Analysis & Commentary

Policy Briefs

22nd May 2018 - FDD Policy Brief

Iranian General Soleimani in Iraq as Post-Election Government Formation Talks Begin

Romany Shaker

Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani visited Baghdad last week to begin building a pro-Tehran coalition following the Iraqi elections held on May 12.

22nd May 2018 - FDD Policy Brief

Security Forces Kill Three Protesters in Southern Iran as Demonstrations Continue

Tzvi Kahn

Protests in Iran have largely faded from Western news reporting, but not from the country’s streets, with more than 400 in April alone. Last week in the southern city of Kazeroon, police opened fire on demonstrators, reportedly leaving at least three people dead and dozens injured....

18th May 2018 - FDD Policy Brief

Turkish Banker Sentenced for Iran Sanctions-Busting Scheme

Aykan Erdemir

A Manhattan court Wednesday sentenced Mehmet Hakan Atilla, deputy general manager of Turkey’s second-largest public lender, Halkbank, to 32 months in prison for his role in a multi-billion dollar scheme to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran.

15th May 2018 - FDD Policy Brief

Increasing U.S.-Ukraine Cyber Cooperation is a Step in the Right Direction

Boris Zilberman, Trevor Logan

In early May, the State Department announced a doubling to $10 million of U.S. assistance to Ukraine for the strengthening of its cyber defenses. The increased funding is an important signal that the U.S. stands with Kyiv as it faces a sustained and evolving cyber threat from Russia, yet...

14th May 2018 - FDD Policy Brief

Ripples in the Gulf: GCC States’ Reaction to Withdrawal from Iran Deal Reflects Disunity

Varsha Koduvayur

President Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal prompted reactions from the Gulf States ranging from enthusiasm to regret. The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members’ divergent responses reflect the GCC’s disunity on Iran, highlighting challenges Washington may face in its...

10th May 2018 - FDD Policy Brief

Pompeo Returns from North Korea with Three U.S. Hostages

Mathew Ha

Early this morning, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo returned from North Korea along with all three Americans held hostage by the Kim regime. It was Pompeo’s second trip to Pyongyang and reflects the momentum building toward the summit between Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump, which...

4th May 2018 - FDD Policy Brief

Morocco Accuses Iran and Hezbollah of Polisario Front Support

Romany Shaker

In a surprise move, Morocco announced this week it would sever diplomatic ties with Iran over its military support for the Polisario Front, an armed group that seeks to end Morocco’s control over the Western Sahara.

30th April 2018 - FDD Policy Brief

Inter-Korean Summit: Tall on Promises, Short on Implementation

Mathew Ha

“A new era of peace has begun” and “complete denuclearization” is on the horizon, according to the joint declaration issued by Kim Jong Un and his South Korean counterpart, Moon Jae-In, at the conclusion of their summit in Panmunjom last Friday. Kim’s father, Kim Jong Il, made...

19th April 2018 - FDD's CSIF Policy Brief

U.S., UK Act to Block Chinese Technology Threat

Annie Fixler , Trevor Logan

This week, the U.S. and UK governments took steps to combat key national security threats posed by two Chinese telecommunications companies. On Monday, the U.S. Commerce Department banned all U.S. sales to ZTE, a Chinese telecommunications company that violated export controls.

18th April 2018 - FDD Policy Brief

EU Extends Human Rights Sanctions on Iran

Tzvi Kahn

The European Union last week extended its existing human rights sanctions on Iran by one year. While the EU’s decision marks an important step in penalizing Tehran for its ongoing domestic repression, it remains insufficient to address the chronic and systemic human rights abuses that...

12th April 2018 - FDD Policy Brief

U.S. Should Sanction Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB)

Tzvi Kahn

In an interview last week with Bloomberg’s Eli Lake, Iranian Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi urged the Trump administration to sanction the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), Tehran’s state-run media corporation.

10th April 2018 - FDD's CSIF Policy Brief

Bahraini Bank Investigations Offers Powerful Example for Treating De-listed Entities

Behnam Ben Taleblu, Varsha Koduvayur

The Bahraini government last week disclosed evidence detailing how the now-shuttered Future Bank participated in a multi-billion dollar sanctions-evasion scheme benefiting Iran. Bahrain’s foreign minister, Khalid bin Ahmed al Khalifa, stated that Future Bank was involved in “supporting...

9th April 2018 - FDD Policy Brief

Assad Chemical Attack Shows Failure of U.S. Deterrence

David Adesnik

Precisely a year and a day after the U.S. punished the Syrian regime with missile strikes for its use of chemical weapons, Damascus launched a new round of chemical attacks that killed at least 40 civilians in the besieged city of Douma east of the capital. Although last year’s punitive...

5th April 2018 - FDD Policy Brief

Egypt’s Sisi Reelected with 97 Percent of Vote

Romany Shaker

With no serious challenger in the race, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi won a second four-year term last week, winning 21,835,387 votes or 97.08 percent of the total, according to official figures. The State Department said it looked forward to working with Sisi to advance the United...

3rd April 2018 - FDD Policy Brief

Erdogan Threatens to Expand War Against U.S. Partners in Syria

Romany Shaker

A bomb blast near the city of Manbij in northern Syria killed one American and one British soldier last week, not far from the front lines that separate Turkish forces from Syrian-Kurdish fighters and their U.S. partners in the anti-Islamic State coalition. The same day, President Recep...

29th March 2018 - FDD Policy Brief

UN Extends Mandate of Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran

Tzvi Kahn

The UN Human Rights Council last week passed a resolution extending the mandate of the special rapporteur on human rights in Iran by one year. The measure, which cleared the global body by a vote of 21 to 7 with 19 countries abstaining, reflects a recognition that Tehran’s domestic...

28th March 2018 - FDD Policy Brief

Kim Jong Un Visits China, Comments on Denuclearization

Mathew Ha

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in a surprise visit to Beijing this week, marking Kim’s first trip outside North Korea since taking power in 2011. The trip is part of Kim’s effort to project strength before his meetings with South Korean President...

26th March 2018 - FDD Policy Brief

The U.S. Should Clarify Its Position on Third-Party Participation in Syrian Reconstruction

Amir Toumaj

Forces fighting on behalf of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, backed by Russian air power, have all but crushed the Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta, one of the last insurgent strongholds in Syria, leaving it devastated, like most of the country.

25th March 2018 - CoinDesk

Crypto Investors Should Stay Away from Venezuela’s Petro

Yaya J. Fanusie, Michaela Frai

Venezuela has reportedly made the first state-backed cryptocurrency, the petro, available to the public. Crypto investors should just say no.

22nd March 2018 - FDD Policy Brief

Senate Vote Reflects Growing Congressional Concern over Yemen

Varsha Koduvayur

On Tuesday, the Senate voted 55-44 to block a joint resolution to end U.S. military support to Saudi forces in Yemen. The resolution, timed to coincide with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s visit to the White House, reflects congressional concern about Yemen, in particular the...


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