On 11 February 2019, the Islamic Republic will celebrate forty years of political life in Iran. It has been the first experience of a modern Islamic State in the world. In other words, the rise of the Islamic Republic in Iran could be seen as the first political experience in institutionalisation of political Islam.
Since the onset of the Islamic Revolution of 1978-9 the Iranian foreign policy motto has been “Neither East, nor West, Islamic Republic”. But one has to consider that Iran has always been more East than West by both necessity and design. Faced with the economic consequences of Western containment, Iran put aside its historic rivalry with Russia, and included it in its Look East policy – referring to China, Russia and India.
Engagement and constructive dialogue, albeit conditional, are the leitmotif that have driven the European strategy towards Iran for the past three decades. While this is likely to continue being the case, the fear of being back to the future, in a situation in which such approach yielded limited results, might lead to a new and different stage in the EU-Iran relations moving forwards.
For the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the year of tolerance has just begun: domestic cohesion is critical for a country in which expatriates make up to 90% of the population. However, in the Emirates’ cultural rush, geopolitics matters a lot.
Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, Putin’s special envoy for the Middle East and North Africa, travelled to Beijing for talks on Dec. 5-6 with Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of China Le Yucheng and Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs Chen Xiaodong, whose area of responsibility includes West Asia and North Africa.
Whatever hypothesis of establishment of a Yemeni National Guard (YNG) has to face a broader dilemma: would the YNG be functional to a federal re-composition of Yemen’s unified state, or it would push further, and maybe institutionalize, its on-going feudalization process? Surely, a YNG should be part of an agreed political compromise for a federal state, as well as of a widen Security Sector Reform (SSR) effort.
Hybridity is a permanent dynamic of the Yemeni defence sector. However, due to the rise of new military actors, the intertwining of political, local and tribal loyalties has undergone a further deep reformulation since the complete breakdown of the transitional process in 2014 and the start of the Saudi and Emirati-led military intervention in 2015. The reconfiguration of power relations in Yemen has resulted in a hybridized military marked by three emerging features.
The upcoming Iraqi parliamentary election will take place on May 12. It is the fourth election after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s regime, and the first one after the defeat of the Islamic State. In spite of the crises that have been ravaging the country over the last decade and ongoing regional turmoil, Iraq is trying to get back on its feet. But many challenges still lie ahead.
2003 Regime-change: hopes and controversies
There is a date that could be conventionally considered the starting point of the Kirkuk issue. It is 11 March 1970, when the Kurds and the Iraqi government - after nine years of conflict - signed the “1970 Peace Accord”. The agreement granted autonomy to Iraq’s Kurdish governorates and, with regard to areas disputed due to mixed Arab-Kurdish populations, provided for a census and a plebiscite.