Key Points

The importers of Iranian petrochemicals continue to include both U.S. allies as well as rivals. Countries that share a land border with Iran – including Turkey, Pakistan, Iraq, and Afghanistan – remain among its best customers; so do two Persian Gulf states – the UAE and Oman – that share maritime borders. This geographical proximity means that Tehran could easily smuggle payments back home in the form of either foreign currency or precious metals. Curbing Iran’s petrochemical exports will require intense negotiation with countries that are prepared to find new suppliers. An aggressive use of sanctions and other punitive measures may be needed for those who refuse to comply.

Read Article on Tehran Exports Its Petrochemical Products Despite Sanctions

Khalilzad claims that a “draft” agreement is in place with the Taliban on two key issues: the US withdrawal and the Taliban preventing Afghanistan from being used by terrorist groups to attack other countries. Mujahid, in a statement released on March 3, said that “no understanding has so far been reached about any agreement or document.” For the past two decades, the Taliban has refused to denounce al Qaeda, its key ally, and is unlikely to do so as it senses US desperation to withdraw.

Read Article on Doha talks postponed after Taliban objects to presence of Afghan officials

Although the current political climate in the United States makes additional financial support to Europe challenging, it is not altogether impossible. U.S. President Donald Trump has signaled that exporting gas to Europe is a priority, and the administration should work with European partners to operationalize that goal and thwart Moscow’s Middle East energy land bridge. Europe’s energy security and America’s influence in the Middle East are too important to cede to Russia.

Read Article on

It is time for the Trump administration to get tough on Saudi Arabia’s human rights record. If the Trump administration fails to check Riyadh’s destabilizing behavior, it risks implicitly encouraging the kingdom to continue its crackdown, thereby further weakening U.S.-Saudi ties. The long-term viability of the U.S.-Saudi partnership depends on the kingdom’s readiness to show greater concern for the rights of its own citizens.

Read Article on

Washington should closely watch the expanding trade relations between Tehran and Muscat. If Oman becomes a center for proliferation and illicit trade, this would undermine U.S. policy towards Iran. However, the U.S. also has strong relations with Oman, and neither is interested in seeing that relationship waiver. Thus, Washington should make clear to Muscat that undermining U.S. sanctions could hurt bilateral relations.

Read Article on