10 July 2019

Tense U.S.-Iran Relations Have Put the Middle East on the Brink

In May 2018, when U.S. President Donald Trump followed through on a campaign promise to withdraw the U.S. from the 2015 multilateral deal limiting Iran’s uranium enrichment program, Tehran initially reacted by adopting a posture of strategic patience. But after European attempts to keep the deal afloat failed to deliver any respite from the U.S. campaign of “maximum pressure,” and amid increasingly bellicose rhetoric out of Washington, Iran has shifted gears in recent months.

Tensions rose dramatically in May and June, after a series of attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman that Washington blamed on Iran prompted the U.S. to send additional troops to the region. Soon thereafter, Iranian forces shot down a pilotless U.S. drone it claims was operating in its airspace. Most recently, Iran announced it had breached its obligations under the nuclear deal for the first time, exceeding limits on its stockpile of enriched uranium.

The reimposed U.S. sanctions have forced governments and companies from Europe to Asia to end their economic engagement with Iran, with a particularly severe impact on Iran’s oil exports. The resulting domestic economic tailspin has heightened social and political tensions within Iran. But rather than moderating the regime’s behavior, the heightened pressure from Washington seems to have strengthened the hand of hardliners in Tehran. 

Meanwhile, any possibility for a diplomatic offramp have been complicated by the mixed messages coming out of the Trump administration. National Security Adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have vocally advocated for regime change in Iran, while Trump himself has declared that he is open to talks in the hopes of reaching what he claims would be a better nuclear deal. 

The deterioration in U.S.-Iran relations take place against the backdrop of a battle for regional influence between Iran and Saudi Arabia, including proxy wars in Yemen and Syria, as well as strategic competition in Lebanon and more recently Iraq. Amid it all, the Iranian population is increasingly caught between the pressure of sanctions from Washington and the authoritarian repression of the regime in Tehran. 

WPR has covered Iran in detail and continues to examine key questions about what will happen next. Is there a viable way out of the crisis in U.S.-Iran relations? Will Iran strengthen its ties with Russia or China to counter American actions, and what role will Europe play? Will outside pressure undermine the regime’s domestic control? Below are some of the highlights of WPR’s coverage.

U.S.-Iran RelationsThe Trump administration has still not made it clear exactly what it is looking for from Tehran, a fact that is helping to fuel the current crisis. While Bolton and others pressure for regime change, Trump himself has said he is willing to open negotiations with Tehran without any conditions. That window appears to be rapidly closing, though, as Tehran’s recent actions indicate that it is shifting to war footing—or, at least, trying to give the impression that it is.

The Regional PictureIran’s escalating conflict with Saudi Arabia has actually been more devastating in recent years than the mounting tensions with Washington. The competition between the two Middle East rivals has fueled proxy conflicts in Syria and Yemen, leading to humanitarian crises in both countries. As the war rhetoric between Washington and Tehran heats up, though, much of the region has responded cautiously to the possibility of an American intervention in Iran.

Why Iraq is the latest arena for the Saudi-Iran rivalry, in How Saudi Arabia Is Trying to Counter Iranian Influence in Iraq

How Saudi money is creating a rift between Pakistan and Iran, in Saudi Investment in Pakistan Could Destabilize Already Restive Border With Iran

Domestic PoliticsIran, under Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is projecting unity in the face of U.S. saber rattling, but that is far from the reality on the ground. U.S. provocation may be strengthening hardliners within the regime, but members of the public are frustrated by ongoing domestic repression and the economic privation caused by the reimposed U.S. sanctions. Devastating floods earlier this year have also created a humanitarian crisis in some parts of the country and deepened dissatisfaction with President Hassan Rouhani’s administration.

Why the regime’s recent welcoming of proxy militias could actually be an effort to ensure its survival, in How the Return of Iranian-Backed Militias From Syria Complicates U.S. Strategy
How the Rouhani administration oversold the benefits of the nuclear deal to the Iranian people, in The Nuclear Deal Raised Iranians’ Hopes. Now They’re Focused on SurvivalBut this is just a fraction of what you’ll get in WPR’s searchable library of content, where you’ll find over 9,000 articles on topics such as international diplomacy, the global refugee crisis, global finance, economic trends, gender equality, water rights, and so much more!

And the World Politics Review library is searchable by author, region, and issue, so you can find specific topics quickly and easily!

An All-Access subscription to World Politics Review will allow you to:

Prepare your business, organization, or institution to stay ahead of the curve by better understanding critical global trends as they emerge and develop.

Be first to know how to act upon world events and emerging trends, with our uncompromising analysis and recommendations.

Save time following the most important international news and events by reading digested and curated content from the expert editors at World Politics Review.

Stay up to date on emerging events and trends so you can take advantage of opportunities for investment, and insulate your business from political pitfalls.

Speak confidently to anyone—whether at a work meeting or a cocktail party—about global events and trends, with a perspective that’s intelligent, informed, probing, analytical, and—frankly—quite impressive!

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of 9,000+ articles.
Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
Daily links to must-read news, analysis, and opinion from top sources around the globe, curated by our keen-eyed team of editors.
Weekly in-depth reports, including features and country- and region-specific reports.
Smartphone- and tablet-friendly website.
PDF versions of all articles for easy offline reading, at your leisure.

And all of this is available to you —right now—with a subscription to World Politics Review.

That’s right: you’ll get immediate access to all of our uncompromising global-trend analysis that delivers actionable advice for policymakers, analysts, business strategists, academics, influencers, and thought leaders who have a deep interest in international affairs.

No comments: