The re-emergence of conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan in September 2020 over the contested region of Nagorno-Karabakh has taken a much more deadly and destabilising turn than in previous recent outbreaks. A seemingly intractable conflict, dating back to well before the Soviet occupation of the
With an estimated 75 billion cubic metres (BCM) of water annually, Afghanistan is, on paper, a self-sufficient water country. However, the country also “has one of the lowest levels of water storage capacity in the world”. Most of the water from its major river basins such as the Amu,
Following the signing of the Abraham Accord between the UAE, Bahrain and Israel, US President Donald Trump last week trumpeted his peace-making credentials at the UN General Assembly. “These groundbreaking peace deals are the dawn of a new Middle East," he declared.
The response to the accord
Rumors circling about an impending major partnership between China and Iran seem to be accurate. A leaked draft of the agreement published by the New York Times in July indicates that it would involve a deep economic partnership which would open the door for strategic action. Ample speculation about
After the United States experienced a rebuff at the United Nations last week – with almost the entire membership of the Security Council rejecting its attempt to re-impose UN sanctions on Iran – US officials warned that the dispute could lead to a major crisis in the Council, damaging the
The main questions about the normalisation agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates announced a week ago are why did it happen and what will it change?
It’s pretty clear what US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu get out of the deal – both leaders
The 13 August announcement of a United Arab Emirates–Israel deal to normalise relations was a significant event. But at the same time, it overshadowed a number of other interesting Middle Eastern political and security-related manoeuvres occurring elsewhere.
The agreement itself was an
In the early hours of 3 January 2020, missiles fired from US drones killed ten people near Baghdad airport. Drone strikes by the US are almost commonplace these days, but what made this particular strike noteworthy was its target: General Qasem Soleimani, commander of Iran's Quds Force, a unit of
Big moves in the Middle East often seek to take advantage of a favourable political climate in Washington. And there has rarely been as favourable time in Washington for some Middle East leaders as under the Trump administration. But in pro-US capitals across the region, leaders are no doubt bracing
Iran’s initial reaction to the coronavirus pandemic was sluggish, and its fight with the outbreak has been chaotic and inefficient. US sanctions undeniably played a role in cutting off Iran’s access to medical equipment and expertise, medicine, and tests, but the crisis has also displayed the
The Covid-19 pandemic has thrown up some serious moral questions for society, including ones to do with decisions on treatment priorities for health workers under severe pressure. But another moral issue has arisen in the international relations field – in the midst of a pandemic, how appropriate
Jason Rezaian was correspondent for the Washington Post in Iran from 2012 to 2016 – only for more than 18 months of that time, he was unjustly held in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison, in the same wing where Australian-British academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert is presently locked away on accusations of
Recent revelations make it clear that Iran’s willingness to confront the US following the strike that killed Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad was not driven just by a mix of domestic considerations and a compelling desire to retaliate. Iran’s bluntly open challenge to the US may have been
In the immediate aftermath of the Soleimani strike, Iran’s first act of retaliation was to launch 22 missiles against the US base at the Ain al-Assad airbase, in Iraq’s Sunni-dominated Anbar province. Less publicised were the seven simultaneous Iranian strikes against targets
Of all the unfortunate events of last week’s hostilities between Tehran and Washington, the most tragic was undoubtedly Iran’s use of a surface-to-air missile to shoot down an airliner, killing 176 people. But this accident was not the most strategically significant development of those days
The briefing provided by the aerospace commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Command (IRGC) regarding the downing of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 was revealing for both what it told and what it didn’t tell us. To begin with, the incident appears to have been a tragic operator
The US drone strike that killed Iranian General Qasem Soleimani dominated the political discussion in Washington last week. President Trump’s decision to target Soleimani – an escalatory move in the ongoing confrontation with Iran – was an unexpected development.
The conventional wisdom was
The killing of top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani in a US drone strike on 3 January in Baghdad has sparked fears of a regional war between Washington and Tehran. Iranian military commanders have declared that Iran was in no hurry to retaliate and would choose its targets
Criticism of Donald Trump’s brazen assassination of Iranian Quds Force commander Qassim Soleimani has rightly focussed on the unprecedented nature of the killing and the escalation in the conflict between the two countries it presents.
Imaginations have run wild with the scale and horrors
With Donald Trump facing an impeachment trial in the Senate and a tough re-election battle, some US rivals see the president as politically weakened, risk-averse in exerting military pressure, and incapable of delivering on diplomatic commitments. The American drone strike killing General Qassim
For a region where the security environment was already fragile, Donald Trump’s decision to kill the head of Iran’s Quds Force, along with a senior Iraqi militia leader, has increased tensions with Iran to a point not seen in many years. And while Trump took office displaying little to no
In assessing the consequences of President Donald Trump’s assassination of Qasem Soleimani, the leader of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force, the key is the Iraqi government’s reaction. The Iraqi parliament’s resolution overnight demanding expulsion of the US military
From the burning of Iranian diplomatic outposts as part of massive months-long protests in Iraq, to slogans admonishing Iranian interference as part of anti-sectarian demonstrations in Lebanon, along with deadly rallies across cities at home in Iran, it’s been a bad month for the regime in
The word “protest” has become part of the common vocabulary in the last few months, with demonstrations in Hong Kong, the Middle East, India, and across Latin America making headlines around the world. The recent protests in Iran, particularly, have brought into focus a longstanding issue:
Iran is amid a new round of unrest once again, which has claimed at least 106 lives, according to Amnesty International. It started after the Rouhani government announced a three-fold increase in petrol prices, effective immediately. Iranian Mehr News Agency has reported that around 400 bank
In the wake of escalating US-Iran tensions in the Persian Gulf, the geopolitical realities of the Asian region are rapidly changing. New strategic alliances are being formed as old partnerships give way.
A good example is the trouble surrounding a three-way transit agreement between Iran, India,
The attack on Saudi Arabia’s Abqaiq plant – known as the world’s biggest petroleum-processing facility – and Khurais oilfield has resulted in a disruption of 5.7 million barrels a day of Saudi oil production, roughly equal to 5% of the global production of crude. Yemen’s Houthis claimed
The weekend’s attack on the Saudi oil facility at Abqaiq is the most dramatic escalation of the Persian Gulf tensions since the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal in May 2018. At the time of writing, the weapons used have allegedly been traced to Iran, while the Yemeni Houthi movement has
The US decision to impose travel restrictions on Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif when he made a visit to UN headquarters in New York for a 17 July meeting inflamed already strained tensions between Tehran and Washington.
In a break from the usual courtesy extended to foreign dignitaries
Prime Minister Scott Morrison was at pains last week to emphasise the “modest and time-limited” nature of Australia’s contribution to the new US-led maritime security mission in the Strait of Hormuz known as the International Maritime Security Construct’ (IMSC). He batted away suggestions
Australia’s commitment to the US-led coalition to provide maritime security for the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf will be one maritime surveillance aircraft, to start operations later this year, and one frigate from early 2020. Military personnel will also help staff a coalition
Back in December, Scott Morrison went halfway in following Donald Trump’s change to the diplomatic recognition of Israel, deciding to leave Australia’s embassy in Tel Aviv while formally acknowledging “West Jerusalem” as the capital. But at the same time, Morrison decided not to follow Trump
The Australian government’s announcement today that it will contribute assets to a maritime coalition force in the Persian Gulf comes as no surprise, given the very public way the US request was delivered in Sydney at the recent AUSMIN meeting. Washington doesn’t make those type of requests
In aligning himself with US President Donald Trump with regard to policing the Persian Gulf, new British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has abandoned any pretence that his type of Brexit would exclude security and defence matters. This is in sharp contrast to the position of Theresa May before him,
Washington has asked for Australian support to participate in a coalition maritime Persian Gulf security force. The request was formally announced as part of Sunday’s AUSMIN talks.
It is the type of request that Australia would prefer not be made. Washington’s unilateral withdrawal from the
The most perplexing question following Iran’s capture of the MV Stena Impero on Friday is why the British were unable to foresee this action as a natural response to Britain’s earlier seizure of the Iranian-flagged tanker Grace 1 in Gibraltar and make appropriate preparations. The Grace 1 was
Iran has announced that it has exceeded its enriched uranium limit under the nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA. This follows the decision in May 2018 when the Trump administration unilaterally pulled the US out of the deal and reimposed economic
Ambiguity in foreign policy is no bad thing, and on Iran, the only certainty Donald Trump has displayed after a week of heightened tension was his weekend declaration that “the only one that matters is me”.
So the debate is on, hawks versus doves, over messages and intentions. Was
As Washington is finding, maximum pressure campaigns have their own limitations, even with the most coherent and experienced foreign policy teams. But with the Commander-in-Chief sending mixed messages (overnight Donald Trump described the alleged Iranian attacks on oil tankers in the
For the US to directly accuse Iran of attacking oil tankers just outside the heavily congested, economically critical and strategically vital waters of the Persian Gulf … well, it ought to be a big deal. A really big deal.
And it’s not as if this story is being ignored. As I checked this
Washington’s attempts to isolate Iran economically and politically rely largely on whether it can get Tehran to opt out of the 2015 nuclear deal.
As long as the Trump administration is the only signatory to withdraw from what is known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA),
The Trump administration’s confrontation with Iran escalated over the past week, highlighting a series of alarming trends.
First, it demonstrated the extent to which the administration is prepared to shun key allies. When US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made an unscheduled visit to Iraq,
Nearly a year after the Trump administration unilaterally withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal, it is loudly proclaiming the harsh impact of reinstated US secondary sanctions on the Iranian economy.
As a result of reduced revenues, US officials assert that Iran is under increasing pressure to scale
In his first visit to Tehran since the Syrian war began in 2010, Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad met with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hasan Rouhani on Tuesday. Assad’s visit and its timing (following a series of international meetings, including the
If news reports are believed, Australia will on Saturday formally recognise Jerusalem as the Israeli capital while leaving its embassy to remain in Tel Aviv in an announcement to be made by Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
If other news reports are believed, such a shift will be against the
For all the talk about the broken nuclear deal, it might seem a surprise to learn of an old agreement between the United States and Iran that is still in force.
The move to dismantle international agreements only makes diplomacy harder and belligerence easier.
The US-Iran Treaty of Amity,
Prime Minister Scott Morrison is considering a review of Australia’s support for the Iran nuclear deal. The news comes after US President Donald Trump announced the US withdrawal in May from what is officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The US has subsequently
Europe has fired a shot across the bow of USS Trump in its joint press conference held yesterday with the Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif at the UN. The announcement that Europe would set up a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to facilitate European trade with Iran in accordance with EU law, with the
As it happens, the United States holds the presidency of the United Nations Security Council during the annual diplomatic gabfest at the UN General Assembly.
Traditionally, that means the president of the US can choose to chair a Security Council meeting if he or she desires to spotlight a