Michael Rubin
Michael Rubin
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Pundicity: Informed Opinion and Review

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Obama Does an Arms for Hostages Deal

January 19, 2016  •  Newsweek

As the United States and the international community lift sanctions on Iran and release to Tehran upwards of $100 billion in frozen assets, the Islamic Republic has announced that it has released four Iranian-American hostages. (UPDATE: A fifth American, Matthew Trevithick, is also being released by Iran, U.S. officials have reported.)

President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry might celebrate the release as a diplomatic coup, never mind that the deal abandons Robert Levinson, the longest-held hostage, but it's worth remembering what happened the last time the United States effectively bribed Iran to release hostages.

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Are Moderates Really In Charge in Iran?

January 18, 2016  •  Newsweek

On Tuesday, ships belonging to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) detained ten US sailors aboard two small boats. Contrary to initial reports, it remains unclear if either of the US boats experienced mechanical trouble before they were set upon. What came next is not subject to any dispute: the IRGC boarded and briefly seized the US Navy vessels and photographed both their surrender and the detained US sailors, and broadcast the humiliating apology of one.

With 10 servicemen in captivity, Secretary of State John Kerry phoned his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif five times to resolve the situation and, within a day, the IRGC released the ten sailors and two boats, perhaps minus some of their equipment.

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Iranian seizure portends worse to come

January 14, 2016  •  USA Today

Far from bringing peace, the Iran nuclear deal makes war more likely. The brief seizure of 10 U.S. sailors portends things to come. The problems are multifold:

•First, the $100 billion in sanctions relief Iran is about to get disproportionately benefits the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which dominates heavy industry, oil and import-export. To understand the IRGC's economic wing, imagine the Army Corps of Engineers, Bechtel, Halliburton, Boeing and ExxonMobil all rolled into one. The deal is akin to wiring money directly into the IRGC's bank accounts.

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Our Snatched Sailors: Who to Really Blame

January 13, 2016  •  Newsweek

There's a common delusion out there that when the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) fires off ballistic missiles or kidnaps sailors it's either hardline elements trying to embarrass moderates, or rogue actors. It may be a comforting conceit to believe that any element of the Iranian government is on "our side" but evidence suggests that at best, the Islamic Republic is playing a game of good cop-bad cop, and that outrages such as taking American sailors hostage are welcome, not rogue actions.

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The Saudi-Iranian Hostilities: What Should the U.S. Do?

January 5, 2016  •  Newsweek

Make no mistake: Saudi Arabia should be condemned without reservation for the execution of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, perhaps the country's most prominent Shi'ite cleric.

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Books by Michael Rubin

Cover of Dancing with the Devil Cover of Eternal Iran Cover of Into the Shadows

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