In principle, Biden as president could waive or suspend nearly all U.S. sanctions. In practice, the goal here is to make it politically unpalatable. In the end, I do think there will be re-engagement between Washington and Tehran, but the challenges facing Team Biden on Iran are pretty steep.
To state the obvious, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, deserves no small part of the credit for this breakthrough [of the Israel-UAE-Bahrain accord], having generated the conditions for longstanding quiet security consultations and cooperation between the Gulf and Israel.
It’s symptomatic of the revolutionary state’s highly ideological and often inept approach to governance...What’s maddening is that Iran has enormous scientific capabilities and a well regarded public health system. So this is entirely a leadership failure.
It’s wildly inappropriate and dangerous for an American diplomat to openly threaten individual assassinations of Iranian military commanders...There is a rhetorical and substantive difference between promising tough, decisive US responses to any attacks on Americans vice specific threats to kill individual commanders — especially from a State Department official.
The Iranians really do have alternative industries to fall back on and a significant domestic capacity, as well as the ability to leverage their relationships with several of their neighboring states to try to muddle through economic adversity. Countries like Iraq and Afghanistan, some of the Central Asian republics and, of course, Syria, elsewhere across the region — it does have a reach that goes beyond that of the U.S. Treasury Department.
In neither case was the ultimate, explicit goal ‘regime change,’...But there was a kind of theory of the case under Obama that engagement could lead to the sort of fundamental changes in Iranian policy, almost irrespective of the character of the regime, that the U.S. had been seeking since 1979.
[The strike targeting Abdul Reza Shahlai] suggests a mission with a longer planning horizon and a larger objective, and it really does call into question why there was an attempt to explain this publicly on the basis of an imminent threat.