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  • Author: Paul A. Goble
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: Azerbaijan’s victory in the Second Karabakh War (September 29–November 9) has had a transformative effect on the country. It not only changed the attitudes of its population, whose members now feel themselves to be heroes rather than victims (see EDM, January 21), but also bolstered the diplomatic weight and possibilities of the Azerbaijani government in its dealings with other regional states. In prosecuting a triumphant war against Yerevan, Baku demonstrated its own ability to act. But just as importantly, Azerbaijan has shown to peoples and governments in the Caucasus and Central Asia that it is a force to be reckoned with, in part thanks to its growing links with Turkey. Moreover, that alliance makes possible an appealing path to the outside world for all who join it. That reality is causing countries east of the Caspian to look westward to and through Azerbaijan in their economic planning and political calculations. At the same time, however, these developments are generating concerns in Moscow and Tehran, which oppose east-west trade routes that bypass their countries’ territories and instead favor north-south corridors linking Russia and Iran together. As a result, Azerbaijan’s recent successes in expanding links with Central Asia set the stage for new conflicts between Azerbaijan and its Turkic partners, on the one hand, and Russia and Iran, which have far more significant naval assets in the Caspian, on the other (see EDM, November 27, 2018 and February 20, 2020; Casp-geo.ru, December 24, 2019; Chinalogist.ru, November 21, 2019).
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Territorial Disputes, Conflict, Trade
  • Political Geography: Russia, Iran, Central Asia, Middle East, Azerbaijan
  • Author: Rahim Rahimov
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: Iran emerged as a potential loser from the Russia-brokered trilateral truce accords that ended last autumn’s 44-day Second Karabakh War between Armenia and Azerbaijan (see EDM January 25). Therefore, Tehran is seeking ways to reposition itself into the new situation in line with its interests. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif’s five-country regional tour of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Russia and Turkey, between January 25 and 28, clearly carried that mission (Tasnim News Agency, January 30). In particular, a top agenda item during this series of foreign visits was the proposal to reactivate a Soviet-era railway connecting Iran and Armenia via Azerbaijan’s Nakhchivan exclave, which is wedged between them and Turkey (Twitter.com/JZarif, January 26).
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Infrastructure, Transportation
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Armenia, Azerbaijan
  • Author: Jacob Lees Weiss
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: On December 20, 2020, 21 Katyusha rockets struck the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, breaking an Iranian-sponsored ceasefire in Iraq for a second time (U.S. Central Command, December 23, 2020). The Iraqi security forces later arrested a member of the Iraqi political and militant organization Asaib Ahl al-Haq (AAH), Hussam al-Azirjawi, after finding conclusive evidence of his involvement in the attack (al-Hurra, December 26, 2020). Following al-Azirjawi’s arrest, multiple widely-shared clips on social media appeared to show a large mobilization of armed AAH militants in East Baghdad. A further clip showing masked AAH gunmen threatening to attack Iraqi security forces on command from AAH leader, Qais al-Khazali (al-Arabiya, December 25 2020). These arrests and video clips reveal that AAH has begun to show increasing signs of dissent from the party line set by Iran and its most loyal proxy in Iraq, Kata’ib Hezbollah.
  • Topic: Non State Actors, Conflict, Militias, Resistance
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Nancy Gallagher, Clay Ramsay, Ebrahim Mohseni
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland (CISSM)
  • Abstract: This report covers findings from two surveys fielded in September and early October 2020 and late January through early February 2021 to assess how Iranians were faring as the covid-19 pandemic intensified the challenges their country was already facing, what they thought about the parliamentary election in Iran and the presidential election in the United States, and how the inauguration of Joe Biden impacted their attitudes towards nuclear diplomacy and regional security. Iran was one of the earliest countries to be hard-hit by the novel coronavirus, with the country’s first cases confirmed on February 13, 2020, two days before the parliamentary election, senior officials among those soon infected, and high death rates reported. Western reporting depicted widespread government incompetence and cover-ups exacerbating the pandemic’s toll. As in other countries, Iranian officials struggled to decide whether to close schools, curtail economic activities, and restrict religious observances in hopes of slowing the virus’ spread, but cases and deaths remained high through 2020. When we fielded the first survey wave, the daily number of new confirmed covid-19 cases in Iran was starting to climb sharply again after having been relatively flat since May. Some world leaders, including the U.N. Secretary General, called for an easing of sanctions on Iran as part of global efforts to fight the pandemic. The United States, which had withdrawn from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in May 2018, maintained that medicine, personal protective equipment, and other humanitarian supplies were exempt from the steadily increasing sanctions applied as part of its “maximum pressure” campaign. But, the United States’ designation in September 2019 of the Central Bank of Iran as a terrorist organization made most foreign suppliers of humanitarian goods reluctant to sell to Iran. A decision in October 2020 to also designate the few Iranian banks that were not previously subject to secondary sanctions further impeded humanitarian trade, caused another sharp drop in the value of Iran’s currency, and had other negative economic effects. The Trump administration’s stated objective was to keep imposing more sanctions until Iran acquiesced 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 included stopping development of nuclear-capable missiles and ending support for various groups throughout the Middle East.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Public Opinion, International Community
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Oula A. Alrifai
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The dalliance between the Assad family and Iran’s Shia clerics began in the 1970s. But whereas the Syrian leader held leverage in those days predating Iran’s Islamic Revolution, the tables have now been turned. Observers of the decade-long Syria war understand the indispensable role Tehran has played in ensuring the Assad regime’s survival. But they may be less familiar with its stunning breadth—or its historical roots. The dalliance between the Assad family and Iran’s Shia clerics began in the 1970s, when the shah was still in power in Iran and then president Hafiz al-Assad, a member of the marginalized Alawite sect, sought religious legitimacy to lead his majority-Muslim country. But whereas the Syrian leader held leverage in those days predating Iran’s Islamic Revolution, the tables have now been turned. Lately, Tehran’s relationship with Damascus can be described as one of strategic dominance. In this deeply researched Policy Note, analyst Oula Alrifai, a former Syrian asylee, lays bare the extent of Iranian infiltration of Syrian religious and socioeconomic life. She details the spread of Twelver Shia ideology through seminaries, congregation halls, and academic institutions, while demonstrating Iran’s massive economic clout in Syria through initiatives such as the Marota City housing project. For Washington, only a determined effort to blunt Iranian influence can help deliver much-deserved peace for the Syrian people and enduring stability for the region.
  • Topic: Religion, History, Authoritarianism, Ideology, Syrian War, Proxy War
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Aaron Y. Zelin
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Even as U.S. policymakers must stay focused on the Assad regime’s culpability, they also face a complex web of power dynamics in which Russia, Turkey, Iran, Israel, and other actors are attempting to secure their various interests. After a decade of civil war in Syria, the core antagonist remains the Assad regime, which in 2011 ruthlessly suppressed peaceful protestors and has since tortured and executed tens of thousands of detainees. The regime also bears responsibility for fostering the growth of the Islamic State, in part by releasing Syrian jihadists at the start of the war. Yet even as U.S. policymakers must stay focused on Assad’s culpability, they also face a highly complex web of power dynamics in which Russia, Turkey, Iran, Israel, and other actors are attempting to secure their various interests. In this Policy Note, expert Aaron Zelin details how the world’s counterterrorism and Great Power challenges converge in Syria, and how they must be addressed holistically. To this end, he proposes policies on the diplomatic, humanitarian, legal, economic, and military fronts that can calm the fears of U.S. allies such as Israel, Jordan, and Turkey, and perhaps inspire a more robust opposition, backed by a diverse set of local and diaspora activists.
  • Topic: Counter-terrorism, Syrian War, Strategic Competition, Proxy War
  • Political Geography: Russia, Iran, Turkey, Middle East, Syria, United States of America
  • Author: Albert B. Wolf
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Whoever wins, the result will intimate deeper trends in Iranian society, such as public support for the regime and the Supreme Leader’s intentions for the country’s future. The Washington Institute has been sponsoring a series of discussions about sudden succession in the Middle East. Each session focuses on scenarios that might unfold if a specific ruler or leader departed the scene tomorrow. Questions include these: Would the sudden change lead to different policies? Would it affect the stability of the respective countries involved, or the region as a whole? What would be the impact on U.S. interests? Would the manner of a leader’s departure make a difference? The discussions also probe how the U.S. government might adjust to the new situation or influence outcomes. This essay, thirteenth in the series, assesses the situation in Iran, where a June election will determine the successor to President Hassan Rouhani. An IRGC-backed candidate such as Majlis speaker Muhammad Baqer Qalibaf or former defense minister Hossein Dehghan could ultimately prevail—but a history of election surprises in the Islamic Republic suggests no outcome is certain. Whoever wins, the result will offer clues about deeper trends in Iranian society, such as public support for the regime and the Supreme Leader’s intentions for the country’s future.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government, Elections, Domestic politics
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, United States of America
  • Author: Dennis Ross
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: A reimagined approach to Iran nuclear talks could extend the country’s breakout time, preserve U.S. negotiating leverage, and strengthen American alliances in Europe and across the Middle East. In the first in a series of TRANSITION 2021 memos examining policy challenges across the Middle East, esteemed diplomat and policymaker Dennis Ross provides an innovative approach to reengaging Iran in nuclear diplomacy. His ideas have the potential to extend Iran’s breakout time, preserve U.S. negotiating leverage, and strengthen U.S. alliances in Europe and across the Middle East. Ross explains: “If regime change is not a realistic or advisable goal, the objective must be one of changing the Islamic Republic’s behavior. While this would be difficult, history shows that the regime will make tactical adjustments with strategic consequences when it considers the price of its policies to be too high.” In the coming weeks, TRANSITION 2021 memos by Washington Institute experts will address the broad array of issues facing the Biden-Harris administration in the Middle East. These range from thematic issues, such as the region’s strategic position in the context of Great Power competition and how to most effectively elevate human rights and democracy in Middle East policy, to more discrete topics, from Arab-Israel peace diplomacy to Red Sea security to challenges and opportunities in northwest Africa. Taken as a whole, this series of memos will present a comprehensive approach for advancing U.S. interests in security and peace in this vital but volatile region.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Nuclear Power, Joe Biden
  • Political Geography: Europe, Iran, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Anahita Motazed Rad
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: As the Biden and Rouhani administrations’ position to renew diplomatic efforts on the Iranian nuclear file with European support, they face more challenges than their predecessors did in 2015, when the Iranian nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was originally signed. Today, domestic, regional and international confrontations have increased; hardliners and conservatives in Tehran and Washington, on the one hand, and in Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on the other, are now more aligned and coordinated against a diplomatic success than they were in 2015.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Nuclear Power, Negotiation
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Michael Knights, Hanin Ghaddar, Nadwa Al-Dawsari, Charles Lister
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Middle East Institute (MEI)
  • Abstract: Iran’s influence throughout the Middle East has grown dramatically in the past decade, in large part due to its expanding regional network of militias and their assertion of influence in unstable environments. Through the IRGC’s Quds Force and Iranian allies such as Lebanese Hezbollah, the Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs) in Iraq, and the Houthis in Yemen, Iran’s pursuit of regional hegemony through the removal of Western influence threatens stability. What are the main challenges and threats posed by Iran’s regional network? How best should they be dealt with? Can diplomacy remove the incentive for Iranian proxy aggression? How must the United States and the wider international community respond to Iran’s direct and proxy involvement in conflicts across the Middle East?
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Geopolitics, Transnational Actors, Proxy War
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Middle East, Yemen, Lebanon
  • Author: Assal Rad
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Turkish Policy Quarterly (TPQ)
  • Institution: Turkish Policy Quarterly (TPQ)
  • Abstract: The attacks on 11 September 2001 not only shaped the focus of US foreign policy over the last two decades, but also de!ned how a generation of Americans understood the gravity of these policies by bringing the cost and tragedy of con"ict home. For many young Americans, it was the !rst time they became aware of the extent of US interventionism and how it impacts the way other nations and peoples view the United States. But events over the last year in the United States have brought the attitude of US foreign policy—which has long been driven by the idea that problems can be solved exclusively through militarism and force—much closer to home. Images of police violently confronting Black Lives Matter protestors and an insurrection at the Capitol were often likened to images of war zones abroad, the very wars started by the United States.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Military Strategy, Peace
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Michał Wojnarowicz
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Since last year, Israel has increased its operations against Iran’s nuclear programme. The actions corresponded to the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” policy on Iran. Currently, the Israeli actions are an attempt to put pressure on the negotiations launched by the U.S. and Iran to restore the nuclear agreement. Israel opposes those talks, but further escalation will be limited by the stance of the Biden administration.
  • Topic: Nuclear Power, Cybersecurity, Joe Biden, Escalation
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Israel, United States of America
  • Author: Trita Parsi
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft
  • Abstract: • Abandon dominance. For many of the United States’ security partners, even a dysfunctional Pax Americana is preferable to the compromises that a security architecture would inevitably entail. The preconditions for creating a successful security architecture can emerge only if the United States begins a military withdrawal from the Persian Gulf and credibly signals it no longer seeks to sustain hegemony. • Encourage regional dialogue, but let the region lead. The incoming Biden administration’s hint that it will seek an inclusive security dialogue in the Persian Gulf is a welcome first step toward shifting the burden of security to the regional states themselves. For such an effort to be successful, the United States should play a supporting role while urging regional states to take the lead. • Include other major powers. The regional dialogue should include the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and major Asian powers with a strong interest in stability in the Persian Gulf. Including them can help dilute Washington’s and Beijing’s roles while protecting the region from inter–Asian rivalries in the future.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, National Security, United Nations, Military Strategy, Hegemony, Military Affairs, Grand Strategy
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Persian Gulf
  • Author: Mari Nukii
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Japan Institute Of International Affairs (JIIA)
  • Abstract: It is no exaggeration to say that Iran has been one of victims most suffered from the Trump administration's 'America First' policy in the four years since President Trump's inauguration in 2017. The main cause was Trump's unilateral declaration on May 8, 2018 to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and resume sanctions against Iran. Furthermore, in May 2019, the United States imposed a total embargo on Iranian oil and sent the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln and bomber units to the Middle East, heightening the risk of military conflict between the two countries.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Politics, Elections, JCPOA
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, United States of America
  • Author: Nobumasa Akiyama
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Japan Institute Of International Affairs (JIIA)
  • Abstract: On January 20, 2021, a new administration will take office in the United States. This could lead to changes in US-Iran relations. The Trump administration continued to provoke Iran by withdrawing from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), tightening sanctions, and killing Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani. Meanwhile, the incoming president Joe Biden and key members of his diplomatic team are oriented toward a return to the JCPOA. In the midst of all this, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a nuclear scientist who is believed to have played a central role in Iran's nuclear development, was murdered. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani responded by saying he would retaliate at an "appropriate" time, and an advisor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei said he would take "decisive" action. Although the US is not believed to have been directly involved in this incident, there are concerns that it will cast a dark shadow on the diplomacy between the US and Iran over the JCPOA. Shortly thereafter, Iran's parliament passed a law that obliges the government to take steps to expand nuclear activities that significantly exceed the JCPOA's limits and to seek the lifting of sanctions. The new US administration will need to be very careful not to overlook either hard or soft signals, to analyze Iran's future course, and to take diplomatic steps to reduce Iran's nuclear and regional security threats.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Bilateral Relations, JCPOA, Joe Biden
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Zelal Ozdemir, Ayça Ergun
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Uluslararasi Iliskiler
  • Institution: International Relations Council of Turkey (UİK-IRCT)
  • Abstract: The discipline of International Relations is increasingly paying attention to nationalism, although this attention is mostly limited with the role of nationalism on international system. By presenting an approach born out of the intersection of Historical Sociology in International Relations (HSIR) and the Modernist School of Nationalism, this paper aims at expanding the terrain of nationalism studies in International Relations (IR). Using Iran as an example, it demonstrates that three basic premises of HSIR—the interaction between domestic and international dynamics, historicization, and multi-causality—are central to analysing nationalism, which is only associated with the domestic level. It argues that HSIR has much to offer not only to studies of nationalism and/in the Middle East but also to the discipline of IR by elucidating the international connections of this seemingly domestic issue.
  • Topic: International Relations, Nationalism, Sociology, Regionalism
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 08-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: On July 15, Khuzestan in South West Iran witnessed a range of protests against the disintegrating economic and living conditions in the country, particularly the lack of water within the province, which was called ‘water protests’ or ‘thirst protests’, This was extended to other Iranian cities outside Khuzestan. The protesters' demands evolved to demand the overthrow of the regime itself raising slogans of ‘Death to Khamenei’.
  • Topic: Economics, Water, Minorities, Protests
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 08-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: On Friday, July 30, Iran targeted the Mercer Street oil tanker in the Northern Arabian Sea off the Omani port of Duqm, which was on its way from Dar es Salaam in Tanzania to Fujairah in the UAE, killing two crew members: a British and a Romanian. The Israeli ship was attacked by one or more drones. The attack came in two waves. The first wave was the bombing of the tanker with missiles carried by a normal drone. As the damage was limited, a larger suicide attack was launched on the dormitories of the ship's crew, with the aim of causing casualties, which actually resulted in the deaths of a British and a Romanian. The oil tanker belongs to the London-based Zodiac Maritime company, which is part of the Zodiac company owned by Israeli businessman Eyal Ofer. This is the second attack within the month of July, as the first one took place on July 3, targeting Csav Tyndall, which is also owned by Eyal Ofer.
  • Topic: Oil, Conflict, Crisis Management, Trade
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Israel, Persian Gulf
  • Publication Date: 08-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: On July 19, 22 and 25, Israel carried out three strikes in less than one week using surface-to-air missiles against Syria. These strikes are considered the first of their kind executed by the new Israeli "Bennett-Lapid" government. Although this type of strikes is not novel, the Russian reaction to it was different this time. The Russian Ministry of Defense engaged in the scene for the first time, sending indirect messages to Israel. This made analysts refer to a possible shift in the rules of engagement in Syria. The understandings between Moscow and Tel Aviv were based on Moscow turning a blind eye to Israeli fighters launching airstrikes in Syria against Iranian targets, in return for Israel not targeting Syrian regime forces or Russian forces, which provide direct support to the Syrian army against the armed opposition. The Russian position reflected a clear desire to weaken the Iranian military presence in Syria, particularly with the escalation of rivalry between Moscow and Tehran over economic and military influence there.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Armed Forces, Military Affairs, Economy
  • Political Geography: Russia, Iran, Middle East, Israel, Syria
  • Publication Date: 08-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Ousted Afghan president Ashraf Ghani left Afghanistan on August 15th when the Taliban reached the outskirts of the capital Kabul. At the time, a source close to Taliban stressed that the two sides reached an agreement whereby Ghani should step down and hand over power to a transitional administration. While the United States and the European Union might well consider the use of sanctions as a weapon against the Taliban, if the movement does not live up to its commitment not to target US and European citizens leaving Afghanistan, it should be noted that most of Afghanistan’s neighbors expected the collapse of the Afghan government – although not this fast- and even began to open up to the Taliban. Irreversible US Withdrawal The United States defended its decision to pull out of Afghanistan rebuffing criticism both at home and abroad. It reiterated that kept forces in Afghanistan twice as long as the Soviets. The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said remaining in Afghanistan is “simply not in the national interest.” He added that the US succeeded in the mission of reducing attacks on its soil and interests. The US withdrawal will leave wide repercussions both regionally and internationally.
  • Topic: Military Affairs, Taliban, European Union, Refugees, Humanitarian Crisis, Adaptation, Pragmatism
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Russia, Iran, South Asia, Turkey, India, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 07-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The ‘shadow war’ between Iran and Israel continues. The sabotage operations remain, evident in the attacks on Natanz, the most famous uranium enrichment facility in Iran in July 2020 and in April 202, and assassination of nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in Tehran. This is in addition to the mutual targeting of ships in the Persian Gulf, the Sea of Oman, the Mediterranean and the Red Sea between the two sides.
  • Topic: Armed Forces, Violence, Nuclear Energy
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Israel
  • Publication Date: 07-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The Israeli ‘Walla’ news website published a report that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has reorganized the deployment of military forces in Syria, and has restricted the movement of Iranian forces internally in order to prevent internal frictions and achieve peace and stability. Walla deems the change in Damascus’s stance towards Iran to be in response to the political, economic and military pressures implored on the former. The website has also indicated that the Iranian presence in Syria has also weakened for other reasons, including the continuous Israeli and US pressures on Iranian presence there. While there were no sources confirming such notions, considering the policies of regional and international powers’ concerning the Syrian crisis, there might be some truth to this notion, pushing Damascus to embrace such tactics.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Military Affairs, Political stability, Peace
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Israel, Syria
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: On April 16, the Head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization, Ali Akbar Salehi, announced Iran's hourly production of 9 grams of uranium enriched to 60%. This step provoked Western countries participating in the Vienna talks.
  • Topic: Treaties and Agreements, Uranium, Nuclear Energy
  • Political Geography: Iran, Vienna, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The Biden administration has been keen on sending several messages implying that it shows little interest in the results of the Iran presidential elections due to take place on June 18. Washington believes that the identity of Iran's next president will not change the decision-making trends in Tehran or the potential course of the relations between Iran and the US over the next phase. On March 11, Robert Malley, the US envoy to Iran, said that “Iran's elections in June are not a factor in the Biden administration’s decision-making for how to proceed with nuclear talks” adding that “the pace will be determined by how far we can get consistent with defending U.S. national security interests”. He continued saying, “we won’t rush or slow things because of the Iranian elections”. This reflects several indicators relevant to the new strategy adopted by the Biden administration in dealing with Iran during the current phase, which can be addressed as follows:
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, National Security, Elections, Joe Biden
  • Political Geography: Iran, Washington
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The Lebanese internal arena is experiencing escalating instability. This is clearly reflected in the influence of political forces, especially Hezbollah, which is under internal and external pressures as a result of the faltering formation of the government. The balance of power is drawing more to be in favor of the Bashar al-Assad regime over the past few years. In addition to its continued involvement in the Syrian conflict, Hezbollah identifies with the Iranian public discourse on many regional and international issues, particularly during the escalation of tensions with the US and Israel.
  • Topic: Politics, Conflict, Hezbollah
  • Political Geography: Iran, Lebanon, Syria
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, has proposed the possibility of settling disputes over the nuclear deal by adopting the ‘simultaneous’ approach, meaning that Iran will once again comply to the deal in return for US lifting sanctions imposed on it. On February 2, during his interview with CNN network, Zarif responded to the question by Christian Amanpour, about whether Iran is still demanding that the US act first, saying that the necessary steps can be synchronized. He also suggested the EU mediate to settle the disputes and remove any obstacles against Washington's return to the agreement. This may imply that Iran made early concessions in its position, regarding the adherence to strict conditions, similar to: the US returning to the agreement first, lifting sanctions and providing compensation for the losses incurred. However, these may not be major concessions impacting the general attitudes of the Iranian leadership, nor may they necessarily indicate Iran's intention to make significant changes in its policy regarding the nuclear deal. To be precise, this new approach announced by Zarif may simply be a tactical change in the Iranian policy aiming to enhance the access to understandings and to avoid early problems with the US administration, at a time when Iran appears to be in dire need of lifting US sanctions.
  • Topic: Treaties and Agreements, Nuclear Power, Elections, JCPOA
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • 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
  • Author: Hussam Ibrahim
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: After the announcement of the victory of Ebrahim Raisi, Iran's hard-line judiciary chief, various analysts raised questions about the future of US-Iranian relations, particularly in light of major determinants. The most prominent of which is Ebrahim Raisi himself, who is subject to US sanctions, and his term, which may coincide with reaching a new nuclear agreement between Washington and Tehran, as well as the current debate in Washington’s political circles regarding the situation in Iran.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Bilateral Relations, Elections, Hassan Rouhani
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Rania Makram
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Israel and Iran are witnessing significant political changes that affected the ruling elites. The developments came in the wake of early legislative elections held in Israel in March leading to the formation of a new coalition government headed by Naftali Benett, leader of the right-wing party Yamina. In Iran, presidential elections held on June 18, were won by hardline chief justice Ebrahim Raisi. The internal political dynamics in Tel Aviv and Tehran cast a shadow on the whole political landscape in both countries, and are projected to have an impact on the trajectory of the non-traditional conflict between the two sides, which escalated over the past few months.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, International Relations, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Rania Makram
  • Publication Date: 08-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Iran’s water shortage crisis is neither new or surprising and was predicted by experts and officials several years ago. As far back as 2015, former Iranian agriculture minister, Isa Kalantari, warned that water scarcity would force 50 million Iranians to leave the country. Later, he claimed that a 'water war' might hit rural areas. However, this early warning has not triggered an effective policy to preempt or solve the crisis already hitting the country. More than 12,000 villages have run out of water and around 7,000 rely entirely on water deliveries by tankers, according to Hamid-Reza Mahbubfar, a member of Environmental Risks and Sustained Development. The ecologist explained that 90 percent of surface and underground water resources have been used up. The water crisis triggered a series of political upheavals due to its implications for the population in affected villages and towns. In recent weeks, protests broke out in several Iranian cities over water scarcity and the resulting environmental problems.
  • Topic: Environment, Natural Resources, Water, Crisis Management
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Zurab Batiashvili
  • Publication Date: 09-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgian Foundation for Strategic International Studies -GFSIS
  • Abstract: In the summer of 2021, as the U.S. withdrew from Afghanistan, the balance of power in the country changed rapidly, and by August 15, the Taliban was able to capture the capital, Kabul, almost without a fight. On September 7, the Taliban formed a new "government" steered by Sharia Law. The Taliban also renamed the country, and, according to them, Afghanistan is now called the "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan." There are no women or members of the Shiite minority in the new government.Of the 33 members of the still-incomplete government, only three belong to ethnic minorities. Interestingly, the four new "ministers" of the country are former inmates of Guantanamo Bay, having served time there for organizing terrorist activities. Sirajuddin Haqqani, the "Minister of Internal Affairs" of the new "government" of Afghanistan, is still wanted by the FBI on the same charges. A reward of $5 million is being offered for his capture. There is already the threat of a humanitarian catastrophe (food shortages), and instability (internal strife) in Afghanistan. Tens of thousands of Afghans are fleeing their homes, many of them heading to Iran and Turkey. This poses a number of threats and challenges to these countries, especially since they have their own interests in Afghanistan.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Government, Taliban, Humanitarian Crisis
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iran, South Asia, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Rahim Rahimov
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Georgian Foundation for Strategic International Studies -GFSIS
  • Abstract: Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan attended a military parade in the Azerbaijani capital of Baku on December 10 to celebrate Azerbaijan’s victory over Armenia in the war over the Karabakh region that ended with the Russia-brokered armistice on November 9-10. The Russian historian, Andrey Zubov, describes the Baku parade as an occasion “rather to celebrate the birth of a new geopolitical alliance than the victory over Armenia”1 . Following the parade, Russia imposed a ban on tomato imports from Azerbaijan in its flagship manner and Russian peacekeepers attempted to do something around the town of Shusha in Karabakh resembling what they have done in Georgia: “borderization”. Azerbaijani state TV, other media outlets and public figures widely and explicitly condemned such behavior of the Russian peacekeepers as a jealous response to the parade demonstration of Armenia’s Russian-made weapons and military equipment captured by the Azerbaijani armed forces or destroyed using Turkish-made Bayraktar drones . Erdogan and the Azerbaijani President, Ilham Aliyev, watched Turkish soldiers march alongside with Azerbaijanis on the central streets of Baku to the joy of local residents who took to the streets despite the COVID-19 related restrictions in order to salute them. This scene shows a major Russian weakness vis-àvis Turkey in Azerbaijan. Unlike Moscow, whose perception in Azerbaijan is controversial, Ankara enjoys nation-wide support. Recently leaked Russian secret files reveal that it is much more difficult for Moscow to develop proRussian civil society organizations and soft power instruments in Azerbaijan than even in staunchly pro-Western Georgia.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Geopolitics, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Russia, Iran, Turkey, France, Georgia, South Caucasus
  • 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: Pat Shilo, Todd Rosenblum
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Third Way
  • Abstract: President Biden has announced plans to re-engage with Iran on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the Iran Nuclear Deal. In this paper, we briefly outline the five most likely pathways ahead, each of which has strengths and challenges: Return to the JCPOA as it was. Return to the JCPOA plus new commitments that address other security concerns with Iran. Restore the JCPOA as it was plus a set of confidence-building measures to address other security concerns. Formally link a requirement for Iran to address our other concerns as a pre-condition for further talks. Return to the pre-JCPOA Middle East, where US and allies work to rollback Iran’s nuclear program and actively deter its regional actions by confrontation, punishment, and isolating measures. Each path carries risk and opportunity for restoring American leadership in the world, and congressional Democrats should remember the perfect deal does not exist. Members of Congress would be wise to measure the next deal against the status quo ante: an unconstrained, belligerent Iran again racing to a bomb.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Diplomacy, Nuclear Weapons, Treaties and Agreements, Military Strategy, Denuclearization, JCPOA
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Ido Yahel
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies
  • Abstract: Iranian involvement in the Syrian civil war has often made headlines in Israel. Particularly in the context of the Israel Defense Force (IDF)’s so-called campaign between the wars (the Hebrew acronym is Mabam), which has included attempts to prevent Iran from establishing military bases in Syria, keeping Iranian forces away from the Syrian-Israeli border, and thwarting the transfer of precision weapons to Hizballah. But Iranian involvement in Syria goes far beyond the confines of the Israeli-Iranian conflict. As a result of the "Arab Spring" uprising and the Syrian civil war, Iran has succeeded in establishing itself in areas far from the Israeli-Syrian border and extended its influence in Syria beyond the military sphere.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Military Affairs, Conflict, Syrian War
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Joel Parker, Sarah Cahn
  • Publication Date: 09-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies
  • Abstract: On August 6, Hizballah fired 20 rockets towards the Shebaa Farms area of the Golan Heights, highlighting the growing political instability in Lebanon. Hizballah's behavior should be viewed in light of the ongoing financial and political crisis that has affected every aspect of Lebanese life since late 2019 and has pushed hundreds of thousands of people into poverty. Hizballah may not be the primary or sole cause of the crisis, but it is important to understand how it may have contributed indirectly to it, how it may benefit from it, and why it may not have an interest in fully resolving it. Hanin Ghaddar, the Friedmann Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), argues that despite the collapsing economy in Lebanon, Hizballah has been able to expand its array of social-welfare institutions to deepen their Shiʿi constituency's dependence and even expand the reach of these programs by providing support to a growing number of Lebanese who are struggling to survive. Hizballah also receives funding from Iran and through its commercial activities around the world, so one might ask how much Hizballah really needs the Lebanese state. Lina Khatib, a scholar at Chatham House and SOAS University of London, contends that Hizballah benefits from its hybrid role as a part of the state and, at the same time, free to operate outside the official channels of government and public scrutiny. Michael Young, senior editor at the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, however, has argued that the group might indeed benefit from a collapse of the state, which will allow Hizballah to continue to fill a growing political, economic, and social power vacuum.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Hezbollah, Regional Power, Economic Crisis
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Lebanon
  • Author: Paul Rivlin
  • Publication Date: 07-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies
  • Abstract: In this issue of Iqtisadi Paul Rivlin analyses the causes of shortages in electricity and water supplies in the Persian Gulf region. In Iraq and Iran, in particular, spontaneous protests have gained momentum this summer as a result of these critical problems. The Gulf is well known for its oil and gas resources, but the lack of water may be its outstanding feature. Between 2000 and 2020, the population of the Gulf states rose by almost 50 percent but the supply of fresh water from sources other than desalination fell. This edition of Iqtisadi examines recent developments in the Gulf with an emphasis on the water crisis. The oil producers in the Gulf are divided into two groups: the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members – Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman – and Iran plus Iraq. The GCC states are all monarchies while Iran and Iraq are republics. The differences between the two groups are not only constitutional and political, but also socio-economic.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, Water, Economy, Electricity
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Middle East, Persian Gulf, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Joshua Krasna, George Meladze
  • Publication Date: 10-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies
  • Abstract: In this inaugural MDC Occasional Paper, Josh Krasna and George Meladze analyze the structure of power in the Middle East during the past decade, mapping the main regional players and the interrelationships between them, and assessing the potential for future change in the politics of the region.
  • Topic: Politics, Regional Cooperation, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Russia, Iran, Turkey, Middle East, Israel, Saudi Arabia, United States of America
  • Author: Brendan Helm, Dina Smeltz, Amir Farmanesh
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Chicago Council on Global Affairs
  • Abstract: New indirect talks between the United States and Iran on a return to the Iran deal could help the outlook for a moderate candidate in the next election. Iranian presidential elections are set for June 18. The current president, Hassan Rouhani, who earned initial praise in Iran after successful negotiations for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in 2015, is ineligible for reelection and has steadily lost public support after the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal in 2018. A joint survey of the Iranian public conducted by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and IranPoll provides insights into how Iranians view this pivotal moment for Iran. Iranians view Rouhani’s policies quite negatively, especially his economic policies, and for their next leader they want someone who is critical of Rouhani. However, while Iranians did not feel the economic improvements from the JCPOA they expected, new indirect talks between the United States and Iran on a return to the agreement could help the outlook for a moderate candidate.
  • Topic: Politics, Elections, Negotiation
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Clara Portela
  • Publication Date: 10-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Union Institute for Security Studies
  • Abstract: Scarcely familiar with sanctions as a policy tool, much of the European public has followed the headlines about international sanctions with some puzzlement. After the UN lifted sanctions on Iran following the conclusion of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), why was it necessary to create a channel for bilateral trade, the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX), following the US withdrawal from the deal in 2018? Why is Iran insisting that the US lift sanctions ‘in practice, not verbally or on paper’? How did the US Senate approval of new legislation targeting Nord Stream 2, a pipeline under construction between Russia and Germany, bring work to an immediate standstill in late 2019? Why do European banks and private companies fear the US Department of the Treasury’s sanctions enforcement agency, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)? If sanctions regimes are endowed with humanitarian exemptions, why do humanitarian agencies report difficulties in getting aid to places like Syria ? As it turns out, these are ramifications of the same phenomenon: the extraterritorial effects of US sanctions. The present Brief examines these effects, describing why they pose a challenge to the EU. It then outlines the responses that have been activated or are being contemplated to counter them, explaining why an effective remedy remains elusive. The Brief concludes by indicating possible ways forward.
  • Topic: Humanitarian Aid, United Nations, Sanctions, Transnational Actors
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Syria, North America
  • Author: Javier Ruiz Arévalo
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal on International Security Studies (RESI)
  • Institution: International Security Studies Group (GESI) at the University of Granada
  • Abstract: Founded after the triumph of the Islamic Revolution, the Corps of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard of Iran has evolved far beyond its original foundations as an ideological guardian of the nascent revolutionary regime. Today, it functions as a socio-political-economic conglomerate, whose influence extends to all areas of Iranian life. Its members have articulated a vision of the Islamic Republic that they feel committed to defending, becoming guarantors of the ideological purity of the regime whose supreme leader rests on its support, while increasingly depending on it to survive.
  • Topic: Islam, Ideology, Revolution, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC)
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Jon Greenwald
  • Publication Date: 08-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Council on International Policy (CIP)
  • Abstract: Southwest Asia is increasingly dangerous. Negotiations about Iran’s nuclear program appear stuck near a breakpoint. With the Kabul government’s precipitous collapse, President Biden’s courageous decision to remove U.S. troops from Afghanistan has gone badly. Each situation threatens grave consequences for the administration. Together they suggest more deadly chaos looms from the Middle East to China’s borders. Iran is an important common factor, central to the first case, important in the second due to geography and potential leverage. The concurrence of threat – but also perhaps opportunity – justifies a new strategy for dealing with it that cuts across both situations. Joe Biden said before taking office that it was a priority to restore the nuclear deal that was working well until Donald Trump took the U.S. out. He pledged to conclude the endless war in Afghanistan. Today neither objective appears promising. Iran has more enriched and closer to weapons level uranium than when the original deal was signed. U.S. officials acknowledge that negotiating time is limited and, by implication, that military action may be required to keep the president’s pledge never to allow an Iranian bomb. As the Taliban takes over Afghanistan, Washington is focused as it should be on safely extracting U.S. citizens and the many thousands of Afghans whose lives are at risk for having helped the Americans over 20 years. Soon, however, there will be new proposals, including preparations for off-shore responses to what many anticipate will be a revival of the kind of civil war that ravaged Afghanistan in the 1990s. Any reasonable proposal should include at the least a significant diplomatic component in which Afghanistan’s neighbors, Iran prominent among them, apply their weight to persuade the Taliban to rule more moderately than it did its first time in power and in particular to keep out international terrorists. Most acknowledge that a key weakness of that approach is U.S. inability to work with Tehran.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Military Strategy, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, 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: Keith A. Preble, Kolja Brockmann
  • Publication Date: 09-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute
  • Abstract: Iran is one of the most heavily sanctioned countries in the world. The combination of sanctions on Iran imposed by the United States, the United Nations and the European Union (EU) in response to, among others, nuclear and ballistic missile activities and human rights violations provides for a sanctions environment that is highly complex and difficult to navigate for exporters, financial institutions and humanitarian actors. Particularly in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, there is renewed attention to the humanitarian impact of sanctions, especially in the case of Iran which became one of the flashpoints of the pandemic. The focus of this paper is on the array of overlapping sanctions and the mitigation of humanitarian impact, with a particular focus on EU sanctions policy and instruments. The paper outlines key milestones and phases in the imposition of sanctions on Iran by the three main sanctioning actors, the USA, the UN and the EU, thus demonstrating the complexity and the at times coordinated or contradictory nature of the different sanctions. It then explores the humanitarian impact of sanctions on Iran by discussing several illustrative indicators and the impact of sanctions on the provision of international humanitarian aid. The paper reviews existing mechanisms to mitigate the humanitarian impact of sanctions and how they could be improved. In the context of the sanctions of Iran, but also beyond, the paper finds that there is a clear need to further strengthen compliance, enforcement and coordination of EU sanctions, including in the context of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. It concludes by providing specific recommendations for the EU and its member states on improving the effective use of sanctions and reducing their humanitarian impact, including through strengthening key instruments and assessment processes, better coordination with the USA and more engagement with humanitarian actors.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Sanctions, European Union, Arms Trade, Disarmament, Exports
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: David Block
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Hudson Institute
  • Abstract: Nuclear weapons experts David Albright and Sarah Burkhard of the Institute for Science and International Security provide a meticulously researched analysis of Iran’s nuclear development activities in their new book, Iran’s Perilous Pursuit of Nuclear Weapons. Based on their rare and extensive access to 300 tons of documents in Iran’s Atomic Archives, they reveal several previously unknown aspects of Iran’s nuclear weapons program, including a unique advanced indigenous design for a nuclear weapon just 55cm in diameter requiring less than 25kg of weapons grade uranium; a crash program designed to test and complete five ballistic capable nuclear weapons; as well a substantial site infrastructure for the enrichment, fabrication, manufacturing and testing of nuclear weapons cores and triggers. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Chair Rafael Grossi, in a March 23 interview with Newsweek, said Iran must come clean about past undeclared nuclear activity, including recent findings of undeclared uranium, if there is any possibility to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, or JCPOA. Grossi added that “detailed and technical discussions” are needed to address the issue of Iran’s past undeclared work — including ascertaining the location of Iran’s undeclared stockpile of enriched uranium — which the world’s nuclear watchdog explained is “totally connected” to the future of the deal. Underscoring the urgency of Grossi’s point, following the IAEA Board of Governors June 10 meeting and reports on Iran’s NPT & JCPOA non-compliance, the Group of Seven nations (G7) issued a communique reiterating a joint commitment to “ensuring that Iran will never develop a nuclear weapon…ensuring the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme…and to ensure full and timely cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency.” The statement was met with unusual outrage and defiance by Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, who warned that Iran can expand its nuclear program “on any day, at any hour” to increase uranium enrichment beyond the current level of 63 percent, which is already sufficiently enriched to fuel a nuclear weapon. Given the importance of Iran fully addressing its undeclared nuclear activity, this table identifies the locations of Amad and post-Amad facilities in various states, including razed, shut down, repurposed, or possibly still active, which is relevant to the IAEA’s efforts to determine the origin of undeclared nuclear materials, fate of undeclared facilities and activities, the completeness of Iran’s nuclear declaration, and whether nuclear weapons efforts have ended or in fact are ongoing. Such a determination requires IAEA visits to key sites in the Amad and post-Amad programs.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, Nonproliferation
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: International Crisis Group
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The 2015 nuclear deal enters 2021 clinging to life, having survived the Trump administration’s withdrawal and Iran’s breaches of its commitments. When the Biden administration takes office, Washington and Tehran should move quickly and in parallel to revive the agreement on its original terms.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Diplomacy, Nuclear Weapons, Military Strategy, Denuclearization
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Andrea Cocchini
  • Publication Date: 10-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Revista UNISCI/UNISCI Journal
  • Institution: Unidad de investigación sobre seguridad y cooperación (UNISCI)
  • Abstract: This year 2021 marks the tenth anniversary of the beginning of the armed conflict in Syria which, triggered by graffiti against the government of the al-Assad family, turned into a civil war with at least 390,000 dead, involving numerous States in the Middle East, as well as the major global powers, with their own specific geopolitical interests. This article therefore aims to provide an account of the current situation in Syria and the objectives that these powers still have in this country. Once the two main reasons for intervening in the conflict disappeared, the true nature of this war came to the surface, embedded in the broader contests of historical rivalry between the United States and Russia on the one hand, and Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran on the other. Apparently, none of them really wants to end it, without compensation. / En este año 2021 se cumplen diez años del comienzo del conflicto armado en Siria que, desencadenado por unos grafitis en contra del gobierno guiado con mano autoritaria por la familia al-Assad, se ha convertido en una guerra con, al menos, 390.000 muertos, que ha acabado involucrando a numerosos Estados de Oriente Próximo, así como a grandes potencias, cada una portadora de intereses geopolíticos concretos. El presente artículo pretende dar cuenta de la situación actual de Siria y, en particular, de los objetivos particulares que mantienen en el país diversos actores. Después de que desaparecieran las dos razones principales esgrimidas para intervenir en el conflicto, quedó de manifiesto su auténtica naturaleza de guerra subsidiaria y sectaria, que se inserta en las más amplias contiendas entre rivales históricos como los Estados Unidos y Rusia, por una parte, y Arabia Saudí, Turquía e Irán, por otra, y que ninguno entre ellos parece tener interés en acabar sin recibir compensaciones.
  • Topic: Geopolitics, Islamic State, Military Intervention, Conflict, Syrian War, Proxy War, Operation Inherent Resolve, Euphrates Shield
  • Political Geography: Russia, Iran, Turkey, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Syria, United States of America
  • Author: Alberto Priego
  • Publication Date: 10-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Revista UNISCI/UNISCI Journal
  • Institution: Unidad de investigación sobre seguridad y cooperación (UNISCI)
  • Abstract: After almost 75 years of existence of the State of Israel, its foreign policy has maintained a certain continuity. Some prime ministers such as David Ben Gurion, Menahem Begin, Isaac Rabin have taken some turns in foreign policy that in the long term will condition Israel's future. Last summer Benjamin Netanyahu left the government after more than twelve years in office, becoming the longest-serving Israeli leader. Throughout these years, Benjamin Netanyahu has introduced important structural reforms in the country. One of these fields has been foreign policy, where he has implemented his own doctrine, the Netanyahu Doctrine. This article will try to present the fundamental points that make up this foreign policy doctrine. An interpretative approach will be adopted using the most important speeches of Benjamin Netanyahu. / En los casi 75 años de existencia del Estado de Israel, su política exterior ha mantenido una cierta continuidad. Algunos primeros ministros como David Ben-Gurión, Menahem Begin, Issac Rabín han dado giros a la política exterior que, a largo plazo, han condicionado el futuro de Israel. El pasado verano Benjamín Netanyahu salió del gobierno después de más de doce años en el cargo convirtiéndose en el mandatario israelí que más tiempo ha permanecido en el cargo. A lo largo de estos años, Benjamín Netanyahu ha introducido importantes reformas estructurales en país. Uno de estos campos ha sido la política exterior donde se puede considerar que se ha instalado una doctrina propia, la Doctrina Netanyahu. Este artículo tratará de construir los puntos fundamentales que componen esta doctrina de política exterior. Se adoptará una aproximación interpretativa usando los discursos más importantes de Benjamín Netanyahu.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Economy, Negotiation, Peace, Benjamin Netanyahu
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: International Crisis Group
  • Publication Date: 08-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Iran has a new president, consolidating the hardliners’ control over the centres of power. What will he do about the country’s numerous crises? One answer is clear: the 2015 nuclear deal’s fate remains the most pressing issue for Tehran and its foreign interlocutors.
  • Topic: Nuclear Weapons, Military Strategy, Governance, Leadership, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: International Crisis Group
  • Publication Date: 08-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The Gulf Arab states have perceived threats from Iran since the 1979 revolution. Frictions have lessened of late, offering an important opportunity. Riyadh and Abu Dhabi should keep engaging Tehran with an eye to initiating the broadest possible talks on regional peace and security.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Military Strategy, Conflict, Peace
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Gulf Nations