in the dramatic increase in the self-confidence of the Islamic Republic. Read More »

Iran Grabs the Reins in Gaza

, February 14, 2017

Hamas made a semi-official announcement on February 14, 2017, via Al Jazeera, that it had chosen Yahya Sinwar, one of the security prisoners released in the “Shalit deal” in 2011, as its senior leader in Gaza. Apparently he will serve as the “security minister” in the non-official government of Ismail Haniyeh. Read More »

Rethinking the Iran Agreement

, January 25, 2017

President Trump’s invitation to Prime Minister Netanyahu to visit Washington for a summit meeting is likely to bring into relief the question of the future of the P5+1 agreement with Iran regarding its nuclear program. As currently constituted, the Iran agreement is extremely dangerous for Israel, Western European countries, and for the United States, and requires careful consideration about whether and how the West should proceed with it. Read More »

Iranian-Saudi Tensions Are Played Out in Bahrain

, January 11, 2017

  • In Bahrain, the ruling Sunni al-Khalifa royal family has coped since 2011 with a popular uprising led by Iranian-inspired and manipulated Shi’ite political movements.
  • Most observers perceive the crisis in Bahrain as a clash between Sunnis and Shi’ites and as a logical projection: an expression of the conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia for hegemony in the Gulf area.
  • However, it appears that the deeper reasons are three factors combined: modernization, British and American colonialism, and globalization.
  • It appears most likely that Iran will continue its subversive, covert activities meant to destabilize the kingdom with a mounting intensity and escalation of terrorist acts perpetrated in Bahraini territory – especially if the Bahraini regime incarcerates or deports the Shiite spiritual leader Ayatollah Isa Qassem.
  • Saudi Arabia, in countermeasures, will continue to promote anti-Shi’ite “clients” in Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, and Iraq, targeting Iranian interests and hegemony in the Middle East.
Read More »

Trump’s Big Decision on Iran

, December 7, 2016

During the election campaign, Donald Trump affirmed that immediately upon entering the White House he would “renegotiate the “disastrous” and “horrible” nuclear agreement with Iran. (Vice President-elect Mike Pence called for “ripping up the Iran deal” during the election campaign.) Following President Trump’s inauguration, Trump has three potential paths of action. Read More »

Iranian Missiles in Houthi Hands Threaten Freedom of Navigation in Red Sea

, October 13, 2016

Iran and its proxies could throttle regional choke points and disrupt international commerce. Playing down Iranian proxy aggression will play into Iranian propaganda and bolster Iran’s already overconfident and defiant stance. Read More »

“The Iran Wars” – Briefing by Jay Solomon

, October 6, 2016

Jay Solomon is the author of The Iran Wars: Spy Games, Bank Battles, and the Secret Deals that Reshaped the Middle East, and the chief foreign affairs correspondent for the Wall Street Journal. Here, he further expounds on the threat that Iran poses to the region. Read More »

Interview with Jay Solomon, author of “The Iran Wars”

, September 29, 2016

The Iranian sanctions and the covert actions against Iran’s nuclear program began under the Bush Administration. When did the Obama Administration start changing directions? Are there any positive changes in Iran’s foreign policy since the nuclear agreement in 2015? Are the Iranian’s adhering to the JCPOA? Read More »

Iran Is Courting Hamas

, September 6, 2016

With the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011, Hamas leader Khaled Mashal refused to take the side of President Bashar Assad, and Hamas’ political leadership found itself at loggerheads with Iran. However, anti-Israel solidarity has since trumped Sunni-Shiite animosity. Read More »

Iranian Dissidents Visit Israel, View Iran after the Nuclear Deal

and , August 21, 2016

After the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA) in 2015, a group of Iranian dissidents met with researchers at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs to discuss Iran in the post-agreement era. While the dissidents who visited Israel cannot be named, two Israeli experts who met with them describe the outcome of the meeting. Read More »

Ethnic Opposition to Iran’s Regime Is on the Rise

, July 24, 2016

Since June 2016, Iran has been enduring terror attacks and assassinations which are a reaction to Iran’s ongoing repressive policy against its ethnic minorities, such as Kurds (who are distinguished from Iran’s Shiite population by their language and Sunni beliefs) and Arabs (who are also mainly Sunni). Iran’s security forces have been cracking down on the Arabs, augmenting this population’s discontent along with its separatist aspirations. The Iranian regime, which so far has been spared the regional repercussions of the Arab Spring – or Islamic Awakening as the regime calls it – is now starting to feel the effects. Read More »

One Year after the Iran Nuclear Deal

, July 21, 2016

Iran is reaping the benefits of the deal, while the West pays the price of its weakness. In the meantime, we are all living with the consequences. Read More »

Cracks in the Iran-Syria-Hizbullah-Russia Axis

, June 20, 2016

Reports from Syria are proliferating about clashes between the Syrian army and Hizbullah fighters in the Aleppo area on June 16, with seven or eight Hizbullah men having been killed, some after an attack by Syrian aircraft. Even a scorecard won’t explain who’s shooting at whom today. Read More »

Iran in the Post-Nuclear Deal Era: Iranian Dissidents’ Perspective

and , May 19, 2016

The JCPOA is perceived by most participants as a “game-changer.” By studying the original insights of various Iranian dissidents, these personalities’ unique observations as well as their recommendations are highlighted and are able to contribute to a better understanding of Iran in the post-JCPOA era. Read More »

Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps: The Revolution Continues beyond Iran’s Borders

, May 17, 2016

After the JCPOA was signed on July 14, 2015, the Gulf States felt all the more threatened by Iran and concerned that the support the United States had given them previously was eroding. Iran, for its part, particularly by means of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), stepped up its involvement in the region - notably in Yemen, making use of Lebanese Hizbullah fighters among others. It also continues its clandestine intelligence activity in the Gulf States. Read More »

The Iranian Penetration of Iraqi Kurdistan

, January 21, 2016

Iran has positioned itself as a reliable military backer of Iraqi Kurdish forces, filling a vacuum the West has left as a result of its tepid support. Iranian penetration of Kurdistan allows Tehran to render it less likely that its major adversaries, including Israel and the U.S., will gain a secure foothold in a region that has a 400-mile border with Iran. Expectations of Kurdistan becoming an ally of Israel, America, and Europe may be in danger if the West continues to prioritize Iraqi and Turkish interests over those of the Kurds. The writer taught at Salahaddin University in Iraqi Kurdistan in 2012-2013. Read More »

Will the West Defend Its Own Values Against Radical Islam?

, December 23, 2015

The West is now reaping the fruits of its weakness in the Middle East, as it turns to the “extremist-realist” camp in the region for cooperation. This can be seen in Iran’s flouting of many aspects of the JCPOA which it agreed to - it is only technically cooperating with the JCPOA’s parameters. The West must make clear that it is committed to its own values and prepared to defend them. Read More »

Terror Is Terror Is Terror

, November 23, 2015

Iran keeps promoting its long-term strategic policy in Syria; it views the country as an integral component of its national security. Russia, which has moved urgently to help Assad’s regime survive, has paid a heavy price with the downing of a Russian passenger plane by the Islamic State. Iran is exploiting the West’s weakness, especially the United States’ fecklessness and lack of a clear policy on the Middle East’s future in general and on Assad’s in particular. Read More »

Iran’s Stake in Syria

, October 22, 2015

According to Hojjat al-Islam Mehdi Taeb, a former senior official of Iran's Basij militia, Iran's line of defense passes through Syria, and that is why the Iranian government proposed creating battalions of Basij-style militias in Syria.The crisis in Syria is gradually turning from a protracted regional crisis into an international one. For Iran, Syria constitutes the first line of defense against Israel, and also a line of defense for the Shiite population in Lebanon against Islamic State incursion. Read More »

The Mistaken Rationale behind the Iran Nuclear Deal

, September 9, 2015

The claim that Iran’s enrichment routes to a nuclear bomb have been blocked has no basis. In fact, Iran will have four routes to enriching uranium to a military level.The nuclear agreement with the main world powers is set to enable Iran safely, legally, and without economic hardships or changes in its rogue policies, to overcome the main obstacles on its way to possessing a nuclear weapons arsenal and becoming a regional hegemonic power. Read More »

Questions and Answers about the Iranian Nuclear Agreement

, August 26, 2015

The deal leaves Iran having enough fissile material to "break out" to a bomb within six months, and not within one year as the Administration claims (because the excess centrifuges and infrastructure are not destroyed). So far, all the Administration's prophecies of doom whenever measures were taken against Iran have turned out to be false. So far, the record of American intelligence (and that of Israeli intelligence, too) when it comes to revealing foreign nuclear programs, including those of Iran, is far from impressive (one thinks of North Korea, Syria, Iraq, India, and Pakistan). Read More »

Iran’s Fortunes Rising in a Middle East Vacuum

, March 19, 2014

Iran is implementing a plan to expand its influence over the Middle Eastern region. As a primary sponsor of Hizbullah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), the “long arm” of Iranian influence may be attempting to establish itself as a regional power player, in the wake of the U.S.’ declining prestige. Read More »

How Nuclear Talks Help Iran Dominate the Middle East

, February 25, 2014

The nuclear talks are creating an atmosphere where the economic pressure will subside as Iran gains time to fill in the missing pieces of its nuclear program. Iran’s foreign policy is gaining momentum as Gulf States are persuaded to align with Iran. Ongoing negotiations with the United States are proceeding at a relaxed pace that allows Iran to continue working towards its strategic goals. Read More »

The Internal Iranian Struggle After the Geneva Agreement

, January 14, 2014

The Geneva nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1 has become a source of tension in Iran between the conservatives and Revolutionary Guard on one side, and President Hassan Rouhani, the nuclear negotiating team, and those considered the reformist camp on the other. The regime’s security establishment continues a crackdown on the opposition and social networks in an effort to protect Iran’s revolutionary Islamic nature. The intensity of public support for Rouhani is of no significance when it comes to Iran’s nuclear progress, nor is it likely to have substantial implications for the state of civil society and human rights in Iran. Read More »

Conflicting Expectations on the Geneva Deal with Iran

, December 11, 2013

Questions of interpretation have arisen from both sides about the Geneva document’s obligations to the relevant parties. Parties disagree on what the document means for nuclear breakout, U.S.-imposed sanctions on Iran, and uranium enrichment Read More »

Iran Looks Beyond the Nuclear Talks

, November 26, 2013

Khamenei underlines the decline in American power and influence (even among its friends) and the economic problems afflicting it, contrasting this with Iran’s rising power compared to the past. Iran does not come to the nuclear negotiations out of weakness, but, indeed, from a position of strength, and rather than having anything to lose from the talks, it only stands to gain from them, as it did in the interim agreement. Iran’s considerations in coming to the negotiating table are its assessment of America’s declining regional and international status and its own expanding reach. Read More »

The Emerging Geneva Agreement with Iran

, November 12, 2013

Eliminating Iran’s 20-percent-enriched uranium, but allowing the Iranians to continue to produce 3.5-percent-enriched uranium is an unacceptable option if the goal of the West is to prevent Iran from advancing a nuclear weapon. Allowing Iran to enrich to the 3.5-percent level will not address the threat emanating from Iran’s latest generation of faster centrifuges and the scenario of a fast dash by Iran to weapons-grade uranium, known as “nuclear break-out.” Read More »

Iran vs. the West: Endgame?

, October 15, 2013

Despite direct negotiations with the United States, Iran has no intention of halting their nuclear enrichment program. Iran could be within a few months of building a bomb. Read More »

Rowhani’s and Jalili’s Election Propaganda

, June 12, 2013

Election Propaganda from Jalili and Rowhani present the two sides of Iran’s nuclear negotiating tactics. The “principalist” [hard-line] candidates, represented by Jalili, take a dogmatic, uncompromising line on Iran’s foreign relations and its stance on the nuclear issue. The “pragmatic” candidates, represented by Rowhani, show a readiness to open a new chapter in Iran’s dealings with the world and conduct the nuclear talks in a calmer atmosphere. Read More »

Iran Fears Growing Israel-Azerbaijan Cooperation

, May 17, 2013

Through a mutual distrust of Iranian intentions, Israel and Azerbaijan have enjoyed a closer relationship. Iran is concerned by this tightening of Israeli/Azerbaijani relations, as Azerbaijan could be used for a potential strike against Iran’s nuclear sites. Iran has also sponsored a great number of terrorist cells in Azerbaijan, including factions of Lebanese Hizbullah, and has been accused of attempting to sway Azerbaijan’s political structure. Read More »

Understanding the Iranian Nuclear Challenge

, March 24, 2013

Over the last decade, a clear international consensus has slowly emerged that Iran was not just pursuing a civilian nuclear program, but rather was seeking nuclear weapons. The IAEA has raised concerns about the possible existence of certain areas of military research in the Iranian nuclear program, which, when coupled with Iran’s expansionist goals, presents a challenge to regional stability. Negotiations and proposals to protect the International Community from Iranian nuclear weapons must take into account all aspects of Iranian nuclear research. Read More »

The Iranian Role in the 2012 Gaza Conflict

, December 2, 2012

Iran’s supply of rockets to the Palestinians shows a lack of fear of Israel and the Western powers. The rift between Sunnis and Shia that is evident in various Middle Eastern conflicts makes clear that Iran will confront Sunni states like Egypt and Turkey over issues of regional hegemony and influence. These changes are becoming clear not only in actions in Gaza, but in the Syrian conflict as well. Read More »

The Role of Iranian Security Forces in Syria

, June 20, 2012

Iran views the confrontation in Syria as a critical battleground with the West regarding the reshaping of the Middle East and its own role in the region as a key, vital and influential player. Hizbullah is currently serving under Iran’s command as a part of Assad’s forces, and Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have been involved in Syrian events. Iran’s aid to Assad illustrates Iran’s goal of becoming a power capable of countering the West’s influence. Read More »

Iran: From Regional Challenge
to Global Threat

, 2012

This anthology of 31 recent studies by eleven leading security and diplomatic experts outlines the Iranian threat to Israel, the Middle East region, and the West. Included are discussions of Iran’s progress of developing nuclear weapons, sponsorship of terrorism, and use of resources to drive Western policies. Read More »

Iran, Hizbullah, Hamas and the Global Jihad: A New Conflict Paradigm for the West

, 2011

Iran’s primary vulnerability is the economic sphere. Although half of the Iranian government’s revenues come from the export of crude oil, without foreign investment, production of crude oil will falter. In order to convince Iran to give up the nuclear program, the U.S. and its allies must exploit their economic leverage, backed up by a credible threat of military force against the nuclear program and other targets in Iran as necessary. Read More »

Iran’s Race for Regional Supremacy: Strategic Implications for the Middle East

, September 21, 2011

Iran has accelerated its quest for regional supremacy through its mobilization of both Shiite and Sunni terror surrogates, including Hizbullah in Lebanon, Shiite militias in Iraq and in the Gulf, the Taliban in Afghanistan, and Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Al Aksa Martyrs’ Brigades in the Palestinian territories. These actions could destabilize the entire region, creating a threat to global security. Read More »

The Rise of Nuclear Iran: How Tehran Defies the West

, 2011

In the West, liberal politicians and pundits are calling for renewed diplomatic engagement with Iran, convinced that Tehran will respond to reason and halt its nuclear weapons program. Yet, countries have repeatedly tried diplomatic talks and utterly failed. Gold examines these past failures, showing how Iran employed strategic deception and delay tactics to hide its intentions from the West. He argues that Western policymakers underestimate Iran s hostility toward us and explains why diplomacy will continue to backfire, no matter which party or president is in power. Read More »

Can Cold War Deterrence Apply to a Nuclear Iran?

, March 1, 2011

The Obama Administration’s policy of Cold War-style deterrence with regards to Iran fails to take into account various issues. The ideology of the Iranian leadership, the threat of a polynuclear Middle East, and the idealization of martyrdom are all issues which do not fit into a model of cold war style deterrence. Furthermore, should nuclear weapons become a reality in the region; it is possible that they may filter down to quasi-states, terrorist organizations, and rival ethnic groups. Read More »

The Sources of Iranian Negotiating Behavior

, August 26, 2010

This report identifies patterns of Iranian culture that are relevant to Western policymakers which have been ignored for decades. Understanding of these cues can better enable the West to negotiate with Iran regarding their nuclear weapons programs, and to convince the Iranian population to liberate themselves. Read More »

Halting Iran’s Nuclear Weapons Program: Iranian Vulnerabilities and Western Policy Options

, July 8, 2007

Iran’s primary vulnerability is the economic sphere. Although half of the Iranian government’s revenues come from the export of crude oil, without foreign investment, production of crude oil will falter. In order to convince Iran to give up the nuclear program, the U.S. and its allies must exploit their economic leverage, backed up by a credible threat of military force against the nuclear program and other targets in Iran as necessary. Read More »