Monthly Archives: September 2014

Reactions to President Obama’s Speech

A primetime speech by President Obama about U.S. intention to fight against ISIS  “appears to have had the opposite effect in the Middle East.”  According to Al-Monitor, “countries and factions that on paper share the same goal of eradicating the extremist threat responded far differently to President Barack Obama’s strategy, highlighting the difficulty in creating a united front. Frontline states Iran and Syria lambasted the administration for leaving them out of the equation, while pro-Western rebels urged the United States to ramp up its fight against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria and Kurdish groups demanded a far greater US and Western commitment.”

One conspiracy theory held by some in Iran: The U.S. is behind ISIS

“Iranians are as obsessed as Americans these days with the black-clad gangs roaming Iraq and Syria and killing Shiites and other “infidels” in the name of Sunni Islam. At the supermarket, in a shared taxi or at a family gathering, conversations often turn to the mysterious group, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and how it came to be.”  See the FULL ARTICLE HERE

NYT: Saudi has agreed to an American request to provide a base to train moderate Syrian opposition fighter

According to a report in the New York Times,  Saudi Arabia  “has agreed to an American request to provide a base to train moderate Syrian opposition fighters, American officials said on Wednesday.”  It seems that Saudi Arabia is hedging its bets by  trying to keep some contacts with the extremist Sunni groups  while at the same trying to placate American concerns about ISIS.


New Book: Diplomatic Games: Sport, Statecraft, and International Relations since 1945

“International sporting events, including the Olympic Games and the FIFA World Cup, have experienced profound growth in popularity and significance since the mid-twentieth century. Sports often facilitate diplomacy, revealing common interests across borders and uniting groups of people who are otherwise divided by history, ethnicity, or politics. In many countries, popular athletes have become diplomatic envoys. Sport is an arena in which international conflict and compromise find expression, yet the impact of sports on foreign relations has not been widely studied by scholars.”  

Diplomatic Games: Sport, Statecraft, and International Relations since 1945

Buy on Amazon



Book Review: Ramita Navai, City of Lies: Love, Sex, Death, and the Search for Truth in Tehran, 2014, 320pp

Ramita Navai’s deep look at eight ordinary Tehranis offers a window into the nature of the Iranian state.….It’s a bit cliched to call Iran a land of paradox. We get it, you might say. It’s a complicated place—but every place is complicated if you look close enough.”    Navai’s book  demonstrates how complexities of Iranian society weakens the power of the state by resisting attempts to impose change from the above.  Good book,  everyone should read it.