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  • Author: Mervat Zakaria
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Uncovering the limitations of the Chinese Iranian agreement The Economic Cooperation Agreement signed between Iran and China in March 2021 unfolded a development plan that includes China injecting $ 400 billion into various sectors of the Iranian economy. This grants Tehran an opportunity to increase the pressures imposed on the new US administration, regarding resumption of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action held with the P5+1 in 2015, as well as confronting the surrounding regional threats and alleviating internal pressures by improving the Iranian standard of living.
  • Topic: Economics, International Cooperation, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: China, Iran, Middle East, Asia
  • Publication Date: 09-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Third Way
  • Abstract: A nuclear-armed Iran is an unacceptable threat to America and our allies. But because of Donald Trump, we are closer to—not farther from—this nightmare scenario. Donald Trump chose a bellicose, chaotic, go-it-alone strategy toward Iran. He blew up the Iran Deal, the international agreement that froze Iran’s nuclear weapons program, because it was negotiated by Barack Obama. When he blew it up, our European allies were shocked—and for the first time ever, they sided with Iran to preserve the deal over the Trump Administration. And that’s what just happened again at the United Nations in August of this year. Now it will be more difficult to stop Iran’s malign activity in the future. President Obama brought international pressure to bear to force Iran into a difficult choice: they could have an economy or nuclear weapons, but not both. Iran chose an economy, and in doing so, accepted restrictions on its nuclear program and submitted to international inspections. In return, the United States, our European allies, Russia, and China began to resume economic activity with Iran. After freezing Iran’s nuclear program, the United States could have begun dealing with Iran’s other malign activity. Unfortunately, against the advice of his senior national security advisors and allies, President Trump unilaterally withdrew from the Iran Deal. Then he threatened our negotiating partners with sanctions for attempting to salvage the deal. And when that didn’t work, in January, he ordered a unilateral strike to kill one of Iran’s senior military leaders, Qasem Soleimani, risking outright war. Despite all this, he signaled he was open to negotiations with Iran but has not indicated what a successful agreement would include. Trump’s chaotic, bellicose strategy has yielded no positive results. Future policymakers will need to rebuild the coalition to deal with Iran and develop a long-term strategy to get Iran to abandon its nuclear ambitions, end its support for terrorists, and become a responsible global player.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Nuclear Weapons, Military Strategy, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Shehzada Afzal, Nazir Hussain
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: South Asian Studies
  • Institution: Department of Political Science, University of the Punjab
  • Abstract: International relations are determined by systemic and structural factors at the global, regional and state/domestic levels. Inter-state relations require common interests, shared goals, inter-related threat perception and eminent security challenges. Indo-Iranian relations have been on a progressive trajectory since the beginning of current century; their relations are focussed on political, economic, security and strategic spheres. As an emerging major power, India intends to enhance its influence across regions. This paper attempts to examine how Indo-Iranian relations have shaped up over the years. How convergence of interests by these two far-off neighbors have developed to join and cooperate in economic, political and social domains. For Pakistan, any development on its eastern and western borders holds important bearing on its national security; therefore, what new challenges are posed by Indo-Iranian relations in the changing regional environment of South Asia.
  • Topic: Security, Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Bilateral Relations, Peace, Regionalism
  • Political Geography: Iran, South Asia, Indonesia, Middle East, Asia
  • Author: George Tzogopoulos
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP)
  • Abstract: This essay by Dr. George Tzogopoulos, focuses on the multidimensional nature of Greek-Israeli relations. The understanding of the depth of these relations can explain why the two countries – along with Cyprus – are interested in coming closer. On the other hand, the effort of Israel and Turkey to normalize bilateral ties – already under way since 2016 – is a logical development that deserves attention. However, it is not related to the future evolution of Greek-Israeli collaboration. The evolution of Greek-Israeli relations in the last decade and trilateral Greece-Israel-Cyprus summits outline the common interest of the three countries to enrich their cooperation. Israel and Turkey have started since 2016 to normalize their relations. This is an ongoing process that has evolved in a period during which Greece, Israel and Cyprus charted a joint course in the Eastern Mediterranean. Israel and Turkey are expected to find a modus vivendi by agreeing on some issues and disagreeing on others. A potential Turkish-Israeli collaboration against Iran in Syria might pave the way for new synergies between Israel and Turkey. This is a highly controversial and complicated matter that entails risks for Ankara.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Europe, Iran, Turkey, Middle East, Israel, Greece, Syria
  • Author: Jadranka Polovic
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for Development and International Relations (IRMO)
  • Abstract: The Middle East as one of the most heterogeneous and politically conflicting regions in the world and has long been at the center of international interest. Faced with sectarian wars and comprehensive social crises for decades the Middle East, due to its geostrategic importance and especially the imperative of controlling the region’s vast energy resources, has once again become a battle ground for major powers whose interests affect the concentration of participants in the region. The competition between global powers and growing influence of Russia and China, who undermine the US power and European Union’s influence and also undermine established alliances in the Middle East, undoubtedly require a rethinking of Western strategies for the region. A series of geopolitical challenges, especially after September 11 attacks against the United States, as a result of military interventions and civil wars (Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria) and uprisings (Arab Spring) and thus the collapsed regional order, confronted the international community with the changing nature of security threats, as well as with the new balance of power of regional and international actors in the Middle East. Among the many aspects of the Middle East conflicts, the fundamental issue of regional security today is the Sunni-Shiite conflict, which has since the invasion of Iraq in 2003 directly defined the approaches and policies of great powers and significantly changed regional dynamics. In this context, Iran’s role is particularly significant. Namely, over the last two decades, Iran has consolidated its goals in the Persian Gulf and strategically expanded its influence to other countries in the Middle East, primarily Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. The growing influence of Shiite Iran, and its close relations with Shiite communities in the region with which it forms a strategic coalition, have become a key geopolitical challenge for the international community.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Energy Policy, International Cooperation, Natural Resources, Hegemony
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Europe, Iran, Middle East, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Syed Fazl-e Haider
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: China Brief
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: In early December, Major General Shao Yuanming (邵元明), the Deputy Chief of the Joint Staff Department of the Central Military Commission of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), traveled to the Islamic Republic of Iran for rare high-level military meetings. These meetings were held for the purpose of organizing a series of unprecedented joint naval drills between China, Iran, and Russia, which were held in the Indian Ocean and the Sea of Oman from December 27–29. The drills took place just as escalating tensions between the United States and Iran reached a crisis point at the end of 2019. The exercise also signified a deepening relationship between Iran and the PRC in economics, diplomacy, and security affairs. China and Russia have both increased military and economic cooperation with Iran in the year and a half since the U.S. government pulled out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). However, while Iran’s government has repeatedly touted its deepening relations with China and Russia as a show of diplomatic strength, its allies have been less public about the growing relationship. In December, Iranian officials lauded the trilateral exercises—titled “Marine Security Belt”—as proof that Iran can outlast crippling sanctions with aid from its non-Western allies, and declared that the drills signaled a new triple alliance in the Middle East (Tasnim News, December 29, 2019). [1] By contrast, officials from Russia and the PRC were more restrained, framing the joint exercises as part of routine anti-piracy operations, highlighting their peacekeeping priorities and seeking to depoliticize the drills (South China Morning Post, September 23, 2019; Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Russia), October 2, 2019).
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, International Cooperation, Military Strategy, Navy, Maritime, Strategic Interests
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Europe, Iran, Middle East, Asia
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Al Jazeera Center for Studies
  • Abstract: Although both the United States and Iran say they do not want a direct military confrontation, such escalation by the United States necessarily invites an Iranian response, particularly since Tehran is butting heads with US regional allies like Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Iran
  • Author: Udi Dekel, Carmit Valensi
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: The rescue of Bashar al-Assad’s regime by the pro-Assad coalition, comprising Russia, Iran, and Iranian proxies, led to the victory of the regime over the rebels; the coalition’s achievements stem primarily from the effective cooperation between Iran and Russia since 2015 in fighting the rebels. Now, with the battles over, despite shared interests in consolidating the Assad regime, inherent tensions between Russia and Iran regarding influence in Syria have emerged in greater relief. Yet despite the disagreements, this it is not a zero-sum game between Russia and Iran. Both continue to cooperate on a range of issues in the Syrian arena and beyond. Iran for its part continues to see its consolidation in Syria as a strategic objective, and despite difficulties that have emerged, it seems that Tehran remains determined to continue, even if to a lesser extent than originally planned. After the success of Israel’s military actions to halt Iran’s military consolidation in Syria, Jerusalem should maximize the political potential and the shared interest of Russia and the United States to stabilize the situation in Syria, and to reduce Iran’s influence and capabilities in the country.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Military Strategy, Foreign Interference
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, Iran, Syria
  • Author: Nancy Gallagher, Ebrahim Mohseni, Clay Ramsay
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland (CISSM)
  • Abstract: The Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland (CISSM) has been conducting in- depth surveys of Iranian public opinion on nuclear policy, regional security, economics, domestic politics, and other topics since the summer of 2014. Each survey includes a combination of trend-line questions, some going as far back as 2006, and new questions written to assess and inform current policy debates. This report covers findings from three surveys fielded in May, August, and early October 2019 to evaluate how the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign is affecting public opinion in Iran. The United States withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in May 2018, and began re-imposing sanctions on Iran that the Obama administration had lifted under the terms of the 2015 agreement it had negotiated with Iran, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China. In the fall of 2018, it blacklisted hundreds of Iranian entities and threatened to impose secondary sanctions on anyone who did business with them. In spring of 2019, it tried to prevent Iran from getting any revenue from oil sales, its main export, by ending exemptions for key customers. In the summer of 2019, it tightened constraints on Iran’s access to the international financial system, including channels that had been used to pay for medicines and other humanitarian goods that were officially exempted from earlier sanctions. It also sanctioned Iran’s foreign minister, complicating his ability to interact with U.S. officials, experts, and media figures. The Trump administration’s stated objective is to keep imposing more sanctions until Iran acquiesces to a long list of U.S. demands articulated by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The original twelve points include the types of restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program that the government rejected during previous negotiations and that the Iranian public has consistently opposed. It also includes stopping development of nuclear-capable missiles, ending support for various groups throughout the Middle East, halting cyberattacks and other threatening activities, and releasing all U.S. and allied detainees. Pompeo subsequently added other demands related to civil liberties in Iran. The Iranian public enthusiastically supported the JCPOA when it was first signed, partly due to unrealistic expectations about how much and how quickly economic benefits would materialize. After the International Atomic Energy Agency certified in January 2016 that Iran had met all of its nuclear obligations and implementation of sanctions relief began, foreign companies were slow to ramp up permissible trade with Iran or to make major investments there before they knew how the next U.S. president would view the JCPOA. By the end of the Obama administration few Iranians said that they had seen any economic benefits from the deal and most lacked confidence that the other signatories would uphold their obligations. But a solid majority of Iranians (55%) still approved of the agreement.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Nuclear Weapons, Military Strategy, JCPOA
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Joshua Krasna
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security (JISS)
  • Abstract: Arab countries are re-normalizing their relations with the Assad regime, seeking to balance the strong Iranian and Turkish influences in Syria and to achieve some degree of influence in a new Syrian political-strategic structure. This further cements a Russian-oriented strategic architecture in the region. In the long term, this could lead to tensions between conservative Arab states and Israel, if Israel targets the Syrian military and government in the campaign against Iran, or if Israel continues to promote diplomatic recognition of its Golan annexation.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Military Strategy, Governance, Normalization, Annexation
  • Political Geography: Europe, Iran, Turkey, Middle East, Israel, Asia, Syria