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  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The Conservative Fundamentalist movement in Iran, directly linked to the Republic’s Supreme Leader and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), is apparently heading towards achieving a significant win in the parliamentary elections due to take place on February 21, 2020. This will play a pivotal role in mapping out political forces within the country before the presidential elections of next year, which the Conservatives might also seize from the moderate stream. The Conservatives are trying to take advantage of the heated political dynamics by using the current escalation with the US, after the murder of Qassem Soleimani, leader of ‘the Quds Force’, the rising possibilities of the failure of the nuclear agreement, and the referral of the Iranian case back to the Security Council, all for the sake of boosting their chances of taking control over the Regime’s center of authority.
  • Topic: Government, Reform, Elections, Conservatism
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The utilization of mercenaries has become one of the key predicaments in the Middle East, particularly in the hotbeds of armed conflict, including Libya, Yemen and Syria. Such militia are usually transferred through the use of civil flights, crossing land borders or smuggling through organized crime networks. This has been reflected by numerous evidence including the escalating tensions between the international powers such as ‘France’ and regional ones such as ‘Turkey’, even affecting the mutual hostility between the ‘Syrian Democratic Forces’ and Ankara, and the latter's policy aiming at disturbing Libya's neighboring countries. In the case of Yemen, the Houthi militia and Islah party have also used African mercenaries. It is further evident in the warning given by the Yemeni government to ‘Tehran Mercenaries’ against turning Yemen into a battlefield after the murder of Qassem Soleimani.
  • Topic: War, Non State Actors, Houthis, Militias, Mercenaries
  • Political Geography: Iran, Turkey, Middle East, France, Libya, Yemen, North Africa, Syria
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The attacks on some Iraqi demonstrators on February 3, 2020, on account of which a number of so-called "blue hats" were indicted, imply the persistence of the Iraqi political crisis, despite the appointment of Muhammed Tawfiq Allawi as head of the new government. Allawi, who was the former Minister of Communications, was officially appointed by President Barham Saleh at the beginning of February 2020. The announcement comes two months after the House of Representative accepted the resignation of Adil Abdul-Mahdi, the former Prime Minister of the Caretaker Government. However, according to the Iraqi constitution, the appointment of a new prime minister should have been selected from the ‘largest bloc’ within the Parliament and should have taken place within a maximum period of 15 days, following the resignation. What is worth noticing here is that the mechanism by which Allawi was nominated for Prime Minister resembles that of Adil Abdul-Mahdi. Identifying the largest bloc within the parliament was also overlooked, because of the consensus between the various political forces, particularly between the two the coalitions, Saairun ‘Alliance Towards Reforms’and the Fatah ‘Conquest Alliance’, which are occupying the largest number of seats in Parliament. This is actually contrary to what is affirmed by the Iraqi constitution in Article 76 thereof, which states that “the President of the Republic shall charge the nominee of the largest Council of Representatives bloc with the formation of the Council of Ministers…".
  • Topic: Government, Constitution, Protests
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Middle East, Gulf Nations
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Sales of medical masks, gloves, adhesive tapes and other protective equipment have soared in the Middle East after the spread of COVID-19 and especially after the WHO raised the virus global threat assessment to its “highest level” on February 29. This led to an increase in demand for masks to a degree of “obsession" at times, raising regional concerns after the increase in its price along with risking its supply and the formation of a parallel market. Although the subject of medical masks may fall under public health matters, measures taken to address its economic use actually have to do with the adopted governmental policies to deal with fighting the pandemic on state levels. These policies include, but are not limited to, enhancing healthcare infrastructure, monopoly prevention, consumer protection, relaunching inactive factories specifically after the disruption of imports from China as one of the largest global masks suppliers.
  • Topic: Economics, Health, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North Africa
  • 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: India has recently exempted Iranian oil payments from taxes and fees, in a move aimed at fostering its relations with Tehran, in the wake of the US temporary waivers, in November, to India along with seven other countries from the sanctions on Iranian oil imports, in order to be able to develop the Iranian port of Chabahar. The US waivers have allowed India to resume trade and investment relations with Iran, albeit in a limited manner. However, despite the expected gains, economic relations between India and Iran will hinge on the extent to which the US administration will renew the waivers granted to the eight countries, to continue buying Iranian oil after the current grace period expires.
  • Topic: International Relations, Oil, Sanctions, Tax Systems
  • Political Geography: Iran, South Asia, Middle East, India, North America, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The decision taken by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, on December 30, 2018, to appoint the head of the judiciary, Sadeq Amoli Larijani, a head of the Expediency Council, to replace Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, who died about a week earlier, was not a surprise to the political forces and movements in Iran for several reasons. The most important of them are the regime’s commitments to rotate key positions over the past four decades, coupled with the changes in political power balances ensuing from the internal political crises, which are exacerbated by US sanctions and pressures. These are set to re-entrench the influence of the fundamentalist conservatives close to the Supreme Leader’s establishment, which suggests that the coming period may see further steps aimed at broadening the influence of this movement on the political decision-making process.
  • Topic: Government, Politics, Hassan Rouhani
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Tehran
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Remnants of the past have become one of the drivers of the region’s interactions in 2019, via various forms, such as the call to restore membership of some organizations after it has been on a freeze for years, sending messages of resistance through arts and music, eruption of student protests over the policies of the existing governments, and betting on the networking of economic interests at times of international sanctions and wars.
  • Topic: History, Sanctions
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Middle East, Syria, Jordan
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Iran is currently making unremitting efforts to further its relations with the Afghan Taliban. Although these attempts are not new, as there have always been unannounced channels of communication between the two parties, Iran is keen to uncover the presence of these channels and its efforts to foster relations with the movement. This was evident in the recent statements of Iranian officials such as its Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and the Secretary of the Supreme Council for National Security Ali Shamkhani. This is, without a doubt, inseparable from the Iranian attempts to pave the Afghan arena for the return of elements of the Fatimid militia, and perhaps prepare in advance for a possible and sudden US withdrawal from the country, like the recent US decision to withdraw from Syria.
  • Topic: Non State Actors, Taliban, Conflict, Militias
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iran, South Asia, Middle East, North America, 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: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The Somali-based al-Shabab al-Mujahideen movement has stepped up its terrorist attacks on neighboring countries, chiefly Kenya. Such attacks have receded over the past three years, amid the movement’s focus on targeting police and military forces in Somalia. However, the recent terrorist operation launched by the movement’s affiliates in the capital, Nairobi, on January 15, 2018, which hit the Dusit-D2 complex, housing a hotel and offices, killing around 15 people and injuring a similar number, raises numerous questions about the motives behind targeting Kenya again. This comes at the time when numerous analysts suggest that the movement will more likely intensify internal assaults on the Somali security and military institutions with the aim of consolidating its influence and curtailing the activity of rival groups.
  • Topic: Security, Terrorism, Violent Extremism, Al Shabaab
  • Political Geography: Kenya, Somalia, Africa
  • 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: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Idlib has been the delayed battle in the Syrian conflict throughout its various stages, but this seems to be coming to an end, as many indicators reveal. For example, Russia, for the time being, is keen to resolve Idlib’s issue which would reinforce the specter of military intervention. Moscow indicates that there are no options left for the parties to the Sochi agreement, pointing also to the difficulty of implementing its terms. The 10 points-agreement has not achieved its purpose for five months, given the terrorist organizations’ control over the area, in particular al-Nusra Front. This happens amid lack of actions from the Turkish side, which has threatened, more than once, to deter those who jeopardize the agreement, which compelled it to agree, ostensibly, with the other parties on launching a military offensive in Idlib. Despite the challenges and consequences of this option, it is the scenario that looms large over the Syrian scene at present.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Military Affairs, Conflict, Syrian War
  • Political Geography: Russia, Iran, Turkey, Middle East, Syria, Idlib
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Improving the performance of local governments, local administration, village councils, and municipalities in Arab conflict zones face a set of challenges. The most prominent among these challenges are the continued internal armed conflicts with regional dimensions, strengthening the legitimacy of certain political regimes, power struggle between central and local governments, growing partisan and political disputes, severe destruction in areas controlled by terrorist organizations, and the growing fiscal deficits of local councils. On one hand, the fiscal deficits have increased amid a low level of donor support, poor development of councils’ resources, and the enduring conflict between the legitimate government and armed militias. The influx of irregular migrants have also imposed a double burden on already overstretched local bodies.
  • Topic: Governance, Conflict, Syrian War, Bashar al-Assad
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arab Countries, North Africa, Syria
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The decision of the supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ali Khamenei, to appoint Ebrahim Raisi, the head of the Imam Reza Shrine in Mashhad, as the judiciary chief, earlier this month, is not only linked to the former’s continued efforts to readjust the balance of power in the Iranian regime. It is also related to the impact of the pressures facing Tehran on Khamenei’s vision of the regime itself, especially since these pressures have not only affected the domestic situation but also spread abroad. International and regional powers have become increasingly concerned over Iran’s role in the region, its missile and nuclear programs, and its human rights violations.
  • Topic: Human Rights, Protests, Judiciary, Hassan Rouhani
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Tehran
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The Rukban camp on the Jordan-Syrian borders constitutes a double crisis of a humanitarian and political nature. While there are signs that the humanitarian crisis is on its way to be resolved through an understanding to alleviate the suffering of tens of thousands of the displaced persons in the camp, the political crisis remains very complex. This is primarily because of obstacles to dialogue between the concerned parties. The camp falls under the scope of the American al-Tanf base. While Russia and the Syrian regime are pushing for dismantling the largest human enclave on the road to al-Tanf, the US does not share the same desire on the grounds that there is still a need for guarantees for the return of displaced persons to their homes, which are currently under the control of the regime. This shows how far the crisis is linked to the fate of the US military presence in Syria as well as the Russian and Syrian positions.
  • Topic: Security, Refugees, Syrian War, Rukban
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria, North America, Jordan, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Qatar and Turkey were quick to express their opposition to the US designation, on April 8, 2019, of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization. This stance cannot be separated from Doha and Ankara's perception of the repercussions that such a move could have on their position on various regional crises or the bilateral relations with Iran, which appear to be heading toward difficult challenges. The most critical of these challenge are the continuous pressures it faces at home and abroad. This could spell serious problems for Qatar and Turkey if they insist on siding with Iran in the coming period.
  • Topic: Economics, Terrorism, Sanctions, Alliance, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC)
  • Political Geography: Iran, Turkey, Tehran, Qatar, Ankara, Doha
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Mutual escalation has come to define the constant confrontations between the Nigerian movement Boko Haram and the Multinational Joint Task Force, formed by some West African countries, to confront its activity and weaken its ability to expand beyond the national borders, namely to Nigeria, Chad, Niger, and Cameroon. This escalation may continue over the coming period, as the movement becomes one of the main branches of ISIS, on which the latter relies to stage counter-strikes in response to the losses sustained in Syria and Iraq.
  • Topic: Security, Violent Extremism, Counter-terrorism, Islamic State, Boko Haram
  • Political Geography: Africa, Iraq, Middle East, West Africa, Syria, Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, Niger
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Iran is still anticipating the various alternatives that the United States may utilize to address the Iranian escalatory behavior, during the coming period. Such actions may not be limited to the new sanctions imposed on September 20, 2019 that included the Central Bank of Iran, National Development Fund and Etemad Tejarat Pars. Arguably, the procedural steps planned by the Donald Trump's administration will substantially determine the possible alternatives for the Iranian reciprocal behavior/ which Iran may rely on.
  • Topic: Oil, Sanctions, Economy
  • Political Geography: 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: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) has replaced Total of France as a major operator in the development of phase 11 of the South Pars gas field. This is a substantial gain for the Iranian government, which strives to lure international investors to shore up its economy following the withdrawal of most foreign companies from the market due to US sanctions in last August and November. However, the project appears to hit many hurdles, including the Chinese company’s fears of heavy US fines or escalation of the US ongoing trade war against the county in the coming period.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, Government, Oil, Sanctions, Gas, Trade Wars
  • Political Geography: China, Iran, Middle East, Asia
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The accusations leveled by Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, On November 12, 2018, at the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) of profiting from money laundering and obstructing Iran’s signing of the relevant treaties, provoked a new conflict between the government and the IRGC. These accusations highlight the latter’s involvement in large scale money laundering activities, which it employs to support terrorist organizations and armed militias, a matter the Western countries may exploit to impose further sanctions. Such accusations also bring the past corruption cases to the fore, particularly that of the Iranian businessman Babak Zanjani case.
  • Topic: Corruption, Financial Crimes, Money, Hassan Rouhani, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC)
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: French President Emmanuel Macron’s call to create a unified European army, independent of NATO, to defend the European continent in the face of major powers such as Russia, China and even the US, has sparked a political firestorm. The most notable of these reactions came from US President Donald Trump, who tweeted rejecting the proposal and criticizing the French President, heightening tensions between the two sides. At the official level, the US State Department commented on the idea of the European Union forming an independent army of member states, stating that the US opposes any actions that could contribute to weakening NATO. “That’s been a sustained entity that the United States government and many others supported for many years, and so we would not want the weakening of NATO”, US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said on November 14, 2018.
  • Topic: Security, Regional Cooperation, Armed Forces, European Union
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Eurasia, France, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Although the first round of Sweden talks led to soaring expectations that a change will take place in the course of the Yemeni crisis from the path of war to that of negotiation, its outcome is limited to the settlement of the humanitarian crisis, which the UN envoy underlined in his statement to the Security Council following the negotiations. The issues pertaining to the crux of the conflict will likely be addressed in the second round, scheduled at the end of next January, which should include the comprehensive framework for the settlement, as a road-map for shaping Yemen’s post-war future, and solving political and security issues. The outcome of the first round sought to neutralize the manifestations of the Houthi “militiation”, not to end it. It can also be argued that the outcome equates between the parties to the crisis in terms of tasks, implementation mechanisms and the formed committees under the auspices of the UN, a key indicator that risks transforming the Houthi movement into a major party in the Yemeni scene under the aegis of the UN.
  • Topic: Treaties and Agreements, United Nations, Conflict, Houthis
  • Political Geography: Yemen, Gulf Nations
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: As Israel’s Operation Northern Shield continues, with the aim of dismantling the tunnels discovered on the Lebanese border, the Israeli policies mark a remarkable shift in confronting Hezbollah’s threats. The operation comes as part of a series of parallel measures, employing a tactic different from the military escalation scenario, which cannot be completely ruled out in the future with the aim of launching a preemptive strike. However, with no variables yet to enhance such scenario, the Tel Aviv tactic will focus on linking the party’s new threat and escalation with the latter, along with Iran, on the Syrian front, on the belief that the party's new approach stems from the interactions of the equation itself. On the other hand, Hezbollah has reacted in a similar way, based on calculations that do not lean toward engaging in mutual escalation, albeit threatening of military “surprises” as part of a defensive strategy. Among those “surprises” is deploying the new and unconventional techniques of its missile capabilities, which have been developed by its expertise on the Syrian ground and with the help of Iran. Apart from these expected messages, Hezbollah has, since the discovery of tunnels, questioned Tel Aviv's account of the issue. Hezbollah's various media platforms have focused on attributing the escalation to the Israeli internal developments, amid the crisis facing Netanyahu's government, after the withdrawal of former Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman from the government coalition.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Conflict, Borders, Hezbollah
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Iran has shown a particular interest in improving its bilateral relations with Turkey, mainly at the economic level. This was evident in the visit of Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani, to Turkey, on December 20, to participate in the fifth session of the Supreme Council for Strategic Relations between the two countries, accompanied by a mostly economic delegation. Tehran believes that there are several factors, related to developments in the regional and international arenas over the past period, which can help achieve this goal, namely increasing the volume of trade between both countries to USD 30 billion. However, Iran’s betting on the Turkish role seems to have limits due to the ever-changing and unstable nature of Turkish policy, which casts doubts over the possibility of reaching such level of rapprochement.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, Sanctions, Hassan Rouhani
  • Political Geography: Iran, Turkey, Middle East, Syria, North America, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Turkey has recently stepped up its economic presence in the cities of northern Syria, including Al-Bab, Jarablus, and Azaz, among others. Those cities are now controlled by the Syrian opposition with the assistance of the Turkish army through two military operations between 2016 and 2018 dubbed Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch. Turkey has worked to rehabilitate the basic services of electricity, education and health in these cities in cooperation with private Turkish companies, as well as promoting the export of various goods to these cities. Through its presence there, Turkey is aiming to achieve numerous goals in line with its vision towards the trajectories of the Syrian conflict, and its position, in the coming phase.
  • Topic: Economy, Conflict, Syrian War, Kurds
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Syria, North America, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Despite that ISIS may have dealt with heavy blows, whether in the previously-dominated areas or the emerging ones, it is still able to stage terrorist attacks by employing various tactics, key among them the “lone- wolves” and “sleeper cells”. This has been evident in the recent terrorist operations in many countries, such as Tunisia and Morocco, as well as several European countries, which ISIS have threatened to target by using explosive belts, car-ramming and stabbing during Christmas holidays. Notably, some of such attacks have been carried out using tactics and methods that have not been widely used in the past. This raises questions about the ideological transformations that ISIS, its sleeper cells and sub-groups may have witnessed, given the new realities brought about by the war on the organization.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Non State Actors, Violent Extremism, Islamic State
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North Africa
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The announcement by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, on December 22, 2018, of a change in its military doctrine during recent exercises in the Gulf region, to keep pace with numerous developments in the internal and external fronts, reflect the mounting threats facing Iran due to its aggressive policy. This new move, however, may not necessarily reflect an overall shift in doctrine, as much as a pivot towards adopting new tactics in the military strategy to be better able to confront these threats. Most importantly, it does not involve a development in the tenets of the traditional military doctrine, which is predicated on a central doctrinal pillar that is hard to change, amid the current regime. Moreover, the IRGC has always pursued aggressive policies, as evident in its roles in conflict zones, exacerbating them and hampering the efforts to reach a settlement.
  • Topic: History, Military Strategy, Conflict, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC)
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • 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: Al-Qaeda has sought to exploit the 17th anniversary of the events of 11 September 2001 to assert its survival and ability to stay at the forefront of terrorist organizations worldwide. In doing so, it seems to be trying to cover up the multiple challenges facing it at the present stage, which may cause its influence to diminish in the medium and long term. Thus, it cannot be ruled out that the fears expressed by many of its leaders over the organization declining influence is the main factor that prompted Ayman al-Zawahiri to increase the media messages he sends to the organization cadres and members along with other organizations, especially its rivals, as well as the international and regional powers concerned with combating terrorism. It is a remarkable shift from what happened in the past years, which witnessed a relatively limited appearance of al-Zawahiri to comment on events with the aim of proving that he is still alive and interacting developments. The new development raises many questions about the significance of the flurry of messages, particularly that they come at a time the region is witnessing numerous important variables with profound impacts, such as the receding influence of the pro-al-Qaeda groups in Syria against the backdrop of the recent security and political arrangements.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Non State Actors, Violent Extremism, Al Qaeda
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Libya, Yemen, North Africa, Syria, Maghreb
  • 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: ISIS seems to be intent on returning to the areas from which it was driven out or its influence has receded over the past period, such as Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor in Syria. The two cities have recently witnessed a remarkable activity by ISIS, which is evident in the organization’s terrorist attacks against its opponents, raising many concerns that it may further expand, taking advantage of impasse over the Syrian crisis and the increasing security troubles in those areas.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Islamic State, Conflict, Ideology
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Syria
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Although most of the parties concerned with developments in the Syrian conflict do not expect the Quartet Summit held today in Istanbul -with the participation of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Russian president Vladimir Putin, French president Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel- to make a breakthrough in the efforts to reach a political settlement of the crisis, this in its entirety does not diminish the anxiety of Iran, which is the most prominent absent at that summit.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Syrian War, Negotiation
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Iran, Eurasia, Turkey, Middle East, France, Germany, Syria
  • 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
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Russia seems to be gearing for fresh efforts to reach new political arrangements in Syria, after the balance of power has shifted in favor of the Syrian regime. During a speech at the Valdai International Discussion Club at Sochi resort on October 18, 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that his country achieved its goals in Syria. He noted that the Russian military intervention was aimed at fighting terrorism and preventing the fragmentation of Syrian territory, invoking the case of Somalia as a model that Russia prevented its recurrence in Syria, adding that the next stage will be devoted to settlement in the United Nations. However, this does not negate the fact that such efforts may encounter many challenges, over the key outstanding issues, foremost among is the position of the Syrian regime itself.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, Politics, United Nations, Vladimir Putin
  • Political Geography: Russia, Iran, Eurasia, Turkey, Middle East, Syria
  • Publication Date: 11-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: With the second batch of US sanctions on Iran, coming into effect today, the government of President Hassan Rouhani is taking preemptive measures to strengthen its ability to confront sanctions. It seeks to exploit the sanctions to endorse its candidates for the four ministerial portfolios whose ministers were dismissed in the past months, following a no-confidence vote in the Consultative Assembly.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government, Sanctions, Donald Trump, Hassan Rouhani
  • Political Geography: Europe, 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: The suicide bombing in Tunisia which occurred near a security patrol on Habib Bourguiba Avenue in the Tunisian capital, on October 29, 2018, injuring 20 people, including 15 policemen, marks a new shift in terrorist operations in the country. The latest terrorist operation was carried out in November 2015, when ISIS targeted a security patrol in the center of the capital, which suggest that the repercussions of the defeats of terrorist organizations, particularly ISIS, in both Syria and Iraq, began to spill over to Tunisia, which showed particular interest in the developments of military operations against these groups, and has increased the level of coordination with the many international powers involved in confronting them.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Al Qaeda, Islamic State, Sleeper Cells
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria, North America, Tunisia
  • Publication Date: 11-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Despite US determination on the strict application of its sanctions on Iran, it has granted a waiver for the development of Iran’s Chabahar port, in which both India and Afghanistan participate. In addition, it granted waivers for eight Iranian oil-importing countries from sanctions, temporarily, until they find other alternatives. The move, announced by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, on November 7, seems to be closely related to Washington’s assessment of its relations with Asian powers, particularly India and China, as well as the future of political and security arrangements in Afghanistan. However, this move could send mixed signals that might ultimately affect Iran’s stance on sanctions.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Oil, Sanctions, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, South Asia, India, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 11-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The dynamics of the Middle East region have gained special attention from the three Scandinavian countries (Norway, Sweden and Denmark) over the past years. There are numerous indicators for this rising level of interest. The most prominent of which are the establishment of institutes for dialogue and cooperation, launching programs for the Danish-Arab partnership, opening Middle East studies center in a Swedish university, and hosting a new round of dialogue for the parties to the Yemeni conflict. Other indicators include providing funds to support future local elections in Libya, supporting non-governmental organizations aimed at assisting internal displaced persons and refugees through local integration or resettlement, and increasing financial incentives for refugees, who return to their home countries. There are various motives behind the Scandinavian interest in the region, including curbing refugee flows, preventing terrorist attacks, containing the threat of extremism, and confronting the Iranian threat.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Geopolitics, Neutrality
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Scandinavia
  • Publication Date: 11-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Moscow hosted a new round of talks in an effort to reach a settlement for the conflict in Afghanistan, on November 9, dubbed as “Moscow Format Consultations on Afghanistan”. Moscow considered that the potential gain would be the participation of Taliban representatives for the first time in two years, since the launcg of the talks. These talks witnessed two previous rounds, which did not yield any results. They were mainly a regional dialogue with the neighbouring countries concerned with the Afghan issue. Although Russia says there has been a considerable progress in the talks, this does not negate the fact that they still face many challenges that were evident in the outcome of the meeting. However, Moscow will likely continue its efforts to hold further talks, especially in the light of the evolving situation on the ground, namely ISIS moving from Syria and Iraq and some Middle Eastern countries to Afghanistan. Such move is considered an eminent threat to Moscow’s national security and interests.
  • Topic: Taliban, Islamic State, Conflict, Negotiation
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Russia, South Asia, Eurasia
  • Publication Date: 11-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Sudan grapples with an acute economic crisis, as the inflation rates spiked to unprecedented levels in the past months, causing a severe liquidity crunch due to the cash-strapped banking system. This has coincided with the constant plummeting of the Sudanese pound against the dollar in the past period. The current compound crisis has ensued from the drop in the country’s oil export revenues in the wake of the secession of South Sudan in 2011, while other resources, such as gold, have not been able to fill the growing trade deficit. To contain this crisis, the government should continue its efforts to adhere to its recent economic reform program and to strengthen monetary and fiscal policies to address the existing economic distortions.
  • Topic: Economy, Crisis Management, Exchange Rate Policy, Inflation
  • Political Geography: Africa, Sudan
  • Publication Date: 11-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The prospect of Iran replicating the Lebanese Hezbollah model in other countries can no longer be ruled out, amid the pressure of the new sanctions imposed on Tehran in the wake of the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal on May 8, 2018. One of the objectives that Tehran may seek to achieve through such move is to exploit its regional influence to reduce the US pressure and, perhaps at a later stage, bolster its negotiating position versus Washington in any potential new negotiations. However, there are other objectives that Iran may try to achieve, if it decides to press ahead with this option, such as creating loyal military arms in Afghanistan. Hence, Iran will be able to possess instruments to influence the government decisions in the stage leading up to a settlement of the Afghan crisis, as well as enhance its prospects of participating in the efforts to reach such a settlement.
  • Topic: Non State Actors, Geopolitics, Hezbollah, Militias
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iran, South Asia, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 09-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The attack in the city of Ahvaz which targeted the military parade organized by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) and the Iranian army on September 22, 2018, on the occasion of the so-called “Sacred Defense Week”, indicates that Iran is set to experience tough times on more than one front. This is the case given the fact that the attack coincides with the continued internal protests over deteriorating living conditions, due to the government’s failure to contain the various economic woes, and the growing pressure of the US sanctions, as the strongest batch, on November 4, looms large on the horizon.
  • Topic: Military Affairs, Violence, Donald Trump, Hassan Rouhani, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC)
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Gulf Cooperation Council, Gulf Nations
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The raging controversy in Iran over the identity of the group that carried out the attack on the military parade in the city of Ahvaz on September 22, 2018, has not abated. Although many Iranians continue to believe that one of the Arab armed groups in Ahvaz is responsible for that operation, others have begun to promote the notion that ISIS was behind this attack, the second of its kind after the first twin attack on the shrine of Khomeini and the administrative building of the Islamic Consultative Assembly (Parliament), on June 7, 2017, for which ISIS claimed responsibility.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Violent Extremism, Islamic State, Hassan Rouhani
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Several Middle Eastern countries, such as Turkey and Iran, have been recently shifting into international currencies or local currencies, instead of the US dollar, in their foreign trade. This shift comes amid the US economic sanctions on Iran in tandem with its souring relations with Turkey. What is striking in this regard is that there is an international acceptance of other currencies, especially the Chinese yuan, with the pricing of some oil contracts in the same currency. This move seems to have a particular political significance, namely rejecting the impact of the US dollar on the trade of these countries rather than its economic feasibility, amid the sharp fluctuations in the local currencies of Iran, Turkey, and India in the past period.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Currency, Trade Policy
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Iran, Eurasia, 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: The recent years have witnessed a growing interest from Helsinki in the transformations and interactions of the Middle East, as evident in the inauguration of academic institutes in the region, visits by diplomatic and parliamentary delegations, activities with research centers, proposals for the resolution of conflicts between political parties, meetings between joint business councils and representatives of chambers of commerce and enhancing the cooperation with Arab intelligence agencies. The Finnish government has several objectives within this calculus.
  • Topic: Geopolitics, Investment, Currency
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Finland, Libya, North Africa, Syria
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Iran is keen to maintain good relations with the European countries at the current stage because they can help it cope with US pressures. These relations gained added importance after the withdrawal of the US from the nuclear deal and the re-imposition of sanctions on Tehran. However, Iran has not changed some elements of its foreign policy, which continually widens the differences between it and European states and may eventually undercut its ability to contain the repercussions of the US sanctions, with the approaching date of the toughest batch of sanctions, set to start on November 5.
  • Topic: International Relations, Treaties and Agreements, Sanctions, European Union, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: Europe, Iran, Middle East, France, Syria
  • Publication Date: 11-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: On October 25, 2017, US Congress passed new sanctions against Lebanon’s Hezbollah to curb its political, economic and military activities as well as foreign relations. The three bills unanimously approved by the House of Representatives impose comprehensive sanctions against the Iran-backed terrorist group’s role after it has grown over the past years across the Middle East. In Syria, Iraq and Yemen in particular, Hezbollah stoked and took advantage of armed conflicts with one set goal in mind: achieving Iran’s policies.
  • Topic: International Security, Sanctions
  • Political Geography: Iran, Lebanon
  • Publication Date: 11-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The Iraqi government prioritizes rehabilitation of the oil sector in northern provinces, especially after it regained control of oil fields in Kirkuk and Mosul and forced out the Kurdish Peshmerga in mid-Octo- ber 2017. The government also plans to sign contracts with foreign companies to double production in northern Kirkuk and seeks to rehabilitate a pipeline between Kirkuk and the Turkish port of Ceyhan, that was massively damaged by several attacks in the past two years. However government efforts are facing several challenges.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, International Security
  • Political Geography: Iraq
  • Publication Date: 11-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The sudden resignation of Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri on October 4, 2017, may impose implications on the country’s economy, which showed signs of recovery over recent months. The recovery came on the heels of economic reforms introduced by the government and the parliament. The reforms, which included tax reforms and restructuring the oil industry, led to a rise in tourist arrivals and increasing confidence in the economy. The implications would hinge on how much time is need- ed to form a new government that would complete the economic measures initiated by its predecessor.
  • Topic: International Relations
  • Political Geography: Lebanon
  • Publication Date: 11-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani recently signaled that Tehran will not change its position on the 2015 landmark nuclear deal or its role in the Middle East. During an October 29, 2017 session of the Consultative Assembly (the parliament), he emphasized that Iran will not hesitate to build, produce and store any weapon of any kind it needs to defend itself. He add- ed that Iran IS building missiles, and will continue to do so because this does not contradict international law and is not in conflict with the July 2015 UN Security Council’s Resolution 2231, which calls on Iran to suspend, for eight years, all specific research and development activities related to missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, International Security
  • Political Geography: Iran
  • Publication Date: 11-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Regular armies, militias, terrorist organizations, opposition factions, international powers and rights organizations, all use dead bodies of ci- vilians, soldiers and police personnel during armed conflicts in the Middle East and beyond for various reasons. Identication of dead bodies has become a dilemma for conflict-hit countries such as Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya and Mali, due to prevalent security chaos and the destruction of healthcare infrastructure. Moreover, involved parties tend to announce a minimized official civilian and combatant toll using only the numbers of corpses that could be carried to hospitals.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Publication Date: 11-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The Sudanese government recently introduced economic reforms to improve performance and attract more foreign investments. The reforms were initiated when the United States on October 6, 2017, lifted sanctions imposed on Sudan twenty years ago. Undoubtedly, the move represents a major shift for Sudan because it will help improve economic growth, stabilize the exchange market and attract more foreign capital in flows.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Sudan
  • Publication Date: 11-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Russia recently conducted military strikes on several fronts in Deir Ezzor province in eastern Syria, especially to the south in the border town of Boukamal. These strikes were conducted to retake ISIS’ last strong- holds in Syria after the liberation of Raqqa, the group’s de facto capital, in mid-October by the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a Kurdish-led militia. The militia, backed the US-led coalition, controls the east side of the Euphrates river in Deir Ezzor and now is in a frantic race with al-Assad’s forces to recapture Boukamal, where Russia’s use of air and naval re- power aims to settle the battle and consolidate its presence ahead of the coming political milestones in Syria.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Russia, Iran
  • Publication Date: 11-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The Sahel and Sahara region has witnessed, in recent years, the emergence of a number of terrorist groups that adopt extremist ideologies, but with- out engaging with major cross-border terrorist organizations such as al Qaeda despite developing strong ties with them. The situation prompted views that these new groups are undeclared branches of the mother organization due, on the grounds that their ideology is, to a large extent, identical to that embraced by al-Qaeda. Moreover, these new groups show support to al-Qaeda’s terror attacks, which raises questions about the reasons why there are such groups that operate under various names and are, at the same time, keen to set themselves aside from al-Qaeda.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Publication Date: 11-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is under pressure from his political rivals, and the conservative fundamentalists in particular. His critics accused him of corruption and mismanagement and now call for his removal from the Expediency Discernment Council that, as per the constitution, sets the state’s higher policies and advises the Supreme Leader in disputes over legislation between the parliament and the Guardian Council of the Constitution. The Expediency Discern- ment Council is also charged with supervising parliament a airs and qualifying candidates for elections. .
  • Topic: International Security
  • Political Geography: Iran
  • Publication Date: 11-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The nuclear deal, reached in mid-July 2015, has contributed towards improving relations between Iran and the world powers, especially after some of them signed new economic deals with Tehran. However, this has not driven Iran to change its policy on pending issues regarding dual citizens and foreigners recently detained over charges of spying or attempting to topple the regime.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Iran
  • Publication Date: 11-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Iran appears to be trying to repeat its experience of establishing paramilitary militias, which started after the fall of Reza Shah Pahlavi’s regime in 1979. Yet, this time it is in neighboring countries. On Novem- ber 7 in Tehran, Commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, urged the visiting Pakistani Chief of Army Staff , General Qamar Javed Bajwa to establish a Pakistani version of the Iranian Basij militia to back the regular army. He even said Iran was ready to o er its experience to the neighboring Pakistan, and showed o his country’s experience in Syria and Iraq. He further claimed that their previous experiences succeeded in achieving their goals. However, his assertion is not consistent with the realities on the ground, because Iranian-led militias have exacerbated regional crises and blocked efforts to reach settlements.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Iran
  • Publication Date: 11-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Partial or complete disarmament of violent sub- state actors in border areas is a prerequisite for achieving domestic and regional stability. This applies to the Lebanese Hezbollah, Hamas in the Palestinian territories, the Houthi group in Yemen, Shi’ite and Kurdish militias in Syria, the al-Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Forc- es) in Iraq, tens of area-based armed groups in militias in Libya and tribal militias such as the Rapid Support Forces and the Janjaweed militia in Sudan. All these represent roving armies crossing soft borders.
  • Topic: International Security
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Publication Date: 11-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdo- gan continues his years-old pressure on the Central Bank to lower interest rates in a bid to encourage lending and consumption, and support the country’s economic growth, damaged by the mid-2016 failed coup attempt. The Turkish economic community considers that the move is highly risky, especially because of the possibility that the apex bank would lose credibility and weaken its ability to achieve monetary and financial stability.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Turkey