The big picture

China-Iran deal envisions massive investments from Beijing

Will China rely place a $400 billion bet?

Jul 13, 2020 - World
Iran's proxies in the Middle East

Iran could likely use one of its many proxies to strike American military assets.

Jan 18, 2020 - World
Where U.S. troops and military assets are deployed in the Middle East

Between 60,000 and 70,000 U.S. troops are in the Middle East.

Updated Jan 8, 2020 - World
How Iran's disinformation threat differs from Russia

"This style is extremely different than Russia."

Jan 7, 2020 - Technology
UN arms embargo on Iran expires as world ignores U.S. "snapback" claims

The expiration of the arms embargo will allow Iran to buy advanced weapons systems.

Oct 18, 2020 - World
U.S. places massive sanctions on Iranian financial sector

They could blow apart the international remnants of the country's 2015 nuclear deal.

Oct 8, 2020 - World

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Expert Voices

Will Iran’s past become prologue for Nagorno-Karabakh?

Rouhani speaks on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Photo: Iranian Presidency Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is calling for “stability” and an “end” to the current fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan — but should the conflict between its northern neighbors escalate, Tehran may well deepen its involvement.

What to watch: Iran's recent history — specifically the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988) — provides a model of how that escalation might happen.

Oct 4, 2020 - World

U.S. ambassador to Israel: Biden's Iran policy will be bad for Israel and Gulf states

David Friedman. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said in an interview with an Emirati website that a Biden victory in the November presidential election will lead to a shift in U.S. policy toward Iran that will be bad for Israel and the Gulf countries.

Why it matters: Friedman is a political appointee who is very close to President Trump after serving as his lawyer for many years. In the 2016 campaign, Friedman was leading the Trump campaign in Israel and in the U.S. Jewish community. Still, it's very unusual for a U.S. ambassador to weigh in on U.S. domestic politics during an election campaign. 

Sep 30, 2020 - World

Bipartisan senators ask Trump administration not to close U.S. Embassy in Baghdad

Sens. Mitt Romney and Chris Murphy in the Capitol in 2019. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) issued a statement Wednesday responding to reports that the Trump administration is planning to close the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and calling on the State Department to reconsider.

Why it matters: The bipartisan call comes amid alleged threats from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to close the embassy within weeks if Iraqi leaders do not prevent Iranian-backed militia groups from continuing to launch attacks at the massive, heavily fortified compound, the New York Times reports.

The hacking of Iran's hackers

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

An Iranian cyber operations front organization that’s a target of new U.S. sanctions was itself the victim of an attack that looted its own hacking tools and dumped them on the internet two years ago.

Driving the news: Last week, amid increasing tensions between Washington and Tehran, the Treasury Department announced major new Iran-related sanctions targeting cyber operators working for Iranian intelligence. The sanctions targeted 45 individuals affiliated with Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS), Tehran’s main civilian intelligence agency.

Dave Lawler, author of World
Sep 22, 2020 - World

Trump and Xi to give dueling speeches Tuesday at UN General Assembly

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

President Trump and China’s Xi Jinping will address the UN General Assembly just minutes apart on Tuesday morning — with Russia’s Vladimir Putin following soon thereafter.

The big picture: Trump has promised a “strong message on China.” Xi, meanwhile, is expected to laud global cooperation — with the clear implication that it can be led from Beijing.

Sep 21, 2020 - World

Trump announces new Iran sanctions in effort to maintain international arms embargo

Photo: Anna Moneymaker-Pool/Getty Images

President Trump signed an executive order on Monday that would impose sanctions on any person or entity that contributes to the supply, sale, or transfer of conventional arms to or from Iran or is engaged in providing training and financial support related to those weapons.

Why it matters: The executive order is the first step by the Trump administration to put teeth into its claim that international sanctions on Iran were restored over the weekend, one month after the U.S. initiated the "snapback" process under a United Nations Security Council resolution.

Sep 20, 2020 - World

European countries say U.S. has no authority to reimpose Iran sanctions

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Photo: Laszlo Balogh/Getty images

The U.S. has no authority to reimpose sanctions lifted in accordance with the Iran nuclear agreement after President Trump pulled out of the deal in 2018, France, Germany and the United Kingdom wrote in a joint statement Sunday.

Why it matters: The U.S. announced it will reimpose sanctions and an arms embargo against Iran as part of the Trump administration's "maximum pressure" campaign against the Islamic Republic, which it has accused of financing terrorism and other destabilizing activities across the Middle East.

Updated Sep 15, 2020 - World

Trump: U.S. will respond "1,000 times greater" to any attack by Iran

President Trump during a Monday campaign event in Henderson, Nevada. Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

President Trump responded late Monday to reports that Iran plans to avenge the January killing in an American airstrike of a top general, Gen. Qasem Soleimani.

What he's saying: "Any attack by Iran, in any form, against the United States will be met with an attack on Iran that will be 1,000 times greater in magnitude!" Trump tweeted.

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