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Latest Articles

A Win-Win For Assad
By James S. Robbins, U.S. News & World Report, June 21, 2017

The United States and Russia seem to be on a collision course in Syria, which is just fine for the regime in Damascus.

On Sunday, a U.S. Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet shot down a Syrian Su-22 fighter bomber that was conducting operations near positions held by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces outside the besieged Islamic State stronghold of Raqqa. The shoot-down took place after repeated warnings for the Syrian aircraft to disengage, and the Coalition justified the action as being "in accordance with rules of engagement and in collective self-defense of Coalition partnered forces." The next day, a U.S. Air Force F-15E downed an Iranian-made Shahed 129 armed drone near the site of a U.S.-backed training base at al Tanf for rebels opposed to Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Central Asia: All Together Now
By Bilahari Kausikan, S. Frederick Starr, and Yang Cheng, The American Interest, June 16, 2017

After a quarter century of independence, the fragmentation of Central Asia is evident to all. A senior official there might justifiably complain about how each country "[is] pursuing its own limited objectives and dissipating its meager resources in the overlapping or even conflicting endeavors of sister states." He might conclude that such a process, "carries the seeds of weakness in [the countries'] incapacity for growth and their self-perpetuating dependence on the advanced, industrial nations." One can also imagine that another Central Asian official, seeking an alternative, might propose that "we must think not only of our national interests but posit them against regional interests: That is a new way of thinking about our problems."

The Kremlin Needs to Address Russia's Demographic Crisis
By Ilan Berman, The Moscow Times, June 13, 2017

The latest numbers are in, and the forecast for Russia's demographic health is bleak. According to official figures released by the country's state statistics agency, Rosstat, in late May, Russia had 70,000 fewer births during the first four months of 2017 than it did a year earlier.

No One Wins The Fight Over Qatar
By James S. Robbins, U.S. News & World Report, June 9, 2017

The diplomatic row between Qatar and seven mostly Sunni Arab countries is being called a stumbling block for U.S. efforts to promote a united front against Islamic extremism in the region. But it won't be - because it is not in any country's interest for the rift to become permanent.

Saudi Arabia Has Backed Qatar Into A Corner
By Ilan Berman, The National Interest, June 8, 2017

To say that this has been a bad week for Qatar would be an understatement.

Over the weekend, five separate Arab states (Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt) cut their ties to the Gulf kingdom, citing as causes its extensive support for Islamic extremist groups and its cozy relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran. The rupture takes the form of a cessation of air travel, a closure of borders, and a call those countries' citizens and businesses to vacate the country.


Latest In-House Bulletins

Russia Reform Monitor - No. 2138
June 20, 2017

Moscow, Ankara normalize ties;
No compromise with Russia’s truckers

Iran Democracy Monitor - No. 175
June 16, 2017

ISIS targets the Islamic Republic;
Iran's war on dance;
A helping hand from Moscow
Why Israel fears Iran's role in Syria

China Reform Monitor - No. 1288
June 15, 2017

Xinjiang residents forced to submit DNA samples;
China, ASEAN reach Code of Conduct "framework"

Russia Reform Monitor - No. 2137
June 15, 2017

Moscow versus the World Wide Web, again;
ore rights for the FSB, less rights for Russians

China Reform Monitor - No. 1287
June 14, 2017

Tight security planned for Xi's trip to Hong Kong;
Chinese copper mine project in Afghanistan still on hold


Latest Policy Papers

Iran Strategy Brief No. 8: Iranian Ideology after the Nuclear Deal
By James S. Robbins , January 11, 2017

The Obama administration’s Iran policy has been driven by the conviction that reaching a deal with Iran over its nuclear weapons program would constitute a historic diplomatic breakthrough, lead to a fundamental transformation in U.S.-Iranian relations, and prompt significant changes in the Islamic Republic’s international behavior. This view was apparently based on a belief that American opposition to Iran’s policies played a critical role in perpetuating Tehran’s destabilizing activities, and that pursuing a rapprochement with the Islamic Republic could consequently lead to more moderate policies.