Week in Review: The Iran Deal and Gulf Politics

Over the last two weeks, POMEPS has published a wide spectrum of analysis in the “Iran and the Nuclear Deal” symposium on the Monkey Cage. These essays form a detailed and nuanced look at Iranian domestic politics, as well as the state of regional affairs. We’ve highlighted two of the essays here, but make sure to check out the whole collection that also includes contributions from Frederic Wehrey, Farzan Sabet, Joshua Rovner, Eric Lob and Amir Hossein Mahdavi, Alexander H. Montgomery, Thomas E. Doyle, IIMohammad Ali Kadivar and Ali Honari, and Austin Long. Monkey Cage also has Sudan’s elections and the war in Yemen covered this week.

Paasha Mahdavi of UCLA (and soon to be of Georgetown University) asks “Will Iran’s parliament block the nuclear deal?

Not quite. Instead of intentionally blocking any international engagement, parliament is playing the role of “public defender.” … Mohammad Ali Kadivar and Ali Honari recently argued that grass-roots participation and domestic politics were crucial in getting this deal off the ground. Iran’s parliament represents another critical domestic political factor – and potentially a blocking one in the negotiation endgame. Iran’s parliament, as my research has shown in other contexts, plays a more important role than is widely understood. Aside from the presidency, parliament is the other channel through which Iran’s citizens have a voice in domestic and international politics – when it is not overruled by unelected supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei, that is.

In “Where Iran’s hard-liners diverge from the moderates” Shervin Malekzadeh of Swarthmore College writes:

Understanding and accepting that hard-liners in Iran are motivated by social forces other than ideology or an unexamined hostility to the United States is an important step on the path to détente and provides a way forward to the sort of rapprochement now deemed to be improbable because of the hard line. It is true that for some, no deal will ever prove satisfactory. There is no conciliation possible with the likes of Hossein Shariatmadari, nor with his counterparts in the United States. But it is also true that for many so-called hard-liners, anti-Americanism constitutes — but does not transcend — a fundamental concern and love for their homeland. Iran has made deals with countries less pious and, in a strange way, less “Iranian” than the United States. There is far more ground for consensus than the difficulties of the past 36 years would indicate.

There’a lot more than the nuclear deal happening in the region though. Also on Monkey Cage this week:

Sudan’s Elections: Abdelwahab El-Affendi of University of Westminster, London asks why hold elections in Sudan?  And Stephanie Schwartz of Columbia University looks at how the elections could matter for Sudan and South Sudan’s future stability

Yemen’s War and Regional Sectarianism: Jeff Colgan of Brown University takes a historical look at foreign interventions in Yemen to create a full picture of how sectarianism shapes Yemen’s war. Looking beyond the Sunni vs. Shiite narrative in Yemen, Madeleine Wells of George Washington University makes the case that authoritarianism — not sectarianism — explains recent arrests of Shiite politicians in Kuwait, noting the relationship to the Saudi-led sectarianism and the campaign in Yemen.





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