Iran Frees Americans as Sanctions Are Lifted, Frustrating Warmongers Around the World

Iran has freed four dual-nationality prisoners, including an American/Iranian pastor and an American/Iranian Washington Post reporter who had been accused of working for the U.S. to foment regime change in Iran. The release was part of a prisoner swap, in which seven Iranians imprisoned in the U.S. over sanction violations were also freed. A fifthAmerican was freed by Iran outside of the swap.

Within hours of the release, devastating international sanctions on Iran were lifted after international inspectors verified its compliance with the terms of last year’s nuclear deal between Iran and Western powers.

Taken together, the prisoner swap, Iran’s compliance with its nuclear-deal commitments, and the sanction relief mark what may be a historic thaw in relations between the U.S. and Iran. This, however, should not be exaggerated, as the U.S. continues many belligerent policies directed at Iran, especially in the realm of proxy warfare (see below).

The developments at least mark a short term political triumph for the chief negotiators of the nuclear deal: the administrations of U.S. President Barack Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Rouhani was elected on the basis of his campaign promise to negotiate detente with the U.S. and to accomplish economic relief from sanctions for the Iranian people. Parliamentary elections in Iran will be held late next month, making the lifting of the sanctions exceedingly well-timed for Rouhani’s political party.

Conversely, the thaw is a supreme setback to Rouhani’s political rivals, the hardliners in Iran who have strenuously opposed the nuclear deal.

The hardliners in the U.S., Israel, and Saudi Arabia are certainly furious as well.

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Iran War Weekly | July 22, 2013

[Reprinted with the author’s permission. Reformatted for]

Iran’s newly elected president will take office on August 3, and negotiations about Iran’s nuclear program are expected to begin in early September. In the interim, intense and possibly important debates are taking place within the US policy-making elite about whether developments in Syria and Iran should prompt the United States to make more positive and creative diplomatic approaches toward Tehran.

Among the most important efforts for a more positive diplomatic effort by the United States is a statement urging such an approach signed by (as of today) 131 members of the House of Representatives, the largest number of signatories ever received by a “pro-Iran-negotiations” congressional effort. Among the 131 signers were a majority of the House Democrats. Also, on July 15 a letter signed by 29 “former policymakers, diplomats, military officials, and experts” called on President Obama to recognize the opportunities for diplomacy signaled by Rouhani’s victory in Iran’s presidential election. Both of these documents, along with some discussion, are linked below.

Needless to say, the “bomb Iran” crowd hasn’t taken this lying down. Their most significant effort came in an appearance by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu on the CBS program “Face the Nation,” which the New York Times echo chamber immediately characterized as “Israel Increases Pressure on U.S. to Act on Iran” (the statement by a majority of the governing party was not characterized by The Times as putting pressure on anybody). I’ve linked several good/useful analyses of Israel’s post-(Iran) election dilemmas below.
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Iran War Weekly | July 8, 2013

[Reprinted with the author’s permission.]

The few reporters and writers who remained at their posts over this sweltering July 4th weekend have been focused primarily on the events in Egypt, and there is relatively little new news about Iran, its nuclear program, and/or the prospects for war or peace. The events in Egypt, of course, have some bearing on events in Syria and thus with Iran, and I will address them below.

Although newly elected President Rowhani will assume Iran’s presidency on August 3, there are still no signs that the United States intends to modify its negotiating position re: Iran’s nuclear program; nor, indeed, do the “P5+1” seem anxious to get back to the negotiating table at all. As a reminder of how unrealistic are the US “offers” now on the table, I’ve linked below their “confidence building” proposals from last March.
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Iran War Weekly | July 2, 2013

[Reprinted with author’s permission.]

Will the election of Iranian president Hassan Rowhani encourage Washington and its European allies to abandon thoughts of regime change and move towards a resolution of their dispute with Iran over the latter’s nuclear program? While Rowhani will not take office until August, he has already indicated that he welcomes renewed engagement with “the West.” At the same time, he has made it clear that Iran will not be deflected from pursuing what it sees as its right to develop a civilian nuclear energy program. The ball is thus in President Obama’s court; and the options under consideration now in Washington are reflected in some of the essays linked below that assess the meaning of the Iranian election.

Whether or not a settlement with Iran is actually within reach will also depend on the course President Obama sets for US policy toward the conflict in Syria. It will obviously not be conducive to building diplomatic confidence if the United States carries out its plans to arm the Syrian rebels, or moves to establish a “no-fly zone” over some or all of Syria, or insists that peace negotiations at Geneva are only possible if Iran is refused a place at the table. Yet all of these negative developments (and more) now seem likely, and the possibility, portended by Rowhani’s election, of ending the US conflict with Iran over its nuclear could easily be lost.

Yet the concept of “likely” seems to be vanishing from the political scene. Who would have predicted that our political landscape would be so altered by Rowhani’s election, by Edward Snowden’s revelations, by the uprisings against Turkey’s Erdogan or Egypt’s Morsi, etc.? As “unlikely” as it may seem, perhaps the great many rational reasons why it is in the interests of the leaders of the United States to reverse course and work for a peaceful outcome in Syria and with Iran may prevail. Stranger things have happened.

Once again I would like to thank those who you who have forwarded this newsletter or linked it on your sites. Previous “issues” of the Iran War Weekly are posted at If you would like to receive the IWW mailings, please send me an email at

Best wishes,
Frank Brodhead
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Iran War Weekly | June 23, 2013

This week’s edition of Frank Brodhead’s Iran War Weekly:

Iran’s presidential election offers “the West” an opportunity to extricate itself from the dangerous political and military logjam it has created with its opposition to Iran’s nuclear program. The question, therefore, is whether the Obama administration and its allies will grasp this chance for a diplomatic outcome that recognizes Iran’s right to enrich uranium, albeit under a rigorous regime of safeguards and inspections, or will it hew to the alternative path of using the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program as a wedge to push for regime change?

Needless to say, even if the Obama regime wishes to reverse course on Iran – which is far from certain – many obstacles remain. Israel has been outspoken in its claims that the Iran’s election has changed nothing, and that Iran’s nuclear program is intended to build weapons. The US Congress and its obsession with regime change is another challenge to a reverse-course strategy; and it would be only with great difficulty that Obama could reduce and eliminate many of the economic sanctions imposed by congressional legislation. Given President Obama’s political stalemate with Congress, it is hard to see him using his dwindling political capital to push back against the powerful forces working for confrontation with Iran.
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