The CSS Blog Network

Iran and the US Avoid War for Now, but Political Sparring Will Continue

Image courtesy of The White House/Flickr.

This article was originally published by the ASPI‘s The Strategist on 9 January 2020.

President Donald Trump’s public response to Iranian missile strikes on two US airbases in Iraq suggests that he and Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, have reached a mutual ‘no war’ agreement. Barring any miscalculation by either side that triggers military escalation, the confrontation will continue to be played out politically, with the US maintaining its ‘maximum pressure’ campaign that seeks to force regime change through severe economic sanctions. There will be a lot of bruising ahead for Iran, but Trump will not win politically.

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10 Conflicts to Watch in 2020

Image courtesy of Adrian Weale/DVIDS.

This article was originally published by the International Crisis Group on 27 December 2019.

Friends and foes alike no longer know where the United States stands. As Washington overpromises and underdelivers, regional powers are seeking solutions on their own – both through violence and diplomacy.

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Who Gains from Trump’s Sudden Syrian Withdrawal?

Image courtesy of Kurdishstruggle/Flickr. (CC BY 2.0)

This article was originally published by the ASPI’s The Strategist on 16 October 2019.

President Donald Trump has upended American policy in Syria, and possibly in the entire Middle East, in one stroke. His unilateral decision to withdraw American troops from the Kurdish region of northern Syria, and thus give a green light for the Turkish invasion of the Kurdish enclave, has put all American goals in Syria in grave jeopardy. These included protecting the autonomous Kurdish enclave as a quid pro quo for the Kurdish militia’s singular military contribution in liquidating Islamic State and capturing its capital Raqqa at the cost of thousands of lives. They also included preventing the regime of Bashar al-Assad from reasserting control in northern Syria (a very important US objective in Syria was to circumscribe Russia’s and Iran’s reach and influence in the country). Finally, one of the principal aims of American policy in both Syria and Iraq has been to prevent the resurgence of the IS.

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Impact of the US-Iran Confrontation on Central Asia

This article was originally published by the Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst on 3 October 2019.

Increasing political and economic pressure on Iran, exacerbated by the renewed economic sanctions resulting from the U.S. withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), has led Tehran to seek support from the two major Eurasian political and economic powers Russia and China. Iran has also increasingly turned its attention toward its neighbors in Central Asia, which remain closely integrated into the political, economic and military projects of Moscow and Beijing. Central Asian leaders are well aware that a possible armed conflict between the U.S. and Iran would adversely affect Eurasian security.

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American Credibility is Dangerously Low: Just Not for the Reasons You May Think

Image courtesy of Joshua Hoehne/Unsplash.

This article was originally published by the Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI) on 31 July 2019.

In the field of international relations, a nation’s credibility is often thought to be calculated by evaluating its historical record of following through on threats of punishment issued to adversaries. In contrast, today, the larger challenge to U.S. global credibility arises not from questions about its ability to inflict pain on rivals, but rather from the demonstrated failure of U.S. policymakers to make good on incentives promised to rivals in exchange for constructive changes in their behaviors.

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