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Analysis & Commentary - Behnam Ben Taleblu

Behnam Ben Taleblu's Latest Articles

26th June 2018 – Axios

Iranians take growing discontent to the streets

Behnam Ben Taleblu

Iranians protesting government policies have shut down parts of the Tehran Grand Bazaar. Social media posts showed Iranian merchants gathering outside the parliament building yesterday chanting anti-regime slogans. The protests, which began in the capital, have reportedly spread to several other towns, with other bazaars shuttering on Tuesday. more...

16th June 2018 – The National

Tehran and its proxies are willing to sacrifice the welfare of ordinary Yemenis to keep the conflict

Behnam Ben Taleblu

“There is no military solution to the conflict,” says the UN special envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths. Iranian officials agree, at least in public, yet Tehran keeps sending weapons to the Houthi rebels, including ballistic missiles. Arming the rebels makes perfect sense when Iran does not want to resolve the conflict. more...

6th June 2018 – Axios

Iran’s strategy to keep the nuclear deal: fear

Behnam Ben Taleblu

Since the U.S.' exit from the Iran nuclear deal, Iran has doubled down on its diplomatic strategy to pressure Europe into offsetting the effect of American sanctions, which are slated to return by November. But Iran also appears to be hedging its bets, claiming to remain committed to the limited restrictions on its nuclear program while professing interest in boosting its enrichment capabilities and centrifuge manufacturing. more...

21st May 2018 – The Hill

Mike Pompeo raises the bar for a deal with Iran

Behnam Ben Taleblu

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo went big — very big — in his speech at the Heritage Foundation Monday. Pompeo’s remarks were the first major statement of U.S. policy towards Iran following the U.S. withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal on May 8. Whereas the JCPOA attempted to deal with the Iranian nuclear threat in isolation, Pompeo demanded nothing less than a fundamental transformation of the Islamic Republic’s behavior. This bold move raises the bar very high for any future deal with Iran. more...

16th May 2018 – The National Interest

Return of the Sanctions: Banks Should Steer Clear of the Central Bank of Iran

Annie Fixler , Behnam Ben Taleblu

The U.S. Treasury Department has set its crosshairs on two more Iranian illicit finance schemes. Late last week, Washington designated a network spanning Iran and the United Arab Emirates that had “procured and transferred millions in U.S. dollar-denominated bulk cash” for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force (IRGC-QF), according to the Treasury Department’s press statement. more...

14th May 2018 – Fortune Magazine

Iran Could Benefit From the Brewing U.S.-Europe Nuclear Deal Dispute

Behnam Ben Taleblu

The EU believes the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal is worth preserving. It is no surprise, then, that President Trump’s decision to restore nuclear sanctions and terminate America’s adherence to the JCPOA risks putting Washington on a collision course with Europe. With sanctions kicking-in between the next 90 to 180 days, all attention will be on the efficacy of American tools of financial pressure. more...

8th May 2018 – Real Clear Defense

Atomic Archive Strengthens Case to Fix Nuclear Deal

Orde Kittrie, Behnam Ben Taleblu

President Trump stated on Twitter Monday afternoon that he will be announcing his “decision on the Iran deal today from the White House at 2:00 p.m.” Trump is facing a deadline of May 12, which is the expiration date of the current waiver of one of the key Iran sanctions laws that are waived to implement the Iran nuclear agreement. more...

8th May 2018 – Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Iran’s options now that Trump has pulled the US out of the nuclear deal

Behnam Ben Taleblu

An inflection point in American policy towards Iran came this afternoon, when President Trump announced he will re-impose nuclear sanctions on Iran and effectively withdraw the U.S.from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal. Having done so, the administration should anticipate the range of responses available to Iran and plan for how to counteract them. more...

7th May 2018 – Defense One

Fixing The Iranian Missile Problem

Behnam Ben Taleblu

President Donald Trump has hinted that his vision for improving the nuclear deal with Iran includes a prohibition on missile tests. “What kind of deal is it where you are allowed to test missiles all over the place?” he recently asked. Indeed, if both sides of the Atlantic are serious about stopping Iran from developing a deliverable nuclear weapon, they should push for a moratorium on nuclear-capable ballistic missile flight-tests. more...

23rd April 2018 – Fox News

Iran spreads lies claiming America supports terrorists after US-led attack on Syria

Behnam Ben Taleblu

Iran has been filling the airwaves and the Internet with anti-American lies, slander and ridiculous conspiracy theories since the U.S., Britain and France launched missile strikes on Syria April 14 in response to dictator Bashar Assad’s use of chemical weapons to kill his own citizens more...

13th April 2018 – Fortune Magazine

Commentary: How Trump Can Neutralize Assad in Syria

Behnam Ben Taleblu

Ali-Akbar Velayati, a foreign affairs advisor to Iran’s Supreme Leader, met with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad on Thursday, just one day after U.S. President Donald Trump threatened military action against Damascus for its latest chemical attacks. The timing of the meeting attests to the resoluteness of Iranian support to Assad, which has only intensified over the past seven years of the Syrian Civil War. As the U.S. contemplates an appropriate military response, it must not miss an opportunity to contest Iran in the most important theater to it in the Middle East. more...

10th April 2018 – FDD's CSIF Policy Brief

Bahraini Bank Investigations Offers Powerful Example for Treating De-listed Entities

Behnam Ben Taleblu, Varsha Koduvayur

The Bahraini government last week disclosed evidence detailing how the now-shuttered Future Bank participated in a multi-billion dollar sanctions-evasion scheme benefiting Iran. Bahrain’s foreign minister, Khalid bin Ahmed al Khalifa, stated that Future Bank was involved in “supporting and funding terrorist entities and organizations” and concealed at least $7 billion in transactions from 2004 until 2015. more...

2nd April 2018 – FDD's Long War Journal

Analysis: An Iranian SAM in the Arabian Peninsula

Behnam Ben Taleblu

Last week, the Saudi Arabian embassy in Washington D.C. released a nine-page primer on Iran’s continued support to Yemen’s Houthi rebels. Buried within the same document was photographic evidence of Saudi Arabia’s latest charge against Iran: the provision of the Sayyad-2C surface-to-air missile (SAM) to Houthi rebels. more...

28th March 2018 – FDD's Long War Journal

A peek inside Houthi Rebel’s recent missile strikes in Saudi Arabia

Behnam Ben Taleblu

Pro-Houthi media outlets like Yemen News Agency (SABA) reported that at least three types of projectiles were fired into the Kingdom. They include the Burkan-2H, the Qaher-2M, and the Badr-1. Both the Burkan and the Qaher have been used multiple times in the Yemeni theater, while the Badr was only unveiled last week. more...

26th March 2018 – FDD's CSIF Policy Brief

Iran’s Cyber Capabilities Expanded throughout Nuclear Talks

Annie Fixler , Behnam Ben Taleblu

The U.S. Treasury and Justice Departments took combined action Friday to designate and indict the Iranian firm Mabna Institute, as well as nine of its contractors responsible for “a coordinated campaign of cyber intrusions.” Between 2013 and 2017, these entities hacked hundreds of universities, private companies, and government agencies in the U.S. and around the world. The four-year campaign to steal billions of dollars’ worth of intellectual property attests to Iran’s evolving cyber capabilities. more...

22nd March 2018 – FDD Policy Brief

The Saudi Crown Prince is in Washington and Has Iran on His Mind

Behnam Ben Taleblu

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman met with President Donald Trump at the White House on Tuesday, the first stop on the prince’s two-and-half-week tour of the United States. Saudi Arabia is looking for American reassurance and support on a wide range of issues related to the Iranian threat, including the kingdom’s quest for nuclear power. more...

14th March 2018 – The Hill

From Iran to North Korea, opportunities await Trump’s new secretary of State

Behnam Ben Taleblu

FDD Research Fellow Behnam Ben Taleblu discusses the implications of Mike Pompeo’s nomination to serve as the next U.S. Secretary of State. Behnam argues that Pompeo can positively impact U.S. coercive diplomacy with intransigent adversaries like the two nuclear-minded rogue regimes in Tehran and Pyongyang. more...

22nd February 2018 – FDD Policy Brief

Iranian Cruise Missiles also a Proliferation Threat

Behnam Ben Taleblu

In its new Worldwide Threat Assessment for 2018, the U.S. intelligence community warns that Iran continues to “enable” attacks by Yemen’s Houthi rebels against America’s Persian Gulf partners. The new assessment highlights “an attempted 3 December cruise missile attack on an unfinished nuclear reactor in Abu Dhabi,” an important indication that the Iranian proliferation threat encompasses cruise missiles, not just ballistic ones. more...

21st February 2018 – FDD's Long War Journal

Parsing the Iran portions of the 2018 Worldwide Threat Assessment

Behnam Ben Taleblu

On select measures of the Iran threat, the 2018 document is remarkably consistent with themes from past assessments. Yet, in this latest assessment, additional attention is paid to the country’s evolving cyber aptitudes and to its turbulent domestic politics. more...

15th February 2018 – The Jewish Chronicle

Last weekend’s Israeli border incursion shows the extent of Iranian entrenchment in Syria

Behnam Ben Taleblu

Last weekend’s provocation came just before the 39th anniversary of Iran’s Islamic Revolution and was probably intended to deflect attention from rising discontent at home. But the move should not be considered a one-off. more...