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  • Author: Michel Duclos
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Russia and Iran are allies in Syria not out of mutual sympathy, but for pragmatic reasons. According to many reports, Iranian leaders—notably including Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Al-Quds force of the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC)—were instrumental in convincing Vladimir Putin to send his air force to Syria and save Bashar al-Assad’s skin in September 2015
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Russia, Iran
  • Author: Alimar Lazkani
  • Publication Date: 07-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)
  • Abstract: There is constant talk of the “soft conflict” between Iran and Russia in Syria. Most research and media reports focus on the areas of influence and control of each party. Without going into the relationship between Iranian and Russian forces on Syrian soil, in which the Iranian of influence weakened following the entry of Russian troops, it is important to distinguish the nature of these two forces to help identify the characteristics of this conflict, which are not limited to areas of influence. In fact, there is a clear difference between Iranian and Russian interests as well as strategy on two major issues. The first is the relationship with Israel. While Russia sees Israel as a strategic ally in the region, Iran gains its regional legitimacy by emphasizing the continuity of conflict with it. The second is the way each party sees the future of Syria, and its own role in it. Iran is not capable of establishing a centralized state in Syria because of its ideological hostility to the Sunni majority there. Therefore, a state based on sectarian militias will be the cornerstone of Iran’s continued presence on Syrian soil as it has the capacity to manage militias with no national project. Russia, on the other hand, has a vision of a centralized state that is based on the fundamental pillar of a disciplined and dutiful army. Thus, the “soft conflict” involves not only the geographical divvying-up of Syria, but also fundamental matters related to the structure of Syria’s security and military system. This paper is the second part of a broader study of Russia’s policy of establishing a military influence in Syria. It will look at the Syrian militias that Iran has fostered and supported, and Russia’s approach in dealing with them on the ground. However, it does not consider non-Syrian militias on Syrian soil brought by the Iranians, such as Hezbollah, the Fatemiyoun, the Zainabiyoun, and other Shia militias because of their close association with Iranian politics and their temporary posting in specific conflict areas, making them a foreign presence on Syrian soil.
  • Topic: Military Strategy, Military Intervention, Sunni, Shia
  • Political Geography: Russia, Iran, Middle East, Israel, Syria
  • Author: Masoomeh Khandan, Lant Pritchett
  • Publication Date: 11-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: A long-standing literature in the sociology of organizations (e.g., DiMaggio and Powell 1983) suggests that, as change agents face uncertainty about actions and outcomes, they often seek legitimacy through isomorphism: adopting structures, policies and reforms similar (at least in appearance) to those deemed successful elsewhere. We examine history’s most rapid reduction of fertility—from 8.4 in 1985 to 2.4 in 2002, in rural Iran—as an example of successful autonomous reform. The Iranian state, which was self-consciously cut off from nearly all of the traditional vectors of global isomorphism, initiated a successful behavioral change in a domain (family planning) perhaps unexpected for an Islamic state. We describe and explain the Iranian approach, in particular the rural program, contrasting it with the global strategy of adopting universal "best practices."
  • Topic: Governance, Health Care Policy, Reform, Public Policy
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Nikolay Kozhanov
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Transatlantic Relations
  • Abstract: This paper is part of CTR's Working Paper Series: "Russia and the West: Reality Check." The current level of Russian presence in the Middle East is unprecedented for the region since the fall of the Soviet Union. Records of diplomatic and political contacts show increased exchange of multilevel delegations between Russia and the main regional countries. After 2012, Moscow has attempted to cultivate deeper involvement in regional issues and to establish contacts with forces in the Middle East which it considers as legitimate. Moreover, on September 30, 2015, Russia launched air strikes against Syrian groupings fighting against the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Before that time, Russia had tried to avoid any fully-fledged involvement in the military conflicts in the region. It was also the first time when it adopted an American military strategy by putting the main accent on the use of air power instead of ground forces. Under these circumstances, the turmoil in the Middle East, which poses a political and security challenge to the EU and United States, makes it crucial to know whether Russia could be a reliable partner in helping the West to stabilize the region or whether, on the contrary, Moscow will play the role of a troublemaker.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Military Strategy, Military Intervention, Syrian War
  • Political Geography: Russia, Iran, Middle East, Israel, Libya, Palestine, Syria, Egypt, United States of America, European Union, Gulf Cooperation Council
  • Author: Michael Lt. Col. (ret.) Segall
  • Publication Date: 09-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
  • Abstract: Today, amid Hamas’ ongoing distress, the changes in its leadership both within and outside of Gaza, and the decline in its funding and political support, the movement is seeking to warm its ties with Tehran.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Iran
  • Author: Michael Segall
  • Publication Date: 08-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
  • Abstract: The new Iranian defense minister, Brigadier General Amir Hatami, strongly supports the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), its commander Qasem Soleimani, and the “resistance front.”
  • Topic: International Security
  • Political Geography: Iran
  • Author: Ambassador Dore Gold
  • Publication Date: 08-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
  • Abstract: The Iranian nuclear agreement (JCPOA) of 2015 was based on several key premises. Secretary of State John Kerry said that Iran was just two months away from having enough fissile material for an atomic bomb. With the agreement, that breakout time could be stretched out to a year or more.
  • Topic: International Affairs, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: Iran
  • Publication Date: 08-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The Islamic Resistance Movement (more commonly known as Hamas) has recently intensified its efforts to enhance its relations with Iran, especially after President Hassan Rouhani was elected for a second term. It also seeks to invest favorable official attitudes inside Iran where most main- stream political parties are urging for what they believe is necessary support to some organizations operating across the region, including the occupied Palestinian Territories, and resume full- fledged relations with Hamas.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Mohsen Shariatinia, Hamidreza Azizi
  • Publication Date: 11-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute of World Economics and Politics
  • Abstract: Iran served as a bridge in the ancient Silk Road, connecting the East and the West. It also has great potential to play an important role in the new Silk Road. The present study analyzes the factors affecting Iran–China cooperation in the context of the Belt and Road Initiative at the strategic and operational levels. This article shows that, at the strategic level, Iran defines this project as an opportunity to improve its status in the world economy, expanding its room to manoeuvre in the international arena and developing its ties with China, a rising great power. At the operational level, the opportunities and challenges for Iran–China cooperation could be summarized as pertaining to five realms within the Silk Road Economic Belt Initiative: policy coordination, facilitation of connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial integration and people-to-people bonds. The present study asserts that the main opportunity for cooperation between the two countries lies in facilitating connectivity and that the key challenge is financial integration.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: China, Iran
  • Author: Soren Scholvin
  • Publication Date: 04-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Geopolitical research is frequently portrayed as a dead end. To some scholars it appears that in the 21st century geography is largely scenery, all but irrelevant to the most important issues of grand strategy. This working paper aims to revitalise geopolitics, reflecting both on the critique of the subject and the strengths that have characterised it for more than a century. It is argued that geographical conditions constitute a set of opportunities and constraints, a structure that is independent of agency. General patterns and long-term processes can be aptly explained by this structure but geopolitics is not a theory of state behaviour or foreign policy. Understanding specific phenomena that occur in international relations therefore requires taking into consideration non-geographical factors. Such a combination of geographical and non-geographical factors provides sound explanations, as several examples demonstrate: China’s projection of power into the Indian Ocean, South Africa’s approach to the political crisis in Zimbabwe in 2008, Iran’s maritime strategy and the poor integration of Colombia and South America. Given that geopolitics is about analysing international relations (or politics) for its geographical content, all those committed to geopolitics should concentrate on the three guiding questions: Do geographical conditions influence the observed outcome? If yes, do geographical conditions influence the observed outcome significantly? If yes, how, meaning in combination with which other factors do geographical conditions influence the observed outcome?
  • Topic: Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: China, Iran, South Africa, Colombia, South America, Zimbabwe