Even before President Donald Trump upended a core U.S. policy recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, late 2017 has been tumultuous in the Middle East. The Islamic State (ISIS) “caliphate” collapsed. Syria’s Assad regime all but won the six-year civil war, consolidating Iranian and Russian influence. Saudi Arabia purged...
Russian President Vladimir Putin welcomed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to Sochi on Tuesday to discuss efforts to end the Syrian civil war. The presidents of Iran and Turkey are scheduled to meet Putin on Wednesday as Russia promises to scale back its military presence in Syria and push for a diplomatic solution.
For decades, Iran has vexed the international community. It introduced Islam as a form of governance in 1979 and has supported militants abroad and defied international norms. Recent developments—including the centrist Hassan Rouhani’s presidential victory and the 2015 nuclear deal—hold the potential for improved international relations and a boost to the economy. However, economic revitalization is slow, and the nation remains a complex and contentious factor in global politics.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani won a decisive victory for a second four-year term, with more than 41 million of 56.4 million eligible voters casting ballots, and 57 percent granting him their vote. But his platform of loosening political restrictions at home and greater engagement abroad will face challenges domestically and internationally.
Iranians head to the polls on May 19 to determine whether President Hassan Rouhani wins another four-year term, or is ousted or forced into a runoff by one of his challengers. The result has ramifications for relations with the U.S., as President Trump suggests a tougher line from Washington, and it will impact Iran’s actions in a Middle East roiled by wars in Syria, Iraq and Yemen. Rouhani has been more open to engaging with the West and improving relations with Iran’s Sunni neighbors in the Persian Gulf than his conservative critics.
The strategic clash between Saudi Arabia and Iran in Yemen masks multiple layers of conflict underneath that have deepened—and in some ways altered—the country’s fractures in local politics, society and security. The chaos has devastated Yemen, one of the world’s poorest countries, and has the potential to burst beyond the nation’s borders and further destabilize an already troubled region. It also allows the likes of the Islamic State (ISIS) and Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) to thrive.
Looking at the maneuvers by Iran and the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen from afar, the battlefield looks a lot like a black-and-white contest for regional power. But as the U.S. considers escalating its role in the conflict—and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis visits Riyadh this week—it is essential to understand how local realities can get lost in a proxy war.
Results from Iran’s elections last week show that reformists, centrists and independents—including many new faces—won seats in both parliament and the clerical Assembly of Experts at the expense of hardliners. Garrett Nada, the assistant editor of The Iran Primer at the U.S. Institute of Peace, discusses the implications.
In a historic milestone of the nuclear agreement reached in July between Iran and the world’s major powers, the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog certified on January 16 that Iran had complied with restrictions on its nuclear program and the international community lifted a range of sanctions imposed on the regime over the past decades. Daniel Brumberg, a special advisor at the U.S. Institute of Peace, considers the ramifications for the region and the world.
Tawakkol Karman, the Yemeni human rights activist who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011, called on the United States to assume a bigger role in trying to revive a political process that might end the war now tearing her country apart. She urged the U.S. government to lead in pressing for a cease-fire and the transformation of Yemen’s militias into political parties.