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IranSaudi ArabiaYemenWednesday, April 22, 2015

Saudi Arabia, Iran, the United States, and the Way out of Yemen

Saudi Arabia, Iran, the United States, and the Way out of Yemen April 22, 2015 Saudi Arabia announced yesterday that it was transitioning from a military to a political emphasis in its intervention in Yemen, ending Operation Decisive Storm and beginning a new phase, Operation Restoring Hope. Though airstrikes continued today, Saudi and Houthi officials said they were nearing an arrangement to revive the country’s collapsed political dialogue. The promise of renewed talks has weakened the Houthis’ support, as their most powerful allies have come out in favor of negotiations. This includes Iran, which has provided limited support to the Houthis, but which reports indicate had little influence over the organization. The United States has pressured Saudi Arabia to wind down its air campaign, and… Read More ›

CongressIran NegotiationsMonday, April 20, 2015

Congress Takes on Risky Role in Iran Deal

Congress Takes on Risky Role in Iran Deal April 20, 2015 Last week, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee removed the most toxic provisions from a bill that would allow Congress to review and vote its approval or disapproval of a nuclear agreement with Iran. The legislation could come before the Senate floor as early as this week and represents a compromise between the original bill, spearheaded by Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), and more pro-diplomacy positions. The result is not a good bill – as Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) said at the markup hearing, it is a “largely unnecessary endeavor” that “doesn’t reserve for Congress any power that we don’t already have.” But the compromise has removed the worst provisions of the bill and the Obama… Read More ›

diplomacyIranMarco RubioTuesday, April 14, 2015

Rubio’s Platform Is All Criticism, No Alternatives

Rubio’s Platform is All Criticism, No Alternatives April 14, 2015 Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) punted on foreign policy and national security issues in his speech  announcing his candidacy for president,  limiting his discussion of these issues to a single paragraph. Still, his positions are as clear as they are familiar: Sen. Rubio espouses the same Cold War mentality that made Sen. John McCain such a troubling candidate for commander-in-chief in 2008. He is quick to criticize what he sees as American weakness, from the nuclear negotiations with Iran to U.S. policies toward Russia and China, but he fails to present credible alternatives. As he builds his platform in the months to come, he will need to make a compelling case for not just what’s wrong… Read More ›

diplomacyIran NegotiationsMonday, April 13, 2015

Sen. Corker’s Iran Legislation: A Bad Bill Beyond Repair

Sen. Corker’s Iran Legislation: A Bad Bill Beyond Repair April 13, 2015 Tomorrow, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is expected to mark up the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, a bill proposed by Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ). The bill has been percolating in Congress for months and has been described as a reasonable alternative to sanctions legislation that would derail the P5+1 Iranian nuclear negotiations. However, Sen. Corker’s legislation contains a litany of provisions that would move the goalposts on an agreement and make any deal – even a good deal – almost impossible to implement. Some senators are expected to propose several amendments tomorrow to try to rectify some of these concerns, while Republican members plan on… Read More ›

Friday, April 10, 2015

Removing Cuba from the State Sponsors of Terrorism List

Recognizing Reality: Removing Cuba from the State Sponsors of Terrorism List April 10, 2015 Starting today, President Obama will attend the two-day Summit of the Americas held in Panama, where he is expected to interact with Cuba’s Raul Castro. The summit, which takes place every three years, comes as the Obama Administration’s policy of normalizing relations with Cuba is set to proceed. Most notably, the State Department has just recommended that Cuba be removed from the State Sponsors of Terrorism list on the grounds that the country has not practiced or aided terrorism for decades. President Obama is expected to act on the State Department’s recommendation, removing an obstacle to the normalization of ties between the United States and Cuba and opening the door to… Read More ›

Rand PaulWednesday, April 8, 2015

What is Sen. Rand Paul Actually Advocating on Foreign Policy?

What is Sen. Rand Paul Actually Advocating on Foreign Policy? April 8, 2015 Yesterday Sen. Rand Paul announced his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination in a speech in Louisville, Kentucky. Sen. Paul has been an outlier among conservatives in the Senate and has set himself apart from the hawks within his party, particularly on civil liberties and foreign intervention issues. Last December, he cited the National Security Network while discussing the precedent for placing limitations on the U.S. intervention in Iraq and Syria during a Senate markup of a proposed authorization for use of military force (AUMF). But his speech yesterday showed a marked departure from his previous positions – arch-neoconservative Bill Kristol noted his policies were more hawkish. The result was a confusing… Read More ›

IranP5+1 TalksMonday, April 6, 2015

Five Myths About the Iran Framework Deal

Five Myths about the Iran Framework Deal April 6, 2015 The framework for a comprehensive agreement reached by P5+1 negotiators at Lausanne, Switzerland, last week has established the overarching terms of a sustainable, peaceful solution to the Iranian nuclear issue. The terms are more favorable than many expected, and even skeptics of diplomacy – from experts like United Against Nuclear Iran’s Gary Samore to pundits like Bill O’Reilly – say it’s a credible deal worth pursuing. However, some people still aren’t convinced and have brought out many of the same arguments against the deal that were being made before there was a deal to criticize. Here are five of the top reasons critics say the United States should reject the deal, and why they’re wrong.… Read More ›

IranP5+1 TalksFriday, April 3, 2015

5 Key Takeaways from the Iran Deal

5 Key Takeaways from the Iran Deal April 3, 2015 The framework for a nuclear agreement with Iran announced yesterday in Lausanne, Switzerland, lays the foundations of a strong, sustainable solution to Iran’s nuclear program. Former National Security Advisor Sandy Berger joined other members of NSN’s Board of Directors and Advisory Board in a statement saying, “the Obama Administration and international partners have taken a responsible approach to negotiations…” They added, “A comprehensive final agreement would demonstrate that the United States can secure major security interests without the use of force, even if it must deal with one of its long-standing adversaries. It is our hope that a final comprehensive agreement will demonstrate that the United States can pursue its interests in the Middle East… Read More ›

IranNuclear SecurityP5+1 TalksMonday, March 30, 2015

How to Judge a Nuclear Deal with Iran

How to Judge a Nuclear Deal with Iran March 30, 2015 Negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran have intensified this week, as the nominal end-of-month deadline nears for a political framework agreement that would prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. There has been a recent flurry of analysis of what the terms of a deal would mean, but this is premature – any agreement that is reached is still under negotiation and still subject to change. If a deal is reached, Congress and subject matter experts will have to assess whether or not it can succeed in preventing Iran from building a nuclear weapon. That means looking ahead at the implications of a deal, not getting sidetracked by possible past violations that are separate… Read More ›

diplomacySaudi ArabiaYemenFriday, March 27, 2015

Understanding the Crisis in Yemen

Understanding the Crisis in Yemen March 27, 2015 With Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi facing a Houthi offensive against his refuge in Aden earlier this week, Saudi Arabia and a coalition of Sunni-majority nations launched a military intervention to push back the Houthis’ gains and restore Hadi’s government to Sanaa. Though the United States is not responsible for Yemen’s recent decline, it has for too long emphasized counterterrorism at the expense of political and economic concerns. Going forward, it should look to deescalate the conflict and restart the country’s political transition – the best way to bring Yemen the stability it needs to confront its many challenges. There are ways the United States can do that within the Saudi-led coalition, to which the United… Read More ›

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