Russia’s military intervention in Syria at the end of September 2015 undoubtedly strengthened and sustained the Bashar Al-Assad regime. For the first time since the height of the Cold War Russian military personnel were actively involved in the Middle East as a combatant force with significant political leverage to counterbalance the roles of Saudi Arabia and Turkey in the Syrian conflict and thus the wider Middle East.
Only a full and proper understanding of the root causes for the crisis affecting the southern Mediterranean and the Middle East – with dramatic consequences for the rise of IS as a terrorist threat as well as for immigration flows – will allow officials to identify appropriate policy options to tackle such a crisis.
The agreement reached in Vienna on 14 July, 2015 between Iran and the P5+1 (United States, Russia, China, France, United Kingdom, Germany) has been greeted as an historical achievement. While offering a long-lasting negotiated solution to one of the biggest crises of the last decade, the deal represents an opportunity for a deep recalibration of the balance of power in the Middle East. It also paves the way to some sort of rapprochement between Iran and the United States. But the deal is also likely to have an impact on Iranian domestic politics, not least on its economy, which, after repeated rounds of sanctions, languishes in deep crisis.
This report aims to assess the potential effects of the deal by trying to answer the following question: what’s next for Iran, the Middle East and the countries involved in the negotiations? In particular, the report provides an assessment of the JCPOA agreed upon in Vienna. It also analyzes the impact of the deal on Iranian domestic politics as well as the consequences for its economy. In addition, it examines its effects on the balance of power in the Middle East, as well as on relations between Iran and the United States, and Iran and Russia. Finally a number of policy recommendations for the EU are provided.
The Caucasus has been defined as a “broken region” by both practitioners and scholars. Although the regional “protracted” conflicts clearly represent a stumbling block to the development of inclusive cooperation schemes, nevertheless the “broken region” interpretation seems to hide a Western prejudice – i.e. a tendency to label as inefficient or ruinous any political relations regulated by values and interests different from the Western ones.
In his A Russian idea (1946), the philosopher Nikolay Berdyaev divided Russia’s history in five major epochs: “There is Kiev Russia, Russia during the Tatar invasion, Moscow Russia, Russia of Peter the Great, Soviet Russia. It is possible that there will be some other new Russia. Russia’s historical development has been catastrophic” .
Due to the Ukrainian crisis, relations between the EU and Russia hit rock bottom, the lowest point from the end of the Cold War. Indeed, it is crystal clear that today’s dispute is nothing but the latest chapter of a long story of misunderstandings and conflicting strategies on the post -Soviet states of Eastern Europe and South Caucasus. The further deepening of this cleavage would inflict serious damage on all interested parties: the EU, Russia and several post-Soviet states. Why is Ukraine so important both for EU and Russia? What are the real origins of the current crisis that brought to an open confrontation between Russia and the EU? What is the rationale behind Russia’s firm opposition to a further NATO enlargement? What are the viable options to escape the fate of a new ‘Cold War’?
by Diana Shendrikova - From Russia with energy is a weekly column of ISPI Energy Watch, aimed at bringing about the latest issues of Russia’s Energy Policy and at acquainting readers of the latest development in Russia’s economy and politics in response to the low oil prices and global geopolitical issues by analyzing the latest research on the topic and debate in the national media.