Kuwait’s Expulsion of Diplomats May Impact International Action against Iran

On Thursday, it was reported that the government of Kuwait had ordered the expulsion of Iranian diplomats from the country, along with the closure of the Iranian cultural mission. Agence-France Presse quoted Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi as saying that the Islamic Republic had communicated its strong objection to this incident, in dialogue with the Kuwaiti charge d'affaires. In keeping with Tehran’s response to other supposed diplomatic affronts by both Arab and Western countries, the Iranian statement reported emphasized the country’s right to invoke reciprocal measures of its own.

US Certifies Nuclear Compliance but Pursues Assertive Policies, Over Iran's Complaints

On Monday, it was reported that US President Donald Trump had certified Iran’s basic compliance with the 2015 Iran nuclear deal after lengthy discussion with his foreign policy team. The president is required to provide evidence of Iran’s compliance to Congress every 90 days, in absence of which congressional sanctions on the Iranian nuclear program would be rapidly re-imposed. Monday marked the second such deadline under the Trump administration, and in both cases there were substantial doubts about the White House’s willingness to affirm the findings of the International Atomic Energy Agency, which is tasked with inspecting Iran with regard to the deal’s restrictions on nuclear stockpiles and enrichment activities.

As Syria Peace Talks Drag on, Iran Bids for Greater Shares of Regional Power

The fifth and latest round of international peace talks on the Syrian Civil War concluded on Wednesday in the Kazakh capital of Astana. The main foreign players in the talks remain Russia and Iran, which support the Assad government, and Turkey, which supports some of the rebels. The two-day talks reportedly ended without an agreement on the “deconfliction zones” that these and other parties, including the US and a coalition of moderate rebels, are striving to establish.

Amidst Social Media Activism and Increased Visibility, Tehran Continues to Deny Human Rights Abuses

On Tuesday, the BBC reported upon recent activity on Iranian social media, which has become well-known as an outlet for protests and verbal opposition to the Iranian regime. In a nation where critical speech is frequently criminalized, social media is also heavily restricted, with total bans being technically in place on platforms like Twitter and Facebook throughout Iran. But many Iranians use virtual private networks and other workarounds in order to defy the bans, thereby contributing to a tumultuous political situation between the regime and its citizens.

US Lawmakers Urge White House to Reverse JCPOA, Pursue Other Matters Separately

On Wednesday it was reported that four Republican Senators had reached out to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to encourage him to withhold certification of Iran’s compliance with the 2015 nuclear agreement, or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Negotiations leading to the JCPOA concluded two years ago this month, after which it passed the congressional approval process by the narrowest of margins, amidst resistance from virtually all Republicans and a handful of Democrats. The deal was then implemented beginning in January 2016 and has continued to elicit controversy regarding its effects and the extent to which Iran’s compliance can be trusted.

Southern Syria Ceasefire Reflects Growing Regional Concerns About Iranian Influence

On Sunday, a truce went into effect in southern Syria which was separate from the larger ceasefire negotiated among multiple parties led by Russia, Iran, and Turkey. It had previously been reported that the Syria peace talks in the Kazakh capital of Astana had ended without an agreement, as a result of Iranian opposition to proposals for a deconfliction zone in the south. Three other such zones have been established as a result of those talks and are being enforced by the multiple parties, but the Canadian Press reports that the southern zone was established through direct talks between Russia and the US, and will be enforced without multilateral participation.

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