Russian president Vladimir Putin and Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamene’i meeting in Tehran, Iran, 1 Nov. 2017 // Picture via Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader
There have been renewed claims that Russia and Iran, while both supporting Bashar Assad’s regime, have such differences in vision and interest in Syria that there is a schism Western policymakers can take advantage of.
The basic notion is to work with Moscow, which has a less maximalist position, to limit the influence of Iran, a more disruptive power that could draw in worried regional countries to a wider war. This idea is not new and remains illusory. Russia is powerless—even if it were willing—to restrain Iran, the dominant force driving the regime coalition’s war. Continue reading →
There was a serious escalation between Israel and Iran in Syria last week. This has been a long-time coming, an inevitable part of the contest for regional order that was obscured, and fuelled, by the narrow focus on the Islamic State (Daesh) and the war against its “caliphate”, particularly over the last year. Continue reading →
Fordow, an Iranian nuclear enrichment facility near Qom—easily mistaken for the volcano lair of a Bond villain
It wasn’t exactly a nail-biting finish in the end was it? In Vienna on Nov. 24, the P5+1 and Iranian negotiators decided to extend for another seven months the “interim” deal, the Joint Plan of Action (JPA), made in November 2013 on Iran’s nuclear weapons program, until June 2015. Conditions always favoured an extension but I was not absolutely sure that this is what would happen until Secretary of State John Kerry said on Nov. 21: “We are not discussing an extension.” Continue reading →
Some of the children killed by the Assad regime’s CW attack on Aug. 21, 2013
Can it really be twelve whole months since Bashar al-Assad gassed to death more than 1,400 people in a morning? I happened to be in London when the attack on the Damascus suburbs of Ghouta took place, exactly a year ago. London has become (in)famous recently for mass-protests that throw around the word “genocide“—against Israel’s (in my view ill-thought out) recent response to HAMAS’ rocket fire. London had no time for Syria’s grief: Continue reading →