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  • Author: Ray Takeyh
  • Publication Date: 02-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In his January 29 State of the Union address, President George Bush criticized Iran as one of three states (the other two being Iraq and North Korea) forming an 'axis of evil' and castigated its "unelected leaders" for denying the will of the majority. Indeed, the perennial conflict between Tehran's political factions seems to have escalated, deepening the stalemate that has essentially paralyzed its governing system. The durability of the Islamic Republic has always stemmed from its flexibility and capacity to absorb change. Since the election of Muhammad Khatami in 1997, however, the popular demand for change is outstripping the system's accommodative capabilities. The youths' demands for employment and cultural freedom, the middle class's quest for representation, and the women's clamor for social emancipation are creating tensions and pressures that threaten the foundations of the Islamic Republic.
  • Topic: Security, Islam, Religion
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Middle East, North Korea, Arabia
  • Author: Hans Blix
  • Publication Date: 01-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Since September 11, there has been increased concern about terrorists using weapons of mass destruction (WMD). It is thus natural to return to the issue of Iraq, a country that has used chemical agents against Iran and its own citizens. Indeed, Iraq violated the Non-Proliferation Treaty before 1990 and, prior to the Gulf War, was estimated to be a year away from developing workable nuclear weapons.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Robert Satloff
  • Publication Date: 01-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Revelations of Iranian-Palestinian collusion to smuggle fifty tons of weapons into the hands of Yasir Arafat's Palestinian Authority (PA) through the offices of Hizballah have profound strategic implications for the Middle East. For the Bush administration, responding appropriately to the Karine-A episode may have unpleasant repercussions for relations with key Arab states. However, failing to deal forthrightly with the shift in the region's tectonic plates represented by the smuggling affair is a self-defeating exercise in delusion.
  • Topic: Security, Religion
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Gal Luft
  • Publication Date: 01-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The Palestinian defense budget spending — relative to national income — is higher than that of any Arab country or Iran. This calculation is based on official data that exclude an important part of a state's defense budget — namely, procurement of weapons. The Oslo agreements prohibit the Palestinian Authority (PA) from procuring arms, yet they have been smuggled into the territories for years. It is not known how much the Palestinians actually invest in illegal weapons procurement, and there is no way to know how many wea
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Washington, Middle East, Palestine
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 01-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Israeli naval commandos seized the Gaza-bound freighter Karine-A in the Red Sea last Thursday, exposing a cargo hold containing fifty tons of munitions. The seizure took place in international waters some 300 miles off of Israel's southern coast, between Sudan and Saudi Arabia. The ship's captain, Omar Akkawi, later participated in an interview with Reuters and several television networks invited by Israeli authorities to the prison where Akkawi was being held; in the interview, he named Adel Awadallah of the Palestinian Authority (PA) as head of the operation. Akkawi also identified himself as both a long-time member of Yasir Arafat's Fatah and a naval advisor to the PA's Ministry of Transport; the PA subsequently confirmed the latter fact. In front of the reporters, Akkawi disclosed his instructions to first collect arms at a specified point off of Iran's coast and then sail through the Red Sea and Suez Canal to the Mediterranean. He also confirmed that one of the men who helped load the arms onto his ship was a member of the Iranian-backed Hizballah, and that one of his own crew members had been trained by the group.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Sudan, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza, Arab Countries, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Kang Wu, Fereidun Fesharaki
  • Publication Date: 06-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: The Middle East is Asia Pacific's largest energy supplier, satisfying a demand for oil that must keep pace with the region's continued economic growth. This dependence on the Middle East has caused Asia Pacific to join the United States and other Western nations in the hunt for alternative suppliers. Central Asia, located between the Middle East and Asia Pacific and already an oil and gas exporter, is an attractive possibility. With energy production projected to rise rapidly over the next decade, Central Asia is poised to become a major player in the world energy market. But the land-locked region's options for transporting oil and gas to Asia Pacific markets are limited and problematic. Passage via pipeline east through China presents construction challenges; south through Iran, or through India and Pakistan via Afghanistan, is fraught with political difficulties. Not until geopolitics become more favorable to the south-bound options, or technologies make the China route possible, will Asia Pacific be able to tap the energy resources of Central Asia.
  • Topic: Security, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, United States, China, Iran, Middle East, Asia
  • Author: C. Richard Nelson, David H. Saltiel
  • Publication Date: 01-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Any government in Tehran will be inclined to seek weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and missile delivery options given the realities of its strategic environment. These weapons might help Iran to deter potential external threats, to achieve equality with other major regional powers armed with WMD, and to attain self-reliance in national security, given the isolating experience of arms embargoes. A more pluralist leadership in the future, however, may examine broader choices and trade-offs, and perhaps be less likely to cross key thresholds in WMD acquisition. In any event, Iran's WMD behavior is likely to be determined by both external factors, mainly the availability of crucial components, and internal factors, including calculations of costs, risks, and benefits. Among the benefits, psychological factors, such as prestige, will play an important role. Other important factors that might well shape Iran's WMD behavior include developments in Iraq, relations with the United States and other Gulf states, Israeli-Palestinian relations and the future price of oil.
  • Topic: Security, Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Nathalie Tocci
  • Publication Date: 10-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: Today's southeast Turkey has historically been the homeland of a large number of diverse ethnic groups. Nowadays, in many town and villages of the region the largest ethnic group is Kurdish. Turkish officials under Turgut Özal in the 1990s for the first time admitted there may be around 10 million Kurds living in Turkey. Other estimates indicate a Kurdish population of around 15 million. Adding to this figure the additional 10 million or so Kurds living in Iran, Iraq, Syria and the former Soviet Union, the Kurdish people represent the largest ethnic group in the world without a state of their own.
  • Topic: Security, NATO
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Europe, Iran, Turkey, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Suzanne Maloney
  • Publication Date: 08-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: The enduring estrangement between the United States and Iran represents the central paradox for American policy in the Persian Gulf. The world has changed dramatically since the 1979 Islamic Revolution gave rise to a religious government in Tehran and ruptured U.S.-Iranian relations. Those changes have been felt even within Iran's revolutionary politics, through the ascendance of a popular reform movement crystallized by moderate president Mohammad Khatami's 1997 election. This development prompted an abatement in comprehensive U.S. sanctions and fueled expectations of rapprochement.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Terrorism, Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Patrick Clawson
  • Publication Date: 09-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: British foreign secretary Jack Straw arrives in Tehran today to "build alliances with every country that we can." In fact, Iran is the acid test of U.S. resolve to fulfill the goal set by President George Bush in his speech to Congress, namely, "From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime." While Iran could be a useful ally vis-a-vis Afghanistan, there is no sign that Iran has any intention of stopping its support for terrorism. The objective of U.S. policy should be finding a way to take advantage of Iran's anti-Taliban sentiment while still pressing ahead with efforts to terminate Iran's own support for international terrorism.
  • Topic: Security, NATO, Arms Control and Proliferation, Religion, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Iran, Middle East, Arab Countries