The relevance of “continuities” in relation to the history of the region and its inhabitants has been evident throughout most of its millenary past, and from a wide range of different angles. For instance, the Epic of Gilgamesh (c. 2100 BCE), a literary product of Mesopotamia, encompasses a number of themes and motifs (including, among others, the flood myth adopted in the narrative of Noah’s ark) later included in the Bible and other religious books.
Today is the JCPOA’s third birthday – will it have another one?
Three years ago, Iran and global powers implemented the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), curtailing the country’s nuclear weapons programme in exchange for sanctions relief. The deal continues to hang together – but only just. There are growing indications of signatory states’ fatigue and frustration in attempting to prevent the collapse of the JCPOA, following the US withdrawal from it last May. In this climate, it is important for the deal’s stakeholders to remember why it remains valuable:
Before he resigned, former Defense Secretary James Mattis was reportedly working in conjunction with the Department of State to revise US policy in the Middle East. Whatever vision Mr. Mattis had will have likely died when he left office – but he had the right idea in undertaking a review. Our strategic situation in the region has changed since the turn of the century, but our basic strategy has remained largely intact. That is not necessarily a good or bad thing, but it does suggest that a review of political-military strategy in the region is prudent.
As U.S. leadership of the international order fades, more countries are seeking to bolster their influence by meddling in foreign conflicts. In this new era of limit testing, Crisis Group’s President Robert Malley lists the Ten Conflicts to Watch in 2019.