How to make sense of religion in foreign policy – secular orders and religious states

This is the first webinar in a two-part series on the intersections between religion and international politics. This webinar explores how to make sense of religion and the international order by looking at the United States, Iran and the European Union. The starting point of this conversation is based on two common misconceptions. In the Western world, states are believed to have become more and more secular and the interplay between is them no longer driven by religious antagonisms. Therefore, religion is largely seen as a matter that does not concern states. In addition, foreign policy is often perceived as separate from domestic societal dynamics.
Nevertheless it is evident that many societies are more religious than their formal constitutional order indicate and that these convictions constitute an important element in how the states formulate their foreign policies.
This webinar series thus aims to bring clarity to the question: how can we understand religion’s role in foreign policy?
Speakers:
Prof. Elizabeth Shakman Hurd, Professor of Politics and Religious Studies and Crown Chair in Middle East Studies, Northwestern University.
Ms. Merete Bilde, policy advisor at the European External Action Service (EEAS) specialised on issues at the cross section of religion and foreign policy , European Union.
Dr. Rouzbeh Parsi, Head of UI’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.
Use this link to attend the webinar: https://eu01web.zoom.us/j/63622467450

Article on Iran’s strategic interests in Yemen

What is in Yemen for Iran? A Realist Assessment of Tehran’s
Strategic Calculus in the Arabian Peninsula

Author: Maysam Behravesh
December, 2020

A chapter in “Navigating the Regional Chessboard” (Ed. Vogt, Achim & Schmid, Sarah), December 2020

Friedrich Ebert Stiftung

Abstract

This article addresses Iran’s involvement in Yemen from a realist perspective and in the wider framework of the geopolitical rivalry between the Islamic Republic on the one hand and Saudi Arabia and its allies, particularly the United States, on the other. Focusing on the “demand” side of the civil war, or motives and incentives for its perpetuation, it tries to delineate how Iranian leaders perceive Yemen and how Tehran uses this pivotal node of “strategic depth” in the Arabian Peninsula for deterrence, security provision as well as power projection purposes. The article concludes Iran is in Yemen for the long haul and therefore urges a holistic policy approach to conflict resolution that recognizes long-term interests and concerns of all major conflicting parties on the ground and seeks to make Iran’s intervention and involvement in Yemen less necessary rather than more costly.

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SIPRI Policy Brief on missile proliferation in the MENA

Addressing Missile Threats in the Middle East and North Africa

Authors: Dr. Tytti Erästö & Pieter D. Wezeman
November, 2020

Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI)

Abstract

This SIPRI Policy Brief contributes to the discussion on missile proliferation in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) by providing an overview of regional missile arsenals and by considering ways to address related risks. The paper makes policy recommendations, highlighting the need to move beyond the selective focus on certain types of missiles in the hands of certain states, towards a more comprehensive approach based on greater transparency, responsible arms exports and confidence- and security-building measures (CSBMs).

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Paper on facilitating cooperation across the Persian Gulf

“So Close Yet So Far Apart. Facilitating Dialogue and Cooperation across the Persian Gulf”

Authors: Rouzbeh Parsi & Dina Esfandiary
October, 2020

Istituto Affari Internazionali

Abstract

Despite the shared history and cultural traits of the peoples living around the Persian Gulf, its littoral states are often at loggerheads. Deep-seated rivalries and suspicions continue to plague all attempts to create an inclusive and comprehensive security framework for the region. It is therefore necessary to look beyond the formal channels and methods of creating détente.

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Publication on the JCPOA and Iran-EU relations

“State of play of EU-Iran relations and the future of the JCPOA”

Authors: Rouzbeh Parsi & Aniseh Bassiri Tabrizi
October, 2020

European Union:
Policy Department for External Relations
Directorate General for External Policies of the Union

Abstract

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), spearheaded by the European Union (EU), was a successful multilateral non-proliferation agreement. The hope was that it would also pave the way for dealing with other outstanding issues over which the EU and United States (US) were at loggerheads with Iran. Instead, with the election of President Trump, the main focus has been to save the JCPOA.

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