Friday, August 20, 2021

What Awaits Afghanistan after the Taliban Takeover?

The Taliban’s swift takeover of Afghanistan, especially its capital city Kabul, with little resistance from the Afghan army has come as a shock to the world and Afghan people alike. Few observers, including American officials, could see it coming this soon or imagine the well-trained and heavily-equipped Afghan military crumble so fast against swarming but lightly-equipped and ill-trained Taliban fighters. It was only over a month ago that President Joe Biden and his foreign policy officials were denying the possibility of the fall of Kabul in light of the Afghan government’s superior military force and effective air power. Why this outcome unfolded requires careful investigation and merits a separate analysis of its own. But the reality of the Taliban’s present control over Afghanistan demands urgent attention. The international community needs to devise short-term and long-term strategies to alleviate the suffering of the Afghan people and push the parties toward reaching a fair and durable solution to Afghanistan’s enduring political instabilities and security predicament.

Today, public sentiments in Kabul and other Afghan cities toward the Taliban takeover, as reflected in citizens’ reporting, is a mix of panic, shock, helplessness, anger, uncertainty, and relief. The memories of the Taliban’s brutal rule in the 1990sand the stories of its conduct in recent years have fed into widespread fears and anxieties among many Afghan citizens. Women, ethnic and religious minorities, intellectuals, and the political and security cadre of the collapsed Afghan government have the most to lose from Taliban rule as the group is expected to impose their own strict reading of the Islamic Sharia law on society and to punish the collaborators of the ancien regime. The flood of many thousands of Afghan people to the Kabul airport in recent days and their frantic attempts to flee their country by any means reflect this dominant mood among these segments of Afghan society.

Afghans’ weariness and frustration over four decades of foreign occupation and civil wars, daily scenes of violence and bloodshed, and the incompetence and corruption of their government have ironically led some of them to see the Taliban as their saviors. Thus, some Afghans welcomed the Taliban’s entry into Kabul and other major cities. These Afghans see the Taliban’s victory and dominance as heralding the end of insecurity, instability, and corruption. But for other Afghans, the future is simply fraught with uncertainties as they wonder how the Taliban may rule and how other actors will react to that. Continue reading on National Interest

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Interview: Return to the Iran Nuclear Deal Before Talks on Other Issues

The current controversy over Iran’s nuclear program is one of Trump’s lingering foreign policy legacies that has proved particularly difficult for President Joe Biden to resolve. The U.S. withdrawal in May 2018 from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or the Iran nuclear deal, and Iran’s gradual reversal of its nuclear commitments in retaliation for the Trump administration’s re-imposition of draconian economic sanctions has created a foreign policy conundrum for the Biden administration. How the two parties should go about reviving the nuclear agreement and what realistic strategy the Biden administration should adopt toward nuclear talks with Iran are among the key questions driving policy debates on this issue.

The following interview tackles these very questions. Abolghasem Bayyenat is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs where he conducts research on Iran’s nuclear policy. His doctoral dissertation at Syracuse University was on the political dynamics of Iran’s nuclear policy-making from 2003 to 2015. Prior to this doctoral studies, he worked for several years as an international trade expert for Iran’s Ministry of Commerce, where he was involved in bilateral and multilateral trade negotiations between Iran and its trade partners. He has published widely on Iran’s foreign and nuclear policy developments and its foreign trade, some of which can be accessed on his website at .

Manon Dark: When Donald Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal in 2018, how did this
impact relations between the United States and Iran?

Abolghasem Bayyenat: Trump’s withdrawal from the JCPOA was received as a stab in the back in Iran and left a deep sense of betrayal among many Iranians. It reinforced the conservative politicians’ long-held conviction that the United States is not a reliable and trustworthy partner and that any engagement with the United States will be short-lived. If implemented in good faith, the JCPOA had the potential to put the Iran-U.S. relationship on a new path and open new avenues for cooperation between the two countries by serving as proof that the two parties are able to keep their end of the deal. However, the U.S. withdrawal and the re-imposition of sanctions on Iran undermined the position of moderates in Iran in advocating for a conciliatory foreign policy and bolstered the hardliners ‘ narrative that only resistance and defiance against the United States can secure Iran’s national interests.
Continue reading the interview on Foreign Policy In Focus

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Interview: Effective Removal of US Sanctions and Iran's Full Compliance with JCPOA

بازار؛ گروه بین الملل: یکی از شگردهای ترامپ تغییر برچسب تحریمهایی بود که ذیل عنوان هسته ای مطرح شده بود. اگرچه چیزی به عنوان «تحریم هسته ای» در قوانین آمریکا به رسمیت شناحته نشده ولی در برجام این موضوع رسمیت یافته بود.

حال با بازگشت آمریکا به برجام ایران خواسته است که تمام تحریمهای ترامپ تحت هر عنوان و برچسب باید برچیده شود.

در گفتگوی خبرنگار بازار با دکتر «ابوالقاسم بینات» پژوهشگر فوق دکترای دانشگاه هاروارد آمریکا به بررسی این موضوع که بقای برجام در دوره بایدن به فرض احیای آن پرداخته شده که در ادامه آمده است.

دکتر «ابوالقاسم بینات» پژوهشگر فوق دکترای مرکز بلفر مدرسه کندی دانشگاه هاروارد آمریکا است. او دکترای خود را از دانشگاه سیراکیوس آمریکا اخذ کرده است. حوره مطالعاتی وی موضوع هسته ای ایران با تمرکز بر فرایندهای تصمیم گیری در برنامه هسته ای ایران است. وی همچنین در خصوص سیاست خارجی ایران، روابط بین المللی خاورمیانه، نقش هویت دولت در سیاست خارجی و رژیم تجاری خارجی ایران مطالعه و تحقیق دارد.

شما در مقاله اخیرتان که به صورت مشترک با دکتر سید حسین موسویان نوشته بودید استدلال کرده اید که مهمترین مسأله اصلی بین ایران و آمریکا سیاست و مسائل منطقه ای است و نه مسأله هسته ای. این نگرش به دیدگاه دولت آمریکا در خصوص برجام نزدیک است چرا که اوباما نیز برجام را گام اول برای بحث در مورد سایر موضوعات ایران می دید. بر این اساس اگر ایران با دولت بایدن در خصوص برجام به توافق برسد هیچ تضمینی وجود نخواهد داشت که این توافق بدون حل و فصل مسائل منطقه ای باقی بماند. نظر شما در این زمینه چیست؟
در اساس مشکل آمریکا با ایران بر میگردد به تضاد منافع جمهوری اسلامی با این کشور. تضاد منافع  به این معنی که انقلاب اسلامی و نظام برآمده از ان با هژمونی امریکا در جهان و حضور و نفوذ ان در منطقه در تقابل است و به عنوان رقیب و  بدیل آن به شمار می رود. مساله هسته ای برای آمریکا در اولویت اول بود و همچنان هست چون نمی خواهد نظامی که با آن در تضاد بنیادین هست از توانمندی هسته ای که به آن قابلیت ساخت سلاح اتمی می دهد برخوردار باشد. اگر چنین تضاد منافعی وجود نداشت مسلما این توانمندی هسته ای برای او اصلا یا اینقدر نگران کننده نبود.

مساله منطقه هم در همین چارچوب قابل ارزیابی است. سیاست و حضور منطقه ای ایران برای آمریکا مهم است. چون ایران اساسا یک قدرت منطقه ای است و فقط می تواند در منطقه خود منافع آمریکا و متحدان منطقه ای آن را  به طور جدی به چالش بکشد. تا زمانی که این تضاد منافع و تقابل وجود دارد، آمریکا درپی مهار قدرت  ایران خواهد بود. از این رو حفظ توافق هسته ای با چالش دائمی روبه رو خواهد بود چون آمریکا دائما به دنبال بازگرداندن اهرمهای چانه زنی از دست رفته خود در برجام خواهد بود تا بتواند ایران را  با آنها ترغیب یا مجبور به تغییر سیاستهای منطقه ایش کند.

ادامه مصاحبه در سایت "تحلیل بازار 

Monday, March 1, 2021

How to Make the Iran Nuclear Deal Durable

By Abolghasem Bayyenat and Seyed Hossein Mousavian

The fate of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or what is commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal, is hanging by a thread. As diplomats are jockeying to find a way to revive the nuclear agreement, the bigger question hanging on policymakers’ heads is how to prevent a revived JCPOA or any other similar deal with Iran from suffering the same fate under President Joe Biden or his successors, and ensure its durability. Reaching a grand bargain with Tehran and involving the U.S. Congress in the adoption of the nuclear deal appear as two potential solutions, but they are not practical and realistic. Rather, what can save the Iran nuclear deal, in the long run, is resetting the Iran-U.S. relationship and establishing a modus vivendi between the two countries.

The record of the JCPOA’s enforcement over the past five years demonstrates that the main threat to any nuclear agreement with Tehran emanates in large part from Washington’s desire to preserve most of its economic leverage over Iran and minimize the actual benefits of sanctions removal for the country. This is basically because the core dispute between the United States and Iran is about the region, not just the nuclear issue. Trump’s withdrawal from the JCPOA in May 2018 and the reimposition of unprecedented U.S. sanctions against Iran clearly bear out this assessment, as they were meant to regain and expand U.S. bargaining power against Iran in the hope of securing a better nuclear deal and addressing the regional issues. Continue reading