South Asia Center

  • New Wave of Sanctions Spurs Iranian Political Repositioning

    While ordinary Iranians struggle to find imported medicine and buy basic foods due to re-imposed sanctions, the political debate inside the Islamic Republic is anything but static.

    As announced, the new wave of US secondary sanctions came into force on November 5. This came after unsuccessful efforts by Europe to dissuade President Donald Trump from unilaterally quitting the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and despite efforts to persuade European countries to retain...

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  • Why Iran Won’t Succumb to Trump’s Sanctions

    The Trump administration has put into place a punishing new wave of sanctions against Iran that targets critical components of the Iranian economy from banks to energy, shipping and insurance.

    From the start of his administration, President Donald Trump has insisted that he can coerce Iran into reaching a “better deal” than the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that would also address Tehran’s military intervention and support of proxies in the Arab world as well as its ballistic missile program. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has gone further, issuing a dozen demands that resemble an ultimatum calling for capitulation rather than preconditions for negotiations. This much is clear: The Trump administration has decided to wage economic war on Iran to try to bring it to heel.

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  • Chinese Infrastructure Project Drives Pakistan Further into Debt

    Islamabad seeks yet another IMF bailout

    Pakistan, faced with a mounting debt in part due to a multibillion-dollar infrastructure project with China, has turned to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for yet another bailout. The IMF, however, has made clear that a loan would be contingent on Pakistan being completely transparent about its debts to China; the United States—one of the largest stakeholders in the IMF—has said that Pakistan must not use the loan to repay China.

    The $60-billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a series of extravagant infrastructure projects intended to increase regional connectivity. CPEC is part of China’s trillion-dollar Belt and Road...

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  • How Iran Will Cope With US Sanctions

    The Trump Administration’s second wave of sanctions against Iran went into effect earlier this month, directed against Iran’s vital oil and petrochemical sector, its Central Bank, and other financial institutions. However, Washington’s diplomatic isolation as a result of its unilateral withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and its desire to mitigate oil prices softened some of the intended negative impact on Iran, which is already employing a variety of coping mechanisms.

    The Atlantic Council’s Future of Iran Initiative detailed these mechanisms in a new issue brief, How Iran Will Cope with US Sanctions, co-authored by Holly Dagres, a nonresident fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center, and Barbara Slavin, director of the Future of Iran Initiative. The report highlights a number of ways Iran has used in the past to circumvent previous sanctions...

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  • US Treasury Identifies Channels Iran Has Used to Circumvent Sanctions

    On November 5th, Ahmad Amirabadi, a member of the Iranian parliamentary board of directors, posted an exasperated tweet: “Almost all the individuals and entities that were active in bypassing the previous [US] sanctions [during the Obama administration] are included [in the new list of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons]. The question is, how this information has fallen in enemy’s hands. The security forces should investigate.”


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  • Reza Pahlavi: A Democratic Alternative for Iran?

    As a new round of crushing US sanctions against Iran goes into effect and the Iranian people’s frustration with their country’s economic and political situation grows, various foreign-based groups calling for the overthrow of the Islamic Republic have ratcheted up their rhetoric and activities. At the center of credible opposition forces in exile sits Reza Pahlavi, the last heir apparent to the throne of the Iranian monarchy.

    Since his forced exile began in the United States following the 1979 Islamic Revolution that ousted his father, the well-spoken 58-year-old Pahlavi has consistently used his profile to oppose the policies and actions of the Islamic Republic. Though his message has evolved through the years, Pahlavi has most notably been calling for a referendum through which the Iranian people could decide their form of government within a secular democratic context.

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  • How Iran Will Cope With US Sanctions

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    As a second and more punishing wave of US sanctions hits Iran, the Islamic Republic is dusting off an old playbook for circumventing such penalties and maintaining a crucial level of oil exports and other trade. A new issue brief by Holly Dagres and Barbara Slavin -- How Iran Will Cope with US Sanctions – discusses the myriad techniques Iran developed before negotiating the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, when sanctions had wider international support. The Islamic Republic is already redeploying many of these techniques, from turning off tracking devices on tankers to co-mingling oil...

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  • How Will the Outcome of the Midterms Affect Trump's Policy Options?

    Democrats captured the House of Representatives while Republicans strengthened their Senate majority in the US midterm elections on November 6.

    We asked our analysts what they believe are the policy implications of this outcome. Here’s what they had to say*:

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  • Regional Rivalries Threaten Iran-Pakistan Relations

    A recent abduction of border security forces along the Iran-Pakistan border in southeastern Sistan and Baluchistan province is testing Iran-Pakistan relations.

    Iran has suggested that Saudi Arabia was behind the abduction, which it believes was aimed at sabotaging its relationship with Islamabad. Pakistan needs Saudi money more than ever as it struggles economically. So just how resilient are Iran-Pakistan ties?

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  • Gopalaswamy Quoted in AP on China and India Closely Watching Sri Lankan Crisis

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