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Analysis & Commentary - Behnam Ben Taleblu

Behnam Ben Taleblu's Latest Articles

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...

5th February 2018 – Foreign Affairs

What Washington Can Learn From the Iran Protests

Behnam Ben Taleblu

More than a month has passed since protests in Iran’s northeast metastasized into anti-regime demonstrations across the entire country. This outpouring of discontent, which took the United States almost completely by surprise, should help lay to rest a range of tenuous assumptions about Iranian politics that had become conventional wisdom in Washington—namely, an underestimation of the Iranian people’s willingness to oppose the regime and an overestimation of Iran’s reformers. Now, as Washington weighs how to address the multitude of challenges emanating from Iran, it must also reconsider the foundations of its knowledge about the country. more...

30th January 2018 – Foreign Policy

Here’s How the U.S. and EU Can Thwart Iranian Missile Programs

Behnam Ben Taleblu, Richard Goldberg

In a last-ditch attempt to prevent President Donald Trump from exiting the Iran nuclear deal, European leaders have finally promised to work with the United States to address Iran’s ballistic missile program. If Trump is serious about fixing the deal, the transatlantic working group now tasked with forming a common U.S.-EU position must produce nothing less than a commitment to reimpose tough sanctions on Iran should the regime’s missile development and testing continue. more...

25th January 2018 – FDD Research Memo

Iranian Ballistic Missile Tests Since the Nuclear Deal – 2.0

Behnam Ben Taleblu

Since the conclusion of the JCPOA, Iran has launched as many as 23 ballistic missiles. This number is based on aggregated open-source reporting, since neither the U.S. government nor the UN have issued an official statement on the total number of post-deal missile launches. Although the JCPOA did not itself impose any restrictions on Iran’s ballistic missiles – which past and present U.S. Directors of National Intelligence (DNI) have assessed to be Iran’s most likely delivery vehicle for a nuclear weapon – UNSCR 2231, which codifies the JCPOA, contains prohibitions on the testing and transfer of these munitions. This memo builds on an earlier FDD product from February 2017, which determined that Iran conducted 14 post-JCPOA launches. FDD was the first organization to provide a number explicitly for post-deal launches, contributing to the public debate over Iran’s ballistic missile capabilities and intentions. Like the previous memo, this document explains how FDD determined the number of missile tests and explores the implications. more...

12th January 2018 – FDD Policy Brief

U.S. Designates Iranian Chief Justice

Annie Fixler , Behnam Ben Taleblu

The U.S. Treasury Department designated Ayatollah Sadegh Amoli Larijani today under non-nuclear authorities for his role in the human rights violations in Iran. As Iran’s chief justice and head of the judicial branch since August 2009, Larijani has for nearly a decade overseen the Islamic Republic’s judicial apparatus, a central component of the regime’s repression of the Iranian people. more...

17th December 2017 – Fox News

Iranian missiles going to rebels in Yemen pose a danger to our ally Saudi Arabia

Behnam Ben Taleblu

The debate about whether Iran is providing ballistic missiles to Houthi rebels in Yemen has been ended, thanks to U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, who has unveiled components of Iranian missiles recovered from target sites in Saudi Arabia fired on by the Houthis. more...

5th December 2017 – FDD's Long War Journal

Analysis: Reported link between Houthi and Iranian ballistic missiles

Behnam Ben Taleblu

At the strategic level, if Iran’s provision of ballistic missiles to the Houthi rebels is confirmed, it could be seen as an indicator Tehran’s increased tolerance for risk in a distant conflict theater, one which has sought to weaken Saudi Arabia by any means possible. more...

9th November 2017 – FDD Policy Brief

U.S. Backs Saudi Claim about Iranian Missile Support to Yemeni Rebels

Behnam Ben Taleblu, Alexandra N. Gutowski

Regional tensions escalated as Saudi Arabia blamed Iran for an attempted missile strike on its capital by Yemeni rebels. On November 4, Saudi defenses intercepted a ballistic missile fired by Yemen’s Shiite Houthi rebels (also known as Ansar Allah) at a Riyadh airport. more...

8th November 2017 – The National Interest

Iran’s New Missile Cap Offer Is a Total Sham

Behnam Ben Taleblu

Last week, the head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps declared that the country’s Supreme Leader had mandated "cap" on the range of Iran’s surface-to-surface ballistic missile force of 2,000 kilometers. more...

8th November 2017 – Foreign Affairs

Kurd Your Enthusiasm

Behnam Ben Taleblu, Merve Tahiroglu

On October 16, the world woke to footage of the Iraqi army barreling toward Kirkuk, several hundred miles north of Baghdad. Their mission was to reclaim the city, but not from jihadists; rather, they planned to win it back from the Kurds. Three years ago, as the Islamic State (ISIS) tore into Iraq, the country’s Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) fought back against the fundamentalists and captured Kirkuk for itself. more...