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  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: A survey of how regional media outlets discussed the congressional impeachment process and its potential ramifications on the 2020 presidential election. Across the Middle East, the story of President Trump’s impeachment and subsequent acquittal received secondtier coverage compared to regional or local issues. Many Arabic-language websites and newspapers translated and republished Western articles as opposed to creating their own content on the issue, such as Al Jazeera publishing a translated version of a Guardian editorial. Moreover, the bulk of the articles just explained the facts or process of impeachment rather than expounding on its significance. Some celebrated the idea that there is a mechanism for peaceful removal of a leader. Most commented on the unlikelihood of Trump’s removal and how America is facing unprecedented polarization. Those articles that did offer their own editorial content were split on whether impeachment will help or hurt Trump’s election campaign. Publications in the Gulf states tended to portray impeachment as an act of “political vengeance” by Democrats against Trump, “who won despite their opposition” (Sky News Arabia). Most Gulf papers posited that Trump will ultimately benefit in the 2020 election “after proving his innocence before the Senate” (Al Seyassah). Yet Qatari coverage deviated from the general Gulf trend. For example, one Al Jazeera article asserted that the impeachment case against Trump “is simple, and established not only by officials speaking under oath, but by his own words and actions.” Egyptian newspapers were more split on how impeachment will affect the election. Anti-American outlets in Syria suggested it will hurt him, with Al Baath noting “all data indicate that Trump’s hope for a return to the White House have faded.” Lebanese publications tended to take a more neutral view. The Hezbollah-controlled newspaper Al Akhbar wrote that the prospect of impeachment weakening Trump’s electoral campaign “is similar to that of his potential main rival,” arguing that Joe Biden was also tainted by the process. Most Iranian media tended to copy Western sources, but two themes prevailed among outlets offering original content: portrayal of impeachment as a scandal that has tainted Trump’s presidential legacy, or neutral analysis of how impeachment may or may not harm his reelection chances. A few analytical pieces suggested that he might be able to transform the scandal into an asset for his campaign, since it may “lead to more popularity among the middle class.” While most Iranian articles leaned against Trump, few appeared to praise Democrats. Turkish articles generally depicted impeachment as a “gift” to Trump’s campaign. SETA, a think tank that supports President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, claimed that what “hasn’t killed Trump will make him stronger.” Sabah News, another pro-Erdogan source, wrote that impeachment will “unite Republican senators and members of the House of Representatives around him.”
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Media, News Analysis, Domestic politics, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: Iran, Turkey, Middle East, Arab Countries, North America, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Iran quickly supported the advance of the Syrian regular forces towards the Kurdish militias-controlled town of Manbij on 28 December 2018, albeit some parties denied that, which indicate that it has begun to re-calibrate its strategies to deal with the new realities after the decision of the US president Donald Trump to withdraw his military forces from Syria on the 19th of the same month.
  • Topic: Armed Forces, Conflict, Syrian War, Kurds, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Syria, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Following the announcement of hosting an international summit on February 13 and 14, 2019, Iran has launched a diplomatic offensive against Poland, where one of the conference main elements will be how to respond to the Iranian interventions in the region. In addition, Iran has also begun to take preemptive moves both to send messages to the powers concerned with the repercussions of those interventions and to tout its ability to contain the pressures of US policy. These moves include attempts to pivot to the East, particularly towards some neighboring countries, and hints at its ability to withdraw from the nuclear deal and resume its suspicious program again.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Nuclear Weapons, European Union, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: Europe, Iran, Middle East, Poland, North America, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Iran was quick to support President Nicolas Maduro's regime, rejecting any attempt to take over power unlawfully, and at the same time considering the U.S. position on the Venezuelan crisis as a direct interference in its internal affairs. It has even instructed its allied militias, like Hezbollah, to adopt a similar position on the crisis in Caracas.
  • Topic: Oil, Hezbollah, Donald Trump, Juan Guaido, Nicholas Maduro
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, South America, Venezuela, North America, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: While the US prepares to withdraw its troops from Syria, it considers redeploying its troops in Iraq. Although this might not have caused a crisis between the two countries, as the US troops have been in Iraq for the past 15 years, the US president Donald Trump justification for the move, to “watch Iran”, has pushed relations between Washington and Baghdad to this path. To make things worse, this move was accompanied by selecting a site in the Anbar governorate for that purpose, which is to reduce Iran’s movements towards Syria through the Iraqi territory, putting Baghdad in trouble with its frenemies.
  • Topic: Bilateral Relations, Crisis Management, Donald Trump, Hassan Rouhani
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 11-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Currently, Russia is trying to maintain its political and security understandings with key parties to the Syrian conflict. But one of the main obstacles facing it is the intertwining and conflicting interests of parties, which leaves Russia with limited options and narrow room for maneuvering. Furthermore, it strains its relations with these parties, as is the case with Israel, following the Russian accusation to Israel of shooting down the Ilyushin Il-20 in September 17, 2018.
  • Topic: Security, Sanctions, Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Hassan Rouhani, Bashar al-Assad
  • Political Geography: Russia, Iran, Syria
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The Indian energy sector faces a dilemma amid the US administration plans to impose the second batch of sanctions on Iran in November. The US exerts pressure on the main buyers of Iranian oil, including India, to stop importing it in the coming period. For India, Iranian oil is one of the indispensable options for its energy security because of the preferential terms granted by Iran. Despite the Indian stance rejecting the US sanctions, Indian refineries have decided to halt the Iranian oil shipments starting from next November, and hence they may turn to other producers to fill the potential gap, but at a higher cost.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, Oil, Sanctions, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: Iran, South Asia, Middle East, India, North America, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: As the second batch of US sanctions, which are set to focus on oil exports, approaches, the government of President Hassan Rouhani are taking proactive measures to ease the sanctions that coincide with the spiraling internal protests due to the failure of handling various crises affecting living conditions. However, many obstacles continue to undercut the ability of government to pass its plans to cope with the sanctions, most notably the regime’s attempts to revive the roles of certain institutions that have oversight powers over government programs, such as the Expediency Council, and to continue questioning the ministers, such as the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance on some security and cultural issues.
  • Topic: Nuclear Weapons, Treaties and Agreements, Sanctions, Donald Trump, Hassan Rouhani, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC)
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Iran has reacted swiftly after the kidnapping of 14 of its soldiers from the Basij and border guards in Mirjaveh, along the border with Pakistan, on October 16. Tehran summoned the Pakistani ambassador to inform him that Islamabad should take the necessary actions to secure the release of soldiers after being transferred to Pakistan. Remarkably, Iran has been keen- this time - not to escalate with Islamabad, unlike previous incidents, the latest of which was the killing of 10 Iranian soldiers, on April 26, 2017, which prompted Iran to threaten military intervention if the Pakistani government did not launch strikes against the armed groups that carry out such operations. Iran went further, firing mortar shells on the border on May 27, 2017. This cannot be separated from Iranian efforts to handle the fallout of the new US sanctions, as well as the implications of Imran Khan’s rise to power in Islamabad.
  • Topic: Sanctions, Conflict, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, China, Iran, South Asia, Turkey, Middle East, India, Asia
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The European Union seeks to continue its economic relations with Iran under the nuclear deal, despite the US withdrawal from the deal on May 8 and the imposition of new economic sanctions against Iran. Accordingly, the EU has adopted, over the past months, countermeasures to protect its economic interests with Iran and to sidestep US sanctions. The most important of these measures is introducing the “Special Purpose Vehicle” and reviving the “Blocking Statute”, as well as allowing the European Investment Bank (EIB) to work in the Iranian market. However, these mechanisms seem to have little impact due to the reluctance of the European companies and institutions themselves to continue to deal with Iran for fear of US sanctions.
  • Topic: Nuclear Weapons, Treaties and Agreements, Sanctions, European Union, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America