Authors: Frederic Wehrey, Jerrold D. Green, Brian Nichiporuk, Alireza Nader, Lydia Hansell, Rasool Nafisi, and S. R. Bohandy
Never solely a military organization in the traditional sense, Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC)—also known as the Pasdaran (Persian for "guards")—has seen a significant expansion and diversification of its domestic roles since the election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2005.
After the disqualification of popular former president Rafsanjani, it's unclear which of the remaining, mostly conservative candidates will triumph in the June presidential election, says expert Farideh Farhi.
Global monitors say Iran's human rights situation is poor and unlikely to improve amid a climate of political uncertainty and growing external pressures. But activists urge continued international scrutiny of Iran's violations.
Iran's nuclear ambitions are likely driven by multiple factors, from security concerns to domestic polices. However, political competition within Iran, rather than Israel's nuclear capabilities, plays a more significant role in driving Iran's nuclear ambition.
Authors: William Luers, Priscilla Lewis, and Iris Bieri
"It is time for Washington to rebalance its dual-track policy toward Iran, strengthening the diplomatic track in order to seize the opportunity created by the pressure track. The United States should now dedicate as much energy and creativity to negotiating directly with Iran as it has to assembling a broad international coalition to pressure and isolate Iran. Only by taking such a rebalanced approach might the United States achieve its objectives with respect to Iran's nuclear program."
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei gave his annual message on the occasion of the Persian New Year, or Norouz, on March 20, 2013. He calls this "The Year of Political and Economic Valor" and encourages Iranians to buy products made in Iran because of current economic sanctions.
Asked by Aaron Marks, from Staten Island, New York
Since the discovery of illicit Iranian nuclear facilities in 2002, the United States has sought to mobilize an international coalition to address the Iranian nuclear challenge through various coercions and incentives. UN member states agree that Iran is entitled to a civilian nuclear program for purposes of energy generation, but they require assurances that such a program is not going to be misused for military purposes.
Asked by Bashayar Ghasab, from Eastern Mediterranean University, Cyprus
Yes and no. Because of sectarian differences between the Iranian government and the Sunni Salafi fighters in the Syrian opposition, Iran's influence becomes weakened at first sight if the Syrian opposition wins. But the Iranian regime can (and has) created common cause with Sunni radicals in the recent past. History shows that this would not be the first time an unlikely alliance between opposing groups has formed.
World powers are now offering to ease sanctions on Iran if it agrees to halt its most sensitive nuclear activity. Expert Daryl Kimball urges a full diplomatic press to stop Iran from crossing the nuclear weapons line.
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Campbell evaluates the implications of the Boko Haram insurgency and recommends that the United States support Nigerian efforts to address the drivers of Boko Haram, such as poverty and corruption, and to foster stronger ties with Nigerian civil society.
Koblentz argues that the United States should work with other nuclear-armed states to manage threats to nuclear stability in the near term and establish processes for multilateral arms control efforts over the longer term.
The authors argue that it is essential to begin working now to expand and establish rules and norms governing armed drones, thereby creating standards of behavior that other countries will be more likely to follow.
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