EPC | 20 Feb 2020
Shortly before its resignation at the end of November 2019 amid wide protest movement, the government of former Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi signed a framework agreement for economic cooperation with China that envisages the financing of major infrastructure projects from Iraqi oil exported to China. The agreement stirred a political, economic and even popular debate triggered by the government's failure to present the deal to the parliament and keeping some of its clauses untold. This paper sheds light on the context of the agreement, reviews some of its known clauses, addresses political positions thereon, and discusses claims that the deal actually serves Iran.
EPC | 19 Feb 2020
Europe's rift over Iran's nuclear deal continues to persist. While Britain and France take hardline positions, Germany and the EU foreign policy team continue to show understanding of the Iranian stances. However, this rift does not mean that the Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), will remain unchanged. Other parties to the agreement might follow the U.S. path and withdraw from the deal, without necessarily leading to the collapse of the deal or putting the Iran's nuclear program back on the UN Security Council's table.
Contrary to the Iranian consensus on how to deal with the United States, the Iranian regime appears divided over its relationship with Europe and how to approach the Europeans, amidst a steady decline in Iranian-European relations.
Ahmad Askar | 18 Feb 2020
Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen, more commonly known as Al-Shabaab, remains the main security challenge in Somalia and one of the most significant threats to regional stability and security in the Horn of Africa given the recent uptick in the group's activity in Somalia and its growing expansion in the region. The terrorist attacks launched by the group are now claiming the lives of more civilians, military and government officials. This is in addition to targeting government interests and institutions inside and outside Somalia, which places a significant burden on the countries of the Horn of Africa and regional forces due to the risks and threats posed by the group.
EPC | 17 Feb 2020
In a repeat of Adel Abdul-Mahdi's elevation to Iraq's premiership, the leader of the Sadrist Movement, Muqtada al-Sadr, and the leader of the pro-Iran Al-Fatah Alliance, Hadi al-Amiri, agreed to nominate former Minister of Communications Muhammad Tawfiq Allawi as a new prime minister. Once Allawi was officially designated by the President of the Republic, Barham Salih, on February 1, 2020, the demonstrations intensified in Baghdad and a number of southern provinces denouncing their ally's, Al-Sadr, departure from the protesters' conditions that the next prime minister must be independent, does not hold two nationalities and has not been a member of any previous government.
Iran's political scene continues to heat up as the country gears up for the next parliamentary elections. On the official level, there have been verbal clashes between the conservative wing-held Guardian Council of the Constitution, which is charged with qualifying parliamentary candidates, and the government, which accused the Council of not being neutral and excluding all candidates who belong to political groups outside the conservative line.
On the political groups’ level, the reformists keep mum on the elections after hundreds of reformist candidates have been disqualified from running in the forthcoming polls. On the other side, cracks have started to appear among the conservatives, otherwise known as the principlists. In the meantime, the grassroots remain relatively apathetic towards the electoral warm-up with no indications that there are above-average preparations for the next vote, sparking fear among regime's circles that the turnout might sink to unprecedented levels.
Mohamed Fayez Farahat | 13 Feb 2020
The outbreak of the novel Coronavirus in China has developed strikingly fast, making the response to this crisis not an exclusive Chinese responsibility, but rather a global duty. This is due to the characteristics of this new strain of the virus, the factors that helped the spread of the disease in a relatively short period of time, and the concerns it stirred at the international level and among ordinary people in different parts of the world.
EPC | 13 Feb 2020
Russian-Turkish relations are put to a hard test these days. The escalating tension between the two sides in Syria's Idlib province and the countryside of Aleppo threatens to undermine bilateral cooperation and coordination on more than one front in war-ravaged Syria. Recent military developments have brought about a dangerous shift in the rules of engagement between the two parties, and have opened the door for potential direct confrontation. This is particularly true as both countries embrace contradictory positions in justifying their actions. On the one hand, Turkey believes that the Russia-backed Syrian army onslaught on Idlib and the countryside of Aleppo will push about a million Syrians to Turkey's borders, threatening Turkish national security. In turn, Russia is sticking to the implementation of the Sochi Agreement, which obliges Turkey to dismantle extremist organizations, as well as Turkey's lack of commitment to handing over control over international roads to the Assad regime.
EPC | 11 Feb 2020
The Turkish economy has been shrinking as a result of the economic and financial turmoil that has gripped the country since March 2018. In the third quarter of 2019, it experienced weak growth. However, despite the market movement and the positive growth seen since, the crisis continues to have an impact, and no real solution has yet been found. In contrast to the weak growth and relative stability of the Turkish lira, the high rates of unemployment and of inflation continue to have a negative effect on the economy.