The Connections between Russia’s Threats to Ukraine and the Nuclear Negotiations with Iran

Jan. 14 2022

As Moscow is building up its forces near the Ukrainian border, its representatives are involved in talks in Vienna over the possible restoration of the 2015 agreement to restrain Iran’s nuclear program—to which Russia is a party. Anna Borshchevskaya explores the link between these two aspects of Vladimir Putin’s policy:

Although Moscow has always preferred a non-nuclear-armed Iran, it does not necessarily share Western goals, methods, or redlines on this issue. . . . Russia has also used its support for sanctions as leverage to extract concessions from the West.

Even when they occur at the same time, Putin’s policy decisions on Ukraine and Iran are better viewed as manifestations of a general anti-Western strategy than as directly connected actions. Hence, Washington should be cautious about how much store it puts in Moscow’s assurances on either front unless they are accompanied by concrete indications of deeper policy shifts.

Years of [nuclear] talks elevated Moscow’s standing as a global power without whom major diplomatic decisions could not be made, bolstering its position as a counterweight to the West . . . . Meanwhile, Russian commercial and defense transactions with Iran appear to have grown since the U.S. withdrawal from the [agreement. According to the Tehran Times, total bilateral trade increased from $1.74 billion in 2018 to $2 billion in 2019. . . . Moreover, Moscow is reportedly poised to sell 32 Su-35 fighter jets to Iran, which would significantly bolster the country’s air force.

Western policymakers may wish to believe that Russia can be helpful on Iran even if it makes harmful moves against Ukraine, but they need to see the bigger picture—Putin’s anti-Western posture has never been limited to Europe.

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Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Iran nuclear deal, Russia, Vladimir Putin, War in Ukraine

The End of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, and the Rise of the Arab-Israeli Coalition

Nov. 30 2022

After analyzing the struggle between the Jewish state and its Arab neighbors since 1949, Dan Schueftan explains the current geopolitical alignment and what it means for Jerusalem:

Using an outdated vocabulary of Middle Eastern affairs, recent relations between Israel and most Arab states are often discussed in terms of peace and normalization. What is happening recently is far more significant than the willingness to live together and overshadow old grievances and animosities. It is about strategic interdependence with a senior Israeli partner. The historic all-Arab coalition against Israel has been replaced by a de-facto Arab-Israeli coalition against the radical forces that threaten them both. Iran is the immediate and outstanding among those radicals, but Erdogan’s Turkey in the eastern Mediterranean, Syria—and, in a different way, its allies in the Muslim Brotherhood—are not very far behind.

For Israel, the result of these new alignments is a transformational change in its regional standing, as well as a major upgrade of its position on the global stage. In the Middle East, Israel can, for the first time, act as a full-fledged regional power. . . . On the international scene, global powers and other states no longer have to weigh the advantages of cooperation with Israel against its prohibitive costs in “the Arab World. . . . By far the most significant effect of this transformation is on the American strategic calculus of its relations with Israel.

In some important ways, then, the “New Middle East” has arrived. Not, of course, in the surreal Shimon Peres vision of regional democracy, peace, and prosperity, but in terms of a balance of power and hard strategic realities that can guardrail a somewhat less unstable and dangerous region, where the radicals are isolated and the others cooperate to keep them at bay.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Abraham Accords, Israel-Arab relations, Middle East, Shimon Peres, U.S.-Israel relationship