Analysis & Commentary

Policy Briefs


16th October 2017 - FDD Policy Brief

Removing Sanctions While Retaining Leverage in Sudan

Alex Entz

Though President Trump’s decision to decertify the Iran Deal largely dominated headlines last week, it was not the administration’s only major foreign policy action. Last Thursday, the Trump administration lifted sanctions on over 200 Sudanese entities, a decision based in part on the...

11th October 2017 - FDD Policy Brief

Worst Crisis in Decades for Turkey and U.S.

Merve Tahiroglu

The U.S. and Turkey suspended visa services for each other’s citizens this weekend. The crisis represents the most serious deterioration of bilateral ties in the last half-century – since the U.S. arms embargo against Turkey after the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in the 1970s.

6th October 2017 - FDD Policy Brief

Diplomatic Spat Erupts Between Ankara and U.S. Over Arrest

Merve Tahiroglu

A controversy erupted this week between Washington and Ankara over Turkey’s arrest of a U.S. consulate employee in Istanbul. The employee, a Turkish national identified only by the initials M.T., was arrested on charges of espionage and attempts to “destroy” the constitutional order...

5th October 2017 - FDD Policy Brief

Iran’s GDP Growth Back to the Normal Level

Saeed Ghasseminejad

Iran’s Parliament Research Center (PRC), an official arm of the country’s legislature, or majlis, has forecast the country’s GDP growth to be 3.7 percent for the Persian year 1396, which runs from March 2017 to March 2018.

5th October 2017 - FDD Policy Brief

Fearing an Independent Kurdistan, Erdogan Travels to Tehran

Behnam Ben Taleblu, Merve Tahiroglu

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan traveled to Iran on Wednesday for meetings with the country’s supreme leader, president, and other regime officials.

4th October 2017 - FDD Policy Brief

Time to Designate Hezbollah as a Transnational Criminal Organization

Emanuele Ottolenghi

Intended to fight transnational organized crime, Executive Orders 13581 and 13773 lay out a clear policy that identifies the convergence between terror finance networks and transnational organized crime as a critical threat to our national security. Regardless, neither President Trump nor...

29th September 2017 - FDD Policy Brief

Referendum Triggers Turkish Vitriol against Kurds – and Jews

Aykan Erdemir

Iraqi Kurds voted overwhelmingly on Monday in favor of a referendum on independence for the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and neighboring disputed territories. The Turkish government, in close coordination with Iran and Iraq, has been a vocal opponent of Kurdish independence.

27th September 2017 - FDD Policy Brief

Preventing a “Fait Accompli” in Syria

David Adesnik

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with representatives of 17 like-minded nations to discuss the future of Syria last week on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. Following the meeting, Ambassador David Satterfield, acting assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, said...

20th September 2017 - FDD Policy Brief

Regulators Struggling to Handle Illicit Finance Risks of Fintech Innovation

Yaya J. Fanusie

Earlier this month, China’s financial authorities issued a ban on Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), a crowdfunding method through which business ventures raise capital by selling newly-created cryptocurrencies to the public.

20th September 2017 - FDD Policy Brief

Iran Is Not in ‘Technical Compliance’ with the JCPOA

Tzvi Kahn

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson declared on Sunday that Iran is in “technical compliance” with the 2015 nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

19th September 2017 - FDD Policy Brief

Israel Completes Largest Exercise in 20 Years, Setting Sights on Hezbollah

Alexandra N. Gutowski

Last Thursday, the Israel Defense Force (IDF) concluded its largest military exercise in nearly two decades. Operation Light of the Grain (“Or Hadagan”) simulated a Hezbollah offensive against Israel’s northern border.

18th September 2017 - FDD Policy Brief

Rouhani Will Seek to Divide the West at the UN General Assembly

Behnam Ben Taleblu

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will deliver his fifth annual address to the UN General Assembly (UNGA) this Wednesday. Rouhani is likely to emphasize two related themes that are key to the Iranian strategy of dividing the United States from its partners in Europe with regard to addressing...

15th September 2017 - FDD Policy Brief

Turkish Officials Charged in Iran Sanctions-Busting Case

Aykan Erdemir

U.S. authorities last week charged Turkey’s former economy minister with conspiring to evade sanctions against Iran. The fourth superseding indictment in a case that initially involved Iranian-Turkish gold trader Reza Zarrab and two Iranian accomplices has brought the total number of...

14th September 2017 - FDD Policy Brief

IAEA Inspections in Iran under the JCPOA

Olli Heinonen

The IAEA remains an important organization dedicated to preventing nuclear proliferation. Leveraging its inspectorate’s unique authority to access people, places, and facilities will be indispensable to the full and meaningful implementation of the JCPOA.

8th September 2017 - FDD Policy Brief

The Assad Regime’s Chemical Weapons Problem

David Adesnik

Israeli warplanes struck a suspected chemical weapons facility yesterday morning in northwest Syria. Local observers said the airstrikes also targeted an adjacent military site where Iranian and Hezbollah personnel had previously been spotted.

1st September 2017 - FDD Policy Brief

Turkish Public Lender Joins Erdogan’s Washington Lobbying Spree

Aykan Erdemir, Merve Tahiroglu

Turkey’s second-largest public lender Halkbank has reportedly signed a $1.5-million deal with Ballard Partners, a U.S. lobbying firm that already represents the Turkish government.

25th August 2017 - FDD Policy Brief

Turkey Trumps Up the Charges against the Imprisoned U.S. Pastor

Aykan Erdemir

Yesterday, Turkish strongman Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued an emergency decree giving himself the authority to trade foreign citizens held in Turkish prisons for individuals incarcerated abroad. This unusual decree follows Turkish prosecutors’ filing of additional charges against American...

25th August 2017 - FDD Policy Brief

Iran and Turkey Agree on Opposing Kurdish Independence, but Not Much More

Merve Tahiroglu, Amir Toumaj

Last week, Iran’s top military commander Major General Mohammad Bagheri made an unprecedented appearance in Ankara, where he met with top Turkish officials including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Erdogan is expected to visit Tehran in the upcoming weeks. Bagheri’s visit came as Iraqi...

23rd August 2017 - FDD Policy Brief

IS Using Front Companies to Support Terrorism

Alex Entz

A recent FBI affidavit unveiled a worldwide, now-defunct network of Wales-based front companies controlled by an IS sympathizer, and demonstrates IS’s capacity to pursue complex financing strategies.

7th August 2017 - FDD Policy Brief

U.S.-Russian Cooperation in Syria Will Fail Without U.S. Leverage

David Adesnik

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson stated last week that the U.S. has “chosen the theater in Syria as a place in which we test our ability to work together” with the Russians. This strategy is at odds with two core objectives of U.S. policy toward Syria, as defined by Tillerson: the...

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