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“It is vital for American interests in Asia to have India as an economic and strategic ally,” writes Bharath Gopalaswamy and former Minister Manish Tewari in “Transforming India from a Balancing to Leading Power,” a new brief from the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center.

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In the aftermath of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), a major question has been whether the landmark nuclear deal would have any impact on Iran’s other policies, including its record on human rights. While US President Barack Obama’s administration stressed that in negotiating the JCPOA its focus was on preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons, there was an unstated hope that Iran’s reintegration into the global economy as a result of the deal would also promote a less repressive Islamic Republic.


Political mistrust in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is high and this, in turn, has historically led to shortsighted economic policies and disjointed coordination. As India asserts itself as a global economic player, its leadership, specifically in SAARC, may lead to the political successes necessary to ensure broader connectivity and cooperation in the region. In this new issue brief, “Cooperation in South Asia: The Case for Redefining Alliances,” Dr. Manjari Chatterjee Miller and Dr. Bharath Gopalaswamy re-examine SAARC and point to realignments within SAARC that may boost the effectiveness of the often-times ineffective body.


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On January 16, 2016, the International Atomic Energy Agency verified that Iran had implemented key measures under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. As a result, nuclear-related sanctions previously imposed by the United Nations, the European Union, and the United States were lifted. The removal of these sanctions opens up a wide range of possibilities for investment in and trade with Iran.
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It is the core purpose of the Atlantic Council to foster bipartisan support for policies that promote the security of the United States and the transatlantic community. The signatories of this piece have either served in Afghanistan, been involved in the formation of US policy in government, or otherwise devoted considerable time to Afghan affairs. They have come together to register a broad, bipartisan consensus in support of certain principles that they believe should guide policy formation and decision-making on Afghanistan during the remainder of the Obama administration and the first year of a new administration, of whichever party. It is critical that the current administration prepare the path for the next. A new president will come into office facing a wave of instability in the Islamic world and the threat from violent extremism, which stretches from Asia through the Middle East to Africa. This will continue to pose a considerable challenge and danger to American interests abroad, and to the homeland. The signatories support the continued US engagement required to protect American interests and increase the possibilities for Afghan success.
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Concerns in the United States and its traditional Middle Eastern allies about Iran's expanding regional role in the aftermath of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), reached between Iran and the P5+1 on July 14, 2015, fail to take into consideration a significant debate within the Iranian policy elite. In "Iran Debates Its Regional Role," University of Tehran Professor Nasser Hadian dispels commonly held myths about Iran and its regional goals, and presents a native perspective of Iran's threat calculations and the resulting spectrum of policy perspectives.
If ever a turning point seemed inevitable in Pakistan's militia policy, it was in the aftermath of the Peshawar school massacre in December 2014. Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) killed 152 people, 133 of them children, in the bloodiest terrorist attack in Pakistan's history. The carnage sparked an unprecedented national dialogue about the costs and contradictions of the Pakistani political and military establishment's reliance on violent proxies, such as the Afghan Taliban (from which the TTP originates), for security.
As negotiations resume today in Vienna between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany, the Atlantic Council's Iran Task Force introduces two papers that outline options for unwinding US and European sanctions against Iran—a key element of any long-term agreement curbing Iran’s nuclear program. 

Easing US Sanctions on Iran,” by Kenneth Katzman of the Congressional Research Service, examines actions the United States could take to wind down sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic beginning with the 1979 revolution and ratcheted up over the past decade as a means to deter the development of Iran’s nuclear program.

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A report released today by the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center argues that heavy military spending in India and Pakistan has in fact been detrimental to the citizens of both countries in terms of security and economic growth, and calls on leaders to reinvest in trade and confidence building.

In India and Pakistan: The Opportunity Cost of Conflict, Atlantic Council South Asia Center Director Shuja Nawaz and Nonresident Senior Fellow Mohan Guruswamy explain how high defense spending and low economic integration into South Asia’s regional economy have come at the expense of those living in poverty. Although many now favor rapprochement, Nawaz and Guruswamy argue that unless both sides begin a dialogue on economic and military relations, these issues will only worsen.

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Cautious Domestic Reforms and Nuclear Breakthrough

After eight turbulent years during which conservatives monopolized Iranian politics, the election of centrist cleric Hassan Rouhani on June 14, 2013, marked a new chapter in post-revolutionary Iranian politics. In the latest Iran Task Force issue brief, "Rouhani’s First One Hundred Days: Cautious Domestic Reforms and Nuclear Breakthrough," authors Yasmin Alem and Barbara Slavin examine Rouhani's policies through the recent nuclear deal, what the accord signals for the future of comprehensive negotiations, and what steps the United States can take to encourage more centrist policies in Iran.

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