Analysis

Doubts cast by US President Donald J. Trump about the future of the nuclear deal with Iran, US sanctions that have restricted access to foreign financing, and a tight budget have hampered the Islamic Republic’s ability to secure significant investments in renewable energy.

International banks have been reluctant to finance new energy projects in Iran as a result of Trump’s criticism of the nuclear deal that was reached between Iran, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Russia, China, and the United States in 2015. This reluctance is compounded by the fact that numerous Iranian energy companies are supervised by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which is subject to US sanctions.
As expected, US President Donald J. Trump on October 13 announced that he will not certify Iran’s compliance with the terms of a multilateral nuclear deal, accusing the Islamic Republic of “not living up to the spirit” of the agreement.

While Trump did not take the United States out of the deal, he asserted the right to do so and warned that he would if the US Congress does not make amendments to the agreement.

At the top of the list of amendments Trump would like is for Congress to address the issue of the “sunset clauses” in the deal. These clauses lift certain restrictions placed on Iran ten to fifteen years after the agreement took effect in January of 2016. However, even at that time, Iran would be prohibited from developing a nuclear weapon and be subjected to intrusive inspections.

Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, and China) and Germany struck the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), in 2015.
Turkmenistan must invest in new infrastructure to export its vast energy resources if it is to become a substantial player in the global energy market. Achieving this objective would reduce Turkey and the European Union (EU)’s dependence on Russian gas.

Turkmenistan boasts the sixth-largest natural gas reserves in the world, an estimated 617 trillion cubic feet (tcf), along with an estimated 600 million barrels of proven oil reserves. However, despite its vast energy resources, the Central Asian nation has thus far failed to become a major energy player. There are several potential pipeline interconnections that could help Turkmenistan achieve this status, yet none are without political complications.

Through the proposed Trans-Caspian gas pipeline, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan could export gas across the Caspian Sea through Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey to Europe, circumventing Russia and Iran. While this is considered a natural eastward extension of the existing Southern Gas Corridor, it is strongly opposed by Russia and Iran as it may threaten their energy dominance.
US President Donald J. Trump’s new strategy for Afghanistan effectively puts the onus on Pakistan to end its support for terrorists.

If this strategy is to succeed, the United States must “adopt a very serious policy toward Pakistan,” said C. Christine Fair, the provost’s distinguished associate professor in the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University.

In an August 21 speech, Trump said Washington could “no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organizations.”

“We have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars at the same time they are housing the very terrorists that we are fighting ... that will have to change,” Trump added.
US President Donald J. Trump should have stuck to his original line of questioning of his national security team before sharing his new “strategy” on Afghanistan and South Asia: what outcome are we seeking, and how will we get there?

Trump’s August 21 speech, in which he outlined his policy on Afghanistan, exemplified the truth of Lewis Carroll’s quotation from Alice in Wonderland: “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.”

Long on assertions, but short on specifics, Trump’s speech failed to lay out a clear roadmap to “victory” that is based on history and regional ground realities. Indeed, Trump did not identify any benchmarks for actions to be taken by Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Russia, or even the United States.

US president’s policy will send a clear message to the region, said Atlantic Council’s James B. Cunningham

US President Donald J. Trump’s approach to Afghanistan—marked by an indefinite US troop presence—sends a clear signal of the United States’ commitment to ending the war in that country, said James B. Cunningham, a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council.

“This is the first time that it is clear that the United States and its international partners are in this for the long term, and that we are going to make our future decisions based on events that are happening on the ground and in the region and not against a timeline,” he said.

Trump’s August 21 speech, in which he outlined his policy on Afghanistan, also sends an important message to Pakistan, which, by providing safe haven to terrorist groups like the Taliban and the Haqqani Network, has been an impediment to ending the nearly sixteen-year-old war in Afghanistan, said Cunningham.

“One of the things that has impeded the effort to get Pakistan to act has been Pakistan’s own doubts about what the American goals and commitments are in the longer term. Now that the president has spoken to that that should be the basis for approaching them with a different set of choices,” he said.
On the eve of US President Donald J. Trump’s first meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Washington on June 26, the US State Department approved the sale of twenty-two Sea Guardian Unmanned Aerial System drones to India. This prospective purchase of drones manufactured by General Atomics marks the first of its kind from the United States by a country that is not a member of NATO. General Atomics (GA) and its affiliated companies now constitute one of the world's leading resources for high-technology systems ranging from the nuclear fuel cycle to electromagnetic systems, remotely operated surveillance aircraft, airborne sensors, and advanced electronic, wireless and laser technologies.

Both governments will need to finalize the terms and conditions of this foreign military sale.
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s ouster by the supreme court is a rare example of a country’s leader being held accountable for corruption, but it has also created the possibility of instability in this South Asian nation that is a vital partner in the United States’ counterterrorism efforts.

On July 28, Pakistan’s supreme court disqualified Sharif ruling that he had been dishonest by not disclosing earnings from a Dubai-based company in his nomination papers filed at the time of the 2013 general election. The court recommended corruption cases be filed against Sharif, his daughter, Maryam Nawaz; his son-in-law, Capt. Muhammad Safdar; his two sons Hassan and Hussain; and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar.
Russia has decisively expanded its global footprint in a way that analysts say challenges the West and will force US President Donald J. Trump to rethink his “America First” strategy.

This challenge extends well beyond Russia’s neighborhood—Ukraine, Georgia, and the Baltic States—to Syria, Libya, and even Afghanistan. Western governments and intelligence agencies have also accused Russia of meddling in elections in the United States and Europe.

John E. Herbst, director of the Atlantic Council’s Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center, said Russian President Vladimir Putin is “pursuing a clear revisionist agenda designed to change the post-Cold War order in Eurasia; permit Moscow to establish a clear sphere of influence in the post-Soviet space; weaken NATO and the EU; weaken the transatlantic relationship; diminish American prestige and power; and project Russian power globally.”

With this as a backdrop, Trump and Putin will meet on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, on July 7. The meeting takes place amid investigations by a special prosecutor and congressional committees into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.
A resolution to the diplomatic fallout between Qatar and other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries will only come from the nations themselves, until which time the United States must avoid being dragged into the fray, according to an Atlantic Council analyst.

Solutions “lie in the region,” and will only come about “when all… sides are tired of fighting” each other, said Amir Handjani, a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center. Meanwhile, the United States, navigating between allies on both sides of the conflict, must avoid being “caught in the firefight.”

Handjani joined Rachel Ansley, editorial assistant at the Atlantic Council, for a Facebook Live interview on June 14 to explain the implications of the rising tensions between Qatar and other GCC countries.


    

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