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AssessmentsNov 27, 2020 | 17:44 GMT
IAEA inspectors (2nd, 3rd L) and Iranian technicians disconnect the connections between the twin cascades for 20 percent uranium production at nuclear power plant of Natanz, Iran, on Jan., 20, 2014.
Fallout From the Killing of a High-Level Iranian Nuclear Scientist
The assassination of Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh will not materially impact Iran's nuclear program, but the killing is a sign that the United States and Israel are accelerating their covert strategy against Iran in the waning days of the Trump administration. Iran will respond in some form, although it will probably refrain from a hasty response that could transform the covert war with Israel and the United States on Iranian soil into an overt one.
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On SecurityMay 19, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
An image of the Islamic State flag overlays a map of Iraq.
Rumblings of an Islamic State Resurgence in Iraq
The Islamic State may have faded from international headlines, but the group remains a potent threat capable of returning with force in its core territory. Since beginning its initial resurgence in Iraq during 2011, the Islamic State has morphed from a local insurgent group to a global movement, with branches that have continued to launch attacks in areas ranging from West Africa to Afghanistan. And without sustained pressure from its adversaries, including the United States and Iraq, the group is well-positioned to continue its resurgence in its core territory -- a development with potentially grave global consequences.
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SnapshotsMar 23, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
As Attacks in Iraq Increase, U.S.-Led Coalition Forces Retreat
On March 19, the official Iraqi Security Media Cell announced via Twitter that Iraq's security forces had taken over the al Qaim military base, which formerly housed U.S.-led coalition forces against the Islamic State. The seizure comes just three days after the U.S. military announced it was repositioning its forces from three of the eight bases currently housing American troops in the country, including al Qaim. The United Kingdom and Denmark have also announced that they would be drawing down their forces from the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq.  The repositioning of Western and international forces in Iraq is in part a response to the growing threat posed by Iran-backed militia forces. These militias -- which have become a formal component of the Iraqi state's security forces -- have increased the tempo of attacks on bases housing U.S.-led coalition forces in recent months, particularly over the last week. But while intended to help
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SnapshotsMar 11, 2020 | 21:49 GMT
Iraq: Rocket Attack Kills 2 U.S. Soldiers, Briton; Increased Tensions Likely
A barrage of rockets killed two American soldiers and one British servicemember while injuring at least 11 more individuals at Taji base in Iraq, just north of Baghdad. No group has claimed credit for the attack, but a U.S. military source implicitly blamed Iranian-backed Iraqi militias. Initial unconfirmed reports indicate the U.S. military responded with airstrikes directed against Iranian-backed Iraqi targets along the Iraq-Syria border. The killing of American troops significantly raises the likelihood of a further military escalation within Iraq, or potentially even Iran, in the coming days.
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AssessmentsMar 5, 2020 | 18:06 GMT
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks in Tehran on Feb. 23, 2020.
What Conservative Control of Iran's Parliament Foretells
Iran's parliamentary elections on Feb. 21 produced a conservative parliament that will support more hard-line policies against the United States. The new parliament will clash with the more moderate administration of President Hassan Rouhani over how tactically to manage the country's economy through the next and final year of Rouhani's term. But on a strategic level, regardless of the election results, Iran's government across the political spectrum is still aligned on the need to implement austere economic policies to help weather sanctions and to continue an aggressive foreign policy against the United States. The sanctions-burdened economy is negatively affecting the lives of Iranians; how it fares over the next year will determine the kind of conservative candidate -- pragmatist, traditional, hard-line or populist -- likely to win Iran's 2021 presidential election.
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AssessmentsFeb 11, 2020 | 10:30 GMT
Employees of PetroChina Southwest Oil & Gasfield Co., a CNPC subsidiary, work at a natural gas purification plant in Suining in southwest China's Sichuan province on Jan. 15, 2020.
In Response to Coronavirus, Russia Will Back Only Modest Action by OPEC+
It is now clear that the impact of the new coronavirus on the world oil market will be substantial, but much uncertainty remains about the total impact on demand in 2020. The most probable scenario is a "sharp but short" hit to demand, but a wider spread could deepen and lengthen the impact. OPEC and other producers will attempt to at least partially mitigate the impact on oil prices, but Russia will likely insist on a cautious approach that does not last long.
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AssessmentsFeb 4, 2020 | 10:30 GMT
Iraqis run for cover during an anti-government demonstration in Baghdad on Jan. 23, 2020. Protests have rocked Iraq since October but recently had abated amid spiraling tensions between the country's key allies, the United States and Iran.
Why Iraq Remains Ripe for a U.S.-Iran Confrontation
In Iraq, a mix of violent militias and volatile politics could provide the spark that sends Iran and the United States spiraling into an armed conflict -- and with it, any remaining shreds of stability in Baghdad. In June, the United States declared that the killing of any U.S. military personnel and other American citizens in Iraq would warrant retaliation. Washington then proved its willingness to enforce that red line in a series of raids and strikes following a rocket attack that killed an American contractor in December. In the aftermath of the Jan. 3 killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, it can be argued that a potential trigger for a full conflict between the two countries was narrowly avoided when an Iranian counterstrike with ballistic missiles didn't kill any U.S. troops in Iraq. But there is no guarantee that a follow-up round of clashes arising from another deadly attack wouldn't
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On GeopoliticsJan 30, 2020 | 09:00 GMT
Construction of a second phase at Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant, part of the Iranian civilian nuclear program, continues.
As the U.S. Squeezes Iran, Europe Is Stuck in the Middle
Tensions between the United States and Iran will almost certainly escalate once again later this year as Iran's nuclear program continues to expand. Iran is likely to continue to be more aggressive on its nuclear policy because of U.S. sanctions despite EU efforts to dissuade Iran from doing so, and if the European Union does not proceed with the dispute resolution mechanism, then the United States may find a way to force sanctions to snap back on its own initiative. It will also exert diplomatic pressure -- backed by threats of punitive measures -- on the E3 to take a harder line against Iran. Iran, however, is unlikely to budge on the U.S. maximum pressure campaign before the November U.S. presidential election. And this creates the potential for a crisis involving a limited military confrontation. 
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AssessmentsJan 24, 2020 | 19:33 GMT
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani addresses parliament in the capital of Tehran on Sept. 3, 2019.
U.S. Pressure Tilts the Political Balance Toward Iran's Hard-liners
As the first parliamentary contest since the United States began ramping up its pressure campaign, Iran's Feb. 21 election will provide a key glimpse into Iranians' mixed feelings about the recent uptick in tensions between Washington and Tehran. On one hand, many Iranians criticize hard-line elements of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) for incidents like the Jan. 8 strike on a Ukrainian passenger jet, which risked further alienating Iran from its allies and, in turn, the global economy. But by highlighting just how hostile U.S.-Iran relations have gotten, the U.S. assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani has also made it clear that President Hassan Rouhani's more moderate approach to Washington's provocations isn't working either. Against the backdrop of renewed U.S. threats, conservative candidates' promises of revenge will likely win out against reformists candidates' promises of negotiation. But even if next month's election results in a more decisively hard-line parliament, Tehran's leaders will still have to reckon with an increasingly
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