2014 is a time for looking backwards and forwards. While the dynamics of the war on terror are still very much in play, the withdrawal from Afghanistan and the re-escalation of violence in Iraq and Libya present an opportune context for sincere reflections on the disastrous consequences of war without borders. Such inquiry needs to look forward too, to the implications of the current administration’s ‘war-lite’ and the unstoppable proliferation of remote control technologies.
If Iran and the P5+1 succeed in negotiating a robust agreement on the nuclear issue, then Iran will be less preoccupied with rebalancing its relationship with antagonistic western powers and its role in the Middle East and the wider region has scope for developing in many new directions. This briefing looks ahead to a post-agreement environment and assesses where Iran might chose to concentrate its resources. A key question is whether it will work to build better links with the US and selected European states or whether it will be more interested in the BRIC and other states, not least Turkey. Its choice will be influenced strongly by domestic politics and the urgent need for a more stable region.
The recent announcement that the so-called Geneva II conference would finally convene on 22 January 2014 is overdue but good news. What are the chances of it bringing peace? With an interim deal signed on Iran’s nuclear programme, Richard Reeve discusses what chance the great powers, Middle Eastern diplomats and the mediators of Geneva have as they turn their attention to ending the war in Syria.