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  • Author: Andrew J. Tabler
  • Publication Date: 02-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In this new Transition 2017 paper, Institute expert Andrew J. Tabler argues that Syria remains de facto partitioned, making the establishment of safe zones in non-Assad-controlled areas the Trump administration's most expedient course of action. Moreover, it would further Washington's cause to drive a wedge into the country's Russia-Iran alliance, and both isolate and pressure the Assad regime. If Washington's objectives in Syria are to defeat U.S.-designated terrorist groups and stem the outflow of refugees, President Bashar al-Assad is under no circumstances the right person to entrust with these missions. Simply in practical terms, he lacks the manpower to retake and hold the two-thirds of Syrian territory outside his control any time soon, despite having sufficient support from Russia and Iran to maintain control in large parts of the country. But more important, Assad is an avowed adversary of the West, undeserving of its cooperation.
  • Topic: International Relations, Civil War, International Security, International Affairs, Neoimperialism
  • Political Geography: Russia, America, Iran, Syria
  • Author: Anna Borshchevskaya
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: After two rounds of peace talks in Geneva failed to resolve the Syrian crisis, Moscow proposed in December 2014 its own peace talks between the Syrian government and the opposition. Earlier this month, Russian deputy foreign minister Mikhail Bogdanov confirmed that the talks would take place January 26-29, according to Russian press reports. Bogdanov has described the talks as "consultative" and "preparatory," without any preconditions or set agenda. They could, he said, lead to more concrete discussions. Although the United States is not participating in the Moscow talks, U.S. secretary of state John Kerry expressed hope on January 14 in Geneva that they "could be helpful."
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Moscow
  • Author: Simon Henderson, Stefanie Peterson
  • Publication Date: 08-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: At a ceremony near the southern Iranian coastal city of Bushehr this Saturday, Russia will begin the process of loading fuel rods into Iran's first civilian nuclear reactor. Theoretically distinct from the rest of the regime's disturbing nuclear program, the Bushehr plant nevertheless remains a major international concern. The low-enriched uranium in the fuel rods would, if diverted, substantially increase Iran's existing stock of the material, which many suspect is already being used to develop nuclear weapons. Even if they were used solely for electricity generation, the rods would eventually produce plutonium-rich residue that could also be reprocessed for use in a weapon. For Iran, the Bushehr event will be a gesture of defiance against U.S.-led international pressure; for Russia, a sign of Moscow's different diplomatic approach to the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran; and for the United States, an exception to the tightening sanctions regime, which officials claim is forcing Tehran to reconsider the wisdom of its policies.
  • Topic: Nuclear Weapons
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, Iran, Middle East, Asia, Moscow
  • Author: Michael Jacobson
  • Publication Date: 09-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Although Iran has formally accepted the U.S. offer to meet on October 1, expectations are low, particularly since Tehran has made clear that the nuclear issue is not negotiable. The United States and its allies have already begun to prepare for the possibility of failed negotiations by developing potential sanctions packages that could be imposed on Tehran. Unfortunately, due to Chinese and Russian opposition, pushing a strong resolution through the UN Security Council appears unlikely. Washington, however, can adopt other multilateral approaches to increase the pressure on Iran, such as ramping up its anticorruption enforcement efforts against companies doing business in Iran, and encouraging other countries to do the same. Given the widespread corruption in Iran, and the powerful anticorruption legislation in place in many countries worldwide, this approach could have a significant impact on the regime.
  • Topic: Corruption, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Iran
  • Author: Patrick Clawson, Walter Posch, Vladimir Esveev
  • Publication Date: 04-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On April 3, 2006, Walter Posch, Vladimir Esveev, and Patrick Clawson addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. Walter Posch is a research fellow at the European Union's Institute for Security Studies in Paris. Vladimir Esveev is a senior associate at the Center for International Security at the Institute for World Economy and International Relations in Moscow. Patrick Clawson, a senior fellow and deputy director for research at The Washington Institute, is coauthor with Michael Rubin of Eternal Iran: Continuity and Chaos (Palgrave, 2005). The following is a rapporteur's summary of their remarks.
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Iran, Washington, Moscow
  • Author: David Makovsky, Michael Herzog, Elizabeth Young
  • Publication Date: 03-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In the immediate aftermath of Hamas's parliamentary victory in late January, the Quartet—the United States, the EU, Russia, and the UN—set clear criteria for funding a Palestinian Authority (PA) under Hamas's leadership. The Quartet said direct funding would be a function of the new government's “commitment to the principles of nonviolence, recognition of Israel, and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations, including the Roadmap.” Indeed, there is no other example of taxpayers subsidizing a government run by an organization that appears on State Department and EU terror lists.
  • Topic: International Relations, Economics, Humanitarian Aid
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Orhan Babaoglu
  • Publication Date: 08-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The Black Sea Naval Cooperation Task Group (BLACKSEAFOR), a regional maritime security initiative started by Turkey in 2001, was activated August 14-27. With world attention devoted to Iraq and the Middle East, important developments in the nearby Black Sea region involving energy politics, frozen conflicts, and new regional security initiatives have gone mostly unnoticed. The Black Sea is a stable but complex basin with vast economic resources and strategic importance as a medium for energy transportation. Is the Black Sea a bridge or a barrier between United States and Turkey? Does the issue of Black Sea security provide an opportunity to mend deteriorated relations or a new source of friction?
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, NATO, Cold War
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Iraq, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 07-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Beginning on July 6, British prime minister Tony Blair will host the G8 summit in Gleneagles, a hotel and golf course in Scotland. Africa and climate change are the two main topics on the agenda, but counterterrorism, proliferation, and political reform in the Middle East are scheduled to be discussed as well. The annual G8 summit has become the sole forum in which the leaders of the seven top industrialized countries (Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States) and Russia meet to discuss and decide on courses of action. Diplomatic grandstanding and expected antiglobalization demonstrations aside, the summit is an opportunity to set the international political and bureaucratic agenda for months ahead.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government, Oil, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Britain, Africa, Russia, United States, Japan, United Kingdom, Middle East, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Scotland
  • Author: Patrick Clawson
  • Publication Date: 12-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The Iran nuclear issue will be on the international agenda in the coming months. The often-postponed visit to Tehran by the head of Russia's Atomic Energy Agency (Minatom) Alexander Rumyantsev to sign an agreement on the delivery of nuclear fuel for the Bushehr power plant is now set for January. Meanwhile, early January will see the second round of negotiations between the Europeans and Iran, which is insisting it will end its voluntary suspension of uranium enrichment unless there is significant progress within the three-month timeframe set in the November 15 Paris Accords. That is no easy matter, given that in response to Iran's demands that the negotiations cover a wide range of security and economic issues, the initial European position evidently was to raise the full set of concerns which led to suspension of EU-Iran talks about a Trade Cooperation Agreement, namely, terrorism (such as al-Qaeda), Middle East peace, human rights, and all of Iran's weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Iran, Middle East, Arab Countries
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 04-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The end of Saddam Husayn's regime offers several key benefits with regard to U.S. interests. World oil supplies will increase as Iraq -- which has not been a major oil exporter since the beginning of the 1980-1988 war with Iran -- raises its oil production capacity to its full potential, which may amount to 5-6 million barrels per day. Cheap oil will boost the global economy, reduce Arab control of the oil market, and allow the United States to become less dependent on Saudi Arabia and better positioned to demand reforms from Middle Eastern regimes. In addition, postwar Iraq will no longer pose a weapons-of-mass-destruction threat to the region. The end of Saddam's regime will also reduce Russian and French influence in the region.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Iraq, Middle East, Arabia, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Jonathan Schanzer
  • Publication Date: 04-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Ansar al-Islam, an al-Qaeda affiliate in northern Iraq, was rocked by U.S. missile and air strikes over the weekend, concluding an eight-day campaign against the organization. The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) stated that, with help from more than 100 U.S. Special Forces operatives, they have "completely overrun" Ansar's stronghold. The PUK reportedly killed twenty-four Ansar fighters on Monday alone. Yet, the group may not have been defeated completely. Although its enclave was literally flattened, Ansar al-Islam is threatening new attacks, and will likely live to fight another day.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Russia, Middle East, Arabia, Kurdistan
  • Author: Rolf Ekeus
  • Publication Date: 11-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1441, adopted after weeks of diplomatic aerobics, authorized renewed weapons inspections in Iraq and outlined a timetable for the inspections process, with mandatory deadlines for Iraqi compliance. UNSCR 1441's popularity is remarkable: the United States, Russia, France, and Syria all like it, and even Iraq seems somewhat amenable to its terms. This popularity may stem from the possibility that each of these countries has a different understanding of the resolution's implications. If so, the disarmament effort may eventually reach a fork in the road, with two possible paths forward.
  • Topic: Security, Religion, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Russia, Iraq, Middle East, Arab Countries, Syria
  • Author: Patrick Clawson
  • Publication Date: 09-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The United States and Britain are consulting with the other three permanent members of the UN Security Council (Russia, France, and China) before introducing a new draft resolution on Iraq. Much attention has been given to whether the resolution will explicitly authorize the use of force. At least as important will be whether the resolution reverses the long, slow erosion of Iraq's UN-mandated obligations. For all their seemingly tough language, recent Security Council resolutions on Iraq have been ambiguous at best about the issues on which Saddam Husayn has been allowed to cheat in the past.
  • Topic: Security, Religion, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Iraq, Middle East, Arab Countries
  • Author: Robert Satloff
  • Publication Date: 07-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In the most significant Bush administration pronouncement on Arab-Israeli issues since President George W. Bush's landmark June 24 speech, Secretary of State Colin Powell joined with leaders from the United Nations (UN), the European Union (EU), and Russia in issuing a "joint statement" on Middle East policy in New York yesterday. In characterizing the meeting of "Quartet" diplomats that produced the statement, much of today's media reportage highlighted the contrast between Secretary Powell's fealty to the president's security-first approach and the preference of the other Quartet members for pursuing security, political, and humanitarian objectives simultaneously. Yet, a close reading of the Quartet's statement shows a different trend — namely, a disquieting resurrection of pre-June 24 prescriptions for Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking, as well as acquiescence by U.S. participants in subtle yet meaningful backtracking in key areas of policy.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, New York, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 05-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: A spate of visitors have been coming to the United States to talk with senior Bush administration officials about the Middle East. Perhaps the most prominent visitor has been Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Abdullah, the de facto Saudi ruler who last visited the United States three years ago. As a special gesture, President George W. Bush hosted Crown Prince Abdullah at his Crawford, Texas, ranch last week. Other recent visitors to see President Bush include Egypt's president Hosni Mubarak, Morocco's King Mohammed, and Lebanon's prime minister Rafik Hariri. Next week, President Bush will host Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon and, shortly thereafter, Jordan's King Abdullah. Today, the State Department will host senior diplomats who deal with the Middle East, hailing from the European Union, Russia, and the UN. These countries and organizations have been consulting with each other and with the United States more than in previous times. As President Bush meets with these leaders and considers his options, there is already a noticeable change in the Bush administration's Middle East public focus away from a virtually exclusive September 11 counterterrorism agenda. From President Bush's speech to Congress last September and the State of the Union speech in January, the animating principle of this administration has been the war on terrorism. The violence in the Israeli-Palestinian arena, though, coupled with the Saudi peace initiative spearheaded by Crown Prince Abdullah at the Arab summit in Beirut six weeks ago, has succeeded in shifting President Bush's agenda.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Middle East, Arab Countries, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon
  • Author: Brenda Shaffer
  • Publication Date: 05-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In April, Brenda Shaffer, research director of Harvard University's Caspian Studies Program and visiting fellow at The Washington Institute in 2000, addressed The Washington Institute to mark the publication of her Policy Paper, Partners in Need: The Strategic Relationship of Russia and Iran. The following is a rapporteur's summary of her remarks. Russia and Iran see themselves as strategic partners, and therefore their relations are based on an overall security conception. It would be a misperception to assume that because Washington and Moscow share concerns about Islamist radicalism that Russia would necessarily decide to cooperate with the United States on Iran. It would also be a misperception to think that Russia wants to sell arms to Iran solely in order to make money and that the United States can induce Russia not to make these sales by offering a better economic deal.
  • Topic: Security, NATO, Arms Control and Proliferation, Religion, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Iran, Washington, Middle East, Arab Countries
  • Author: Mark Parris
  • Publication Date: 04-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Turkey is important . . . The new administration, based on what it has said and done since January, understands this." "One reason [for Turkey's importance], of course, is its location and the issues that come with that geography-big issues; issues that have literally made or broken past administrations' foreign policies: Russia; the Caucasus and Central Asia; Iran; Iraq; post-Asad Syria; Israel and the Arab world; Cyprus and the Aegean; the Balkans; the European Security and Defense Initiative (ESDI); drugs, thugs, and terror. I would submit that no administration can achieve its objectives on any of these issues unless the Turks are on the same page.
  • Topic: Security, NATO, Arms Control and Proliferation, Religion, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Turkey, Caucasus, Middle East, Israel, Arab Countries, Syria, Cyprus
  • Author: Alan Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 03-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Turkey's economic crisis is naturally the leading issue in bilateral U.S.-Turkish relations, and it is almost certainly topping the agenda of today's meetings of Foreign Minister Ismail Cem with Vice President Richard Cheney and other senior officials. Of course, these meetings pose the difficult question of how much Washington should do, if anything, to bail out its strategically vital ally. But this is only one of several uncertainties characterizing U.S.-Turkish relations in the early days of the Bush administration. Because so much of Turkey's importance to the United States derives from its critical strategic location, bilateral relations are greatly affected by U.S. policies toward other states in Turkey's region. Of most concern to Turkey will be the evolution of Bush administration policy toward Iraq, Iran, and Russia, and also toward Europe's nascent bid to develop an autonomous security capacity.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Defense Policy, Economics, Energy Policy
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Iraq, Europe, Iran, Washington, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Brenda Shaffer
  • Publication Date: 03-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Iranian president Mohammed Khatami will conduct an official visit to Russia on March 11 through March 15. This constitutes the highest-level visit of an Iranian official to Russia since 1989. There could be an intensification of cooperation between Russia and Iran during Khatami's visit — including on arms sales. In addition to military issues, the delineation of borders along the Caspian Sea will be a focus of discussion. Following talks in Moscow, Khatami will visit St. Petersburg and Kazan, the capital of the autonomous Russian republic of Tatarstan.
  • Topic: International Relations, Sovereignty
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Iran, Middle East, Asia, Moscow
  • Author: Dore Gold
  • Publication Date: 01-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: February marks ten years since the end of the Gulf War. The situation in the Middle East today is vastly more dangerous than in 1991. The favorable regional conditions in 1991 that allowed the current peace process to begin have been reversed. Three key trends are the following: After Iraq's defeat in the Gulf War, it was placed under UN monitoring and extensive sanctions, thereby removing a major threat from Israel's calculus. Today, the situation is drastically different, with the absence of UN inspections for more than two years and the deterioration of sanctions against Iraq. In 1991, Iran was still recovering from its exhaustive war with Iraq and could not fully participate in regional, specifically Arab–Israeli, affairs. By contrast, Iran is currently testing intermediate-range missiles and is expressing its strategic weight in places like Lebanon, where it has increased its support to Hizballah. In 1991, the USSR was crumbling before its eventual collapse and was no longer in a position to offer strategic and military support to the enemies of Israel, while its successor — the Russian Federation — has more or less acquiesced to U.S. positions on the Middle East. Since 1996, however, Russia has taken a contrary approach to many U.S. policies and leadership in the region, in particular with regard to Iraqi sanctions and weapons inspections and the transfer of missile technology to Iran.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Foreign Policy, Peace Studies, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Iraq, Middle East, Israel, Arabia, Lebanon