Archiv für den Monat September 2014

Deutschland| Höhere Leistungen für Asylbewerber

Die Bundesregierung hat einen Gesetzentwurf (18/2592) zur Änderung des Asylbewerberleistungsgesetzes (AsylbLG) vorgelegt, der deutliche Verbesserungen für die Betroffenen vorsieht. Im Zentrum steht dabei die Anhebung der Geldleistungen für Asylbewerber, die ein Urteil des Bundesverfassungsgerichts im Juli 2012 für unvereinbar mit dem Grundrecht auf Gewährleistung eines menschenwürdigen Existenzminimums erklärt hat. Auf dieses Urteil bezieht sich demzufolge auch der Gesetzentwurf.

Aus dem Entwurf geht hervor, dass die neuen Leistungssätze im AsylbLG auf Grundlage der Einkommens- und Verbraucherstichprobe (EVS) neu ermittelt und gegenüber den alten Leistungssätzen deutlich angehoben werden sollen. Wie auch im Zweiten und Zwölften Sozialgesetzbuch (SGB II und SGB XII) werden diese künftig regelmäßig nach einem Mischindex neu festgelegt. Um die Situation von Kindern und Jugendlichen zu verbessern, soll bereits von Beginn des Aufenthalts in der Bundesrepublik ein Anspruch auf die Leistungen des Bildungs- und Teilhabepakets bestehen. Die Dauer des Bezugs von Grundleistungen nach dem AsylbLG soll von derzeit 48 auf 15 Monate verkürzt werden. Das bedeutet, dass Leistungsberechtigte nach dem AsylbLG bereits nach 15 Monaten Leistungen entsprechend dem SGB II beziehen können. Zugleich soll die Wartefrist künftig an die Dauer des tatsächlichen Aufenthalts gekoppelt sein und nicht mehr an die sogenannte Vorbezugszeit. Menschen mit einem humanitären Aufenthaltstitel nach Paragraf 25 Absatz 5 des Aufenthaltsgesetzes werden aus dem Anwendungsbereich des AsylbLG insoweit herausgenommen, als dass sie künftig Leistungen nach dem SGB II oder SGB XII erhalten, wenn die Entscheidung über die Aussetzung ihrer Abschiebung 18 Monate zurückliegt. Neu eingeführt werden soll ein „kleiner Freibetrag“ beim anzurechnenden Vermögen, der Ansparungen für „notwendige Anschaffungen“ ermöglichen soll. Ebenfalls neu ist der geplante „Aufwendungsersatzanspruch des Nothelfers“ im AsylbLG. Dieser soll sicherstellen, dass Krankenhausträger und Ärzte die Erstattung ihrer Behandlungskosten unmittelbar vom Leistungsträger verlangen können, „wenn sie in medizinischen Eilfällen Nothilfe an Leistungsberechtigten nach dem AsylbLG“ leisten. Beim Bund führen die Änderungen des Gesetzes ab 2016 zu Mehrausgaben von 37 Millionen pro Jahr. Die Länder und Kommunen werden ab 2016 dagegen um 43 Millionen Euro pro Jahr entlastet.

Freedom of the Press? Not Under Rouhani.


Imagine a group of people. They look just like you. They have families, lives, interests, hobbies, everything you know from your own life. The only thing that is different in their lives than those of yours is the job they chose to do: They elected to be journalists in the Islamic Republic of Iran. So now they’re in jail, and no one knows when they will be set free again.

It wasn’t supposed to be like that. Upon his election, Hassan Rouhani was perceived as being a great hope in that aspect. In fact, as early as his first speech in office, Rouhani said “The government that takes its legitimacy from its people does not fear the free media; we will seek help from their constructive criticism.”

Well, apparently that’s over with; Washington post’s Tehran’s correspondent Jason Rezaian (along with his wife Yeganeh Salehi), has been arrested in July. Since then, there have been numerous calls for his release, but the president has remained silent, and has done nothing to aid in that cause, nor has his foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Rezaian’s story is a sign of the perils of trying to become a reporter in today’s Iran: “The two have been held for more than eight weeks without explanation or charges. They have not been permitted to meet with their lawyer”, says Douglas Jehl, the Washington post’s foreign editor.

Rezaian is the face of an alarmingly growing epidemic in Iran, reports the committee to protect journalists, in an article that states that journalists have been arrested by the dozen in the country.

This raises the question about the connections between the Iranian president and those kidnaps, but Mr. Zarif’s recent admission, about not even knowing all of the charges that Rezaian was tagged with, brings to mind the question of control in Iran – and it seems that no one in the government really knows what’s going on inside those Journalists’ prisons cell.


Teheran| Einschulung 2014 Deutsche Botschaftsschule

Am 5.September war es endlich soweit! 14 stolze Schulanfänger mit vollgefüllten, selbstgebastelten Schultüten freuten sich auf die Einschulungsfeier, die liebevoll von den Grundschulkindern vorbereitet worden war. Nach den Vorführungen wurden die Erstklässler von ihren Paten und der Klassenlehrerin Frau Geigl in ihr Klassenzimmer begleitet.

Die erste Schulstunde hat allen viel Spaß gemacht!

What do the Iranians really want?

what does iran really want

Trying to understand what Iran wants in its nuclear program can be exasperating and even futile.

Obviously, the world doesn’t really know what the chiefs in Tehran want nor can we take their denials at militarizing their program at face value because a) Tehran has a history of breaking the rules, b) Tehran’s nuclear program is far from transparent and c) Tehran might have a lot to gain regionally from a nuclear bomb.

The message to Iran – don’t build a bomb!

Iran with a nuclear bomb will put the P5+1 and the UN in a position in which they will have to demilitarize Iran’s nuclear power by force which might lead to a war that will make the Gulf War look like a neighborhood squabble.

The US is desperate for Iran to sign a deal because the immediate alternative is to increase sanctions against Iran which might cause a further fall-out of support from countries who are hungry to capitalize on Iran’s wealth of natural energy. Increasing sanctions and watching them being circumvented by its own partners would be a real slap in the face which the US would have to answer with military aggression.

So what does the US, the P5+1 and the UN want from Iran? To maintain a transparent nuclear program that includes a longer break-out time for it to build a bomb if it decided to do so.

The messages from Iran – maybe, maybe not

Since Rouhani was elected president, the signals from Tehran were decidedly mixed: Rouhani called for a change that will bring a rapprochement with the West, end the burden of sanctions and allow Iranians to prosper.

But at the same time, the mullahs in Tehran wanted to maintain the nuclear program “as is” regardless of the fact that much of it was based on clear digressions from IAEA rules and regulations over the years and that the amount of uranium being enriched went way beyond the domestic electric needs.

And since Khamenei is the supreme power, it is enough to view his mixed signals to get the picture: Initially, Khamenei supported the Iranian negotiators encouraging them to practice “heroic flexibility” in regards to giving up parts of the program. But once the P5+1 negotiators tried to block the holes in the initial deal (the heavy water plant in Arak, topping Uranium enrichment at 5%, opening up the Parchin military base etc…), Khamenei’s support withered and strengthened depending on his moods or the rhetoric of the US.  Two months ago, he aggressively identified Iran’s red lines and last week he stated that the nuclear talks “were harmful to Iran“.

But Khamenei is relatively stable compared to Zarif. Zarif is consistently inconsistent in creating an environment of optimism mixed with pessimism. His attitude remains cordial and friendly with a “take it or leave it” attitude that may or may not be a bluff. He has constantly repeated that sanctions have not hurt Iran but requests repeatedly for all sanctions to be lifted. He has denied cooperating with the US-led coalition against ISIS but is now ready to cooperate as long as Iran will be repaid in leniency on the nuclear deal. He is quick to smile but is also quicker to blame.

Nobody really knows if there will be a deal or not.

One thing is for sure, Iran seems less desperate than the US for a deal and, as any negotiator will tell you, that gives Iran an advantage.

Although sanctions are still in force, the Iranian economy has benefitted from the negotiations themselves with hundreds of delegations flying into Tehran to sniff out the chances to business with Iran while countries like Russia, Turkey, Iraq and China simply disregard any sanctions.

The war against ISIS suddenly gave the Iranians an extra boost in their ability to make a better deal because the US feels that destroying ISIS may be more important than minimizing an Iranian nuclear break-out.


Assessing the Obama Administration’s Iraq-Syria Strategy

In many ways, the Obama Administration’s new strategy toward Iraq and Syria is a work in progress.  Each week, new elements emerge or get added.  And there are certainly a number of important aspects still missing.  However, overall, what is emerging is a smart, coherent approach that is checking off any number of key military and diplomatic boxes.  Of greatest importance, American actions in the region and Administration statements (particularly General Martin Dempsey’s testimony before the Senate last week) indicate that Washington is putting in place a comprehensive strategy meant not only to defeat ISIS, but to address the wider circumstances of Iraq and Syria.  That is critical because ISIS and its ilk are not the problem in the region; they are the symptom of the problem.  The problem is the intercommunal civil wars burning in both Iraq and Syria.  Unfortunately, that’s also where the missing pieces of the strategy remain.

A pair of U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles fly over northern Iraq after conducting airstrikes in Syria (REUTERS/U.S. Air Force/Senior Airman Matthew Bruch).

Intertwined Campaigns

At heart, the Administration’s approach is a dual strategy, coupling two similar but not identical approaches to the two countries.  Although some of the Administration’s critics have demanded a single strategy toward both, the Administration’s approach is probably the right one.  It reflects the reality that the two civil wars are different in many important ways and it is not possible to employ the same exact approach to both.  Each needs a tailored version of the broad strategy.  What they do require is close coordination, and it appears that the Administration is doing just that, at least for now.

In both countries, the Administration hopes to empower moderate forces—both Sunni andShi’a to the extent possible—to fight against all of the extremists, both Sunni and Shi’a.  Indeed, to the extent that there is an overarching theme to the strategy, it is one of empowering moderate forces, an idea that ought to be applied more broadly across the Middle East.

In Iraq, the Administration is essentially building on the progress made in 2007-2010 to try to resurrect the power-sharing arrangement forged by the United States as part of the Surge and recreate a unified Iraqi government.  While that government may only be united in name, the willingness of Sunni, Shi’a and perhaps Kurdish leaders to cooperate under that rubric should allow the U.S. to move forward militarily against ISIS and its allies while helping the Iraqis to sort out the final shape of a new Iraqi political system.  In Syria, in contrast, the focus is on building a new Syrian opposition army, one that can defeat both the Asad regime and the Sunni radicals like ISIS, and then use its military successes to create the political incentives for a new national reconciliation/power-sharing agreement as the 1995 Dayton Accords did for Bosnia.

Indeed, to the extent that there is an overarching theme to the strategy, it is one of empowering moderate forces, an idea that ought to be applied more broadly across the Middle East.

These interwoven strategies toward Iraq and Syria have some critical advantages.  Both are reasonable, feasible and historically well-grounded.  If successful, both would produce end-states consistent with American interests.  Moreover, both can be consistent with the interests of America’s allies in the region, hence the publicly-enthusiastic if privately-tepid reception from many of America’s Middle Eastern allies to the new strategy.  Nevertheless, both have important challenges to overcome as well.

The Military Campaigns

In both Syria and Iraq, the American strategy is in the first phase of its military campaign.  Since Washington is determined not to deploy American ground combat troops—or, rightly, to rely on those of other neighboring states—it must build indigenous ground forces.  Air power alone, even American air power, is unlikely to be adequate to drive ISIS, other Sunni militant groups, or the Asad regime’s military forces from the territory they control.  Coalition airstrikes will need complementary ground forces of some kind to fix enemy ground forces and occupy terrain, particularly population centers.  However, as General Dempsey and others have noted, it will take months before such ground forces are ready.

It is worth noting that these ground forces do not have to be first-rate.  They simply need to be good enough that, with the addition of American air power, they can defeat both Asad’s forces and those of ISIS and the other Sunni militants.  That isn’t a very high standard.  In its grandest moments, the Syrian armed forces never rose beyond a rigid mediocrity, and while ISIS has certainly shown both some strategic acumen and tactical ability, it faces both quantitative and qualitative problems of its own.  By comparison, in Afghanistan, the Northern Alliance could not defeat the Taliban until 2001 when it was backed by U.S. air power, and the Libyan opposition was a joke in 2001, but it defeated the remnants of Qadhafi’s military with NATO air support ten years later.  Thus, the historical record demonstrates that indigenous ground forces too week to win without American air support can win handily with it.[1]

American and other Western governments have just begun the long process of building Iraqi and Syria ground forces.  Again, in both cases, the approach the U.S. will take is now clear, but there are a number of potential hurdles that have not yet been addressed.  For instance, in Iraq the Administration has reconciled itself to the need to build, in effect, two separate militaries: a revamped Shi’a-dominated Iraqi Army and a new Sunni national guard.  It remains to be seen how those forces will be able to work together.  In particular, the Sunnis will not want any (Shi’a) Iraqi Army units operating in the Sunni-dominated provinces, and the Shi’a are likely to insist that they do so.  That speaks to a second-order problem, which is that the conduct of the military campaign will be seen by both communities as setting precedents for the eventual reform of Iraqi politics, which is likely to make them dig in their heels even harder over these military considerations.

In Syria there are different but equally challenging issues.  The first among them being whether the U.S. is going to simply try to train, arm and unify the existing hodge-podge of militias, or will create a wholly new, homogeneous Syrian opposition army.  The former would be faster and easier, but the result would have very limited utility.  Indeed, it might be of no use whatsoever.  The latter would be far more militarily effective and politically helpful, but would take much more time and effort.  While General Dempsey’s testimony suggested that the United States planned to take the latter approach (which I consider the better course by far) the matter does not appear settled at this point.[2]

A huge, unanswered question on the military side in Syria is whether (or when) the air campaign will expand beyond ISIS and the Sunni militants to begin targeting the Asad regime’s forces as well.

In the meantime, as these ground forces are readied, the air campaign will roll on.  The strikes we have seen to date in Iraq and Syria give a good indication of what that air campaign will look like.  It will be a unified campaign, striking targets in both Iraq and Syria ore or less simultaneously.  (In that sense, it is the one piece of the strategy that will be truly unified).  Moreover, it will have two primary target sets.  The first will be terrorist targets.  Anytime the U.S. identifies groups interested in striking the U.S. or its allies, it will get hit.  The “Khorasan Group” of Jabhat al-Nusra falls into this category, but so too would ISIS operatives planning terrorist operations.

The second will be a more conventional air interdiction campaign that will seek to attrite and disrupt enemy forces whenever they are vulnerable.  That will include command and control facilities (and personnel), logistical infrastructure, training facilities, barracks, motor pools, economic targets like the oil fields hit this week, transportation assets, and field-deployed combat forces whenever the Coalition receives actionable intelligence on such targets.  That last is an important point: given how much time it will take for the ground forces to be readied, the air campaign is likely to focus on targets of opportunity, striking enemy assets whenever they are vulnerable, whatever and wherever they may be.

Good analogies of this part of the strategy would be the air campaigns against Iraqi forces in the Kuwaiti Theater of Operations during the first 39-days of Operation Desert Storm in 1991, or the Allied air campaign against German targets in France during the build-up to D-Day in 1944.  In both cases, the United States and its allies spent weeks/months working over the enemy’s forces, killing combat forces when available, but otherwise relentlessly busting up logistical facilities, transport assets (trucks, trains, cars, etc.), leadership targets, communications systems, and chokepoints (like bridges and overpasses).  In both cases, these constant attacks wore down the enemy to the point where when the ground forces finally attacked, they had been considerably weakened.

A huge, unanswered question on the military side in Syria is whether (or when) the air campaign will expand beyond ISIS and the Sunni militants to begin targeting the Asad regime’s forces as well.  That is a necessary component of the strategy that the Administration has laid out, and it is not something that needs to start right away.  But it will have to happen at some point, and well before the new Syrian opposition forces are ready to take the field to ensure that they can succeed when they do so.  But going after the regime’s forces will mean both a much bigger military operations, since it will have to first neutralize the regime’s residual air defense network, and a much bigger diplomatic and political fight since Russia and Iran will protest loudly and may try to increase their support to Syria—or even cause trouble for the U.S. elsewhere.

Political-Military Tensions

It is also important to note that there are likely to be significant tensions between military best practices and immediate political needs.  In an ideal world, the Coalition would spend a year or more doing nothing but training the relevant Iraqi and Syrian ground forces, while the air campaign slowly wears down ISIS, other militant groups, and potentially the Asad regime as well.  We would only unleash those ground forces (with U.S. air support) when they were completely ready to go both quantitatively and qualitatively.  Again, D-Day or Operation Desert Storm are good historical analogies.However, the political reality is that American, European, Arab, Iraqi and Syrian opposition leaders will all be under pressure to demonstrate that they are taking action and not simply giving their adversaries a free hand to consolidate power over the territory they control.  All will want ground operations to start as soon as possible, and they will likely press the military commanders to mount limited operations as soon as the first ground forces are ready—or close to it.  The old phrase “close enough for government work” comes readily to mind.  The danger in that is if these limited operations are unsuccessful and the first of the newly-trained ground forces are defeated, it could demoralize the rest of the force, set-back the broader training programs, and exacerbate the inevitable political-infighting that attends any military coalition.  (The failure of the Dieppe raid in 1942 is a good historical example illustrating these issues.)

Political Challenges

The military dimensions of the strategy are increasingly clear, and the challenges they face are not insignificant, but relatively straightforward.  On the political side, the situation is far more murky.

First off there are the problems likely to attend the international effort.  Americans always prefer to fight as part of a coalition, and in this case, some of the countries that Washington is working on have important—even unique—assets that they bring to this particular fight.  The problem is that the countries that are most enthusiastic about the fight, namely the Europeans, have the least to contribute. Whereas, those with the most to contribute, the Sunni Arab states and Turkey, are the least enthusiastic about the American strategy.  Certainly, the European states can and already have contributed some small military forces and they may also be helpful with limited reconstruction funding, but that’s about the extent of it.  And ultimately, the United States does not need European aircraft, at least not militarily.  While European financial contributions will either be inadequate or irrelevant depending on whether the Gulf Arab states make good on their pledges to shoulder the vast bulk of the costs for Syria.

For the Sunni states of the Middle East, the problem is complicated.  They all do hate and fear ISIS.  But they also hate and fear the Shi’a and Iran even more.  Most believe that Iraq and Syria are simply two fronts in a much bigger, more important Sunni-Shi’a struggle for the soul of the Muslim Umma.  What’s more, many of the Arab Sunni states—including Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Jordan—fear the moderate Sunni Islamists of the Muslim Brotherhood more than they fear the Salafi extremists of ISIS.  In Syria, these differences are less of a hassle because Washington’s new strategy is about defeating both ISIS and the (the Iranian-backed and predominantly-Shi’a) Asad regime.  However, in Iraq, the Administration hopes to empower both moderate Sunni forces, which may include Brotherhood elements, and the (Iranian-backed and predominantly-Shi’a) government against ISIS and its allies.  That is not terribly comfortable for the Sunni states, and an important reason why they have been far more supportive of the Syria half of the strategy than the Iraq half.  In the future, it may be possible to convince them that even in Iraq the approach will not simply empower their worst enemies at the expense of lesser enemies, but it will take some doing.

The military dimensions of the strategy are increasingly clear, and the challenges they face are not insignificant, but relatively straightforward. On the political side, the situation is far more murky.

In Iraq, the new cabinet is an important step forward, but it is only a very small step.  Iraqis still need to sort out the new shape of their political system.  The Sunnis are determined to see a fully-articulated federal structure emerge, one in which the majority-Sunni provinces have enormous autonomy, including control of their own military forces as the Kurds already do.  Some Shi’a recognize that there will need to be change, but many want a return to the status quo ante, with a strong central government and limited federal powers—essentially the Maliki era without Maliki’s excesses.  Not only will it be difficult to reconcile these competing perspectives, but these differences will play out right from the start in virtually every military, political, or economic decision that the new Iraqi government makes.  Both sides will be constantly weighing any move to assess which side it advantages in that ultimate fight, and that is likely to hamstring the fight against ISIS at every turn.

With Syria, the weakness of the political element of the strategy is even more pronounced.  Simply put, the United States will have to lead an effort of nation-building to heal the wounds of the civil war.  It is unavoidable.  President Obama himself recognized this reality in his interview with Tom Friedman of The New York Times in August.  There he observed that a lesson he learned from Libya in 2011 was that military intervention that was not backed by a major effort to build a functional state afterwards would simply lead to chaos and a new set of threats to American interests.  In the interview, the President implied that this recognition was one reason that he did not want to intervene in Syria because he was not ready to commit to such a program there.  Now, having committed the United States to just such an intervention, he cannot escape the logic of his own contention.  But neither the United States nor any of its allies appear to have given any thought to what post conflict reconstruction in Syria would entail, let alone begun to plan and prepare for that effort.[3]  That could be the largest and most difficult aspect of the entire strategy.

The Big Picture

Despite all of the challenges the new U.S. strategy toward Iraq and Syria faces, it should not be seen as hopeless.  The new strategy is entirely feasible, the challenges identified could all be addressed (and have been, in other efforts elsewhere in the past), and the primary variable is the extent of the American commitment.  Of equal importance, there is no other alternative strategy that has a higher likelihood of succeeding.

Articulating all of the challenges this strategy faces, including those that the Administration simply has not addressed yet, should not be seen as suggesting that its proposed course of action is foolish.  It is not.  However, it is heavily dependent on their willingness to properly implement and resource it.

[1] Of course, that does not mean that it always works.  Kosovo in 1999 is an important contrary example.  There, U.S. air power, weaponry and advisors were not sufficient to enable the Kosovo Liberation Army to defeat the Serbs.  That said, the Serbs were far more powerful than either the Asad regime’s residual armed forces or ISIS and its allies.

[2] For those interested in a more extensive explanation of how (and why) the United States should build a new Syrian opposition Army as the Administration has indicated it will, see Kenneth M. Pollack, “An Army to Defeat Assad: How to Turn Syria’s Opposition Into a Real Fighting Force,” Foreign Affairs, Vol. 93, No. 5 (September/October 2014), pp. 110-124.

[3] For a fuller treatment of this problem, see Kenneth M. Pollack, “We Need to Begin Nation Building Right Now in Syria,” The New Republic online, September 24, 2014, available at

To Light a Candle – trailer for a film by Maziar Bahari

The Baha’is are a religious minority in Iran. They are systematically imprisoned, tortured and killed by the Iranian government. The Islamic regime bans the Baha’is to study or teach in Iranian universities. But the Baha’is do teach, and they do study. Since 1987 the Baha’is started BIHE, an underground university with hundreds of students in Iran, and dozens of teachers in Iran and around the world. Through powerful interviews, exclusive secret footage shot by citizen journalists, rare archival material and dramatic letters written by a Baha’i prisoners currently in jail in Iran, To Light a Candle shows how a small minority has defied the brutal systematic religious persecution through non-violent resistance and educating their youth. A film by Maziar Bahari.

Radio 91,2| Steinmeier drängt auf Lösung im Atomstreit mit Iran

In den Atom-Verhandlungen mit dem Iran drängt Deutschland auf eine baldige Lösung. Außenminister Frank-Walter Steinmeier mahnte am Rande der UN-Vollversammlung in New York, die Chancen für eine Einigung jetzt auch zu nutzen.
Bundesaußenminister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (l) begrüßt am am Rande der UN-Generalversammlung in New York den Präsidenten des Iran, Hassan Ruhani. Foto: Daniel Bockwoldt

Bundesaußenminister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (l) begrüßt am am Rande der UN-Generalversammlung in New York den Präsidenten des Iran, Hassan Ruhani. Foto: Daniel Bockwoldt

«Es liegen viele Angebote und Vorschläge auf dem Tisch», sagte Steinmeier am Donnerstagabend (Ortszeit) nach einem Treffen mit dem iranischen Präsidenten Hassan Ruhani. «Es ist jetzt die Zeit, den Konflikt endlich zu beenden.»

Der Iran steht seit vielen Jahren im Verdacht, unter dem Deckmantel eines zivilen Nuklearprogramms an der Entwicklung eigener Atomwaffen zu arbeiten. Die Regierung in Teheran weist dies zurück.

Die Verhandlungen zwischen dem Iran und den fünf ständigen Mitgliedern des UN-Sicherheitsrates – USA, China, Russland, Großbritannien und Frankreich – sowie Deutschland (5+1) liefen auch am Rande der Vollversammlung weiter. Letzter Termin für eine Einigung ist eigentlich der 24. November. Als wichtige Wegmarke gelten die Zwischenwahlen in den USA Anfang November.

Steinmeier betonte nach seinem etwa 45-minütigen Treffen mit dem als gemäßigt geltenden iranischen Präsidenten, in den vergangenen Monaten habe es durchaus Fortschritte gegeben. «Jetzt ist es an der Zeit, den Abschluss zu suchen.» Zugleich dämpfte er Hoffnungen auf einen baldigen Durchbruch. «Der letzte Teil der Strecke, der jetzt noch vor uns liegt, ist vielleicht der schwerste. Es sind noch Hürden zu überwinden.»

Von iranischer Seite gab es zu dem Treffen zunächst keinen Kommentar. Irans Vize-Außenminister Abbas Araghchi sagte jedoch, insgesamt habe sich sein Land von den Verhandlungen in New York mehr erhofft. «Bei den Streitpunkten haben wir immer noch erhebliche Differenzen», wurde Araghchi von iranischen Medien zitiert.

Vollständiger Artikel

Twenty Questions for Iranian President Hassan Rouhani

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani arrives at the United Nations in New York.Iranian President Hassan Rouhani landed in New York on Monday and began a blitz of media and official meetings on the sidelines of the annual United Nations General Assembly sessions. During his stay, Rouhani will engage with carefully selected groups of journalists, academics, and business people. He will undoubtedly be queried on a wide variety of topics, including the U.S. air campaign against militant groups in Iraq and Syria, the nuclear negotiations, and his first-year track record. He may also be probed about his views of the Holocaust, an issue that his predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and other Iranian leaders have often used to stoke controversy, and about the steady drumbeat of human rights abuses committed by the Iranian government, including the July arrest of an Iranian-American correspondent for the Washington Post.

Rouhani brings to these conversations the sharp debate skills of his varied experience — as a cleric, a bureaucrat, and a retail politician who served five terms in Iran’s boisterous parliament. His performance in televised interviews and press conferences, as well as his compelling memoir of the early nuclear negotiations, demonstrate that unlike Ahmadinejad, he is capable of engaging in a genuine give-and-take. Here are some of the questions I’d put to Iran’s president during his U.S. visit this week:

  1. Eighteen months ago, when you were considering a bid for the presidency, you noted that „conditions [within Iran] are ripe for a moderate way of thinking.“ Do you still believe this to be the case, and can moderate leadership overcome the continuing role of those Iranian political forces that advocate more extreme policies?
  2. Each of your predecessors has experienced significant difficulties in advancing his agenda due to domestic opposition in his second term, if not earlier. Do you think you can avoid a similar fate?
  3. Your presidency follows 16 years when the executive branch was led by men who were, in very different fashion, quite polarizing within the Iranian establishment, reformist Mohammad Khatami and hard-liner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. You have sought to carve out a less factionalized presidency, one that draws upon the entire political elite from hard-liners to reformists. But you have experienced vocal opposition to many of your policies and appointees. Is it possible to transcend Iran’s well-entrenched factionalism?
  4. You worked closely with Mir Husayn Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi in their respective roles as prime minister and speaker of the parliament during the 1980s and 1990s. They have now spent more than three and a half years under a very severe form of house arrest. Have you personally sought to secure their release?
  5. You have openly advocated expanding internet access and removing filtering and other forms of censoring the web. However, there is still powerful opposition within both the government itself and among many prominent clerics, and Iranians are still forced to use circumvention techniques to access applications like Twitter that you and your ministers use routinely. How can your government overcome the objections within the political establishment to unfettered internet access and, more broadly to lifting other restrictions on freedom of speech?
  6. Your economic agenda has sought to mitigate the impact of sanctions while your diplomacy has focused on eliminating them. Do you believe that Iran could survive and prosper if the current sanctions remain in place indefinitely? If there is no agreement, and new sanctions are imposed targeting Iran’s remaining oil exports, can your efforts to create jobs and growth while reducing inflation succeed?
  7. What role, if any, did the behind-the-scenes talks between U.S. and Iranian officials that took place prior to your June 2013 election have in persuading Iranian leaders that it was time for a shift in their approach to the nuclear negotiations?
  8. If a comprehensive agreement cannot be reached by the November 24 deadline, would you support efforts to continue diplomacy with the P5+1? How will Iran react if a deal is not concluded and the U.S. Congress moves to adopt new unilateral sanctions against Iran?
  9. Having personally led the negotiations on the nuclear issue in the early years of this impasse, do you support proposals by some Iranian officials to link the nuclear talks with cooperation on the regional crisis? Would broadening the agenda of the negotiations with the P5+1 be constructive or would it undermine the prospects for resolving either set of issues?
  10. Do you have confidence in President Obama’s capability to fulfill any commitments made as part of a comprehensive nuclear agreement? Are you concerned about the U.S. electoral cycle, and the possibility that the president’s successor may not be willing to adhere to a deal?
  11. You recently told an American interviewer that a „close relationship between the two nations [Iran and the United States] can resolve many problems…We have to look at future more than the past.“ Are there issues on which you believe Washington and Tehran could engage constructively or even cooperate? Would you support revising the „no contact“ policy that both governments still adhere to in all diplomatic interactions except for the nuclear talks?
  12. You have described the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS as „ridiculous“ and this week’s airstrikes on the group’s positions in Syria as „illegal.“ Are there any conditions under which Tehran would support a political solution to the Syrian civil war that removed Bashar al Assad and his inner circle from government? Given Iran’s longstanding alliance with the Assad regime and the horrifying toll of this conflict on the Syrian people and the security of the region, what is Iran prepared to do to facilitate an end to the bloodshed?
  13. This week marks the 34th anniversary of the Iraqi invasion of Iran. How did this experience shape your view of the world, and that of other revolutionary leaders? Since you, like the supreme leader and many other senior Iranian officials, were deeply involved with the war effort, how do you view Iran’s relationship with Iraq and role in Iraqi politics today? Is it possible for Iran play a constructive role in building a democratic, nonsectarian Iraq?
  14. In Yemen, Houthi rebels who have long been backed by Tehran have just ousted the country’s prime minister. Will you support a democratic, inclusive Yemeni government? How will the shift in Yemen impact your efforts to promote rapprochement with Riyadh?
  15. During your New York stay, you are scheduled to meet with David Cameron, a first for an Iranian president and a British prime minister since the revolution. Last year, you spoke with President Obama by telephone during your UNGA visit. Can these unprecedented personal overtures to the leaders of countries with which Iran’s relations have been strained provide a pathway to a durable bilateral rapprochement?
  16. In recent weeks, there have been news reports of several sizeable trade deals signed by Iranian and Russian officials. Do you see Moscow as an attractive economic and strategic partner for Iran? Based on your long bilateral history, and Russia’s performance in the construction of the Bushehr power plant, do you have confidence in Moscow’s reliability to fulfill its commitments to Iran?
  17. Iran has recently undertaken joint naval exercises with China in the Persian Gulf. Would Iran welcome a more substantial role for China in ensuring the security of energy flow from the region?
  18. Earlier this year, there was a controversy surrounding Iran’s nominee for its United Nations envoy, Hamid Aboutalebi, over his role as a translator to the students who overran the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in November 1979 and held its staff hostage for 444 days. President Obama signed a bill with overwhelming Congressional support to reject Mr. Aboutalebi’s visa request. Mr. Aboutalebi continues to serve as your deputy chief of staff for political affairs and an important advisor. Were you surprised that the Embassy seizure remains such a sensitive issue for Americans? Will Iran nominate another individual in his place?
  19. Beyond the Iranian diaspora community, there is still very limited direct contact between Americans and Iranians today. In 2006, one of your predecessors, Mohammad Khatami, engaged in a U.S. speaking tour. If you could invite one American – a politician, a business leader, or a cultural figure – to Iran to see the country and hear from its people first-hand, who would that be?
  20. You were awarded a doctoral degree by Glasgow Caledonian University, which makes you the first Iranian president since Abolhassan Bani Sadr, who was impeached and forced to flee the country in July 1981, to have studied in the West. How does that impact your views of Iran’s relations with the world? Would you advise future Iranian leaders to explore opportunities to study in Europe, America or elsewhere in the world?


FAZ| Messenger sollen in Iran verboten werden

In Iran sollen fast alle Messenger fürs Smartphone blockiert werden. Damit müssten die Nutzer auf beliebte Dienste wie WhatsApp verzichten. Es wäre aber auch eine Niederlage für Präsident Ruhani.

© DPAVergrößernIrans Justiz will Messenger im Land blockieren

Fast alle Kommunikationsprogramme auf Smartphones sollen in Iran verboten werden. Die iranische Oberstaatsanwaltschaft forderte den Kommunikationsminister auf, innerhalb eines Monats die in dem Land äußerst beliebten Smartphone-Kommunikationsprogramme Viber, Tango und WhatsApp zu blockieren. Sonst werde die Staatsanwaltschaft dies über ihre eigene Kanäle tun, berichtete die Nachrichtenagentur ISNA am Samstag.

Mit dieser Entscheidung geht die Internet-Paranoia in Iran in die nächste Runde. Die Behörde für Internetkriminalität hatte schon Anfang des Jahres ein Verbot der Kommunikationsprogramme gefordert. Über diese Programme könnten Informationen im Ausland landen, was für das Land eine große Gefahr werden könnte.

Vollständiger Artikel

Iran Brief—Nuclear investigation “not an endless process” and other news

The IAEA director general urged Iran to fulfill its transparency obligations, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei criticized U.S.’s strategy against ISIS, and more in this week’s edition of the Belfer Iran Brief, covering September 9—September 15.

By Henry Rome


  • IAEA said its investigation is “not an endless process,” as Iran pledged to complete transparency measures.
  • Two-thirds of Iranian youth use the internet and 70% said they use software to evade government’s censorship of sites, according to a new poll.
  • Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei said he rejected U.S. appeals for assistance against ISIS, telling reporters: “I opposed it and said we will not cooperate with the Americans in this regard since they have a corrupt intention and stained hands.”

Diplomacy and nuclear issue

  • IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano addressed Iran’s failure to meet several transparency milestones, saying “this is not an endless process.” He predicted that if Iran cooperated with the IAEA investigation, conclusions could be made in 15 months or less. But Amano added that IAEA would publish findings regardless, allowing member nations to draw their own conclusions. (Reuters, 9/15;AP, 9/15)
    • Reza Najafi, Iran’s ambassador to IAEA, rejected assertions that “deadlock” exists between Iran and IAEA over nuclear program and said “we are ready to complete” additional measures. (Reuters, 9/9)
    • Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi, one of Iran’s nuclear negotiators, said a “difficult road” lies ahead during negotiations. (AFP, 9/11)
    • Iranian negotiators are slated to meet with E.U. representatives on Wednesday in New York. (Press TV, 9/14)
  • A recent Iranian exhibition of nuclear components said to be sabotaged “reveals the importance of non-Western countries, such as China, as key locations for Iran’s dual-use procurement.” (King’s College London, 9/4; also see related report by Institute for Science and International Security, 9/10).
    • Additionally, “exhibition of allegedly sabotaged equipment has highlighted Iran’s long-known preference for European and US-origin dual-use controlled goods, such as vacuum pumps and pressure transducers.”
  • Iran’s atomic energy organization announced plans to construct two additional nuclear power plants in Bushehr. Iran said it was in final negotiations with the Russians on construction, which could begin in the next six months. (Press TV, 9/15; Fars News, 9/15)

Sanctions and Iran’s economy

  • Iran is expanding its capability to store crude oil on land, which could free up oil tankers to broaden oil trade. (Reuters, 9/11)
  • Russian officials visited Iran to pledge increased economic ties between the two countries. Iran’s Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said: “God willing, we will quickly increase the level of relations up to more than 10 times.” (AP, 9/9)

Iranian domestic politics

Two girls use Facebook in a Tehran coffee shop
October 13, 2013 – Two girls use Facebook in a north Tehran coffee shop. A recent survey found that two thirds of Iranian youth use the internet. (Kaveh Kazemi/Getty Images)
  • Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei was discharged from a Tehran hospital after prostate surgery. (Press TV, 9/15)
  • A new United Nations report criticized President Hassan Rouhani for failing to live up to promises to improve human rights, including religious freedom and freedom of expression. Iran rejected the accuracy of the report. (Reuters, 9/12)
  • Two-thirds of Iranian youth use internet and 70% said they use software to evade government’s censorship of sites. (Tehran Times, 9/9)
    • When asked for their biggest worries, 30% indicated financial concerns and another 30% selected unemployment.
  • Iran is fielding Khalij Fars (Persian Gulf) anti-ship ballistic missile system to “operational units.” With reported range of 300 km, “it is capable of threatening maritime activity throughout the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz,” according to a Pentagon report. (Jane’s 360, 9/8)
  • Iran’s Culture Ministry reportedly has shut down several conservative news sites critical of Rouhani. (Al-Monitor, 9/10)

US-Iran relations

  • Henry Kissinger, on heels of the release of his new book, told NPR “I consider Iran a bigger problem than ISIS. ISIS is a group of adventurers with a very aggressive ideology. But they have to conquer more and more territory before they can became a geo-strategic, permanent reality. I think a conflict with ISIS — important as it is — is more manageable than a confrontation with Iran.” (NPR, 9/6)
  • See “Geopolitics and Iran.”

Geopolitics and Iran

  • Khamenei said Iran rejected U.S. requests to coordinate actions against ISIS. He said that Secretary of State John Kerry and Undersecretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman both requested Iranian assistance.
    • Khamenei, quoted in state media: “I opposed it and said we will not cooperate with the Americans in this regard since they have a corrupt intention and stained hands. And how could we have cooperation with the Americans under such conditions?” (Fars News, 9/15)
    • Neither Iran nor Syria were invited to Paris conference regarding ISIS.
    • Kerry said he would not rule out non-military cooperation with Iran, but later added, “We are not coordinating with Iran. Period….I’m not going to get into a back and forth.” (AP, 9/15; Reuters 9/15)
    • Iranian border guards arrested three people from Afghanistan and Pakistan suspected of attempting to transit Iran to join ISIS. (AP, 9/9)
    • ISIS’ advance has derailed planned completion of natural gas pipeline between Iran and Iraq. (AP, 9/10)
  • Revolutionary Guard forces repelled attack from militants based in Pakistan, who sought to seize base near Saravan, Iran. (Press TV, 9/9)
  • Rouhani congratulated Iraq on selection of new Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi. (Tehran Times, 9/10)


  • Israeli defense minister Moshe Ya’alon visited Azerbaijan to meet with senior officials and support Israeli defense companies participating in Azeri exhibition. (Globes, 9/10; Times of Israel, 9/10) Note: It was the first visit by an Israeli defense minister to Azerbaijan, an Israeli ally.
    • Israeli drone shot down by Revolutionary Guard in August may have originated in Azerbaijan, Iran said. Meanwhile, Iran requested that IAEA condemn Israel’s alleged drone surveillance. (Press TV, 9/10)

Source: Henry Rome is a research assistant at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.

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