Cole: Ten ways an Israeli strike on Iran could radically weaken Israel
An Israeli F-15 fighter jet takes off during an air show at the graduation ceremony of Israeli pilots in the Hatzerim air force base in the Negev desert near the southern Israeli city of Beersheva on June 30, 2011.
February 6th, 2012
11:47 AM ET

Cole: Ten ways an Israeli strike on Iran could radically weaken Israel

Editor's Note: Juan Cole is Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan.  The following is reprinted from his blog Informed Comment. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Juan Cole.

By Juan ColeInformed Comment

What's the worst case scenario of an Israeli air strike on Iran's nuclear enrichment facilities? Below is what I came up with. I think each of these scenarios is plausible in its own right, and that all could well ensue.

1. Iran is now threatening to strike at any third country in the region that aided Israel in an airstrike on Iran. The aftermath is therefore likely to be further conflict in the region.

2. Oil prices will spike. I imagine you could easily see $150 a barrel or maybe even more. This development could throw the U.S. and Europe back into deep recession.

3. Hezbollah would likely launch rockets, causing at least severe inconvenience to some 1/4 of the Israeli public, which might well have to move house again, and possibly much worse if Hizbullah is able, as they claim, to target toxic gas storage in Haifa or even the reactor at Dimona with modified Chinese silkworms.

FULL POST

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Topics: Iran • Israel • Military
Can Europe’s oil boycott really sink Iran?
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visiting the Natanz uranium enrichment facility, 270 kms south of Tehran, in 2008.
January 24th, 2012
11:56 AM ET

Can Europe’s oil boycott really sink Iran?

Editor's Note: Juan Cole is Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan.  The following is reprinted from his blog Informed Comment. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Juan Cole.

By Juan ColeInformed Comment

The European Union threatened Iran on Monday with cutting off petroleum imports into the 27 EU member states, and announced sanctions on Iranian banks and some port and other companies.

Iran sells 18 percent of its petroleum to Europe, and Greece, Italy and Spain are particularly dependent on it. Europe also sells Iran nearly $12 billion a year in goods, which likely will cease, since there will be no way for Iran to pay for these goods. Some in Europe worry that the muscular anti-Iran policy of the UK, France and Germany in northern Europe will worsen the economic crisis of southern Mediterranean countries such as Greece.

Others think that Iran’s nuclear enrichment program is still primitive and that allegations that Iran is seeking a nuclear warhead are hype. FULL POST

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Topics: Iran
South Carolina and Gingrich; Egypt and the Muslim Brotherhood
Newt Gingrich celebrates at a primary night rally Saturday in Columbia, South Carolina.
January 23rd, 2012
07:48 AM ET

South Carolina and Gingrich; Egypt and the Muslim Brotherhood

Editor's Note: Juan Cole is Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan.  The following is reprinted from his blog Informed Comment. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Juan Cole.

By Juan Cole, Informed Comment

The election results for Egypt’s lower house have been announced, and the Muslim religious parties appear to have gained over 70% of the seats. The Muslim Brotherhood is claiming its Freedom and Justice Party took 47% of the 498 seats in the lower house of parliament.

The hard line fundamentalist Nur Party won 29% of the seats contested on a party basis.

To have 51%, the Muslim Brotherhood party needs a coalition with another party. Its leaders have at least said that they prefer to make that alliance with a secular party like the Wafd rather than with the hard line Salafis. FULL POST

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Topics: Egypt • Religion
November 24th, 2011
12:00 PM ET

Cole: Top 10 things Americans can be thankful for in 2011

Editor's Note: Juan Cole is Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan.  The following is reprinted from his liberal blog, Informed Comment.

By Juan ColeInformed Comment

News is too often defined as bad news. At a time when many Americans are unemployed or under-employed, or have lost their homes or seen their value plummet, it is hard to be too sunny. But the U.S. does have a lot of good news stories to celebrate, despite the adversity we are currently facing, and it is in the tradition of this day to highlight those things for which we can be grateful.

1. The Iraq War is finally over. Not just major combat operations. Not just a phase of the war. The whole. War. Is. Over. Done. Complete. Out of there. U.S. troops are going to be out of the country by the end of the year. Those who cavil that maybe a few trainers or embassy guards will be left behind don’t remember when there were 160,000 U.S. troops in that country during a time of fierce fighting and civil war. As someone who followed the war intensively, I feel cheated that our troops will have no parade, and there will perhaps be no public ceremony marking the milestone.

2. Al-Qaeda, the radical organization that attacked the United States on September 11, 2001 and threw the country into a decade of militarism, has lost its leader and been rendered “operationally ineffective” and is within two arrests of being more or less rolled up.

3. The United States lost no troops in the Libya War. The international intervention was relatively successful in preventing a massacre and further repression of the Libyan population in cities such as Benghazi, which had risen up against the regime of dictator Moammar Gadhafi. The worst prognostications of critics were never realized.

FULL POST

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Topics: United States
Iran looks to China, Russia to break out of U.S. sanctions
Chinese President Hu Jintao and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands in Moscow. (Getty Images)
November 8th, 2011
11:12 AM ET

Iran looks to China, Russia to break out of U.S. sanctions

Editor's Note: Juan Cole is Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan.  The following is reprinted from his blog, Informed Comment.

By Juan Cole, Informed Comment

The four rounds of United Nations Security Council sanctions on Iran are likely about as far as Russia and China are willing to go. Even the new charges against Iran apparently contained in the forthcoming International Atomic Energy Agency report (which do not rise to the level of accusing Tehran of having an active nuclear weapons program or of having diverted uranium to it), according to Reuters, are unlikely to impress China and Russia.

The problem is that sanctions on the Iranian financial and banking sector are already so extensive that the only way to go beyond them is to start a boycott of Iranian petroleum and gas. FULL POST

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Topics: China • Foreign Policy • Iran • Russia
September 26th, 2011
11:30 AM ET

Saudi women’s vote: Does it go far enough?

By Juan Cole, Informed Comment

The surprise announcement on Sunday by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia that women will be allowed to vote in and run for office in the municipal elections scheduled in four years is another sign of the pressure the kingdom is under to reform. Although this announcement wasn’t anticipated, it comes as a result in part of nearly a decade of women’s activism, beginning with a January 2003 petition from Saudi women demanding their political rights. The recent Facebook campaign for driving rights for women, and the act of civil disobedience by some 80 or so in daring to drive, probably helped impel the king to make this decision. FULL POST

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Topics: Saudi Arabia • Women
Top ten myths about the Libya war
Libyan rebel youth watches the sun set near front lines April 14, 2011 west of Ajdabiyah, Libya. (Getty Images)
August 22nd, 2011
04:56 PM ET

Top ten myths about the Libya war

Editor's Note: Juan Cole is Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. He writes the blog Informed Comment.

By Juan Cole, Informed Comment

The Libyan Revolution has largely succeeded, and this is a moment of celebration, not only for Libyans but for a youth generation in the Arab world that has pursued a political opening across the region.

The secret of the uprising’s final days of success lay in a popular revolt in the working-class districts of the capital, which did most of the hard work of throwing off the rule of secret police and military cliques. It succeeded so well that when revolutionary brigades entered the city from the west, many encountered little or no resistance, and they walked right into the center of the capital.

Moammar Gadhafi was in hiding as I went to press, and three of his sons were in custody. Saif al-Islam Gadhafi had apparently been the de facto ruler of the country in recent years, so his capture signaled a checkmate. (Checkmate is a corruption of the Persian “shah maat,” the “king is confounded,” since chess came west from India via Iran). [Editor's Note: This is no longer the case as of Tuesday, August 23. It turns out Saif Gadhafi had not been captured by the rebels.] FULL POST

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Topics: Libya
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