Iranian Architecture – Afarin Rahmanifar Fri, 04 Jun 2021 16:55:18 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Iranian Architecture – Afarin Rahmanifar 32 32 One of Iran’s largest warships caught fire and sank in Gulf of Oman Thu, 03 Jun 2021 18:24:06 +0000

In keeping with his elevation of military leaders to policy-making roles, President Donald Trump has delegated the power to set US troop levels in Afghanistan to Secretary of Defense James Mattis, although that power would have limits.

But the administration has yet to define a comprehensive strategy for America’s nearly 16-year campaign in the war-torn country.

And, according to the New York Times, Trump’s advisers turned to a controversial set of consultants to help them develop their new Afghan policy.

Steve Bannon, chief Trump strategist, and Jared Kushner, senior adviser and son-in-law to the president, called on Erik Prince, founder of private security firm Blackwater, and Stephen Feinberg, billionaire owner of military contractor DynCorp, to create proposals to use contractors in Afghanistan rather than US troops.

According to the Times, Bannon was able to track down Mattis at the Pentagon on July 8 and summoned Prince and Feinberg to describe their proposal to the Secretary of Defense.

President Donald J. Trump, right, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. DoD photo by Army Sgt. James K. McCann

Mattis, whom The Times said he “listened politely”, ultimately refused to include their ideas in his review of the war in Afghanistan, which he and National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. HR McMaster are expected to present to Trump this month.

Prince’s proposal would have adhered to what he described in an editorial from the Wall Street Journal earlier this year. In that editorial, he declared the war in Afghanistan “a costly disaster” and called for “an American viceroy” in which authority for the war would be consolidated. He also said the effort should take an “East India Company approach” using private military units working with local partners.

The inclusion of Prince and Feinberg in the Afghan administration’s policy proposal process is part of the efforts of Trump’s advisers to bring a wider range of options to the president’s attention. While their proposal seems unlikely to be included in the final plan, their inclusion by Trump aides has alarmed observers – and not just because of Blackwater’s sordid record in Iraq.

Deborah Avant, professor at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver, highlighted a number of shortcomings in the Prince plan described in The Journal.

One of Iran's largest warships caught fire and sank in Gulf of Oman
A Blackwater Security Company MD-530F helicopter helps secure the site of a car bomb explosion in Baghdad, Iraq. USAF photo by Master Sgt. Michael E. Best

Contractors would still be required to work with the Afghan government, as would US and NATO forces, she writes, who may not be receptive to their increased presence.

Entrepreneurs also do not integrate well with local goals and political forces, which is essential in counterinsurgency operations.

Avant also noted that empowering local partners in environments like Afghanistan has been shown to facilitate the rise of warlords – as typically happened under the East India Company when she worked there. in the nineteenth century.

Privatizing the war effort in Afghanistan would likely reduce some of the costs, however – a point White House aide Sebastian Gorka made when he defended consultations with Prince in an interview with CNN. with Jake Tapper.

“If you look at Erik Prince’s record, it’s not about cheating on the government. It’s pretty much the opposite, ”Gorka said. “It’s about saving American taxpayers’ money. It’s about building local capacity… It’s about cost reduction.

One of Iran's largest warships caught fire and sank in Gulf of Oman
Sébastien Gorka. (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

Despite the fact that Prince and Blackwater secured large and lucrative contracts under former President George W. Bush and former President Barack Obama, Gorka described the consultations with the founder of Blackwater as a break with tired thinking and not informed instilled by Beltway’s insularity.

“We are opening the door here in the White House to outside ideas. Why? ”Gorka said, adding,“ Because the last eight years, in fact the last 16 years, Jake, to be honest, disastrous. The policies that were born in the Ring Road by people who never wore it. uniform, people who were in the White House like Ben Rhodes, Colin Kahl, helped create the firestorm that is the Middle East, that is ISIS today. new ideas, because the past 16 years have failed the American national interest and the American taxpayer. ”

When Tapper defended the qualifications of those advising Obama, Gorka objected, calling Rhodes’ master’s degree in creative writing – “fictional writing,” he said – “catastrophic.”

“I think Gorka spends more time following Twitter and preparing for his media appearances than seriously thinking about critical national security issues,” said Kahl, who has served as deputy to the president and national security adviser to the vice president from October 2014 to January 2017. said Business Insider.

“No US administration has had all the answers in the Middle East,” continued Kahl, who is now a professor in the security studies program at Georgetown University.

One of Iran's largest warships caught fire and sank in Gulf of Oman
Petty Officer 1st Class Carmichael Yepez, a Combat Camera Photojournalist, from Fresno, Calif., Assigned to Joint Combat Camera-Iraq, in Army Combat Uniform, poses with a group of British security contractors at the forward operating base, Marez, in Mosul. (Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Carmichael Yepez.)

“But the two biggest sources of the ‘firestorm’ Gorka refers to were the invasion of Iraq, which gave birth to the forerunner of ISIS and created a vacuum filled by Iran,” and the Arab Spring of 2011 which shook the state system across the Middle East and sparked a series of bloody proxy wars, ”he added.“ None of these key events were a consequence of the Obama’s policy. ”

Kahl also cited specific achievements of the Obama administration, which included eroding al Qaeda leadership, securing the Iran nuclear deal, and preparing the ground for the destruction of ISIS.

Blaming Obama for the rise of ISIS has become a major Republican talking point since the US withdrawal from Iraq in late 2011.

Trump himself attributed the emergence of the group to Obama and Hillary Clinton, who was Obama’s secretary of state and Trump’s opponent in the presidential election.

The withdrawal date was set by the Bush administration, but conservatives criticized Obama for failing to reach a deal with Baghdad to keep US troops on the ground, which they said could have prevented ISIS. to gain ground with the Sunni minority in Iraq.

One of Iran's largest warships caught fire and sank in Gulf of Oman
President Barack Obama meets with General Stanley McChrystal in May 2009. (Photo by White House photographer Pete Souza)

Defenders have pointed to the United States’ inability to quell the insurgency in the country prior to its withdrawal, as well as the refusal of Iraqi officials to let US troops stay, as evidence that a prolonged deployment was impossible and would have changed little. . (Others attribute the appearance of ISIS to Bush’s dissolution of the Iraqi army.)

Since taking office, Trump appears to have adopted a more aggressive policy in the Middle East, underscored by several military engagements with pro-Syrian government forces there and by his warm adherence to Saudi Arabia to the apparent detriment of the United States. unity between the Gulf countries.

Kahl cited these developments as cause for concern for the future.

“It’s hard to see how Trump’s approach, which combines a shoot-first mentality and an instinct to give regional autocrats a blank check to drag us into their sectarian strife, will make the region safer or more secure. A safer America, ”he told Business Insider. in an email.

“And the fact that Gorka and others in the White House are seriously considering handing the longest American war in Afghanistan to private military contractors who prioritize profit over the national interest is very disturbing.”

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NYCxDESIGN Announces Exceptional Grant Recipients Thu, 03 Jun 2021 15:29:51 +0000

NYCxDESIGN is pleased to announce the recipients of its inaugural grant program. As the first initiative as a non-profit organization, the Breakout Grant was designed to financially assist New York-based designers and design firms to implement or build momentum for a product or of a project under development before marketing. The Breakout Grant jury, made up of prominent leaders from the New York design ecosystem, extensively assessed the submissions to recognize viable projects and applicants who have demonstrated a fundamental commitment to innovation, inclusiveness and sustainability. – three essential pillars to design a greater NYC. With these resources and recognition, grant recipients Matt Tyson of Modos Furniture, Danielle Arps of Artisan Alliance and Gisue Hariri and Mojgan Hariri of Hariri & Hariri Architecture DPC will be able to pursue the next steps of their inspiring projects that give more back in more ways than one.

“The vast imagination, range and talent of the New York design community was deeply evident in this program, with impressive submissions spanning all disciplines of design including urban planning, architecture, industrial design, interior and product, and digital and technological design, ”reflects Elissa Black, executive director of NYCxDESIGN. “As an ongoing program of NYCxDESIGN, the Breakout Grant will continue to showcase the innovative capacity of New York City’s design sector every year to envision and create a fairer and more resilient future for all. “

Plastic furniture connector recovered by Modos Furniture | $ 15,000 recipient

Modos Furniture is a Brooklyn-based design studio that focuses on developing products with positive societal and ecological impact. Its impressively simple tool-less furniture system uses connectors and boards to create custom design solutions. Modos Furniture sees endless potential in this high-value, low-cost furniture solution that has a range of applications and potential users, from those with limited resources to those affected by natural disasters, or even micro- companies needing simple and adaptable furniture. . In an effort to make their design concept even more environmentally friendly, the team wants to replace their extruded aluminum connectors with recycled ocean plastic. Funding from the Breakout Grant will allow Modos Furniture to partner with OceanWorks, a supplier of recycled plastics, to source plastic that has been collected and cleaned from the ocean, ready for injection molding. This grant will also allow the team to obtain a design patent that will make it easier to hire additional partners, receive investments and ultimately help the team pursue their vision of improving the business. environment, support for social equity and change in relationships between people. with their furniture. Finally, the funding will support an ongoing partnership with the Brooklyn Navy Yard and the Department of Education to give students exposure to opportunities in the city’s design and manufacturing industries. Since 2017, Modos Furniture invites high school students and public colleges to work with them through paid internships, offering them personal projects focused on the development of critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, computer skills. , prototyping experience and entrepreneurial skills.

Day One Agency, Daneille Arps

craftsman supervised by Danielle Arps | Recipient of $ 5,000

Launched this summer, Artisan Alliance is a new venture from designer and entrepreneur Danielle Arps, which aims to shake up the real estate and design industries. Bringing extensive interior design experience and relationships to the New York real estate market, Arps saw a unique opportunity to offer brokerage, design, project management and furniture under one home to small companies (10,000 to 50,000 RS). In addition to these services, mentoring will be a key area for the business. Artisan Alliance will use the Breakout Grant to establish a mentoring program called Artisan Mentored to provide students with exposure to colors and experience in the design, architecture and real estate industries where lack of diversity remains a critical issue. . The funding would support a part-time consultant to launch and manage the program, working closely with schools and non-profit organizations that have been approved as permanent partners. This unique program will also allow clients to select a student to work directly with the Arps team on their project. Artisan Mentored will provide these students with invaluable professional experience and connections from the start of their studies, opening the door to future opportunities.

    Render of FOLDING DISASTER POD designed by Hariri & Hariri Architecture DPC

FOLDING DISASTER RELIEF CUSHION by Hariri & Hariri Architecture DPC | Recipient of $ 5,000

Convinced that “home is a human right”, architects and sisters Gisue Hariri and Mojgan Hariri of Hariri & Hariri Architecture have developed an innovative alternative emergency shelter designed to save lives. The FOLDING POD can replace the 18th century tents currently used by armies for disaster relief due to devastation from climate change, wars and other conflicts. Modest, modular and prefabricated with recyclable materials, the FOLDING PODGE is inspired by origami and features an articulated frame and lightweight, durable panels. Its flexible design makes it easy to ship, fit on a flatbed truck and assemble, unfolding with the push of a button and a portable solar powered generator. In addition, it can be reconfigured and extended with additional modules in a variety of living combinations. The Hariri & Hariri practice, which focuses on large-scale architecture, has devoted years to the FOLDING Disaster Relief POD. The Breakout Grant will allow the project to move to the next phase of its development and production, ensuring that it can be used for crises around the world such as the pandemic, homelessness and disaster relief.

“New York City’s vibrant design community has proven itself once again,” notes Cindy Allen, editor-in-chief of Interior Design magazine and Breakout Grant juror. The jury considered both challenging and inspiring applications, but in the end, the three selected grant recipients reinforced the belief that through fairness, innovation and collaboration, design can guide the re-emergence of the city … something we all look forward to! “

“NYCxDESIGN plays a vital role in promoting design in New York City,” notes Rachel Loeb, President and CEO of NYCEDC. “Through the diversity of projects and designers, this talented group of grant recipients demonstrates the city’s vast design ecosystem. We’re excited to be a part of the incredible work NYCxDESIGN is doing to support the creative industry while helping educate the public about the impact of “good design” on social, environmental and economic considerations for the city and beyond. ”

In addition to this funding, each of the grant recipients will receive wide recognition through multiple platforms associated with NYCxDESIGN, including an article in the October 2021 edition of NYCxDESIGN: The Magazine, a special episode of The Mic (the podcast by NYCxDESIGN hosted by Debbie Millman) featuring recipients launched Thursday, May 27 and airing Friday, May 28 on DesignTV by SANDOW, as well as a strong social media promotion from NYCxDESIGN.

Through an online gallery on the NYCxDESIGN website and promotion on social media, NYCxDESIGN will also recognize and support the projects and products of the seven finalists: Furniture Collection by Kouros Maghsoudi, Afri-Culture Design-Culture Student Summer Workshop by Jack Travis, RECIPE by Franklin & Emily, Mobile Barriers by Design Advocates, Industrial Manufacturing Research-Creation Project by Naomi Frangos, Clean AIR 1 by Code Lumen and 2100: A Dystopian Utopia by StudioTEKA. Projects range from a unique business model to hire laid-off New York hotel workers and retrain them as furniture makers, to a virtual reality survival game that immerses gamers in a world where future cities are. transformed in response to global warming, carbon neutral, sustainable and postmodern furniture collection inspired by Iranian and Middle Eastern motifs, traditions and culture.

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Proposal to use wind power from Denmark to create hydrogen for ships Mon, 31 May 2021 22:00:51 +0000

Avedore power station in Orested would use offshore wind to power hydrogen production (Orsted)

Posted on May 31, 2021 6:00 PM by

The maritime executive

Orsted and the Greater Copenhagen Utility (HOFOR) are planning a green energy project that would create synergies between the companies’ plans for offshore energy and onshore green energy infrastructure to support the Green Fuels for Denmark project, including including hydrogen potentially generated for the shipping industry.

“European ambitions for renewable hydrogen and sustainable fuels have grown significantly over the past year, mainly outside Denmark, but as a country we can still play an important role in this part of the transformation global green ”, said Anders Nordstrøm, Managing Director. of Orsted’s hydrogen activities. “Green Fuels for Denmark is a large-scale flagship project perfectly suited to realizing Denmark’s great potential as a producer of sustainable fuels for heavy transport. The agreement with HOFOR underlines the partnership’s firm belief that green fuels for Denmark can significantly contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and create a new industrial stronghold for Denmark. “

Green Fuels for Denmark is the country’s ambitious vision for the large-scale production of sustainable fuels. The plan foresees three phases with a total electrolysis capacity of approximately 10 MW, 250 MW and 1,300 MW, and the potential for carbon emissions of 850,000 tonnes per year. AP Moller – Maersk, DSV Panalpina and DFDS, as well as SAS, Copenhagen airports and Orsted are among the leaders in the shipping industry involved in the Green Fuels for Denmark initiative.

As part of the deal, Orsted and HOFOR will seek to enable Orsted to use the energy produced on HOFOR’s 250 MW offshore wind farm project in the Oresund Strait, while HOFOR could place the under -station of the offshore wind farm in the premises of the Avedore power station operated by Orsted. By linking the wind farm and the PtX plant, Orsted and HOFOR will seek to achieve both technical and commercial synergies subject to regulatory approvals.

The power of the Aflandshage wind farm could enable part of the green fuels for Denmark’s second phase of 250 MW and meet electricity demand for the first phase of the project, the companies noted. In addition, it could potentially power the proposed electrolysis plant which will supply hydrogen to the hydrogen ferry offered by DFDS between Copenhagen and Oslo.

The wind farm is under development and, subject to regulatory approvals, HOFOR expects the project to provide first power in 2024/2025.

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Electric vehicles will account for 40% of global sales by 2030, Energy News, ET EnergyWorld Thu, 27 May 2021 02:22:00 +0000

DETROIT – Ford expects 40% of its global sales to be battery-electric vehicles by 2030, as it adds billions to what it spends to develop them.

The automaker said in a presentation to investors on Wednesday that it would add about $ 8 billion to its electric vehicle development spending this year through 2025. That brings the total spending to nearly $ 20 billion as Ford begins to develop and build batteries in a joint venture with SK Innovation of South Korea.

Under former CEO Jim Hackett, Ford has been criticized by analysts for moving too slowly on its turnaround and future vehicle plans. But those plans have accelerated under the leadership of CEO Jim Farley, who took over last October.

“Today is show, not time, for the Ford team,” Farley said at the start of the presentation.

Wall Street liked what he heard and stocks jumped $ 1.09, or 8.5%, to close Wednesday at $ 13.90, a level not seen in about five years.

Ford has announced two new electric vehicle platforms to handle pickup trucks, commercial vehicles and SUVs such as the Ford Explorer. He also said smaller vehicles in Europe would be built on the foundations of Ford partner Volkswagen. But company executives have not given details on when the new electric vehicles will go on sale.

Much of the 40% electric vehicle sales target will come from Europe, where the company has committed to converting its entire range of passenger vehicles to electric power by 2030.

The global auto industry and government policy makers are trying to switch from internal combustion to battery power in order to reduce climate change. Some European countries, as well as California, plan to phase out gasoline-powered vehicles, while President Joe Biden promises to spend billions on charging stations along with tax credits and discounts to inspire people to change. .

Ford Crosstown rival General Motors hopes to stop selling combustion vehicles by 2035.

In addition, Exxon Mobil shareholders voted on Wednesday to replace at least two of the company’s 12 board members with directors considered best suited to tackle climate change.

Farley said Ford’s financial performance has not been acceptable in recent years, but has accelerated its recovery plan and made progress in recent quarters. The company is now generating cash flow in order to grow the scale of its electric and commercial vehicle business, he said. Ford has predicted it will post a pre-tax profit margin of 8% in 2023.

The company also announced that it will create a separate business called Ford Pro that will focus on buyers of commercial and government fleets. He expects the company to generate $ 45 billion in annual revenue by 2025, up from $ 27 billion in 2019.

It also expects to have around 1 million vehicles capable of obtaining software updates over the internet by the end of this year. Ford says it will have more vehicles with this capacity than Tesla by July 2022. This opens up the possibility of additional revenue through driver assistance technology and digital subscription services, a market of 20 billion dollars by 2030, Ford said.

In the United States, Ford’s largest market, electric vehicles accounted for just 1.2% of Ford’s sales through April. Ford currently offers only one fully electric vehicle, the Mustang Mach-E SUV, but next spring it will have a fully electric F-150 pickup and a large battery-powered Transit commercial van on the roads. The company said 70,000 customers had deposited $ 100 deposits to reserve an electric F-150 within a week of its unveiling. Ford’s F-Series pickup is the best-selling vehicle in the United States

Ford said it is planning a new rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive electric vehicle architecture to bring a new generation of high-selling vehicles, including a Ford Explorer electric SUV and other larger SUVs with two and three rows. of seats.

The company is also planning additional vans and pickup trucks based on the new architecture, and it expects a third of pickup truck sales to be fully electric by 2030, said Hau Thai-Tang, chief development officer. of the company’s products.

Chief Operating Officer Lisa Drake said that by making electric versions of its top-selling brands, the Mustang, F-150 and the Transit Van, Ford can bring bulk purchasing power to vehicles. that small startups can’t.

She said 70% of Mustang Mach-E electric SUV sales come from other automotive brands, proving that electric vehicles will help Ford increase sales.

Ford, she said, expects to reduce battery costs from today’s $ 140 per kilowatt hour to less than $ 100 by 2025 and to $ 80 by the end of this decade.

As an example of his turnaround plan in place, CFO John Lawler said international companies, including Europe, China and South America, lost more than $ 2 billion. dollars a year for the past two years, but in the first quarter had generated a profit of $ 500 million.

Lawler would not commit to when Ford would reinstate its dividend, which was suspended at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. He said the company is focused on investing in growth areas and will pay dividends “as soon as possible”.

The $ 8 billion in additional spending on electric vehicles would go to the joint venture with SK Innovation to develop and manufacture batteries announced last week. The company will build two North American factories to manufacture batteries for approximately 600,000 electric vehicles per year by the middle of this decade. The companies say they have signed a memorandum of understanding, but details on the ownership structure and factory locations have yet to be worked out.


This story has been updated to correct the fact that Jim Farley took over as CEO of Ford in October 2020, not August.

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Ray of hope in the Gulf – Analysis – Eurasia Review Thu, 27 May 2021 00:22:22 +0000

By Prasanta Kumar Pradhan *

Iran and Saudi Arabia, the two main regional rivals, met in Baghdad in April 2021. Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi played a key role in bringing the two countries to the negotiating table. The talks took place between Khalid Al Homeidan, chief of general intelligence, Saudi Arabia, and Saeed Iravani, deputy secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council.

On May 5, 2021, Iraqi President Barham Salih confirmed that Iran and Saudi Arabia had had talks “more than once” and added that the talks were still “ongoing”. The Yemen issue featured prominently in the discussions.2

The talks between the two regional rivals are a significant development that has the potential to change geopolitics and security in the West Asian region. Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan has expressed hope that the “exploratory talks” will bring concrete diplomatic gains.3 Saeed Khatibzadeh, spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry, expressed his country’s interest in resolving the conflict issues with Saudi Arabia and asserted that de- escalation between the two was “in the interest of both nations and the region”. 4

Relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia, marked by rivalry and competition, have deteriorated further in the wake of the Arab unrest. They have been involved in a proxy war in regional conflict zones ranging from Egypt, Syria, Yemen and Bahrain. None of them had so far shown an intention to engage with each other to resolve issues between them.

In the aftermath of the execution of Saudi Shiite cleric Nimr Al Nimr by the Saudi government in 2016, relations deteriorated further. Nimr was a vocal critic of the Saudi government allegedly behind anti-government protests in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province. Iran strongly condemned Nimr’s execution and warned that Saudi Arabia would “pay a heavy price” for his execution.5

Saudi Arabia, along with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), called Iran’s reaction “blatant interference in the affairs of the Kingdom.” 6 Soon after, the Saudi embassy in Tehran and the Saudi consulate in Mashhad were ransacked by protesters. Furious at the attack on its embassy and consulate, Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic relations with Iran.

In the current context, engaging in talks is beneficial for both Iran and Saudi Arabia. In Yemen, while Saudi Arabia has been involved in a military campaign against the Houthis since 2015, the latter are supported by Iran. The situation in Yemen continues to deteriorate even after several rounds of negotiations negotiated by the UN.

Iran and Saudi Arabia are under international pressure due to the deteriorating internal security and humanitarian situation in Yemen, especially since President Joe Biden has come to power. The United States has called on Saudi Arabia to end its military offensive in Yemen. Earlier, in February 2021, Biden announced the withdrawal of US military support for the war in Yemen.

Iran and Saudi Arabia face significant security and economic challenges due to their regional policies. The Houthis launched drone and missile attacks on a number of vital facilities in the Kingdom, including the ARAMCO oil facilities at Yanbu, Jazan and Ras Tanura; Abha Airport; military bases of Dammam, Najran and Asir, among other targets.

Saudi involvement in military operations in Yemen has failed to achieve its goal of driving the Houthis out of the capital Sana’a. On the contrary, the years of military operations in Yemen have strained its national budget. Riyadh would therefore like an acceptable solution to the conflict and an honorable exit from Yemen. In the current context, talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia appear to be the most effective way to find a solution to the Yemeni conflict.

Iran’s economy is gravely suffering from the crushing sanctions imposed on the country since the US withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The Biden administration insists Iran respect the terms of the deal, before the United States can lift the sanctions. Iran is engaged in talks in Vienna with the other JCPOA signatories – the UK, Russia, France, Germany and China, to revive the nuclear deal. Iran therefore faces double pressure from the United States on Yemen and the JCPOA.

Although the two countries have come forward to initiate talks, the fundamental differences between them on ideological, political, and national and regional security issues are enormous. They see each other as a threat to their national security. Despite Iranian assurances on the peaceful use of nuclear energy, Saudi concerns about Iranian nuclear activity remain high. Saudi Arabia believes that Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons would shift the regional balance of power in the Middle East in favor of Tehran.

Another major issue of contention has been the presence of the United States in the region. Saudi Arabia and other GCC countries depend on the United States for their security, and American forces are present in all GCC states. Iran, on the other hand, strongly opposes the US military presence in the Gulf region. Iran, on the contrary, offers a regional security architecture involving the countries of the region only without any involvement of outside powers. Saudi Arabia and its allies suspect that the withdrawal of the US military from the region would lead to Iranian rule in the Gulf.

Besides Yemen, Iranian and Saudi interests are at odds with each other in other conflict areas like Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. In Syria, Iran is a key factor for the survival of Bashar Al Assad’s regime while Saudi Arabia supports the opposition coalition. Iran has engaged deeply with Shiite leaders and militias in Iraq and Lebanon, including Hezbollah.

Riyadh has engaged the constituencies of these countries to counter Iran’s growing influence. The competition for regional supremacy between the two is not expected to end anytime soon. Indeed, it would be difficult for them to reconcile the historical differences and the long-term interests they have throughout the region.

Given the adversarial relationship between the two, achieving substantial progress would require lengthy negotiations, as well as mutual trust and a willingness to engage in dialogue on critical issues. Talks are currently in an embryonic stage, but the reconciliation approach they demonstrate can ease tensions in the short to medium term, which can help bring temporary peace and stability to the region.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Manohar Parrikar IDSA or the Indian government.

* About the author: Prasanta Kumar Pradhan is an associate researcher at the Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defense Studies and Analyzes, New Delhi.

Source: This article was published by Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defense Studies and Analysis

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How the conflict in the Middle East leads back to US national security Mon, 24 May 2021 13:53:44 +0000

During the in-person visit to the highest level of the Biden administration, Secretary of State Antony Blinken visits the Middle East to seize the momentum created by the Gaza ceasefire last week in what could be the first step backwards towards peace talks.

The Biden administration has been criticized for failing to take more aggressive steps to try to end the back-and-forth attacks ahead of the deal, as some members of Biden’s own party called on the United States to adopt a tougher stance against Israel’s actions in response to a series of rocket attacks.

The Cipher Brief asked our expert Norm Roule to see how an intelligence professional examines recent events in the Middle East and how they bring them back to US national security..

Norman T. Roule served for 34 years in the CIA, managing numerous programs relating to Iran and the Middle East. He served as the National Intelligence Director for Iran (NIM-I) in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence from November 2008 to September 2017. As NIM-I, Norm was the chief executive of the intelligence community (IC) responsible for overseeing all aspects. national intelligence policy and Iran-related activities, to include IC’s engagement on Iranian issues with senior political officials from the National Security Council and the State Department.

We asked Norm to start by sharing his main observations on what has happened to date.

Rolled: A handful comes to mind.

First, the world has just witnessed another spasm of violence in the Middle East that has left hundreds of civilians – including dozens of children – dead, over a thousand injured and thousands homeless, with no significant change in the status quo. The post-conflict situation virtually guarantees that similar violence will recur. Unfortunately, there is no indication that the international community – or the Israeli and Palestinian leaders – are ready to devote diplomatic and political capital to achieve a settlement that would alleviate the well-documented suffering of the Palestinian people and the deadly threats against Israeli citizens.

Second, Arabs and Israeli Jews have engaged in inter-communal violence and social entropy to a degree not seen in decades, perhaps not since the founding of Israel. These lingering internal tensions have flared up in the eyes of the world, shattering Israel’s image of peaceful relations among its citizens of different faiths. We are perhaps seeing a taste of what a one-state solution might mean in practice.

Second, I think we have witnessed the consequences of years of Iranian support for Hamas to develop its weapons technologies. Despite the successes achieved in stopping much of the arms smuggling from Sudan via Egypt, Israel’s repeated attacks in Syria to reduce the ability of Palestinian and Lebanese militants to acquire precision guided weapons , and the constraints that the maximum pressure placed on the Iranian resources of Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hamas’s offensive capabilities gradually developed into an unprecedented capability. Hamas certainly does not have the capacity to destroy Israel, but it can shape the psychology of conflict and threaten much of Israeli territory. A new nuclear deal with Iran will almost certainly increase the funding, training and weaponry that Tehran provides to these militants.

Fourth, the Biden administration has seen how difficult it is to avoid getting involved in crises in the Middle East. Over the past few days, the president and senior officials have contacted leaders of Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Qatari in their efforts to end the violence. I don’t think this episode will change the administration’s perspective on America’s need to devote less energy to the region, but it could speed up the creation of an architecture to deal with its problems. Related to this, an unprecedented number of Democrats have criticized Israel and spoken of blocking US military support for the IDF. This change cannot be ignored by an administration that must consider how to maintain democratic control of the House of Representatives in 2022.

The cipher Brief: How do you see this latest conflict compared to previous Israeli-Palestinian conflicts in recent years?

Rolled: Since Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, there have been six Israeli-Palestinian military conflicts, approximately one every eighteen months. Each event has followed a similar path, but I can think of a few differences with this last conflict.

First, Hamas succeeded in firing thousands of rockets at more civilian targets threatening millions of Israelis, Americans and other innocent nationals, including Palestinians. About 360,000 Palestinians live in Jerusalem, and Arabs in Israel number about 1.9 million, or about 21% of the population. In addition, of more than 4,000 rockets fired by Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, nearly 700 have landed in Gaza itself.

The conflict has sparked unprecedented inter-communal violence in Israel that will take years to overcome. Finally, Israel demonstrated an intelligence capability that conducted air operations that targeted the militant military architecture and the individuals behind it.

The cipher Brief: Can both sides claim a strategic victory at this point?

Rolled: Each side will claim that it has demonstrated its ability to defend its people through tools of confrontation, but neither can claim a strategic victory. There is perhaps no better example than the iconic photographs of Palestinian rockets and Iron Dome defenses jumping into the night sky. Each will designate these images as a defeat for the other.

The cipher Brief: What will be the impact of the conflict on the political fortunes of the Israeli and Palestinian leaders?

Rolled: In general, the leaders of Hamas and Israel are likely to experience a temporary spike in popularity that wanes over the weeks. Right-wing leaders are likely to dominate their respective political spheres for the foreseeable future. If I had to nominate a winner in this category, I would say it is Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Just days before the fighting began, Netanyahu looked likely to lose office. It would probably have meant the end of his political career. However, he once again proved it correct to say that “cats would like to have as many lives as Netanyahu”. The conflict thwarted Israeli politician Yair Lapid’s efforts to form a new coalition and forced rivals such as Naftali Bennett to support Netanyahu’s handling of the crisis. Israel now faces the prospect of a fifth general election in two years and Netanyahu has another chance to lead.

On the other hand, Hamas will argue that it has brought the Palestinian issue back to the forefront of world attention. He will also assert that, unlike the Palestinian Authority, Hamas has the leadership and the capacity to defend the rights of the Palestinians, especially in Jerusalem. Abbas was largely irrelevant in recent events, but he will likely find the international community eager to embark on an unlikely effort to bolster his stature against Hamas and find a way to restore momentum to the moribund peace process. .

The cipher Brief: What about tactical successes?

Rolled: Each side can list significant tactical successes, and both have demonstrated an ability to strike opponents using long-range weapons.

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ShowBiz Minute: Billboard, Måneskin, BTS Mon, 24 May 2021 11:18:17 +0000

Drake, Pink, The Weeknd Win Big at Billboard Music Awards; Italy Eurovision winner Måneskin returns home to cheers and drug test; BTS breaks its own YouTube record for most views in 24 hours with “Butter”. (May 24)

Video transcript

LIZZIE KNIGHT: AP ShowBiz Minute. It was a family affair at the Billboard Music Awards on NBC. Pink performed with her daughter, and Drake was named Artist of the Decade, accepting the honor alongside his three-year-old son.

The Weeknd was on hand to accept the most wins of the night, 10. He entered the series with 16 nominations, earning honors like Top Artist, Top Hot 100 Song for “Blinding Lights” and Top R&B Album for “After Hours”. “

The Italian glam rock group that won the Eurovision Song Contest returned home to adulation and so much speculation that the singer had snorted cocaine during the show that he vowed to pass a blood test. drug testing. In a press conference after the victory, Maneskin frontman Damiano David said he did not use drugs and had bent over because another member of the group had broken a glass at their feet .

BTS broke their own record for most views on YouTube in 24 hours with the latest single “Butter”. The K-pop supergroup racked up 113 million plays, breaking their latest record hit “Dynamite” last year. Here’s Lizzie Knight with AP ShowBiz Minute.

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GE’s New Fighter Engine Simply Blasted Existing Jet Technology Tue, 18 May 2021 20:36:09 +0000

GE has just completed its initial testing of the first full-scale XA100 three-stream adaptive combat engine – an all-new combat powerhouse that promises to give the United States a distinct advantage in the skies of the 21st century. Fighters have always had to maintain a tightrope between unleashing the power of their engines and saving enough fuel to be effective in a fight. With GE’s XA100, it will become much easier.

The first full-scale XA100 is one of two technology demonstrators contracted out to GE under the U.S. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s Adaptive Engine Transition Program (AETP), with development elements managed both through Adaptive Versatile Engine Technology Engine Technology Development Programs (AETDs).

This first demonstrator was intended not only to deliver incredible power, but a huge improvement in engine efficiency that can deliver greater fuel range and longer release times than ever before.

XA100 Adaptive Tri-Stream Combat Engine (GE)


“The Air Force’s goal was to develop the architecture and technologies of next-generation combat engines to provide a generational change in combat propulsion capability,” said David Tweedie, Chief Executive Officer advanced combat engines from GE Edison Works, at Sandboxx News.

“GE has worked hard to meet the ambitious goals set by the Air Force and we believe we are accomplishing what they have asked us to do.”

And they did. GE tested its XA100 in its high-altitude test cell in Evendale, Ohio, over a period of more than three months, starting in late 2020, and according to their reports, the engine actually does. overwhelmed their performance targets. The main of their goals was to successfully demonstrate the engine’s ability to operate both in a strong push mode that offers unmatched power in combat and a low power mode which makes it possible to cover greater distances or stay in flight for long periods.

“We achieved all of our major testing goals,” Tweedie said. Aviation week. “The engine performed well with our pre-test predictions and was very consistent with the program goals. We were able to demonstrate the two different engine modes and the ability to seamlessly transition between these two modes. “

The goal of GE’s XA100 engine was to increase thrust by 10% and fuel efficiency by 25%, but in testing the engine did even better than that.

“Not only are we doing it, but we’re actually exceeding that pretty much everywhere in the flight envelope – and in a few places – by up to 20%. [more thrust]Tweedie said. “We are very satisfied with the current situation in terms of exceeding program requirements.”

“When you translate that into what it means for the platform, it’s 30% more autonomy or 50% more waiting time depending on how you want to use this improved fuel mileage. This is a significant increase in acceleration and combat capability with increasing thrust, ”he added.

GE's New Fighter Engine Simply Blasted Existing Jet Technology
GE XA100 Prototype Engine (GE)


American fighter jets are already renowned for their powerful and efficient engines. China and Russia both have new fifth-generation (stealth) fighters in service, but both countries continue to fight with commissioning engines that are adequate to meet the performance needs of high-level fighters of the 21st century. However, China claims to be developing on its specially designed WS-15 engines to bring its stealth fighter Chengdu J-20 on par with the US F-22, threatening to undermine that advantage.

GE’s new XA100 can produce a whopping 45,000 pounds of thrust, beating Pratt and Whitney’s F-135-PW-100 which currently powers the US single-engine F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and makes it a viable option for the iteration of conventional track. of the jet, the F-35A. This news comes in the middle lingering concerns about F-35 engine uptime and maintenance issues that could threaten up to 20% of F-35s if a solution is not found quickly. Although GE’s XA100 does not enter service in time to address these shortcomings, the new engine highlights the concept’s promising future, as well as other potential applications for this engine that span across three generations of fighters.

“The ADVENT, AETD and AETP programs were put in place to mature technologies from a design and manufacturing perspective and to reduce program risks to enable multiple engineering and manufacturing development programs ( EMD) at low risk that could be applied to legacy, current production and future fighter aircraft platforms, ”Tweedie told Sandboxx News.


This section on “Legacy, Current Production and Future Fighter Aircraft Programs” is particularly important as the United States Air Force continues to consider how best to tackle the issue of horsepower. airline in this new era of quasi-peer competition. The F-35, once intended to serve as the backbone of the US Air Force for decades to come, is now facing renewed criticism on the operational costs which threaten the supremacy of the program on the list of budgetary priorities of the Air Force.

Meanwhile, older fighters like the F-15 have returned to the forefront thanks to significant upgrades, with the F-15EX Eagle II make his way in the service. And like the Air Force, the US Navy is also doubling down on its older, fourth-generation platforms, taking deliveries on the first new Block III Super Hornets last summer.

In order not to focus too much on the past and the present, the Air Force and the Navy are also continuing their discreet development on the NGAD Hunter Program who promises to give following air superiority platform, which some say will be the first of a sixth generation fighters. All in all, that means the United States will likely work. three different generations of fighters simultaneously in the next twenty years. While the fifth and sixth generation platforms will provide the greatest survivability in highly contested airspace, the fourth generation jets would also benefit from an increase in power and efficiency, making 4th generation birds. most capable generation in the world. even more able.

GE's New Fighter Engine Simply Blasted Existing Jet Technology
GE-XA100 (GE) engine prototype


But above all, this additional capacity will not come with additional elements that the pilot can follow. In recent years, the Pentagon has devoted huge amounts of funding to limit the cognitive load on fighter pilots during combat operations, by streamlining their interface to aircraft controls and merging data to deliver relevant information in the pilot’s field of view. In keeping with this concept, GE’s XA100 manages the transition between modes without any pilot intervention.

“The mode transition is seamless for the pilot, and they won’t even know when it’s happening,” Tweedie told Sandboxx News.

“They will control the engine power using the throttle as they always have, and the engine program will determine the appropriate mode of operation.”

But the XA100 isn’t just a big deal because of its fuel efficiency and power. While this new engine’s ability to seamlessly switch between tearing the sky like a superior fuel dragster and keeping the fuel gauge like a Toyota Prius might grab the attention of aviation enthusiasts, perhaps it is the thermal management of the engine and the use of advanced component technologies that make the XA100 a leap forward in hunting engines.

GE's New Fighter Engine Simply Blasted Existing Jet Technology
Rendered airflow through the GE-XA100 engine. (GE)


According to Tweedie, the “three-stream architecture” of the XA100 allows a doubling of the thermal management capacity, that is to say a real reduction in the heat created by the operation of the engine. This heat reduction is essential as modern airplanes move away from traditional metal airframes and fuselages to more advanced composite materials. Heat is currently a limiting factor in power generation, but that will no longer be the case with this new generation of powertrains.

“We are seeing a significant increase in capacity there [with] up to twice the growth of mission systems thanks to [improved] thermal management, ”Tweedie said.

Advanced component technologies, including additives and ceramic matrix composites used in the design of the XA100, also play an important role in what makes this new engine a head and shoulders above previous power plants. Not only does this reduce the overall weight of the engine, but also increases its durability compared to previous models.

The resulting combination of power, fuel economy, heat management and tough yet lightweight construction makes the XA100 the physical embodiment of a hunting engine wish list. While one of these capacity enhancements would be welcome in most fighter designs, putting them together into a single system could well lead to a powerhouse that is even greater than the sum of its parts.

And with nations around the world hastily developing new fifth and sixth generation fighters, the United States will need every advantage it can have to maintain its competitive edge.

-This item originally appeared on Sandboxx news. Keep up to date with Sandboxx on Facebook.

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Chaos Lookalikes – Journal Tue, 18 May 2021 00:52:30 +0000

There are some striking similarities between Benjamin Netanyahu and Narendra Modi, including their cynical methods of staying in power. But there are also differences. One comes from a humble tea seller at the train station, the other is a military commando before becoming a right-wing demagogue. Unlikely lookalikes thrive on dividing people, polarizing them along religious or ethnic lines while manipulating political results to their advantage. They don’t always succeed, of course, but it’s the only method they know.

Consider the current surge in violence between Hamas and the IDF. It reads like a chapter of Balakot or Muzaffarnagar with a campaign launched to “reclaim” a Jewish temple from the site of a Muslim mosque.

In its pure form, Hamas-Israel violence is in fact unfolding in Netanyahu’s best interests, if not also in his will. Following an inconclusive election in March, the Israeli prime minister had to suppress the prospect of a corruption conviction. He was unable to muster a majority and President Reuven Rivlin, a Likud colleague but hostile to Netanyahu, gave up until June to his rivals to sew up a viable government. The coalition can work, but it needs the help of an Arab group that Netanyahu had courted in the past. This time around, he must reverse the prospects of a possible alliance of leftists, rightists and Arabs, not least because it would be opposed to him.

Modi like Netanyahu sowed distrust between communities for political ends.

Driving a wedge between Israeli Arabs (they don’t like to call them Palestinians) and Jewish parties would achieve the required result. The unnecessary police assault on Muslim worshipers at the Al Aqsa Mosque, as well as an intensified campaign to evict Arab residents from their homes in East Jerusalem, have led to a repeat of history. Violence erupted not only between Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank on one side and Israeli troops on the other, but Arab and Jewish residents of Israeli towns who have lived in relative peace for years have turned to one another. against others, not completely but enough. spoil the perspective of a rapprochement between communities now considered to be mutually hostile. He has nuances of the Modi formula, so much so that it cannot be ruled out that someone has exchanged notes on his behalf.

There was more bad news for Netanyahu. Like his soul mate in New Delhi, Netanyahu had sought to put a twist on his mismanagement of the pandemic. Modi lost a series of key elections, at least in part due to skyrocketing corps numbers, while the only major election he won in Assam came with the help of the local tribal leaders and congressional party setbacks. Israeli media cited polls suggesting that if an election were held now, Netanyahu’s Likud party would lose more than a quarter of the seats it won in March. Many would go to another right-wing party led by Naftali Bennett, his former aide. Will Hamas’ visual pounding improve Netanyahu’s grades?

In a small victory for Netanyahu, following politically-induced Jewish-Arab-Jewish violence, Bennett had to give up eyeing a government with Raam (United List) leader Mansour Abbas. He informed Opposition Leader Yair Lapid that the idea was no longer on the table. Lapid had been invited by the president to try to form the government. The problems did not abate for Netanyahu.

He still needs a way to get a stay of conviction and possibly jail time.

Speculation is rife that he could throw himself into the fray as a presidential candidate in the elections scheduled for June 2. The indirect election by the Knesset could produce the necessary immunity, but will it have the numbers in what is traditionally a secret ballot? It is possible that he will support a candidate who would give him immunity. So it all seems to be about Netanyahu fighting his conviction. But it has had an effect on the broader political architecture regarding the Middle East. It has forced President Joe Biden to take his eyes off China and find himself potentially sucked into a place where his political options do not necessarily merge with his Russia-specific agenda in Europe and his promise to revive the anti-China pivot. to the East. Former Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati calling on his Hamas counterpart to extend his support for Israel – “the spider in his web” – the openings have widened.

Right now, Netanyahu is struggling to prove his credentials as a pugnacious leader with whom one cannot be lightly. If the need arises, he could even have a showdown with Barack Obama, remember? Will he win the battle with Hamas and at what cost? Israeli opponents have warned of civil war conditions in conflict-torn Israeli towns. As for Israel’s military superiority, everyone knows it has an enormous capacity to pound Hamas bases in Gaza at will. But not everyone knew that Israel’s so-called iron dome of missile protection, supposed to give the country its much-vaunted invincibility to incoming projectiles, could be so easily shattered. How this may impact Israel’s status as an international supplier of fault-proof weapons will be decided when the time comes, but, for now, it remains to be seen how far Netanyahu has been able. shoot the slightest political kilometer by provoking a new confrontation with Hamas.

Netanyahu has many advantages like Modi. They are both aided and encouraged in their quest for power by the assiduously loyal and influential media. But as recent elections in crucial Indian states have shown, the reality on the ground does not always lend itself to media manipulation.

Modi like Netanyahu sowed distrust between communities for political ends. But how long can chaos pass for politics, especially when people are choking to death with no help in sight? However, the two leaders have one great thing in common here, which calls into question easy speculation about their political demise – notoriously divided opposition.

The writer is Dawn’s correspondent in Delhi.

Posted in Dawn on May 18, 2021

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Murphy calls for ‘de-escalation path’ between Israel and Palestinians Mon, 10 May 2021 21:25:17 +0000

Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT), called on Israel and the Palestinians to defuse the ongoing violence, days after returning from a trip to the Middle East.

“The Israeli and Palestinian leaders must embark on a de-escalation path,” Murphy told reporters on Monday, addressing the rise in violence in Jerusalem, which has included scuffles between Palestinians and the Israeli police, protests and attacks rocket from Gaza.

“This constant increase in violence may serve political interests, but it could lead to chaos which will end up killing many people,” Murphy continued. “Hamas must stop the rocket attacks, but Israel must stop the forced eviction of Palestinians from their homes,” he added, referring to the potential eviction of dozens of Palestinian families in the Sheikh neighborhood. Jarrah in East Jerusalem.

The Connecticut senator said he believed the Biden administration was determined to seek peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians, but said the United States waited to engage strongly on the issue until then. that the ongoing coalition negotiations in Israel and the Palestinian elections, which have been postponed indefinitely, have been settled.

“But we’re grappling with the here and now,” Murphy said. “Our goal today must be to convince both sides to take action towards de-escalation. A tit-for-tat, one side responding to escalation on the other with more escalation, is not the way to go here. And we need to get this message across to both sides. “

During his confirmation hearing earlier this year, Secretary of State Tony Blinken was more pessimistic about the prospects for peace in the region under the Biden administration, saying: “[a two-state solution] seems further away than ever, at least since Oslo ”and indicated that the current US priority is not a comprehensive peace agreement.

Murphy also recently signed a yet unpublished letter from Democratic senators to President Joe Biden asking him to reopen the Palestine Liberation Organization mission in Washington, DC, and the US consulate in East Jerusalem.

Murphy, who heads the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia, also referred to his trip to Qatar, Oman and Jordan and other recent regional developments, including nuclear negotiations with Iran.

Murphy, a strong supporter of the reintegration of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran, said he had returned from the trip “more convinced than before … that it is important for us to come back. in the agreement. “

The Connecticut senator reiterated his previous support for the removal of the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” sanctions as part of a re-entry into the 2015 accord.

“Some in Washington may cause a problem with the Iranians wanting the lifting of Trump’s sanctions that did not exist before the signing of the JCPOA,” he said. “I don’t think it is unreasonable for the Iranians to ask, for example, the Biden administration to look at the personal sanctions against the Supreme Leader, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, or the sanctions on the [Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps]. “

These sanctions, added Murphy, “have done nothing for the United States. Iran’s behavior has not improved … Iran’s behavior has worsened.

Murphy also told reporters he believed the upcoming Iranian elections, slated for next month, were increasingly becoming an obstacle to the JCPOA’s re-entry negotiations.

“My advice to the Biden team has been to be flexible and noble, but consistent,” he said. “What we need to do is go back to the original terms of the deal.”

Murphy presented the JCPOA as a pillar of peace across the region, including between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which have held talks facilitated by Iraq.

“As encouraging as it is that the Iranians and the Saudis are talking, it is hard to imagine that these talks would bear fruit if the United States continued to be engaged in Trump’s maximum pressure campaign,” Murphy said, adding: “I think that” It would be a mistake to believe that the JCPOA and the future of Yemen are disconnected. “

The Connecticut senator said Gulf countries also generally support a return to the nuclear deal to facilitate intra-regional negotiations.

“We have heard quite regularly from the Gulf countries that they would welcome a return to the agreement with Iran because they deem it necessary to continue these first talks on a new regional security architecture,” said Murphy.

American allies in the region have expressed concerns in recent weeks on Washington’s current approach to re-enter the JCPOA.

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