Within a week of the final agreement between the P5+1 group of nations and Iran on the latter country’s nuclear program, US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter began a Middle East tour whose itinerary included meetings with the leaders of Israel, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Jordan and the administration of the Kurdistan Regional Government. In addition to reassuring the US’ allies in Riyadh and Tel Aviv about any possible fallout of the Iranian nuclear agreement, Carter’s visit also sought to follow up on efforts to combat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
After nearly a year of intense deliberations, punctuated by outbursts of open tension, Turkey has agreed to allow the United States military the use of its airspace and military bases in Incirlik and Diyarbakir, as part of the campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). In return, the US has approved the establishment of a de-facto security corridor stretching from Jarabulus on the Syrian-Turkish frontier for a distance of up to 100 kilometers westwards, towards the Mediterranean. This new security corridor extends as far as 50 kilometers into Syrian territory. A July 21 suicide bombing carried out by an ISIL member, who was both a Kurd and Turkish citizen, against a Turkish military target in the border town of Suruc provided Ankara with the casus belli it needed to begin an immediate military campaign against ISIL targets. Additionally, Turkey will have free rein to counter the threats posed to it by the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK) operating out of Syrian and Iraqi territory. As part of this campaign, Turkish planes have bombed PKK targets in Iraq’s Kurdish autonomous region for the first time in three years.
Israel has considered the Iranian nuclear program to be an issue of the utmost gravity since the revelation of some of its more secretive aspects in 2002. In an attempt to rally global opposition, Israel promoted the idea that Tehran’s nuclear program posed an existential threat to the so-called Jewish state, and threatened to deploy air strikes against the country’s nuclear installations. The goal was to pressure the international community into acting militarily and decisively against Iran, or at the very least to intensify the sanctions regime. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu became perhaps the most outspoken Israeli commentator on the Iranian nuclear program. He also set a precedent for Israeli premiers in his public disagreement with the United States overs its aim of reaching a negotiated solution with Iran, sparking an unusual level of tension between Washington and Tel Aviv. Netanyahu had envisaged an end to Iran’s nuclear infrastructure through military strikes primarily conducted by the US, or, as an alternative, a tightening of international sanctions. Netanyahu’s government, therefore, consistently opposed all of the milestones achieved between Iran and international negotiators: the Joint Plan of Action, signed in Geneva in November 2013; the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, signed in Lausanne in April 2015; and the final agreement sealed in Vienna on July 15.
After 21 months of strenuous deliberations since the approval of a Joint Plan of Action in Geneva in November 2013, including several last-minute deadline extensions, Iran and the P5+1 group of nations (Germany and the UN Security Council’s five permanent members) finally reached a negotiated resolution to Tehran’s nuclear program on July 15, 2015. In broad terms, the final agreement, formally known as “The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action”, will see the sanctions placed on the Islamic Republic of Iran lifted in exchange for Iran’s curtailment of any military aspects to its nuclear program. International reactions to the agreement were mixed: while many welcomed it as a positive development, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the agreement as a “historic mistake” .
There has been a spate of recent reports concerning Israeli-approved contacts between international envoys and officials from Hamas, the Islamic Resistance Movement, over a potential truce of fixed duration between Israel and the Palestinian resistance groups in the Gaza Strip, in exchange for the lifting of the Israeli siege on Gaza which has lasted for more than eight years. The credibility of these reports has been boosted by the recent statements of Ismail Haniyeh, deputy chair of Hamas’ political bureau, that “Israel has informed certain parties [he did not name them] that it will not launch a new war on the Gaza Strip.” He went on to say, addressing the people of Gaza, “Good news, relief is at hand. The coming stage will be good for the steadfast people of Gaza.”
Late in the evening on Thursday, April 2 in Lausanne, Switzerland, Iran and its interlocutors in the “P5+1” group of nations (which includes the five permanent members of the UN Security Council as well as Germany) announced their assent to a framework agreement (the “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action Regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Nuclear Program”). The parties also agreed to set June 30, 2015 as the deadline to arrive at a more detailed and final agreement which, once implemented and activated, would impose restrictions preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.
A partisan dispute between the GOP-dominated Congress and a Democrat White House over a potential nuclear deal with Iran has brought the nature of American politics into sharp relief. This Report seeks to examine the balance of powers between the Legislative and Executive branches of the US Government, and how this affects the ability of the Obama Administration to conclude a deal with Iran in the coming two months.
The Obama administration's hesitance about intervening decisively in Ukraine, which is now locked into an openly armed proxy war with Russia, has both exacerbated the armed conflict in that country and created domestic discord for President Obama, compounding long-standing disagreements over foreign policy in Washington.
Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu decided to speak before a joint session of Congress on March 3, 2015, in defiance of diplomatic protocol and only two weeks ahead of his next electoral test. This report examines the ways in which his act will impact on the otherwise tight bonds that exist between the United States and Israel.
The first official visit by Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, Amir of Qatar, to the United States has been greeted by wide media interest. Our Report here examines the multifaceted issues that lie beneath this close and complex bilateral relationship.