Category Archives: Sanctions

India-Russia-United States: A Triangle of Expediency

The relationship between Russia and India is beneficial not just to one party, but to both. Moscow needs New Delhi for revenue and New Delhi needs Moscow for military spare parts.

On the heels of the United States 2+2 strategic dialogue with India, Russian President Vladimir Putin visited India on a three-day trip. The structured 2+2 dialogue was due to take place between the foreign and the defense ministers of both the countries. The External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Sitharaman were to due meet Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Willing to carry out the 6th September 2+2 discourse America invited India to Washington in 2017.  A decision to meet again in the first quarter of 2018 but this was postponed until April. Another unexpected event occurred when Rex Tillerson was fired and the Oval Office was running without a Secretary of State, prior to Mike Pompeo taking office as the new Secretary of State for the US. The 2+2 got further delayed, as 1+2 was not adding up. The following summer was rescheduled for another meeting but the United States cancelled again, this time reasons not explained. As it turned out, Pompeo was visiting North Korea, which gave the North Koreans precedence over the Indians.

New Delhi soon grew skeptical of America providing the defense military equipment to India. President Vladimir Putin arrived in New Delhi to attend the 19th Indo-Russian summit. The Kremlin is clear that it is open for business without sanctions. During the three-day visit to India, $5 billion deal was signed according to which, Russia would sell the prized S-400 Triumph missile system to India, which it needed for its air defense system. The S-400 missile system can knock and track down any kind of aircraft ranging up to almost 400 kilometers. It can instantly gather information of aircrafts that come under its radar, including the powerful US state of the art, multirole and multi-variant fifth generation F-35 fighter jet. Despite costing $400 million a piece, the truck mounted missiles have also been purchased by Turkey and Saudi Arabia and Qatar are also potential clients for Moscow. Continue reading

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Filed under China, Discussion, India, Pakistan, Politics, Russia, Sanctions, United States

Pakistan’s Place in Iran’s Strategic Thinking: A Talk by Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister

‘The concept of the nation state is in turmoil’ … ‘Iran and Pakistan can reshape the region’ – Watch Video

The invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the events that unfolded in its aftermath transformed Iran from a “rogue” state once part of the so-called “Axis of Evil” to one which is now vastly influential in the volatile affairs of the region. The ongoing conflicts in Syria and Iraq and last summer’s JCPOA have meant that the once menacing image of frowning mullahs burning American, British and Israeli flags has now been replaced by Mohammad Javad Zarif’s famous “smile diplomacy”. The upshot is that the Iranians are no longer considered to be the pariahs of the international community that they once used to be. These days everyone is looking for economic opportunities in Iran and western businesses and banks are keen to interact with its vast markets which were disconnected from the mainstream world economy because of sanctions subsequent to the 1979 Revolution.

During his talk entitled Pakistan’s Place in Iran’s Strategic Thinking at The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) on 12 August 2016, Iran’s deputy foreign minister Dr Seyed Mohammad Kazem Sajjadpour said that Iran has more than a dozen neighbours but he remained unequivocal in his stance that Pakistan was a special country in the eyes of the Iranians. Dr Sajjadpour argued that Pakistan and Iran’s destinies are inextricably linked and that the two large neighbouring countries need to work together to combat security problems in order to neutralise the threat posed by terrorism. Detailed media coverage of our event with the Iranian dignitary can found below (see our earlier posts on Iran here and here and see further coverage here. Continue reading

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Filed under CPEC, Cyber Security, Discussion, Europe, Iran, ISIS, Islam, Pakistan, Pakistan Horizon, Palestine, PIIA, Politics, Sanctions, Syria, The Middle East

‘The Future of Syria’: A Talk by H.E. Ambassador Radwan Loutfi

Everyone has strategic interests in Syria … Syria was enjoying a lifestyle like nowhere else in the Arab world. We were almost free

Syria was once the underlying bedrock of Arab nationalism; it used to be a source of pride for Arab secularists. At least in Arab eyes, it was a bastion of resistance against Israeli tyranny and American imperialism. But these days the country that exerted such significant political and military clout in the bloody Lebanese civil war (1975-1990) is mortally wounded by its own apocalyptic war, nothing short of a Jihād. On 27 November 2015, the Syrian ambassador in Pakistan, HE Radwan Loutfi gave a talk entitled The Future of Syria in the historic library of The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA). The astute diplomat was unforgiving in his denouncement of foreign interests plaguing the survival of his country. But eager to build unity among his fellow Syrians, he explained: “I am Sunni, but I will be the first to protect the shrine of Sayeda Zainab.” Urging world leaders against further warmongering, he called for an immediate ceasefire followed by a strong willed political process “that would leave only Syrians to discuss” and decide the future of their annihilated homeland.

Yet the diplomat explained that a ceasefire in Syria remained “impossible” until the terrorists were rooted out. He also accused Turkey of having trade links with ISIS. His talk comes against the backdrop of the terrorist attacks in Paris, killing 130 and wounding hundreds of others, and the downing of the Russian Metrojet airliner in Egypt causing 224 fatalities. Insofar as military action is concerned, these days an “ISIS first” mentality prevails because its extremists in Raqqa are the “head of the snake” and must, of course, be “crushed”. Despite the rhetoric constantly pouring out of London, Paris and Washington Continue reading

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Filed under Discussion, Drones, Iran, ISIS, Karachi, Pakistan Horizon, Politics, Russia, Sanctions, Syria, The Arab Spring, The Middle East, United States

Iran Nuclear Deal: Challenges and Opportunities

It is not like the Treaty of Versailles 1919 which favoured the victors and victimized the defeated powers. As rightly highlighted by the Foreign Minister of Iran Mohammad Javad Zarif, it is the treaty which provides a win-win solution to end the perennial conflict between the west and Iran. Amid the bloodshed and scourge of war in the Middle East, the major powers and Iran have given a reason to the world to be hopeful for the prospects of peace, progress and prosperity. There is no escaping the fact that the Iran Nuclear Deal is very significant indeed: as the aptly named Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) suggests, the constructive engagement really aims to resolve issues peacefully irrespective of the complexities presented by the circumstances. After the heady days of the Islamic Revolution of 1979, which toppled the pro-American government in Tehran and disarticulated American hegemony in the region, the United States of America and Islamic Republic of Iran came to be at loggerheads.

Equally, the hostage crisis of 1979, the American sponsored invasion of Iran by former Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein, the deplorable Vincennes incident (which caused the death of 290 Iranians) and sweeping sanctions aggravated the situation by adding fuel to the fire. In such volatile circumstances, it was difficult to foresee that the Islamic Republic would extend a hand of co-operation to a country which it calls Great Satan. Nevertheless, the change in the reins of power in Iran’s June 2013 elections, which catapulted the moderate and pragmatic Hassan Rouhani into office, transformed the discourse. Continue reading

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Filed under Congress, Disarmament, Discussion, Energy, Israel, Pakistan Horizon, Politics, Sanctions, The Middle East, United States

Khomeinism Upheld By United Kingdom Supreme Court

تصویر_خمینیIn the run up to making peace with Iran, the UK Supreme Court has opted to appease the Iranians by upholding an entry ban against dissident Iranian politician Mrs Maryam Rajavi.

Lord Carlile of Berriew QC, & Ors, R (on the application of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2014] UKSC 60 (12 November 2014)

The vibrant young Iranian men and women of North London who can be seen driving around waiving posters shouting “Maryam Maryam!” must have been disappointed by this judgment. Like Lord Carlile QC and the Parliamentary claimants, they expected much more from British justice but alas it was not to be. Paradoxically, Lord Sumption JSC’s judgment is more of a victory for the Theocracy in Tehran than it is for the UK: the Mullahs will no doubt be amused that Mrs Maryam Rajavi will remain excluded from addressing meetings in the Palace of Westminster on democracy, human rights and other policy issues relating to Iran. Britain’s interference in Iranian affairs and the murky legacy of Empire remained Lord Sumption’s point of departure – “the passage of time” he said “heals many things” but that in Iran’s case “injured pride can subsist for generations”.

Rajavi has a strange problem. She is someone – a woman with democratic credentials opposing the Ayatollahs, a “dissident Iranian politician, resident in Paris” – who the British establishment ought to greet with open arms. She did visit the UK in 1985, 1990, 1991 and 1996 but since 1997 she has not been permitted to set foot on British soil. It is the position of the British government that Rajavi’s exclusion, pursuant to paragraph 320(6) of the Immigration Rules, would be conducive to the public good for reasons of foreign policy and in light of the need to take a firm stance against terrorism. Continue reading

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Filed under Courts, Disarmament, Discussion, Europe, Immigration, Pakistan Horizon, Politics, Sanctions, UK, United States

Umair Khalil: Iran and the Strait – Prospects and Implications

Consider this question: if you were the policymaker of a country on the verge of an economic catastrophe and involved in a complex political imbroglio with the world’s foremost power, would you attempt to close down ‘the world’s most important oil chokepoint’ (which – according to international law – belongs to no one in particular)? For the sake of peace, personally I would avoid doing so.

I ask the question because Iran has threatened to shut off the Strait of Hormuz, a strategically important shipping passage which links major oil-rich Gulf States to the rest of the world and through which almost one-fifth of the world’s oil passes. According to various analysts, if Iran blocks the Strait entirely, the global oil prices could increase by 50 percent or more in a matter of days. The Iranian decision of obstructing the strategically vital sea route may arise as a result of the latest US sanctions against Iran and mounting European pressure which might lead to the possibility of an oil embargo. Continue reading

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Filed under Discussion, Energy, Iran, Sanctions, Shipping, The Middle East