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Will Israel Attack Iran?
New York Times magazine will run a cover story on whether an Israeli strike on Iran is imminent. According to the author, Ronen Bergman, “After speaking with many senior Israeli leaders and chiefs of the military and the intelligence, I have come to believe that Israel will indeed strike Iran in 2012” (New York Times Magazine 01/25).
Bergman is “one of a small circle of heavyweights in the Israeli media who spend a significant amount of time with the politicians, spies and generals who are going to make the ultimate decision” says Julian Borger in the Guardian.  But, he notes, Jeffrey Goldberg–who wrote an Atlantic cover story predicting Israel would strike Iran in 2011–thinks that Bergman’s assessment may be premature and that many of the officials quoted in Bergman’s piece are the same ones who convinced Goldberg that 2011 would be the year Israel would strike Iran.  Borger says, “Clearly, Israeli has a motive in conveying the impression that an attack might be imminent, to stir up urgency in the West to confront Iran. (The Guardian 01/25)
Iran to debate bill that would see an immediate halt to all European oil exports 
Iran may preempt a EU ban on Iranian oil, which will not go into effect for six months to avoid a cut off during peak winter months and to allow European states to find new suppliers. But Iran may decide to stop its European exports immediately.  “Many Iranian lawmakers and officials have called for an immediate ban on oil exports to the European bloc before its ban fully goes into effect in July, arguing that the 27 EU nations account for only about 18 percent of Iran’s overall oil sales and would be hurt more by the decision than Iran.” (Washington Post 01/25)
U.S. sanctions cut off food, medicine and humanitarian goods to Iran
Cliff Burns assesses the impact of the U.S. decision to add Iran’s Bank Tejerat to its sanctions list, which now means that virtually every bank and port in Iran has been sanctioned by the U.S.
“The real impact of this is that this may well signal the end of legal exports of agricultural products, medicine and medical devices to Iran under the authority of the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000. Exports to Iran licensed by OFAC require that the exporter must deal directly with a non-Iranian bank and that the non-Iranian banking intermediary may not use an Iranian bank on the SDN List to complete the financial aspects of the transaction” (The Export Blog 01/24).
Notable Opinion
NIAC’s Trita Parsi discusses Iran and US relations in a piece that assesses the potential for a peaceful resolution in an op-ed for The Atlantic:

“The 30-year-old U.S.-Iran enmity is no longer a phenomenon; it is an institution. For three decades, politicians and bureaucrats in both countries have made careers out of demonizing each other. Firebrands in Iran have won political points by adding an ideological dimension to an already rooted animosity. Shrewd politicians, in turn, have shamelessly used ideology to advance their political objec­tives. Neighboring states in the Persian Gulf and beyond have taken advantage of this estrangement, often kindling the flames of division.
Israel and some of its supporters in the United States, in particular, have feared that a thaw in U.S. relations with Iran would come at the expense of America’s special friendship with the Jewish state.
But the strategic cost to the United States and Iran of this pro­longed feud has been staggering. Harming both and benefiting nei­ther, the U.S.-Iran estrangement has complicated Washington’s efforts to advance the peace process between the Israelis and Palestin­ians in the 1990s, win the struggle against al-Qaeda, or defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan and the insurgency in Iraq. Still, the strategic cost of this enmity has oftentimes been dwarfed by the domestic political cost to overcome it. In Washington, the political cost for attempting to resolve tensions with Iran has simply been too great and the political space too narrow to justify starting down a fraught and uncertain path to peace with Iran.”

Click here to read in full.
Other Notable News and Opinions:
Mark A.Heller of Tel Aviv University writes that not only is war inevitable but that a war between Europe and Iran has already begun.
Yasmin Alem provides her analysis of the current round of parliamentary elections in Iran.
Iran may not make good on threats to close the Strait of Hormuz, but still has plenty of leverage in the Persian Gulf.

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