Posts Tagged 'King Abdullah'

Weekly roundup

Articles and reports from the past week
“Calibrating the dual-track approach of sanctions and diplomacy”

With the EU and the US passing additional sanctions against Iran, George Perkovich calls sanctions “the least bad option” in the absence of a military option. Perkovich adds that while the EU and the US increase international pressure, “outside actors” should create opportunities for cooperation with Iran (Carnegie Endowment). However, Ray Takeyh criticizes this “dual-track” approach, arguing that Iran will be less likely to cede its “nuclear trump card” amidst the growing imbalance of conventional power. Takeyh believes internal reform through the Green Movement is necessary for constructive nuclear dialogue (Herald Tribune).

“Ahmadinejad sets conditions for negotiations”
President Ahmadinejad announced Iran’s conditions for international negotiations, which he said would not take place before the end of August. Ahmadinejad called on the P5+1 to clarify their positions on Israel’s nuclear program, their committments under the NPT, and whether they seek friendship or emnity with Iran (Reuters). However, Iran’s delay on talks does not apply to Turkey and Brazil, and Ahmadinejad described the fuel swap deal as a potential means of engagement. Turkey and Russia have stated their interest in pursuing the fuel swap deal (Christian Science Monitor), and the G8 stated that they “welcome and commend” the diplomatic efforts of Brazil and Turkey (MOFA).

“US unable to divide Syria and Iran”
The Wall Street Journal reports that Iran has supplied Syria with a sophisticated radar system that could provide early warning of any Israeli air attack. Both countries deny the report, which could complicate the US’s strategy of engaging Syria (Wall Street Journal). Nicholas Blanford reviews some of the potential factors behind the US’s inability to draw Syria away from Iran, including Washington’s prioritization of other issues, Israel’s lack of enthusiasm for peace talks with Syria, closer ties between Syria and Hezbollah, and the shift in Turkey’s Israel policy (Christian Science Monitor).

“Saudi Arabia seeks assurance on US policy on Iran”
Saudi King Abdullah met with US President Obama on Tuesday amidst growing differences of opinion regarding Iran and other regional issues. According to analysts, Riyadh believes sanctions will be ineffective but has no alternative solutions (AFP). Simon Henderson argues that Riyadh does not believe the US can stop Iran’s nuclear efforts, leading the kingdom to pursue its own nuclear energy program. Henderson adds that Riyadh also hopes to put some distance in its relationship with Washington to gain more regional credibility among Sunni states (Foreign Policy).

“Tracing history and future of Iran’s nuclear program”
Der Spiegel provides a detailed 2-part overview of Iran’s nuclear program (Der Spiegel), while Joseph Cirincione and Elise Connor look at the remaining steps Iran will have to take to develop a nuclear weapon (Foreign Policy).

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“Saudi Arabia, Egypt hope peace process, arms will counter Iran’s influence”

“Saudi Arabia, Egypt hope peace process, arms will counter Iran’s influence”
November 10-19, 2009
     Ahead of French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s visit to Saudi Arabia, Michael Slackman writes that Saudi Arabia and Egypt are losing their regional influence to Iran partly due to the failure of the US to convince Israel to freeze its building of settlements. Slackman writes that while Riyadh is stressing Arab unity, specifically by drawing Syria away from Iran and in support of the peace process, Cairo believes a lack of progress on the peace process will continue to undermine the regional influence of America’s two closest Arab allies. Riyadh’s strategy may involve allowing Damascus to assert political control of Lebanon (New York Times).
     Riyadh is reportedly hoping that France will be able to help reinvigorate the peace process after a “disappointing” US effort. Sarkozy and Saudi officials also discussed potential arms deals and peaceful nuclear cooperation (BBC). Iran’s rising influence is continuing to drive arms procurements among the Arab states [previously covered here] (United Press International).
New York Times | BBC | United Press International

“Syria continues Westward shift as US works to curb Iran’s regional influence”

“Syria continues Westward shift as US works to curb Iran’s regional influence”
September 27-October 6, 2009
     Syria is set to welcome Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah later this week as the two states work to overcome tensions over Damascus’ close ties with Iran and Hezbollah and alleged involvement in the 2005 assassination of Lebanese leader Rafik Hariri. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad visited Saudi Arabia in late September (Daily Star). Paul Salem describes Abdullah’s visit as a “graduation ceremony” for Syria in its efforts to shift away from Iran and improve ties with Saudi Arabia, the US, European states and Turkey (The National).
     With Syria’s Deputy Foreign Minister Fayssal Mekdad visiting Washington in the same week as the P5+1 talks with Iran, Mark Landler writes that Damascus and Tehran are each concerned that the other will strike a diplomatic deal with Washington first. Rapprochement with Syria, along with talks with Iran and Israeli-Palestinian peace, is a key component of Washington’s Middle East policy (New York Times). Joshua Landis believes Israel’s refusal to concede its settlements in Palestine and pursue a two-state solution is the main impediment to US efforts to reestablish ties with Syria and curb Iran’s regional influence. Landis argues that Israeli occupation of the Golan Heights and military superiority in the region will keep US-Syria rapprochement “limited” and allow Tehran to justify its nuclear aspirations (Syria Comment).
     Chris Phillips points out that Turkey’s important role in rehabilitating Syria’s image in the West is allowing Turkey to elevate its influence among Arab and NATO states while increasing Syria’s political and economic dependence on Turkey (The Guardian).
Daily Star | The National | New York Times | Syria Comment | The Guardian

Related posts:
“Syrian-Saudi summit, US ‘power play’ efforts aim to isolate Iran”