ESADEgeo Daily Digest, 23/07/2018

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Foreign Affairs – Dina Esfandiary & Ariane M. Tabatabai / Will China undermine Trump’s Iran strategy?

  • For the better part of two decades, Iran’s leadership has been hedging against international isolation by developing deeper ties with China and Russia. China has announced it will likely continue importing oil from Iran, even after the US moves to cut down Iranian oil sales down to zero by November.
  • China’s efforts to become less dependent on the US dollar by using the yuan to pay for oil imports are intended to create a bulwark against US economic pressure. This means that Chinese-Iranian economic ties and trade will likely continue, even as the Trump administration levies new sanctions.
  • China will also play a significant role in ensuring that the provisions of the Iran nuclear deal continue to be implemented. With Washington out of the equation, Beijing is now in the driver’s seat on the redesign of a key nuclear facility, the Arak Heavy Water Reactor. It is also poised to complete two nuclear reactors in Iran in the years to come.
  • China’s willingness to continue trading with Iran will stymie US-led efforts to isolate the country and make sanctions less effective than they were in the past. In the long run, this will greatly diminish US efforts to forge a new deal.
  • BBC / Trump and Iran’s Rouhani trade angry threats

Financial Times – Anne-Marie Slaughter / Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin want to create a new world order

  • Putin supporters in Russia and Trump supporters in the US are ideological allies, working together to elect like-minded parties across Europe and to support leaders, from Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel to Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines, who embrace the same values and methods.
  • Trump and Putin support a return to an era of unfettered state sovereignty. They would dismantle international and supranational organizations of all kinds and return to multipolar “Great Power” politics, in which alliances shift and are transactional.
  • The response to Trump and Putin has to be more than defending the status quo. We must begin sketching an affirmative counter-vision of state and non-state institutions that empower their members more than they constrain them and solve problems effectively together.

Al-Monitor – Maxim A. Suchkov / Moscow steadily promoting its ‘Helsinki agenda’ in Syria

  • In the wake of the Helsinki Summit between Trump and Putin, Moscow has made a series of moves regarding the situation in Syria aimed at reassuring allies and delivering on guarantees made to each: security for Israel, cooperation with Iran and engagement with the West.
  • After a major victory over opposition militants in the south who have agreed to surrender terms, President Bashar al-Assad is close to recovering control of the Syrian border with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
  • Russia is moving steadily toward gradual implementation of its vision for the Golan Heights, while conveying to Iran that these policies are the least painful solutions to the interests of the Islamic Republic when measured against disincentives of a larger regional war.
  • In parallel, a new meeting between the heads of Russia, Iran and Turkey is being prepared. The trilateral summit will most likely occur at the end of the summer or in early fall. This will be the third meeting between Putin, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The Economist / The idea of Eurasia is once again the subject of geopolitics

  • The Chinese efforts to create infrastructure links with Europe are only the most notable of many modernizing impulses that are beginning to mesh Eurasia into something resembling a whole.
  • The most original case for Eurasia having new meaning is made by Robert Kaplan in his new book, “The Return of Marco Polo’s World”. Kaplan argues that the interplay of globalization, technology and geography is leading “the Eurasian supercontinent to become…one fluid and comprehensible unit. Eurasia simply has meaning in the way that it didn’t used to.”
  • Kaplan goes on to argue that, in a land mass historically dominated by China, Russia, Persia (modern-day Iran) and Turkey, a half-hidden tradition of empire is striking back. Nowhere is that more evident than with China and its Belt and Road Initiative.
  • Eurasia, according to Kaplan, will prove a curious mix of connectivity and anarchy. The Chinese and Russian empires are themselves vulnerable to groups empowered by communications.
  • In short, Kaplan’s book depicts a new medievalism—a world in which empires, not nation-states hold, sway, and where local identities and grievances breed instability and unrest.

The selected pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Javier Solana and ESADEgeo. The summaries above may include word-for-word excerpts from their respective pieces.

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