Analysis & Commentary

Policy Briefs


19th January 2017 - FDD Policy Brief

Iran Taps Quds Force Official as Envoy to Iraq

Amir Toumaj

Iran has appointed a high-ranking officer from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) extraterritorial branch, the Quds Force, as ambassador to Iraq. Brigadier General Iraj Masjedi, a senior advisor to Quds Force chief Qassem Soleimani, replaces Hassan Danaeifar (who himself is a Quds...

16th January 2017 - FDD Policy Brief

Easing Sanctions on Sudan Erodes U.S. Leverage

Jonathan Schanzer

The U.S. Department of the Treasury on Friday eased sanctions against Sudan based on improved behavior, and with the expectation that Sudan “sustains [the] positive actions it has taken over the last 6 months.” The move, which comes after months of rumors that Sudan would be removed...

16th January 2017 - FDD Policy Brief

Another Palestinian Unity Agreement?

Grant Rumley

A coalition of Palestinian parties released a statement last week calling for the first session in over two decades of the parliamentary body of the PLO, the Palestinian National Council (PNC).

12th January 2017 - FDD Policy Brief

Treasury Targets North Korea’s Human Rights Abusers

Anthony Ruggiero

The U.S. Department of the Treasury yesterday designated seven North Korean individuals and blocked two entities of the regime in response to North Korea’s human rights abuses and censorship activities. The State Department complemented the action with its Report on Human Rights Abuses and...

10th January 2017 - FDD Policy Brief

Iran Stockpiling Uranium Far Above Current Needs

Olli Heinonen

In a televised speech on January 1, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that Tehran had imported 200 metric tons of yellowcake uranium and would import another 120 tons at an unspecified future date.

9th January 2017 - FDD Policy Brief

Rafsanjani: A Revolutionary, Not a Reformer

Behnam Ben Taleblu

Former Iranian President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani died of a heart attack Sunday at age 82. Often described as a “modern mullah” and “moderate voice,” Rafsanjani was more a shrewd survivor and political operative than champion of reform, let alone democracy. His career was...

4th January 2017 - FDD Policy Brief

Hunger Strikes: The Last Resort for Iran’s Desperate Prisoners

Toby Dershowitz, Saeed Ghasseminejad

Arash Sadeghi, a political prisoner in Iran, is 13 months into a 19-year sentence in the notorious Evin Prison. His alleged crime: “Assembly and collusion against national security, propaganda against the state, spreading lies in cyberspace and insulting the founder of the Islamic Republic...

3rd January 2017 - FDD Policy Brief

North Korea’s New Year’s Message

Anthony Ruggiero

The year 2017 started with new threats from North Korea. In his New Year’s Day address, North Korean leader Kim Jung Un noted that preparations for an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test had reached the final stage.

28th December 2016 - FDD Policy Brief

Kerry’s Address: More Posturing Than Policy

Oren Kessler

Secretary of State John Kerry, in a speech lasting over an hour on Wednesday, laid out six “principles” for achieving Israeli-Palestinian peace.

23rd December 2016 - FDD Policy Brief

Treasury Sanctions Airline Ferrying Fighters for Assad

Emanuele Ottolenghi, David Daoud

The U.S. Treasury announced new Syria sanctions on Friday, including on Cham Wings, Syria’s second-largest carrier. Privately owned by businessman Issam Shammout, Cham Wings has been blacklisted by the Department of Commerce since 2011.

19th December 2016 - FDD's Policy Brief

Envoy’s Murder Exposes Turkey-Russia Fault Lines

Merve Tahiroglu

Andrei Karlov, the Russian ambassador to Ankara, was assassinated in the heart of the Turkish capital on Monday night. The assailant, an off-duty Turkish police officer, shouted, “Don’t forget Aleppo”– denouncing Moscow’s role in the ongoing massacre of civilians in the besieged...

16th December 2016 - FDD Policy Brief

Turkey’s Dubious Case against a U.S. Pastor

Aykan Erdemir

Turkish courts last week charged U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson with “membership in an armed terrorist organization,” transferring him to a high-security prison after two months in solitary confinement in a detention center.

15th December 2016 - FDD Policy Brief

Iran Concessions Would Erode Anti-Money Laundering Standards

Annie Fixler

The 10-year extension of the Iran Sanction Act (ISA) – a 1996 law imposing sanctions on Tehran’s trade, energy, defense, and banking sectors over its nuclear program, ballistic-missile tests, support for terrorism, and other illicit activities – became law overnight.

13th December 2016 - FDD Policy Brief

Pick for Basij Chief is Versed in Repression

Behnam Ben Taleblu, Amir Toumaj

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei issued a decree last Wednesday appointing Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Brigadier General Qolam-Hossein Qeibparvar as commander of the country’s Basij paramilitary force.

26th November 2016 - FDD Policy Brief

Khamenei Threatens Reprisal Over Sanctions

Behnam Ben Taleblu

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei addressed members of the Basij paramilitary force on Wednesday, doubling down on charges that the U.S. had transgressed last summer’s nuclear deal.

18th November 2016 - FDD Policy Brief

Iran’s First Major Post-Deal Oil Contract Is Risky Business

Amir Toumaj, Saeed Ghasseminejad

Iran last week struck its first major oil agreement with international firms following the lifting of nuclear-related sanctions pursuant to last summer’s nuclear deal.

18th November 2016 - FDD Policy Brief

Turkey’s Latest Scapegoats: Christians

Aykan Erdemir

Turkish police on October 7 detained the American pastor Andrew Brunson and his wife Norine – residents of Turkey for the last twenty years – for “activities against national security.”

18th November 2016 - FDD Policy Brief

Congress Introduces Bill to Combat BDS Worldwide

Tyler Stapleton

Congress introduced the Protecting Israel Against Economic Discrimination Act this week to combat efforts at the UN to blacklist companies doing business with Israel, and calls on the U.S. Export-Import Bank to consider denying applicant companies engaged in politically-motivated boycotts of...

17th November 2016 - FDD Policy Brief

Iran Tightens Military Ties with China

Behnam Ben Taleblu, Patrick Megahan

Iranian and Chinese security officials signed a military-cooperation agreement this week to establish a joint commission to boost defense ties. Since the 1979 Islamic revolution and the subsequent severing of U.S. military assistance, Tehran has relied on Chinese arms to supplement its...

15th November 2016 - FDD Policy Brief

Erdogan’s New Target: Secular Education

Aykan Erdemir

Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) issued a state of emergency decree on October 29 to suspend the elections of university rectors, authorizing President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to appoint them instead.

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