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  • Author: Cornelius Adebahr
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The rift between Europe and the United States over Iran is deepening. To regain leverage, the Europeans should engage all eight Gulf states in talks about regional security and nonproliferation. The rift between Europe and the United States over Iran is deepening. Two years of U.S. maximum pressure on Tehran have not yielded the results Washington had hoped for, while the Europeans have failed to put up enough resistance for their transatlantic partner to change course. Worse, the U.S. policy threatens to destabilize the broader Persian Gulf, with direct consequences for Europe. To get ahead of the curve and regain leverage, the European Union (EU), its member states, and the United Kingdom have to look beyond their relations with the Islamic Republic and address wider regional security challenges. The United States’ incipient retreat as a security guarantor and Russia’s increased interest in the region make it necessary for Europe to engage beyond its borders. Despite being barely alive, the 2015 international nuclear deal with Iran offers a good starting point. The Europeans should regionalize some of the agreement’s basic provisions to include the nuclear newcomers on the Arab side of the Gulf. Doing so would advance a nonproliferation agenda that is aimed not at a single country but at the region’s broader interests. Similarly, the Europeans should engage Iran, Iraq, and the six Arab nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council in talks about regional security. Rather than suggesting an all-encompassing security framework, for which the time is not yet ripe, they should pursue a step-by-step approach aimed at codifying internationally recognized principles at the regional level.
  • Topic: Security, Nuclear Weapons, Treaties and Agreements, Nonproliferation
  • Political Geography: Europe, Iran, Middle East, United States of America
  • Author: Robert Springborg, F.C. "Pink" Williams, John Zavage
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The United States, Russia, and Iran have chosen markedly different approaches to security assistance in the Middle East, with dramatic implications for statebuilding and stability. The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is the world’s testing ground for the effectiveness of security assistance provided by global and regional powers. That security assistance has contributed to the intensity and frequency of proxy wars—such as those under way or recently wound down in Libya, Yemen, Syria, and Iraq—and to the militarization of state and substate actors in the MENA region. Security assistance is at the core of struggles for military, strategic, ideological, and even economic preeminence in the Middle East. Yet despite the broad and growing importance of security assistance for the region and for competition within it between global and regional actors, security assistance has been the subject of relatively little comparative analysis. Efforts to assess relationships between the strategic objectives and operational methods of security assistance providers and their relative impacts on recipients are similarly rare.
  • Topic: Security, Geopolitics, Political stability, State Building
  • Political Geography: Russia, Iran, Middle East, United States of America
  • Author: Harith Hasan, Kheder Khaddour
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Over the past nearly two decades, the presence of a variety of state and nonstate military and security forces has transformed the Syrian border district of Bukamal and the neighboring Iraqi district of Qa’im. Following the end of the self-proclaimed Islamic State’s caliphate, Iranian-backed militias began to play a major role in the area, turning it into a flashpoint between Iran and its allies on the one side and the United States and Israel on the other. The strain of tensions and the threat of instability are liable to ensure that this heavily securitized part of the border will remain a magnet for conflict for years to come.
  • Topic: Geopolitics, Islamic State, Conflict, Borders
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Julia Grauvogel, Hana Attia
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: Research on sanctions has hitherto focused on their implementation and effectiveness, whereas the termination of such measures has received only little attention. The traditional model, which looks at sanctions and their removal in terms of rational, interstate bargaining, focuses on how cost–benefit calculations affect the duration and termination of such measures. Yet, this research insufficiently captures the back and forth between easing sanctions, stagnation, and renewed intensification. It also fails to account for the multifaceted social relations between senders, targets, and third actors that shape these termination processes, as well as for the signalling dimension of ending sanctions – not least because existing datasets tend to operationalise sanctions as a single event. To help fill these gaps, the paper proposes a process-oriented and relational understanding that also recognises how sanctions termination conveys the message of ending the visible disapproval of the target, which may be heavily contested. Case studies on Zimbabwe and Iran illustrate how such an approach sheds light on the different logics of action that shape processes of sanctions termination, and thereby contributes to a more holistic understanding of sanctions in general.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Economics, Sanctions
  • Political Geography: Africa, Iran, Middle East, Zimbabwe
  • Author: Ehud Eiran
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Israel is still holding to its traditional security maxim. Based on a perception of a hostile region, Israel’s response includes early warning, deterrence and swift – including pre-emptive – military action, coupled with an alliance with a global power, the US. Israel is adjusting these maxims to a changing reality. Overlapping interests – and perhaps the prospect of an even more open conflict with Iran – led to limited relationships between Israel and some Gulf states. These, however, will be constrained until Israel makes progress on the Palestine issue. Israel aligned with Greece and Cyprus around energy and security, which may lead to conflict with Turkey. Russia’s deployment in Syria placed new constraints on Israeli freedom of action there. The US’s retrenchment from the Middle East is not having a direct effect on Israel, while the Trump administration’s support for Israel’s territorial designs in the West Bank may make it easier for Israel to permanently expand there, thus sowing the seeds for future instability in Israel/Palestine. The EU could try and balance against such developments, but, as seen from Israel, is too divided to have a significant impact. Paper produced in the framework of the FEPS-IAI project “Fostering a New Security Architecture in the Middle East”, April 2020.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Gas, Hezbollah
  • Political Geography: Russia, Iran, Middle East, Israel, Greece, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Cyprus, United States of America, Mediterranean
  • Author: Mariette Hagglund
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: In Iran, the response to the coronavirus pandemic would require cooperation but is marred by the politicization of the crisis. Iran faces a difficult balancing act between different segments of society amid a serious economic situation that also encompasses international power politics.
  • Topic: Power Politics, Public Health, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Mariette Hagglund
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: A key issue dominating Iran’s foreign policy agenda is the future of the Iran nuclear deal with regard to the next US president. Non-state armed groups mark the core of Iran’s leverage in the region, but Iran is currently looking into diversifying its means of influence. Although Iran considers its non-aligned position a strength, it is also a weakness. In an otherwise interconnected world, where other regional powers enjoy partnerships with other states and can rely on external security guarantors, Iran remains alone. By being more integrated into regional cooperation and acknowledged as a regional player, Iran could better pursue its interests, but US attempts to isolate the country complicate any such efforts. In the greater superpower competition between the US and China, Iran is unlikely to choose a side despite its current “look East” policy, but may take opportunistic decisions.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Military Strategy, Elections
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Iran, Middle East, Asia, North America
  • Author: Tytti Erästö
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute
  • Abstract: The erosion of the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement poses a risk for both Middle East regional security and the global nuclear non-proliferation regime. At the same time, it highlights the need to build a more sustainable regional foundation for conflict resolution and arms control in the Middle East. This paper argues that the arms control– regional security nexus should be better reflected in European policy. While maintaining the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and preventing further US–Iranian escalation should be the European Union’s (EU) first priority, the paper urges the EU to develop a more comprehensive approach in support of regional security, arms control and disarmament in the Middle East. In addition to resolving inconsistencies in current EU policies on regional security, arms control and arms exports to the Middle East, the EU should consider throwing its political weight behind two emerging processes that could provide a much-needed opening for regional cooperation: security dialogue in the Gulf and the annual Middle East weapons of mass destruction (WMD)-free zone conferences at the United Nations. If it involved regional non-proliferation cooperation, the former process could also help manage the negative consequences of the potential collapse of the Iran nuclear agreement.
  • Topic: Security, Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, European Union, Disarmament
  • Political Geography: Europe, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Sven Biscop
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: EGMONT - The Royal Institute for International Relations
  • Abstract: When Trump says that he wants NATO to take more responsibility in the Middle East, what he means is that he wants the European allies to do more. He is campaigning for re- election and has promised to bring the boys (and girls) home for Christmas. And of course, in Iraq American troops are less than welcome these days, after the targeted assassination of Iranian General Soleimani near Baghdad airport (3 January 2020). In late 2019, Trump had already withdrawn most troops from Syria, and now the peace agreement with the Taliban (29 February 2020) will allow him to draw down the US military presence in Afghanistan too. And the US is considering pulling its troops out of the Sahel as well. What does this mean for Europe?
  • Topic: Defense Policy, NATO, Military Strategy, Assassination
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Iraq, Iran, Middle East, Syria, North America
  • Author: Husain Haqqani
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Hudson Institute
  • Abstract: Soon after Iran’s Islamic revolution in 1979, its leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini declared that Iran would challenge “the world’s arrogant powers” across the globe. 1 “We shall export our revolution to the whole world,” he announced, adding that “Until the cry ‘There is no God but God’ resounds over the whole world, there will be struggle.’” 2 The idea of exporting Iran’s ideology was also incorporated in the Islamic Republic’s constitution. Article 154 of the current Iranian constitution affirms that Iran “supports the just struggles of the mustad’afun [oppressed] against the mustakbirun [tyrants] in every corner of the globe.” As is often the case with revolutionary regimes, the early fervor of the Iranian revolution seems to have subsided and the broader goal of replicating the Islamic revolution has been modified to expanding Tehran’s influence and ensuring external support for the survival of its clerical regime. But Iran still pursues a robust policy of cultivating and deploying proxies in other, mainly Muslim countries. The role of Iran’s proxies and allies in the Middle East is well known, partly because it is more overt. Hezbollah’s targeting of Israel and its efforts to dominate Lebanon, Iran’s role in propping up the Bashar Assad regime in Syria, or its political and militant meddling in Iraq and Yemen often make headlines. But the Ayatollahs have also expanded their influence across South, Central, and East Asia without attracting the same level of attention as their activities in the Middle East.
  • Topic: History, Ideology, Islamism, Revolution
  • Political Geography: Iran, South Asia, Indonesia, Middle East