Analysis & Commentary

Policy Briefs


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...

3rd August 2017 - FDD Policy Brief

Russian Troops Deploy Near Syria-Israel Border

Alexandra N. Gutowski

In late July, Russia deployed four military police battalions to monitor a pair of safe zones in Syria, including a southwestern zone negotiated with the United States. The 5,500-km2 zone, roughly the size of Delaware, shares lengthy borders with both the Golan Heights and Jordan.

2nd August 2017 - FDD Policy Brief

The U.S. Sanctions Venezuela’s President

Michaela Frai, Alex Entz

On Monday, the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. The designation came a day after a nationwide referendum where voters chose 545 representatives, from a government-vetted list of 6,000, who will form the controversial Constituent Assembly.

2nd August 2017 - FDD Policy Brief

Iran Ramps Up Purchases of Commercial Aircraft from U.S. and Europe

Emanuele Ottolenghi

Last June, a trio of Iranian airlines announced plans to purchase a total of 83 new planes from Airbus and Boeing. Iran Air Tours is ordering 45 planes from Airbus and Zagros Airlines is ordering 28 more. Qeshm Airlines, which is owned by Tehran’s Ministry of Oil, revealed it would...

31st July 2017 - FDD Policy Brief

Making Sense of Iran’s Latest Satellite-Launch Vehicle Test

Behnam Ben Taleblu

Late last week, Iran formally inaugurated the Imam Khomeini Space Launch Center by conducting the second test of its “Simorgh” rocket, a satellite-launch vehicle (SLV). This was Iran’s first SLV test in 2017 and the second overall test of the “Simorgh,” which is Persian for...

27th July 2017 - FDD Policy Brief

Congress Moves to Reassert Itself in Iran Policy Oversight

Tyler Stapleton

This week, Congress moved to sanction Iran, North Korea, and Russia in an attempt to reestablish the utility of financial restraints as a means of challenging the malign behavior of hostile regimes.

27th July 2017 - FDD Policy Brief

How the Use of Human Shields Violates International Law

Tyler Stapleton

Hamas, Hezbollah, the Islamic State, and other terrorist groups have a demonstrated propensity to use human shields to protect the infrastructure they use to stage attacks. They direct men, women, and children to place themselves on roofs and next to rocket launch sites to deter retaliatory...

21st July 2017 - FDD Policy Brief

Istanbul’s Iconic Synagogue Besieged by Islamist Nationalists

Aykan Erdemir

An ultranationalist-cum-Islamist group attacked Istanbul’s Neve Shalom Synagogue with stones and kicked its gates Thursday night. Attackers carried signs threatening to “besiege temples without warning one night” and vowed to “prevent worship” at the synagogue.

20th July 2017 - FDD Policy Brief

New Sanctions Highlight the Need to Counter Iran’s Non-Nuclear Threats

Tyler Stapleton, Behnam Ben Taleblu

In a joint effort on Tuesday, the Departments of State, Treasury, and Justice released new designations of Iranian, Chinese, and Turkish procurement networks that have facilitated material support for Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the country’s ballistic missile...

20th July 2017 - FDD Policy Brief

Tehran Sentences U.S. Hostage to 10 Years in Prison

Tzvi Kahn

Tehran has sentenced another Western national to a lengthy prison term on spurious espionage charges. The incarceration of Xiyue Wang, a Chinese-American graduate student at Princeton University first arrested last summer, not only reflects Iran’s conspiratorial fears of Western...

19th July 2017 - FDD Policy Brief

Congress and the Administration Need to Reinvigorate HIFPA

Tyler Stapleton

Although it signed HIFPA into law, the Obama administration did not fully leverage its provisions. But now Congress and the executive branch have the opportunity to implement the legislation fully and use both HIFPA and all other tools at the disposal of the U.S. government to pursue...

17th July 2017 - FDD Policy Brief

Hezbollah Threat to the U.S. Homeland Resurfaces

Tyler Stapleton

In an explosive filing by the Department of Justice, two suspected Hezbollah operatives were arrested and charged with material support for the organization on June 8. Their arrests highlight both the seriousness of the Hezbollah threat here at home as well as the need for more aggressive...

14th July 2017 - FDD Policy Brief

Turkey Defies Coup, But Not One-Man Rule

Aykan Erdemir, Merve Tahiroglu

Last year, on July 15, the Turkish people defied a group of rogue soldiers who attempted a bloody coup d'état, killing 249 citizens in the process. One year on, Turkey is still in a state of emergency and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is ruling by decree.

13th July 2017 - FDD Policy Brief

Trump Administration Should Uphold Sanctions on Sudan

Alex Entz

Tuesday night, President Donald Trump signed an executive order granting a three-month delay before his administration makes a decision on permanently lifting most sanctions on Sudan.

11th July 2017 - FDD Policy Brief

Millions Demand Justice in Turkey

Aykan Erdemir, Merve Tahiroglu

Turkish citizens rallied in Istanbul on Sunday at the conclusion of the 250-mile “March for Justice” led by 68-year-old opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu.

11th July 2017 - FDD Policy Brief

The Ideological Battleground of Iran’s Internet

Tzvi Kahn

A leading advocate for internet freedom recently began his fifth hunger strike in Iran’s notorious Evin Prison. The incarceration of Nizar Zakka, a U.S. permanent resident, reflects Tehran’s ongoing efforts to restrict cyber space, which the regime regards as a threat not merely to its...

6th July 2017 - FDD Policy Brief

Lebanon’s New Electoral Law Seeks to Preempt U.S. Sanctions on Hezbollah

Tony Badran

The next Congressional bill imposing sanctions on Hezbollah has not even been introduced, but the Lebanese state has already created loopholes to help the terrorist group circumvent U.S. law.

5th July 2017 - FDD Policy Brief

House Hawks Look to Outbid Trump on Defense

David Adesnik

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis hinted in recent congressional testimony that President Trump’s budget proposal would not provide sufficient funding for the armed forces.

30th June 2017 - FDD Policy Brief

Trump Acts against Chinese Bank for North Korean Money Laundering

Anthony Ruggiero

The Treasury Department took a significant action yesterday naming a Chinese bank, a Chinese company, and two individuals as conduits for North Korea’s sanctions evasion.

29th June 2017 - FDD Policy Brief

How the Nuclear Deal Boosted Iran’s Economy

Saeed Ghasseminejad

Last week, the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) announced a staggering 12.5 percent GDP growth rate for the most recent year on the Persian calendar, which ran from March 2016 to March 2017.

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