The Intelligence Review | volume 2 | issue 3 |


This volume is the product of a collaboration between the European Intelligence Academy (EIA) and the Chanticleer Intelligence Brief (CIB), a student-run initiative supported by the Department of Politics at Coastal Carolina University in Conway, South Carolina, United States. Eight CIB analysts tackle some of the most pressing and timely questions confronting intelligence observers today.
Topics in this volume include the current and projected strength of the Islamic State in Libya, the status of unification efforts on the island of Cyprus, the future of the government in Venezuela, and the United States’ place in the Paris climate agreement. There are also papers examining the construction of energy pipelines in Central Asia, as well as aspects of Iranian geopolitics in relation to the United States. Last, though certainly not least, we have included an estimative intelligence analysis of the first round of this year’s presidential elections in France. It refers to an event of global significance that has already taken place. However, it is included in this volume as an illustration of the power of intellectual accuracy and the ability of an intelligence analyst to achieve 100 percent accuracy —as this analyst does— by methodically considering and evaluating the analytical parameters of her question with the right balance of precision and intuition.

• Will the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria be

annihilated in Libya?

• Will the Venezuelan government remain in


• Will Donald Trump take the US out of the

Paris Climate Agreement?

• Will relations between Iran and the United

States improve?

• What is the current state of the Iranian

Revolutionary Guard Corps?

• Predicting the outcome of the 2017 French

Presidential Election

• Will the construction of the TAPI natural gas

pipeline proceed in 2017?

• Will the divided island of Cyprus come closer

to reunification?




• Will the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria

be annihilated in Libya?

• Will the Venezuelan government remain

in power?

• Will Donald Trump take the US out of the

Paris Climate Agreement?

• Will relations between Iran and the

United States improve?








• What is the current state of the Iranian

Revolutionary Guard Corps?

• Predicting the outcome of the 2017

French Presidential Election

• Will the construction of the TAPI natural

gas pipeline proceed in 2017?

• Will the divided island of Cyprus come

closer to reunification?

European Intelligence Academy

The European Intelligence Academy (EIA) was established in 2013 as an international network of

intelligence studies scholars, specialists and students, who are dedicated to promoting research and

scholarship across the European Union (EU), as well as between the EU and other parts of the

world. One of the primary aims of the EIA network is to highlight the work of emerging graduate

and undergraduate scholars in the intelligence studies field, while encouraging cooperation in

research and scholarship between students of intelligence. The EIA is an initiative of the Research

Institute for European and American Studies (RIEAS).

Chanticleer Intelligence Brief

The Chanticleer Intelligence Brief (CIB) was established in 2015 as a student-run initiative

supported by the Department of Politics at Coastal Carolina University (CCU) in Conway, South

Carolina, United States. It operates as an ancillary practicum for students in the National Security

and Intelligence Studies program who wish to cultivate and refine their ability to gather, present,

and analyze information in accordance with techniques used in the analytical profession. The goal

of the CIB is to train aspiring intelligence professionals in the art of producing well-researched,

impartial and factual analytical products.

The European Intelligence Academy

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Alimos, 17456, Athens, Greece

Tel/Fax: +30-210-991-1214 (Europe)

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ISBN-13: 978-1544788616

ISBN-10: 1544788614

Copyright © 2017 The European Intelligence Academy (EIA)

All rights reserved, Published in North Charleston, SC, United States, in October 2017.

Cover Design: insspirito, CC0 Public Domain. Free for commercial use. No attribution required.


No parts of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without

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Table of Contents

Foreword page 07

Dr. John Nomikos

Introduction page 09

Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis

Will the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria be Annihilated in Libya in 2017? page 13

Casey Mallon

Who Will Win the First Round of the 2017 Presidential Election in France? page 19

Kayla “Ace” Chambers

Will the Divided Island of Cyprus Come Closer to Reunification in 2017? page 23

Troy Ramsbacher

Will the Venezuelan Government Remain in Power in 2017? page 27

Kiersten Chambers

Will the US Leave the Paris Climate Agreement Under Donald Trump’s Presidency? page 31

Tahleia Bishop

Will the Construction of the TAPI Natural Gas Pipeline Proceed in 2017? page 37

Connor Kilgore

What is the Current State of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps? page 41

Benjamin Dunham

Will Relations Between Iran and the United States Improve in 2017? page 45

Jack Lincoln

Biographical notes on contributors page 51




The Research Institute for European and American Studies (RIEAS) was founded in 2006

with the aim of promoting the understanding of international affairs. Special attention is

devoted to transatlantic relations, intelligence studies and terrorism, European integration,

international security, Balkan and Mediterranean studies, Russian foreign policy, as well as

policy-making on national and international markets. In 2013, RIEAS initiated the European

Intelligence Academy (EIA) project, in order to promote the field of intelligence studies in

European academic institutions.

The EIA aims to advance the intelligence profession by setting standards, building resources,

sharing knowledge within the intelligence field, and promoting a strong intelligence culture

in European Union (EU) member-states. It also promotes international research and

scholarship cooperation between intelligence scholars in the EU and scholars in other parts

of the world. Furthermore, the EIA highlights the work of emerging postgraduate and

undergraduate scholars in the intelligence studies field, and provides a forum for them to

exchange ideas and pursue relevant research. The Intelligence Review, which was launched by

the EIA in the summer of 2016, reflects our organization’s ultimate goal, which is to promote

synergy between young undergraduate and graduate students of intelligence in Europe, the

United States, and the rest of the world.

The Intelligence Review is a collaborative effort between the EIA and the Chanticleer Intelligence

Brief (CIB), an innovative new program that highlights the work of young student analysts

in the Intelligence and National Security Studies program at Coastal Carolina University in

the United States. This third issue of The Intelligence Review (Vol.2, No.3, October 2017) follows

the success of the journal’s first issue (Vol.1, No.1), which was published in July of 2016.

The extremely positive response we received from intelligence academics and practitioners

alike, ensured the continuation of this transatlantic collaborative project. The EIA is proud

to be part of this effort, and to work in partnership with the outstanding young analysts of

the Chanticleer Intelligence Brief (CIB) and their mentor, Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis.


Much of the work that Dr. Fitsanakis and I do seeks to highlight the work of young scholars

in the intelligence studies field. Several young scholars participated in the conference

entitled “Intelligence Studies in a Time of European Crisis”, which took place between 22

and 24 June 2017 in Athens, Greece. The conference was co-organized by RIEAS and the

International Association for Intelligence Education – Europe Chapter, which is headquartered

in Breda, the Netherlands. The three-day international conference brought

together panelists from the armed forces, law-enforcement, intelligence and academic

community from a host of countries including Greece, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, the

Netherlands, Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates,

Turkey, Israel, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, France and Switzerland. Many of them

were young intelligence scholars and trainees. Their presence at the conference furtehred

the goal of RIEAS and the EIA, which is to highlight the work of the emerging generation

in the intelligence studies field.

It is indeed through collaborative projects, such as the recent international conference in

Athens, and the present journal, The Intelligence Review, that knowledge in our field of study

is constantly reexamined, refined, and reshaped to address the challenges of the 21 st

century. I offer my congratulations to the young scholars who worked with Dr. Fitsanakis

to produce this excellent volume. You have set the bar very high for all of us, and I am

certain that your future accomplishments in the field will be as exceptional as your work in

this volume.

Dr. John Nomikos

Director, European Intelligence Academy



Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis

Associate Professor, Intelligence and National Security Studies, Coastal Carolina University

Deputy Director, European Intelligence Academy

The philosophical foundations of Western civilization owe much to the ancient Greek

thinker, Plato. In several of his dialogues, including Phaedo and Phaedrus, the Athenian sage

deliberates on the nature of wisdom —what the Greeks called γνώσις. He goes to great pain

to distinguish wisdom from virtues such as knowledge, a profound understanding of reality,

and even intelligence. He appears to conclude that wisdom exceeds all those in both magnitude

and intensity. Ultimately, he says, wisdom is not simply a skill or a virtue, but a higher state

of being, a “state of the soul”, in which the soul “returns into itself” (Plato 1995). Education

in all its forms, therefore, should exceed the purely mechanistic, and should seek to initiate

the learner into a higher state of being.

The Platonic understanding of education forms the basis of the Chanticleer Intelligence

Brief (CIB). Admittedly, a significant portion of the CIB it rests on instruction, insomuch

as the students who participate in it are coached —by both professors and peers— in the

esoteric techniques of intelligence analysis. But the ultimate goal of the CIB is to help

students develop and harness their intuition —a combination of knowledge and feeling that

comes in layers, and gradually assembles elements of what the ancients would have

recognized as wisdom. Intuition is an indispensable quality for the intelligence analyst. It

allows her to assess data, not simply as static arrangements of facts, but as itinerant values

on a three-dimensional landscape that must be understood in motion. Intelligence analysts

who reach a high state of intuition become capable of anticipating events in very much the

same way that a mariner navigates a rough sea —that is, through a mixture of knowledge,

experience and sensation.

The present compendium, issue #3 of The Intelligence Review, is designed to showcase

modest examples of that crucial marriage of tangible and intangible abilities in prospective


intelligence analysts. The concept behind this process is simple: Upon joining the CIB,

student analysts join ‘Divisions’ —groups of analysts who specialize in a common

geographical region. They work collaboratively to issue measurable periodic forecasts on current

topics that relate to their region. Additionally, each analyst is given the task of answering a

specific question about an ongoing development that relates to her area of expertise. In

some cases, analysts are asked to produce what is known as ‘current intelligence’, namely

research that focuses on immediate problems and threats of an ongoing nature. In other

cases, they are asked to engage in ‘estimative intelligence’ —that is, to attempt to predict

and anticipate future developments. The latter is arguably the most challenging task given

to an intelligence analyst, and one that leaves their analytical products most open to dispute.

Analysts occupy themselves with their question for an entire semester. Throughout that

time, they are expected to brief the entire CIB analytical team on a weekly basis, sometimes

in the presence of inquisitive experts from the United States Intelligence Community. The

product of this effort is a brief but dense report, which contains the results of the

application of the author’s analytical skills on her subject matter. Eight of these reports form

the content of this volume, whose publication is the outcome of a fruitful transatlantic

collaboration between the CIB and the European Intelligence Academy.

Topics in this volume include the current and projected strength of the Islamic State in Libya,

the status of unification efforts on the island of Cyprus, the future of the government in

Venezuela, and the United States’ place in the Paris climate agreement. There are also

papers examining the construction of energy pipelines in Central Asia, as well as aspects

of Iranian geopolitics in relation to the United States. Last, though certainly not least, we

have included an estimative intelligence analysis of the first round of this year’s presidential

elections in France. It refers to an event of global significance that has already taken place.

However, it is included in this volume as an illustration of the power of intellectual accuracy

and the ability of an intelligence analyst to achieve 100 percent accuracy —as this analyst

does— by methodically considering and evaluating the analytical parameters of her question

with the right balance of precision and intuition.

In the past year alone, CIB analysts have made some impressively accurate forecasts. For

example, our Venezuela Analyst, Kiersten Chambers, whose work is included in this volume,

predicted with high confidence that Caracas would voluntarily withdraw from the Organization

of American States nearly two weeks before it happened. And our Saudi Arabia Analyst,

Antigua Clyburn, concluded her analytical forecast in April of 2017 by stating “with

moderate-high confidence that women will gain more rights in Saudi Arabia in 2017”. That

statement was made long before September of 2017, when, in a surprise move, the Saudi

monarchy issued a royal proclamation lifting the ban on women drivers —thus instantly erasing

one of the Kingdom’s oldest laws. These are just two of many examples that illustrate the

successful marriage of factual understanding and intuition in the work of the CIB.

This compendium represents a small sample of the CIB’s extensive output. It is presented

in the hope that the reader will benefit from the precision, astuteness and analytical clarity

of these very timely reports produced by a very talented team of young analysts.

Reference Cited

Plato (1995) Phaedrus, Tr. A. Nehamas and P. Woodruff, Hackett Publishing Company, Inc.,

Indianapolis, IN, 1995.




Will the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria be

annihilated in Libya in 2017?

Casey Mallon

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has arguably become the premier terrorist

organization on the world stage, inspiring a new generation of Islamist militants in the

Middle East, Southeast Asia, Northern Africa, and even in the West. Because of Libya’s

political and economic instability, ISIS has been able to exploit such vulnerabilities and

build a formidable infrastructure. For a period, the organization even controlled an entire

city. Although ISIS no longer controls substantial territory in Libya, the organization

continues to pose a significant security challenge. With the current political chaos engulfing

Libya, it seems unlikely that political differences can be put aside to focus on eradicating

Islamist militant groups. It is with high confidence, therefore, that I assert that ISIS will

not be wiped out in Libya in 2017.


In 2011, a wave of revolutions swept across the Middle East. The Libyan dictator, Muammar

Gaddafi, who had been in power for 42 years, was quickly ousted from power and killed.

Since then, however, no one has been able to take a firm hold over the entire country and

unify it, leaving Libya divided between various militias and tribal groups. There are two

main groups vying for control of Libya. One faction is the Government of National

Accord (GNA), led by Fayez al Sarraj and supported by the United Nations (UN). The

GNA is based in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, yet has no territory or military of its own. It

must rely on alliances with various militias and tribal groups. Sarraj is supported by Western

powers because of his business background and advocacy for a democratic, free-market

governmental structure. Sarraj was chosen by the UN because of his ability to compromise,

which will be crucial if the UN hopes to unite Libya under one government. The other


group is the Tobruk government in the east, which is backed by Russia, Egypt, and the

Libyan National Army (LNA). Much of the Tobruk government’s strength and legitimacy

derives from its affiliation with the LNA, which is led by General Khalifa Haftar. Haftar,

a former US intelligence asset, is vehemently anti-Islamist. He justifies his military

campaign “as an effort to prevent Islamist forces from controlling Libya, although his

critics view his motives as being rooted in a desire for personal power” (Blanchard

2017:30). The biggest rift between Sarraj and Haftar is the debate over whether or not the

military should be civilian-controlled, as Sarraj and the GNA advocate, or remain

independent, as the Tobruk government and Haftar assert.

Due to the political instability in Libya, many areas, called ‘security vacuums,’ are devoid

of any government authority and protection. In 2014, increased fighting between the

different Libyan governmental forces opened up new security vacuums, which allowed

ISIS to launch a satellite base in Libya. Doing so allowed the organization to amass land,

finances, and power, and eventually take control of the coastal city of Sirte. On December

5, 2016, US airstrikes combined with assaults by pro-GNA ground forces were able to

push ISIS out of Sirte (Anon. 2016:1). Across Libya, various forces were able to oust “ISIS

cells and fighters from Derna and Benghazi in the east, from Tripoli, and from the town

of Sabratha near the Tunisian border” (Wehrey and Lacher 2017). Today, ISIS no longer

holds physical territory in Libya.

Recent Developments

Since being evicted from Sirte, ISIS militants have migrated south into the Libyan Desert,

which remains a security vacuum. There, they have been able to regroup and amend their

modus operandi. The latter has shifted from taking control of physical territory, to disrupting

critical infrastructure using small groups, usually of no more than 20 militants. Conducting

operations in such small groups and carrying out attacks on specific facilities, rather than

carrying out full scale operations, makes it much harder for the GNA and the US to track

down and stop these Islamist militants.

ISIS’s flexibility and innovation, however, are not the most important factors determining

their viability in Libya in the upcoming year. Instead, the survival of the group in Libya is

contingent upon the existence of security vacuums resulting from political instability. The

prevailing instability in Libya is the result of no singular entity controlling Libya as a whole;

thus, the tug-of-war between Sarraj and Haftar plays a significant role in determining ISIS’s

strength in Libya.

On February 14, 2017, Fayez al Sarraj and Khalifa Haftar had been scheduled to meet in

Cairo, Egypt, to discuss a political settlement in which Haftar would agree to a civiliancontrolled

military. Haftar would therefore become the head security official of the “UNsponsored

and international[ly] supported political process” —in other words, the GNA

(Saied 2017). In return, Sarraj would hold a presidential election sometime in 2018, in

which Haftar could run as a legitimate candidate. Haftar, however, has rejected similar

deals in the past, arguing that the military “must be independent from civilian oversight,

not subject to it” (Toaldo 2017). Haftar is also extremely anti-Islamist and has serious

qualms with the GNA’s cooperation with Islamists during the Libya Dawn operations and


Islamist militias like the Benghazi Defense Brigade. Unsurprisingly, therefore, the meeting

was therefore cancelled after Haftar refused to speak with Sarraj.

Tensions continue to escalate between the two sides, as fighting becomes more intense. In

early March 2017, an Islamist militant group loosely aligned with the GNA, the Benghazi

Defense Brigade (BDB), captured two major oil ports, Es Sider and Ras Lanuf, from the

LNA (Wintour 2017). The goal of the BDB is “to rescue Benghazi from Haftar and return

displaced families to their homes” (Wintour 2017). The LNA retaliated by launching a

successful operation to reclaim Es Sider and Ras Lanuf from the BDB, with alleged help

from Russian special forces (Anon. 2017c). The LNA launched an aggressive campaign

shortly after to oust the Islamist Shura Councils in Benghazi and Derna, where the army

had desecrated the dead bodies of forces aligned with the Shura Councils. LNA soldiers

were then photographed “parading [dead bodies] through the streets of Benghazi” and, in

one instance, strapping a corpse “to the front of a car” (Anon. 2017b). Despite Haftar’s

proclamation on July 6 that Benghazi was under his full control, fighting continues between

the LNA and the remaining fragments of the Shura Councils (Ben Ibrahim 2017).

On April 5, 2017, fighting reached new levels of ferocity, as LNA fighter aircraft began

“bombing locations around Timnahent airbase” followed by a ground attack (Assad 2017).

To counter the LNA’s advances, the GNA’s defense minister, Al Mahdi Al Barghathi,

announced the commencement of Operation Al Amal Al Muad “to push back Haftar’s

forces” (Pearson 2017). The GNA retaliated by launching airstrikes against LNA bombers

at the Brak Shati airbase. The Timnahent air base is “the most important air base in south

Libya”, making it a critical square in Haftar and Sarraj’s chess game to control Libya (Anon.

2017a). Indeed, this battle was the first major confrontation between the LNA and “forces

officially linked to the GNA”, as opposed to the proxy battles that have been more

common, like the aforementioned showdown between the LNA and the BDB (Lewis

2017). On May 25, 2017, the GNA conceded defeat and withdrew its forces from the

Timnahent airbase, which means that the LNA now has control of the most crucial air

base in southern Libya (Anon. 2017d).

On June 2, 2017, the LNA launched an attack on the outskirts of Sirte, ISIS’s self-described

former capital in Northern Africa. Sirte was recaptured by US-backed GNA forces in early

December 2016, but is still recovering from its occupation by ISIS militants. Haftar’s forces

attempted to take advantage of the city’s vulnerability, but was unsuccessful in capturing

Sirte. On July 5 the LNA launched a second offensive to take Sirte, but was again

unsuccessful. This is a clear move by Khalifa Haftar to move further up the Mediterranean

coast, amass more territory and potentially clear a road to Tripoli.


During the first few months of 2017, the LNA has been consistently “extending [its] reach

along Libya’s central Mediterranean coastline and into the desert regions”, working its way

towards Tripoli (Lewis 2017). The political and military struggle in Libya between the LNA

and the GNA has reached a pinnacle with the recent developments around the Timnahent

airbase and Haftar’s advancements towards Sirte, pushing the country deeper into conflict.

Taking control of the Timnahent air base was a major victory for the eastern government


and has given Haftar the impetus to march onward toward Tripoli, as indicated by his

continued efforts to storm Sirte.

The international community hoped that, by focusing efforts against ISIS, the political

factions in Libya would have a common enemy and band together as a singular force. “In

fact, the opposite has happened” (Wehrey and Lacher 2017): the campaigns against ISIS

were disorganized and “carried out by disparate and hostile militias without any unifying

authority”, thus intensifying the political divide between the GNA and the LNA as well as

the various tribal groups (Wehrey and Lacher 2017). The fight between the two opposing

government factions will likely rage on well into the next five years, even with the promise

of democratic elections. That being said, as long as the GNA and LNA continue to fight,

the political chaos will allow for the existence of security vacuums, which Islamist groups

may use to their advantage. Based on these developments, it can be stated with high

confidence that ISIS will not be wiped out in Libya in 2017. As long as Libya remains in

its current state of political pandemonium, ISIS and other Islamist militants will be able to

exploit these conditions and remain operationally active well into 2017.

References Cited

Anonymous (2016) “The Repercussions of Losing the Sirte Region on ISIS’s Position in Libya

and the Nature of the Islamic State (Preliminary Assessment)”, The Meir Amit Intelligence and

Terrorism Information Center, 19 December , accessed on 28 February 2017.

Anonymous (2017a) “East Libya Forces Fight Each Other for Southern Air Base”, Middle East Online,

6 April , accessed on 10 April 2017.

Anonymous (2017b) “Libyan Army Accused of ‘War Crimes’ as Mutilated Bodies Paraded around

Benghazi”, Middle East Monitor, 20 March , accessed on

21 March 2017.

Anonymous (2017c) “Libya’s Bloody Conflict Continues to Escalate at Oil Terminals”, Haaretz,

12 March , accessed on 14 March 2017.

Anonymous (2017d) “Third Force Withdraws from Timnahent Airbase in Southern Libya”, Libyan

Express, 25 May ,

accessed on 10 July 2017.

Assad, A. (2017) “UN-Proposed Government’s Air Force Air-Attacks Haftar’s Warplanes in

South Libya”, The Libya Observer, 6 April ,

accessed on 10 April 2017.

Ben Ibrahim, A. (2017) “Fighting Continues in Benghazi”, The Libya Observer, 8 July , accessed on 10 July 2017.

Blanchard, C.M. (2017) Libya: Transition and U.S. Policy, Congressional Research Service, Library

of Congress, Washington, DC, United States.

Lewis, A. (2017) “Deadly Air Strike on Libyan Desert Base as Rival Factions Clash”, Reuters, 10

April , accessed on 10

April 2017.

Pearson, J. (2017) “Libya Oilfield Shuts Down as Fighting Intensifies in South-West”, The

National, 10 April ,

accessed on 10 April 2017.


Saied, M. (2017) “Cairo Continues to Mediate Libya Conflict Despite Failures”, Al Monitor, 22

February , accessed on 28 February 2017.

Toaldo, M. (2017) “How to Stabilize Libya if Haftar Won’t Play Ball”, Middle East Eye, 23 February

, accessed on 28 February 2017.

Wehrey, F., and Lacher, W. (2017) “Libya After ISIS”, Foreign Affairs, 22 February , accessed on 15 May 2017.



Who Will Win the First Round of the 2017

Presidential Election in France?

Kayla “Ace” Chambers

Editor’s Note: The present analysis refers to an event of global significance that has already taken place.

Its current predictive value is therefore diminished. However, it is included in this publication in order to

illustrate the power of intellectual precision and the ability of an intelligence analyst to achieve 100 percent

accuracy —as this analysis did— by methodically considering and evaluating the analytical parameters of

her question.

I assert, with low confidence, that Emmanuel Macron will win the first round of the French

elections. I conclude with high confidence that Marine Le Pen will make it to the second

round of the elections, though I also conclude with high confidence that she will not win

the second round. Due to the scandal that is currently afflicting his candidacy, it is unlikely

that François Fillon can gain enough support to get into the second round, much less win

the election. With the sudden increase in support for Mélenchon, it is possible for him to

gain enough support to win a place in the second round, but I doubt he will win the first

round. I have high confidence that none of the other seven candidates will win the French

Presidential election.


The French presidential election occurs every five years through a two-round voting

system. The first round includes all candidates. If no candidate receives more than 50

percent of the vote, there is a second round runoff between the two candidates who

received the most votes in the first round. Candidates receive a spot on the first-round

ballot by having at least 500 elected officials submit sponsorship pledges. According to

France’s Constitutional Council, 11 candidates met that condition by the deadline. However,


only four have a legitimate shot at the presidency: François Fillon for the conservative

Republican party, Marine Le Pen for the far-right National Front, Emmanuel Macron for

the centrist En Marche!, and Jean-Luc Mélenchon for the leftwing Unsubmissive France.

Fillon, France’s former prime minister, was originally one of the frontrunners in this

election. He is campaigning on a platform of spending cuts in multiple areas, including

cutting many public-sector jobs, raising the retirement age, cutting back employment

benefits, and ending the 35-hour work week in favor of a 38-hour work week (Anon.

2017a). Early on, Marine Le Pen was considered to be his biggest opponent. Le Pen is

campaigning for a ‘Frexit,’ or a referendum for France to leave the European Union (EU),

following in the United Kingdom’s steps. She is also planning on reforming France’s

policies towards migrants, including deporting all immigrants whose names are on watch

lists maintained by the French intelligence services. Le Pen has also promised to deny illegal

immigrants health care, suspend all immigration temporarily, and make it impossible for

illegal immigrants to become French citizens (Melander 2017). Now, however, the tide has

turned, and Le Pen is likely to move on to the second round, with her primary competitor

being Emmanuel Macron, who is running on a platform of economic change. The former

economy minister plans to cut corporate tax from 33 percent to 25 percent, and cutting

public sector jobs to save money. He also plans to impose stricter enforcement of France’s

secular laws and ban the practice of hiring family members as parliamentary assistants

(Love 2017). Jean-Luc Mélenchon is also challenging the frontrunners for a spot in the

second round. His platform includes renegotiating France’s current treaties, and in failure

of that, possibly pulling out of the EU. He has also pledged to increase public spending

and the minimum wage. Additionally, Mélenchon plans to move towards renewable

energy, give legal status to working undocumented immigrants and, most importantly,

create a ‘Sixth Republic of France’ by moving towards what he calls “a true parliamentary

system”. All four candidates have a chance to move on to the second round, with all

scoring above 20 percent in the polls as of April 16, 2017. Consequently, all four have a

shot at becoming president.

Recent Developments

Until the end of January 2017, Fillon was favored to win the presidency. However, on

January 29, French satirical paper Le Canard Enchaîné published a report claiming Fillon

had hired his wife and children for posts under his political office that they did not perform.

While hiring family members is not illegal under French law, there must be proof that the

family members actually performed the work, and the paper claimed that there was no

proof of this (Anon. 2017b). Fillon and his wife initially denied these claims, with Fillon

himself going so far as to say that he would back out of the race if the issue was brought

to court, however, after the French police picked up the investigation, raiding Fillon’s

parliamentary offices and interviewing him and his wife, Fillon retracted this statement. He

admitted that he had hired his wife and children, but claimed that they had performed the

work for which they had been hired. As of March 28, 2017, both Fillon and his wife have

been placed under official investigation, which continues to this day (Anon. 2017c). Fillon

claims he is innocent, but the damage to his reputation has been substantial. He began to

slip in the polls, and has yet to return to his original polling numbers from back in January.

This scandal also paved the way for Macron’s rise to prominence, because Fillon political


freefall left center-right voters with no other candidate to turn to. Thus, the centrist

Macron stepped in to take his place.

Fillon’s scandal can be contrasted with Marine Le Pen’s even bigger job scandal, which

appears to have barely touched her popularity at all. This scandal has caused a rift between

her and the European Parliament (EP), with the latter claiming that she took funds that

were meant to hire an assistant, and instead used them to pay employees for her party. In

response to the scandal, the EP is currently garnishing Le Pen’s wages. She denies any

wrongdoing on her part, claiming the investigation is politically motivated (Bulman 2017).

It is worth noting that this scandal has left Le Pen’s polling numbers largely unaffected: similar

numbers of voters pledged to vote for her before and after the scandal reached its peak.

This election period has seen the introduction of debates before the first round. Previously,

only the two candidates moving on to the second round were invited to participate in

debates, which were hosted between the first and second election rounds. However, in

2017 the nationwide television station TF1 announced that it would be holding three

debates before the first round. The first debate took place on March 20 and included the

four frontrunners, as well as Benoît Hamon, the Socialist Party candidate. The debate

lasted three and a half hours and, according to the leading French polling agency

Opinionway, as well as multiple other sources, viewers saw Macron as the most convincing

of the participants. This coincided with a boost to his polling numbers and saw Macron

passing Le Pen in many polls for the first time. Mélenchon also received a boost in polling

numbers, which marked the beginning of a steady increase in popular support for him.

The second debate took place on April 4, and saw yet another boost for Mélenchon. This

debate included all 11 candidates, and lasted four and a half hours. This time, Mélenchon

was rated as most convincing by viewers (23 percent of the time) followed by Macron (20

percent of the time) (Micheau 2017b). This was reflected in the polls, as Mélenchon

received a boost shortly after, with Macron’s numbers declining slightly.


Fillon must overcome the scandal surrounding his candidacy and regain the trust of his

voters in order to have a chance at making it to the second round. Based on his attitude

towards the police investigations, as well as his ill-received performance at the debates, I

have low confidence he will be able to. I have high confidence that Le Pen will make it to

the second round, looking at how her scandal and being heavily criticized by the other

candidates at the debates has failed to damage her in the polls. I have high confidence that

Macron will make it to the second round. When looking at his performances in the debates,

I believe that out of all the candidates, he has the best chance of winning the first round,

but Le Pen also has a decent chance of winning as well. I have moderate confidence that

Mélenchon will make it to the second round; while it is unlikely, he could squeak past Le

Pen or Macron in the vote. Any of these four could continue on into the second round.

While it is statistically possible for the remaining seven to make it, I have very low

confidence that any of them will net anything higher than fourth place.


References Cited

Anonymous (2017a) “Factbook: Francois Fillon’s presidential election policies”, Reuters, April 14,

accessed on April 15, 2017.

Anonymous (2017b) “François Fillon’s wife Penelope was paid more than €900,000 for work she

allegedly didn’t perform”, France 24, February 1, accessed on April 17, 2017.

Anonymous (2017c) “Francois Fillon’s wife Penelope under formal investigation”, BBC. March 28.

accessed on April 17, 2017.

Bulman, M. (2017) “Marine Le Pen refuses to repay €300,000 in ‘misspent’ EU funds.” Independent.

February 1,

accessed on April 17, 2017.

Conseil Constitutionnel (n.d.) “Les Parrainages Validés par Candidat”, Conseil Constitutionnel,

Paris, France ,

accessed on April 15, 2017.

Love, B. (2017) “Factbook: Emmanuel Macron’s presidential election policies”, Reuters. April 14.

. accessed on April 17, 2017.

Melander, I. (2017) “Factbook: Marine Le Pen’s French presidential election policies”, Reuters,

April 14, accessed on April 17, 2017.

Micheau, F. (2017a) “Les réactions au premier débat entre les candidats à l’élection présidentielle”,

Opinionway, March, accessed April 17, 2017.

Micheau, F. (2017b) “Les réactions au premier débat entre les candidats à l’élection

présidentielle”, Opinionway, April, accessed April 17, 2017.

Sandford, A. (2017) “Jean-Luc Mélenchon: What Do We Know of His Policies?”, Euronews, April


accessed on April 17, 2017.


Will the Divided Island of Cyprus Come Closer

to Reunification in 2017?

Troy Ramsbacher

It can be stated with high confidence that the Republic of Cyprus will not come closer to

reunification in 2017. Throughout the beginning of 2017, the two sides of the divided

island have made it clear that they want leader-led negotiations without United Nations

(UN) arbitration. While a resolution may seem plausible, the complexity of this issue is

often underestimated. There have been various external and internal indicators highlighting

the local and regional issues that are factoring into its reunification. Understanding why

the island is divided is essential when it comes to considering the reunification process.

For a question that may appear to have a simplistic answer, this solution is far more

complex. It should be noted that when defining closer, one must look at progressive

measures in political relations and tangible indicators to the security of the island’s citizens,

on both sides of the divide.


On July 15, 1974, a failed coup d’état by a Greek paramilitary group calling itself EOKA-

B resulted in the Turkish military invasion on the northern shores of Cyprus. The Turkish

invasion was prompted by the fear of the Greek military neglecting the rights of the

Turkish-speaking minority on Cyprus. The Turkish military remained on the island after a

bilateral cease-fire, leading to its partition. The Greek Cypriots remained in control of the

island’s southern two-thirds, while the Turkish military controlled the north. Subsequently,

hundreds of thousands of Cypriots were displaced as a result of the invasion and

intercommunal violence. The following year, the de facto state of Northern Cyprus

proclaimed itself as the Turkish Federated State of Cyprus. In 1983, the name was formally

changed to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Although a government was

established to represent the Turkish Cypriots in Northern Cyprus, the Greek Cypriots and


the international community, represented by the UN, view the continuing presence of

Turkish troops on the island as an illegal occupation. Even though the island was divided,

the Republic of Cyprus joined the European Union (EU) on May 1, 2004. During the same

year, the UN proposed a referendum to reunify the island, which was approved by the

Turkish Cypriots but rejected by the Greek Cypriots (Kambas and Karadeniz 2017).

Arbitration by the UN drove a wedge between the two communities, leaving the leaders

of the UN, Greek Cypriots, and Turkish Cypriots to reconstruct a cohesive plan. Not only

did the failed arbitration show that the UN had limited influence on the state of affairs, it

also showed that the two communities on the island were not equally prepared for


The current leader of the Greek Cypriot people is Nicos Anastasiades. Elected to office in

2013, President Anastasiades has been working in conjunction with Mustafa Akinci,

President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Both leaders have publicly

announced that they wish to reunify Cyprus in the future. However, external political

figures, like Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and UN Special Advisor Espen

Barth Eide, should be expected to contribute to the success or failure of the reunification

process. Additionally, an increasingly difficult internal factor for Cyprus’s reunification will

be the National Popular Party (ELAM), a small but vocal far-right Greek Cypriot political

group, which opposes talks with the north.

Recent Developments

In early February 2017, the Greek Cypriot government passed a ruling which would allow

for secondary schools to honor the Enosis (Union) Referendum, a proposal led in 1950 by

the Christian Orthodox church, aiming to unify Cyprus with Greece. Records show that,

nearly 96 percent of Greek Cypriots voted in favor of the annexation at that time (Christou

2017). But the 1950 proposal was not backed by British authorities and only the Greek

Cypriots took part in the vote. Although the Enosis referendum failed to pass, some prounion

Greek Cypriots see it as a historic moment in the age-old struggle for union with

Greece, which many Greek Cypriots see as their motherland. As many Greek Cypriots

view the 1950 Enosis Referendum as the first step towards independence from Britain,

some Turkish Cypriots see the attempt to unify with Greece as the beginning of a

communal division. Therefore, the recent proposal to commemorate the bill has raised

tensions between the two sides on the island. Recently, when the Cypriot leaders met under

UN sponsorship to deliberate over the reunification progress, Mustafa Akinci attempted

to discuss the Enosis Day bill but the request was allegedly declined.

Shortly after the request was denied, Akinci and his delegation abandoned the meeting.

Despite calls from Eide and Anastasiades to resume talks, Akinci warned that “the talks

‘will be pointless’ if Anastasiades doesn’t distance himself from parliament’s vote

“regarding the Enosis commemoration (Anon. 2017a). To further-complicate an already

complex situation, the Enosis commemorative bill was proposed by ELAM, the far-right

Greek party, which gained their first two seats in the Cypriot House of Representatives in

the 2016 election. ELAM reportedly has ties to Greece’s far-right-wing group Golden

Dawn (Stefanini 2017). In addition, ELAM opposes the creation of two constituent states,

which would be overseen by a federal government, and argues that the Turkish military

occupation of Cyprus must be brought to an end (Stefanini 2017). The bill was opposed


y the House of Representatives’ second largest party, the Progressive Party of Working

People (AKEL), but the House’s largest party, the Democratic Rally (DISY) abstained in

the vote. DISY’s abstention allowed the bill to receive enough votes to pass through the

House. Things could have been different if Anastasiades party, DISY, opposed the vote.

That would have caused the bill to fail to receive enough votes. On the other hand,

Anastasiades’ party’s abstention from the vote indicates that he may be trying to have all

parties involved in the reunification process. If DISY voted for the passing of Enosis Day

commemoration, it would have severed ties with the Turkish Cypriot leadership. By DISY

taking a neutral stance, it allowed for other House parties to deliberate over the bill without

influence from the largest party. This could have been an indirect attempt to see where the

rest of the parliament stands on the readiness of reunification.

Despite the seemingly tic-for-tac politics in Cyprus, there have been progressive steps

towards reunification. Recently Exxon Mobil signed an exploration- and productionsharing

contract with the government of the Republic of Cyprus. The contract was

approved by the official Cypriot Government and Mr. Anastasiades. Although the drilling

will take place off the southern shores of Cyprus, Northern Cyprus and Turkish President

Erdogan could profit remarkably. Egypt’s deep-water Zohr gas field is the largest in the

Eastern Mediterranean (Anon. 2017b). It lies south of the boundary line on Block 11 in

Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The discovery of natural gas in the EEZ could

turn the nation into the new hub for fossil fuels in the Eastern Mediterranean. If directing

a pipeline into Southern Turkey is proposed, Turkey could profit extraordinarily. Routing

this gas back into southern EU nations may relieve some of the dependence of Europe on

Russian fossil fuels. But not everyone agrees that the gas exploration will result in a friendly

conclusion. Former Undersecretary of the TRNC Presidency, Mustafa Ergun Olgun,

stated in a recent interview that if the Greek Cypriot government continues to explore for

hydrocarbons, it could result in a bloody conflict between the two sides (Olgun 2017). In

the likelihood that Erdogan continues to seek EU membership, this may be the biggest

bargaining chip in recent years he has had to play with. But this may change due to the

passing of the recent referendum in Turkey, which consolidated the powers of the

parliament to a single executive position, the president —a position currently held by Erdogan.


Although the concept of reunification may seem improbable to some, the strongest

influencing factor will be the Greek and Turkish Cypriots. Though politicians should work

for the needs of the republic, the leadership is expected to adhere to the requests of the

citizens. A potential reunification of this divided country may be the first step in stabilizing

a notoriously unstable region. In the meantime, the likelihood of Cyprus reunifying in 2017

is rapidly vanishing. It can be stated with high confidence that the island will not come

closer to reunification this year. To many, the proposal of reunification appears to be a

nostalgic idea from the past. Still, a reunification would not only be a victory for the wider

region, but also for the EU, which has struggling with its own divisions in recent years.


References Cited

Anonymous (2017) “Anastasiades Calls on Akinci to Return to the Talks – UPDATED”, In-Cyprus,

16 February, , accessed on 17 April 2017.

Anonymous (n.d.) “Zohr Gas Field, Egypt”, Offshore Technology, ,

accessed on 18 April 2017.

Christou, J. (2017) “Leaders’ Dinner Fails to Set New Date for Talks, UN Issues Revised

Statement”, The Cyprus Mail, 02 April, ,

accessed on 18 April 2017.

Kambas, M., Karadeniz, T. (2017) “Cyprus Reunification Talks Break Up With Plan to Keep

Talking”, Reuters, 12 January, ,

accessed on 17 April 2017.

Olgun, E. (2017) Personal interview given to the author in Nicosia, Cyprus, on 25 May 2017.

Stefanini, S. (2017) “Cyprus Talks on the Rocks Over School History Rule”, Politico, 21 February,

, accessed

on 18 April 2017.


Will the Venezuelan Government Remain in

Power in 2017?

Kiersten Chambers

Currently, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is experiencing what some experts refer

to as the “worst economic crisis in the history of the country”, in addition to political

instability (Lubben 2016). As a result of the recent economic and political situation, the

Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela (PSUV) has faced increasing domestic opposition,

as well as rising criticism from nearby countries such as the United States, Argentina,

Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, Canada, and Paraguay (Anon. 2016). Although President

Nicolás Maduro’s government has the support of Chávistas —those in favor of the political

legacy of the late Hugo Chávez— as well as countries such as Costa Rica, Bolivia, Peru

and many other American states, the ability of the government to remain in power in 2017

is in question.


The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is led by President Maduro, who was elected to

office in 2013, after the death of former President Hugo Chávez (Anon. 2016). Since that

time, the hyperinflation rate of 800 percent has caused food and medicine to become scarce

and rationed. Meanwhile, the official unemployment rate has reached 21.8 percent, and the

crime rate has increased dramatically —especially in the area of homicides, where it was

estimated that for every 100,000 people 92 were murdered in 2016 (Venezuela Investigative

Unit 2016). Due to these and other factors, Venezuela’s government has received the

attention of organizations such as the European Union, Mercado Común del Sur

(Mercosur), and the Organization of American States (Boothroyd-Rojas 2017a). The

oppositionists —that is, Venezuelan citizens who strongly oppose the government— have

called for the removal of President Maduro. The Chávistas, who show strong support for

the political precedents set by the late Hugo Chávez, have continuously supported the


government. Currently, the Chávistas still lead the polls in Venezuela with the Partido

Socialista Unido de Venezuela being the favored party for 35 percent of those polled

(Boothroyd-Rojas 2017).

Recent Developments

Earlier this year, the Secretary General of the Organization of American States, Luis

Almagro, called for Venezuela to hold general elections within 30 days and “retake an

institutional route” or face suspension from the regional bloc (García Marco 2017). An

extraordinary meeting was held by the OAS permanent council to determine the standing

of Venezuela within the organization, but a consensus was not reached, which allowed the

country to remain a member (Charles 2017). After weeks of speculation regarding the

membership of Venezuela in the OAS, on April 27, 2017, President Maduro made the

executive decision to withdraw from the Organization that the country has been a member

of for 65 years. The process of removing the country from the Organization will take about

two years to complete. This decision came as a result of President Maduro’s belief that the

OAS and conservative regional governments were trying to remove him from power

(Anon. 2017a).

As a result of the escalating efforts to suspend Venezuela from the OAS, protests by

Chávistas, determined to defend their government, erupted in the streets. On the same day,

oppositionists also took to the streets, protesting a recent ruling by the Tribunal Supremo

de Justica, or the Supreme Court (Koerner and Charles 2017). The ruling called for the

investigation of allegations of vote-buying in the December 2015 election of the legislative

branch, which allowed the Tribunal Supremo de Justicia, to take the place of the Asamblea

Nacional —the National Assembly. But the ruling has since been reversed (Boothroyd-

Rojas and Mallet-Outtrim 2017). These demonstrations, which continue unabated as of

September 2017, mark the longest stretch of protests in three years. On June 28, 2017,

what Maduro deemed a “terroristic attack” took place against the Venezuelan government.

A stolen police helicopter fired fifteen shots at the Interior Ministry and dropped four

grenades on the Supreme Court building in Caracas. However, the grenades did not

detonate as planned, and there were no human casualties. (Anon. 2017b). Attacks such as

these have caused the European Union to call on all a parties to “find a common ground

and end the violence”. Mercosur, or the Common Market of the South, has also threatened

to expel Venezuela if the protests do not subside (Boothroyd-Rojas 2017b). In response

to both the protests and the attention received from Mercosur and the EU, President

Maduro called upon the Consejo Nacional Electoral —the National Electoral Council— to

set a date for regional and municipal elections, which have not been held since 2012 (Koerner

2017). That date has now been set for October 15, 2017 (Boothroyd Rojas 2017c).


Venezuela could face severe economic and diplomatic implications due to its voluntarily

withdrawal from the OAS and threatened removal from Mercosur. Since Venezuela has

technically withdrawn from the OAS, a diplomatic charter can no longer be implemented,

which would allow for the assistance in regaining a democratic route and alleviating some of

the economic crisis and political instability. Venezuela will also lose its ability to participate

in meetings of the General Assembly and the Inter-American Defense Board. That could


potentially further-worsen relationships with several nearby countries —specifically those

that openly support the Venezuelan opposition. The country may also lose its funding

from the Inter-American Development Bank, which has given it roughly $1.8 billion todate

(García Marco 2017). In addition, if Venezuela were to be suspended from Mercosur,

it could deeply worsen the economic crisis the country has been suffering from.

Regarding the political aspect of the country’s situation, President Maduro’s efforts to hold

reelections in order to curtail the opposition protests shows the confidence that the

President has in his party. Maduro believes that, by responding to the oppositionists with

votes, he can silence the protesters by proving that a majority of the country still supports

the PSUV. Such a move could further-radicalize and entrench the Bolivarian Revolution.

Regional elections were set for last year, but were delayed due to a decision by the National

Electoral Council, which said that elections would conflict with the recall referendum

process. The ruling postponed the elections even further, on account of 53,658 signatures

collected by the opposition proving to be fraudulent (Koerner 2017). Not only does this

particular incident shed light on the corruption of the political system as a whole, but also

demonstrates the continuing ability of the Venezuelan Government to remain in control

in the face of strong popular opposition.


According to a number of recent polls taken, the current support of the Partido Socialista

Unido de Venezuela has actually risen to 35 percent. This shows that the core of Chávistas

continue to favor the current government regardless of the ongoing economic crisis and

political instability. The opposition remains fragmented. But even when combined,

opposition parties are supported by less than 30 percent of the country, while 36 percent

of the Venezuelan population do not identify with any particular national party

(Boothroyd-Rojas 2017). While economic and diplomatic implications do threaten the

current Venezuelan government, the political aspect outweighs all factors that contribute

to the government’s ability to remain in power. Due to the percentage of voters that favor

Maduro’s party, it can be stated with high confidence that the Venezuelan Government

will remain in power in 2017.


References Cited

Anonymous (2016) “Venezuela country profile”, BBC News, 31 July, , accessed on 17 April 2017.

Anonymous (2017a) “Venezuela to quit Organization of American States”, Aljazeera, 26 April,

, accessed on 17 April 2017.

Anonymous (2017b) “Venezuela supreme court attacked from a helicopter”, Al Jazeera, 27 June,

, accessed on 17 April 2017.

Boothroyd-Rojas, R. and Mallett-Outtrim, R. (2017) “Why has Venezuela’s Supreme Court

Assumed Legislative Power?”, 31 March, , accessed

on 17 April 2017.

Boothroyd-Rojas, R. (2017a) “International Community Responds to Venezuela’s Political Unrest”,

Venezuela Analysis, 11 April, , accessed on 17

April 2017.

Boothroyd-Rojas, R. (2017b) “Support for Chavismo Climbs in Venezuela”, Venezuela Analysis,

13 April, , accessed on 17 April 2017.

Boothroyd Rojas, R. (2017c) "CNE Fixes Date for October Regional Elections", Venezuela Analysis,

13 September, , accessed on 18 September 2017.

Charles, J., and Koerner, L. (2017) “Chavistas and Opposition Forces March on Caracas amid

Clashes”, Venezuela Analysis, April 6, , accessed

on 17 April 2017.

Charles, J. (2017) “OAS Fails to Reach Consensus on Venezuela Suspension in Latest Extraordinary

Session”, Venezuela Analysis, 28 March, ,

accessed on 17 April 2017.

Garcia Marco, D. (2017) “El secretario general de la OEA, Luis Almagro, propone la suspensión

de Venezuela si el gobierno de Maduro no convoca elecciones generales en 30 días”, BBC

Mundo, 15 March, , accessed

on 17 April 2017.

Koerner, L. (2017) “Venezuela’s Maduro Calls for Regional and Municipal Elections”, Venezuela

Analysis, 12 April, , accessed on 17 April 2017.

Lubben, S. (2016) “The Coming Mess in Venezuelan Debt”, The New York Times, 28 January,


accessed on 17 April 2017.

Venezuela Investigative Unit (2017) “Venezuela Set for Murderous 2017”,Insight Crime, 08

January, , accessed

on 17 April 2017.


Will the US Leave the Paris Climate Agreement

Under Donald Trump’s Presidency?

Tahleia Bishop

The early days of the administration of United States President Donald Trump saw a very

purposeful assault on Washington’s longstanding environmental policies. Steps taken by the

Trump administration have included revoking several environmental regulations put in place

during the presidency of President Barack Obama and proposing major cuts to the

Environmental Protection Agency. Most notably, on June 1, 2017, Trump announced his

decision to remove the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement —the world’s most

extensive climate initiative. If carried out, this policy would make the US the only developed

nation not included in the agreement. Upon leaving the agreement, the US would join the

ranks of Syria and Nicaragua as the only nations in the world to shun it. Despite the seeming

finality of the US president’s decision, nothing is certain. Unless he is willing to take drastic

measures, the Trump administration will be forced to undergo a lengthy withdrawal process

that may see the end of his presidential term before its completion. It is therefore not certain

that the US will manage to leave the Agreement under Trump’s presidency. The process may

take so long that in the meantime Trump may be unseated by a Democratic president who

will reverse his administration’s decision. It can therefore be stated with low confidence that

the US will not withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement during Trump’s presidency.


The 1980s saw the creation of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC),

after a majority of environmental scientists ascertained that global temperatures were

warmer than any time since the 1800s (Maslin 2004:20). Since then, research has found

that the 14 warmest years in recorded history have occurred within the last 17 years.

Furthermore, the IPCC established that the warming of the climate is due in large part to


the greenhouse gas emissions —specifically carbon dioxide— released into the atmosphere

as a by-product of human industrialization (Boland 2014:255).

Eventually, IPCC scientists defined climate change as “a change in the state of the climate

that can be identified and that persists for an extended period of time, typically decades or

longer; whether due to natural variability or as a result of human activity” (ctd in Boland

2014:250). Based on that definition, the IPCC spent decades spreading public awareness

of what its scientists described as the critical nature of global climate change. This

awareness culminated in officials around the world coming together under the umbrella of

the United Nations’ Framework Convention on Climate Change, to establish the 2015

Paris Climate Agreement.

As the world’s largest international climate treaty, the Paris Climate Agreement obligates

signatory nations to reduce their respective greenhouse gas emissions and to collectively

keep the global temperature increase under 2 degrees Celsius over the next 80 years. The

only legally binding stipulations of the Agreement are found under Article 28, which

dictates a withdrawal process that can be no shorter than four years (United Nations n.d.).

However, despite not being a legally binding document, the Paris Climate Agreement

creates an umbrella under which countries can create and implement legally binding,

environmental protection legislations that are tailored specifically to their respective

nations. Additionally, it serves as a tool for the international community to hold signatory

countries responsible to their commitments under the Agreement.

With America being responsible for 45 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions,

the 2016 Obama administration’s decision to join the Paris Climate Agreement was a

pivotal moment for the survival of the agreement and the international community’s ability

to meet its collective goal (United Nations n.d.). However, as President Obama’s time in

office was coming to an end, candidate Trump made his opposition to the agreement

known. During his May 2016 campaign speech, Trump promised that during his first 100

days he would “rescind all the job-destroying Obama executive actions, including

cancelling the Paris Climate Agreement and stopping all payments of US tax dollars to UN

global warming programs” (US Office of Management and Budget 2017).

Recent Developments

According to Article 28 of the Paris Climate Agreement, the course of action needed for

the US to withdraw from its obligations requires a four-year process. Signatories must wait

3 years after signing to apply for withdrawal, which will take effect one year after the

submission of the documents. This makes April 2020 the earliest possible withdrawal date

for the US. However, Article 28 also stipulates that any party that withdraws from the UN

Framework Convention on Climate Change will be considered to have also withdrawn

from all the agreements it houses —including the Paris Climate Agreement (United

Nations n.d.). This creates a loophole that would allow Trump to make the unilateral

decision to withdraw from the UNFCCC and thereby the Paris Agreement, well within the

time of his presidential term. Doing so would be a bold and controversial move, almost

guaranteed to create stark divisions within both political parties in the US. Recognizing

this, the Trump administration has elected instead to supplement the Paris Climate


Agreement withdrawal with severe reductions to the size and power of the Environmental

Protection Agency (EPA).

The EPA is an American government agency with the stated mission of “protecting human

health and the environment”. It has defined its Congressional mandate as ensuring —

among other things— “that federal laws protecting the environment are enforced fairly and

effectively, that environmental protection is an integral consideration in US policies, and

that the US plays a leadership role in working with other nations to protect the environment”

(EPA 2017). The EPA has the authority to develop environmental regulations and enforce

them by way of civil or criminal litigation. Furthermore, it is one of the largest environmental

research agencies in America. As such, it was one of the most important agencies in the

country when it came to its ability to implement the Paris Climate Agreement.

In January 2017, the Trump administration took its first action against the EPA by ordering

a freeze of all EPA-related grants and contracts, effectively stopping the agency’s core

operations. The administration explained its actions as a way to ensure that its officials had

a clear understanding of all activities currently underway by the agency. The head of the

EPA transition team, Myron Ebell, stated that it was “trying to freeze things to make sure

nothing happens they don’t want to have happen, so any regulations going forward,

contracts, grants, hires, they want to make sure to look at them first” (Merica 2017). That

same month, two hundred investors with over $2 trillion in assets, as well as some

of America’s largest companies that collectively employ nearly 2 million people and take in

an annual revenue of $1.15 trillion, signed an open letter to the Trump Administration

(Gensler 2017). The letter underscored the companies’ support for environmental

protection and the Paris Agreement. This move by prominent American businesses had

an almost immediate impact on the actions of the Trump administration. Twenty-four

hours after the open letter was released, Trump’s Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson

expressed his belief in the importance of America staying at the Paris

Agreement roundtable so as to “understand its impacts on the American people and

American competitiveness” (Tollefson 2017). A week later, the EPA freeze was lifted, with

the Trump administration stating that “as of now, nothing has been delayed. Nothing has

been cut. There was simply a pause and everything’s up and running” (King 2017).

On February 17, 2017, Scott Pruitt, a former Oklahoma Attorney General and selfdescribed

“leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda”, was confirmed as the new

EPA Administrator. Following this, on March 16, President Trump released a budget

proposal that went uncontested by the new administrator. The budget proposed a $2.6

billion (31 percent) cut to the EPA’s budget, as well as a workforce reduction of 3,200

people that would begin in October 2017. Particularly momentous cuts suggested a $129

million reduction of the EPA’s enforcement budget, a $73 million reduction in chemical

safety and renewable energy research, a $66 million reduction in climate protection

funding, as well as the complete removal of funding for lake restoration, diesel emissions

reduction, and 60 other programs (Korte 2017).

The magnitude of the suggested reductions will have a direct impact on the ability of the

US to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement that it is still held accountable to during

the four years of the withdrawal process. Research conducted by the EPA helps to

determine national areas of environmental interest and create realistic goals for progress.


In relation to this, specific pieces of legislation were created in compliance with the Paris

Agreement in the 2016 fiscal year during the Obama administration. They included

pollution limits for power plants and fuel efficiency and pollution standards for vehicles.

They were regulated and enforced by the EPA in 46 civil and 81 criminal lawsuits against

various American companies, cities and states (EPA 2017). When asked about the impact that

the Trump administration’s cuts would have on the Paris Agreement, White House budget

director Mick Mulvaney stated that the administration simply “went to what the President

said during the campaign and turned those policies into numbers” (US Office 2017).

Recent developments saw increased Republican Party support for withdrawal from the

Paris Agreement. On April 14, 2017, a statement from EPA Administrator Pruitt said that

“Paris is something that we need to really look at closely. It’s something we need to exit in

my opinion” (Mooney 2017). This was supported by EPA transition team head Ebell, who

said that “if the US were to stay in [the agreement] but followed through on its [EPA]

commitments, it would face a continual uproar over its policies”. Ebell went on to repeat

his belief that “kind and gentle international postures will not be effective”, but that the

nation must also remove itself from the Paris Agreement all together in order to ensure

consistency in America’s national and global environmental positions (Eilperin 2017). In

the wake of the June decision to withdraw from the agreement, dissent has rung just as

loudly as support, with Republican leaders such as Senator Rand Paul tweeting that the

decision is “great news for the economy”, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel’s

stated praise for “dealing yet another significant blow to the Obama administration’s

assault on domestic energy production and jobs” (Mascaro 2017).


It initially seemed that the protests of some of the wealthiest businesses and investors in

the US may have the influence necessary to mitigate the resolve of the Trump

administration to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. Yet, confirmation of Trump’s

choice of Scott Pruitt as EPA Administrator brought with it a revitalized commitment to

halt America’s involvement in the Paris Agreement. According to the President of the

Environmental Working Group, Ken Cook, “Trump’s budget proposal would effectively

cripple the EPA’s ability to do anything on behalf of public health and environmental

protection, and leave local and state governments on their own in fighting climate change,

water contamination, and air pollution from toxic industries” (Hulac 2017). These cuts

ensure that the EPA will be unable to effectively carry out its stated mission, particularly

as it pertains to its role in carrying out US commitments to the Paris Climate Agreement.

Despite having four years in which to act before the formal withdrawal is implemented,

US involvement in the Paris Climate Agreement will be crippled. By financially gutting the

EPA, the Trump administration has effectively achieved its desired result of stymying US

action on climate change, thus diminishing any need to enact Article 28, which would allow

for withdrawal within a year. As such, it can be stated with low confidence that the US will

not withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement during Trump’s presidency.


References Cited

Boland, M.C. (2014) “Adapting Like the Animals: The Endangered Species Act as a Model for

Human Adaptations to Climate Change”, Brooklyn Journal of International Law, 40(1), pp247-277.

Eilperin, J. (2017) “There’s a ‘Realistic Chance’ that Trump Won’t Bail on the Paris Climate

Agreement”, The Washington Post, 14 March ,

accessed 17 April 2017.

Environmental Protection Agency (2017) “Civil Cases and Settlements”, United States

Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC, United States, 16 March , accessed 16 March 2017.

Environmental Protection Agency (2017) “Summary of Criminal Prosecutions”, United States

Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC, United States, 16 March , accessed 16 March 2017.

Gensler, L. (2017) ”The World’s Largest Oil and Gas Companies 2016”, Forbes, 26 May.

Hulac, B., and Chemnick, J. (2017) “Future of Paris Accord Uncertain as Tillerson Becomes

Secretary of State”, Scientific American, 2 February.

King, L. (2017) “EPA Lifts Temporary Freeze on Grants to States”, USA Today, 26 January


accessed 15 February 2017.

Korte, G. (2017) “The 62 Agencies and Programs Trump Wants to Eliminate”, USA Today, 16

March ,

accessed 16 March 2017.

Mascaro, L. (2017) “Trump’s Decision to Withdraw from Paris Climate Change Accord Splits

Congress”, Los Angeles Times,1 June , accessed 23 August 2017.

Maslin, M. (2004) Global Warming: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford University Press, Great Clarendon,

Oxford, pp4-24

Merica, D. (2017) “Trump Budget Chief on Climate Change”, CNN Politics, 16 March , accessed 16

March 2017.

Mooney, C. (2017) “Scott Pruitt Calls for an ‘Exit’ From the Paris Accord Sharpening the Trump

White House’s Climate Rift”, The Washington Post, 14 April ,

accessed 17 April 2017.

Tollefson, J. (2017) “Trump’s Pick for Secretary of State Backs Paris Climate Accord”, Scientific

American, 12 January.

United Nations (n.d.). “The Paris Agreement”, Framework Convention on Climate Change

, accessed 16 March 2017.

US Office of Management and Budget (2017) “America First: The Budget Blueprint to Make

America Great Again”, Office of Management and Budget, Washington, DC, United States.

, accessed 16 March 2017.



Will the Construction of the TAPI Natural Gas

Pipeline Proceed in 2017?

Connor Kilgore

The Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline project is focused on

transporting natural gas from Turkmenistan to India, passing through Afghanistan and

Pakistan in the process. However, this project is not simply designed to provide three of

these four nations with energy capability. It may also have the ability to improve relations

between the TAPI member countries, which have a history of discontent and conflict in a

region known for its constant border disputes (Reyaz 2015). Due to this, some have

described the TAPI project as a “peace pipeline” (Bhutta 2017). Since all four national

entities stand to benefit from the project, the TAPI pipeline may help eradicate discontent

between some of the countries involved and promote economic stability in the region.

Despite this potential, the project has faced significant uncertainty since 1995, when it was

originally conceived (Bhutta 2017).


After years of minimal progress, December 14, 2015, marked the ground-breaking, official

commencement of the TAPI project (Reyaz 2015). Originally scheduled to be fully

operational by December 2019 (Reyaz 2015), the pipeline’s completion date has more

recently been postponed to after 2021 (Putz 2017). The TAPI pipeline is designed to carry

3.2 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) and 33 billion cubic meters (bcm) annually, from the

Turkmen gas field Galkynysh to the Indian city of Fazilka (Putz 2017, Reyaz 2015). Of the

3.2 bcfd intended to be transported, Afghanistan will receive 0.5 bcfd, while Pakistan and

India will each receive 1.325 bcfd. The intended pipeline route will travel through the Herat

and Kandahar provinces of Afghanistan, and through the Pakistani cities of Quetta and


Multan, before arriving in India’s northern Punjab province (Reyaz 2017). The total length

of the pipeline is unclear, as there is much disparity in the relevant reporting. One expert

believes the pipeline will total 1,680 km (Afzal 2017); another estimates it to be 1,735 km

(Putz 2017); and a third that it will total 1,800 km in length (Vaid 2016). Other reports

suggest it will reach 1,814 km (Reyaz 2015). Assuming the 1800 km ballpark figure is

correct, Turkmenistan would hold 200 km, Afghanistan would contain 773 km and

Pakistan would encompass the remaining 827 km of the pipeline (Vaid 2016).

The TAPI project is estimated to cost around $10 billion (Reyaz 2015). The funding for

the pipeline primarily comes from the TAPI Pipeline Company Limited (TAPI Co Ltd).

The company consists of the Turkmen national energy firm, TurkmenGaz, the Afghan

national oil corporation, Afghan Gas Enterprise, the private Pakistani energy firm Inter

State Gas Systems, and Gas Authority of India Limited —the state-owned Indian energy

enterprise (Reyaz 2015). Turkmenistan controls 85 percent of the shares of TAPI Co Ltd,

while the other three countries each hold 5 percent respectively. Turkmenistan is the leader

of the consortium and plans to spend $15 billion on discovery and development of gas

fields, and close to $10 billion to lay the pipeline (Afzal 2017).

Regional and international issues have plagued the support of potential investors. One

issue that many worry about is the domestic insurgencies in Afghanistan by militant groups,

such as the Taliban. Despite the Taliban stating publicly in December of 2016 that they

will protect the pipeline (Putz 2017), there is concern over the TAPI’s chances of ever

being operational. This lack in trust of its feasibility stems from factors like disagreements

over natural gas prices and transit fees, doubts about the commercial validity of

Turkmenistan’s gas quality, and fears generated from transporting energy through

politically unstable countries such as Afghanistan and Pakistan (Anon. 2013).

Recent Developments

A few events occurred in the spring of 2017, which may indicate a more positive outlook

for the constructors of the TAPI pipeline project. On January 17, ILF Beratende

Ingenieure GmbH (ILF), a German engineering firm, signed a contract with TAPI Co Ltd

agreeing to perform geological surveying to determine the feasibility of both the Afghan

and Pakistani routes. Roughly a month later, on February 22, ILF began their geological

surveying of the Afghanistan route. There is concern over Afghanistan’s route —expected

to take one year to complete (Putz 2017)— due to domestic issues like inter-clan fighting,

a struggling economy that is largely dependent on drug-trafficking, and the presence of

Islamic State insurgents (Levit 2017). Despite these issues, Turkmenistan continues to push

for the project and to increase its natural gas exports, as it has been doing over the last

decade. Turkmenistan had a pipeline project named “Line D” in the works, which was

intended to transport natural gas from Turkmenistan to China, passing through

Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. However, on March 2, the China National

Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and Uzbekneftegaz suspended the “Line D” project until

further notice (Pannier 2017). One day later, on March 3, the Front and Engineering

Design ceremony signaled the beginning of ILF undertaking the Pakistani route survey

(Bhutta 2017).



The outcomes of the Afghan and Pakistani surveys will determine the fate of the TAPI

pipeline. Despite the various domestic and regional factors that may negate the completion

of the project, it can be stated with moderate confidence that the TAPI pipeline will be

built —for a number of reasons. Not only do the member countries benefit from the

overall development of the region, but each nation has individual benefits to gain as well.

Turkmenistan holds the fourth largest natural gas reserves in the world —estimated to be

7.504 trillion cubic meters— and exported 45.79 bcm over the course of 2014 (CIA).

However, this figure has dropped since that time, due to a number of conflicts with some

of their largest clients regarding gas pricing. Russia cut Turkmen gas exports at the

beginning of 2016 and Iran suspended Turkmen gas exports at the beginning of 2017

(Pannier 2017). Furthermore, China’s decision to suspend “Line D” makes the TAPI

pipeline more important now than ever for Turkmen prosperity. With natural gas exports

accounting for nearly 31 percent of its national GDP (CIA) and the TAPI project’s

intended 3.2 bcfd output, Turkmenistan is unlikely to stop pushing for the TAPI project,

because it can resurrect the country’s lost output and revenue.

Through transit fees, Afghanistan is estimated to make $400 million annually (Reyaz 2015).

While this would not greatly improve the country’s national GDP —estimated by the

World Bank at nearly $20 billion in 2015 (World Bank)— it would improve the country’s

energy capabilities. With only 30 percent of the country’s population having access to

electricity (World Bank 2017), this would be welcome news. Additionally, Afghanistan is

hopeful that the successful installation of the TAPI pipeline can promote further

investment and thus further benefit its unstable economy (Reyaz 2015). Furthermore,

Afghan leaders are hopeful that TAPI would increase Afghanistan’s international

economic credibility, opening opportunities for other regional infrastructure projects,

including railway projects (Putz 2017).

Pakistan looks to the TAPI pipeline to alleviate an energy shortage, from which the country

has suffered for the better part of the past decade. These energy deficiencies are estimated

to impede 2 percent of the country’s economic growth annually (Jorgic 2016). The

Pakistani Petroleum and Natural Resources minister has said that Pakistan is hopeful that

the TAPI project “will meet a large part of the country’s demand” (Bhutta 2017).

India stands to benefit from the successful completion of the TAPI pipeline for multiple

reasons. First, India holds 0.4 percent of the world’s proven oil and 0.6 percent of the

world’s proven natural gas reserves (Anon. 2013). These numbers are not sufficient to

enable the country to develop. Additionally, India has the world’s fastest-growing economy

and is expected to experience a 5.5% increase in its economy over the next two decades,

according to the United States Energy Information Agency (EIA 2016).


Despite the factors seemingly in the way of successful completion of the TAPI pipeline, it

can be stated with moderate confidence that the project will ultimately be completed. The

TAPI pipeline has the potential to benefit all countries involved, and because of that, those

countries should be expected push for the pipeline to become operational. While some of


these countries have experienced conflict with one another in the past, the mutual benefit

of this project may be able to partially mend those damaged relationships. The surveying

of Afghanistan and Pakistan is a necessary step in the process toward completion. It can

be said with moderate confidence that those routes will be deemed feasible by ILF. With

that in mind, and considering the extensive time period expected for the Afghan route to

take, it can be said with low confidence that physical construction of the TAPI pipeline

will proceed in 2017.

References Cited

Afzal, A. (2017) “Prospects of TAPI Gas Pipeline Project”, Customs Today, 6 February accessed on 17 April 2017.

Anonymous (2013) “Analysis of Post-Soviet Central Asia’s Oil & Gas Pipeline Issues”, Geopolitica,

12 December ,

accessed on 17 April 2017.

Bhutta, Z. (2017) “Work in TAPI Pipeline Begins in Pakistan”, The Express Tribune, 4 March

, accessed on 17

April 2017.

Central Intelligence Agency (n.d.) “The World Factbook: Central Asia: Turkmenistan”, Central

Intelligence Agency, Langley, VA, United States , accessed on 17 April 2017.

Jorgic, D. (2016). “Pakistan PM Rushes to End Energy Shortages Ahead of 2018 Poll”, Reuters,

10 October ,

accessed on 11 May 2017.

Levit, D. (2017) “Afghanistan Begins TAPI Geological Survey; Pipeline’s Fate Still in Question”,

Economic Calendar, 24 February ,

accessed on 17 April 2017.

Pannier, B. (2017) “Turkmenistan’s Gas Gloom”, OilPrice, 12 March , accessed on 17 April 2017.

Putz, C. (2017) “Afghanistan Shouldn’t Start Counting TAPI Revenue Just Yet”, The Diplomat,

24 February ,

accessed on 17 April 2017.

Reyaz, M. (2015) “TAPI Pipeline: A New Silk Route or a Pipe Dream?”, Al Jazeera, 16 December

, accessed on 17 April 2017.

United States Energy Information Administration (2016) “Chapter 1. World Energy Demand

and Economic Outlook”, International Energy Outlook 2016, 11 May , accessed on 17 April 2017.

Vaid, M. and Kar, S. (2016) “TAPI Pipeline Progresses, But Future Uncertain”, Oil & Gas Journal,


World Bank (n.d.) “Afghanistan” , accessed

on 11 May 2017.

World Bank (2017) “Overview: Afghanistan” 07 May , accessed on 16 May 2017.


What is the Current State of the Iranian

Revolutionary Guard Corps?

Benjamin Dunham

Since its creation in 1979, the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution, also

referred to as the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), has developed into one of

the most widely recognized organizations within the Iranian state. Created as a tool of the

Guardian Council by the Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in May 1979, the IRGC was

intended to protect the then-new Islamic system. They also served to counterbalance the

power of the post-revolution Iranian military, which had remained largely loyal to the

monarchy (Wehrey 2009:20). The IRGC, however, has evolved from a tool of the

government to a self-sustaining and nearly self-determining entity that acts as a military,

economic, and political powerhouse within the country. This is similar to the praetorian

guard raised by the Roman Emperor Augustus (27 BC - 14 AD) to protect himself from

the threat of a coup d’etat (Safshekan and Sabet 2010:543). Over time, the IRGC has faced

international condemnation, terrorist designations and even international sanctions

(Pecquet 2017). Despite this, the organization has managed to make strides economically,

politically, and militarily over time. Taking into consideration events in both the distant

and recent past, I am highly confident that the IRGC has risen to a near-praetorian status.

Specifically, it does not have political control over the Iranian government, but still

manages to exercise very strong influence on it. I am highly confident that the organization

is prospering under current conditions in Iran and the surrounding region.


In January 1979, the world watched as the Iranian masses overthrew the pro-Western

monarchy that had ruled the country since 1925. The speed and conditions under which

the Iranian Revolution took place caught the international community —including the two


superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union— by surprise. In April 1979, an

official referendum passed, forming the Islamic Republic of Iran (Nohlen 2001:68). On

May 5, 1979, under the decree of the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini, the IRGC was

formed. The group was organized around the idea of consolidating several paramilitary

forces throughout the region into a single force loyal to the new government (Ostovar

2009). The IRGC was intended to help protect the recent and ambitious strides of the new

clerical leadership by enforcing laws and protecting the Islamic system from opposition

(Anon. 2009).

In 1980, when Iraq invaded Iran and the eight year Iran-Iraq War began, the IRGC found

itself needing to adapt to the rapidly changing situation. Under the pressure of an invading

army, this conflict saw the creation of the Basij. This was a volunteer militia, known as the

‘Army of 20 million’, which attracted thousands of eager volunteers rallying behind the

new Islamic government and against a common enemy (Hiro 1991:205). This nationalism

would translate into the rapid growth of the IRGC naval, air, ground, and missile forces,

as the organization adopted a more traditional military structure. In August 1988, the Iran-

Iraq War ended and the United Nations began peacekeeping operations in the area. At that

point, the two previously warring nations turned towards reconstruction. The IRGC,

which had developed considerable expertise in the fast construction of fortifications and

shelters, quickly seized the opportunity to expand its Khatam al-Anbiya Construction

Headquarters, which would soon evolve into Gharargah Sazandegi Khatam Alanbia

(GHORB), the IRGC’s engineering arm. Both during and after the Iran-Iraq War,

GHORB took a leading responsibility in helping rebuild Iran. Because of this, the IRGC

was awarded billions of dollars in government contracts, making them one of Iran’s largest

contractors. In turn, the influx of cash and influence allowed the GHORB to diversify into

companies involved with mechanical engineering, defense, mining, and energy.

Throughout that time, Iran was considered a major oil and gas exporter in the world. The

government rapidly awarded numerous contracts to develop these resources in the 1990s

and continues to do so today. Currently, the Iranian government plans to invest hundreds

of billions of dollars by 2025 into the oil sector (Anon. 2010). Different groups compete

for the rights to these contracts, but the IRGC has the first choice the majority of the time,

whether it is offered to it or not (Moaveni 2007). It is estimated that in 2007, the IRGC

was involved in over 100 different companies, each with its own independent government

contracts (Murphy 2007). With deep roots in the Iranian economy, the IRGC is also

naturally embedded in Iranian politics. Over time, the IRGC has become much more

involved in parliamentary elections through its veteran militia members. From the 1980s

onward, the number of seats in parliament held by IRGC veterans with connections to the

organization saw a steep rise, and in 2004 IRGC veterans managed to win 16 percent of

seats. (Boroujerdi and Rahimkhani 2011). However, there are still many acrimonious

divides between these former IRGC members of parliament, reflecting the relatively

diverse political climate in Iran. Older IRGC veterans of the Iran-Iraq War are often

aligned with hardliners or “principlists”, who are traditional conservatives. But there is also

a number of former IRGC members in parliament who subscribe to the reformist school

(Boroujerdi and Rahimkhani 2011). The latter has been able to maintain a significant

amount of political power with the re-election of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in

2017 (Anon. 2017).


Recent Developments

With the recent political changes in the West, including the election of Donald Trump as

President of the United States (US), we saw changes in Iranian-American relations directly

involving the IRGC. Almost immediately, bilateral relations, which had improved under

the administration of US President Barack Obama, iced over. President Trump made it

clear from the onset that he had no interest in honoring his predecessor’s Joint

Comprehensive Plan of Action (Stone 2016). Alongside its fervently anti-Iran rhetoric, the

Trump administration has considered the idea of labeling the entirety of the IRGC as a

terrorist organization. This would be an escalation from the 2007 move by the US

Department of the Treasury, which designated only the Quds Force —the IRGC

paramilitary operations group— as a terrorist organization for providing material support

to extremist groups (Anon. 2007). If President Trump goes ahead with labeling the entire

IRGC as a terrorist organization, immense stress would be placed, not only on Iranian-

American relations, but on Russian-American relations as well. Russian-American relations

have already suffered due to Washington’s strong objections to Iranian and Russian

military support for the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

Analysis and Conclusion

The IRGC is a complex organization, which has its roots in the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

It has been fighting against real or perceived threats to Iran since its formation. It seems

only appropriate, therefore, that the IRGC is seen as the primary force for combatting

domestic threats, subversion, and insurgencies within Iran, as they emerged through the

country’s violent revolutionary experience. The IRGC has often been criticized for its use

of torture and executions in its actions against perceived domestic threats. However, the

IRGC in recent years has acted less like the brutal secret police of the pre-1979 Pahlavi

monarchy and more like a modern praetorian guard. It is likely that the IRGC will become

increasingly powerful within a praetorian state if left unchecked, like the Praetorian Guard

did in Rome under Emperor Augustus. Despite this, I am moderately confident that the

IRGC has little interest in taking over the Iranian government at this time. They benefit

directly from their relationship with the current Islamic clerical administration. The latter

supports the IRGC, and in return the group supports the clerics with the might of a

modern military. If President Trump were to decide to label the IRGC a terrorist

organization, not only would it damage US relations with Iran, but it would reduce the

possibility of future cooperation between the US and Iran. Because of these factors,

observable evidence, and the recent historical trajectory, I am highly confident that the

IRGC has risen to a near-praetorian status in which it does not have full political control

of the government, but maintains a very strong economic and political influence in Iran. I

am highly confident that the organization is prospering under current conditions in Iran

and the surrounding region.


References Cited

Alfoneh, A. (2007) “How Intertwined are the Revolutionary Guards in Iran’s Economy?”, Middle

Eastern Outlook, American Enterprise Institute, 3(1), 22 October, pp1-10.

Anonymous (2007) “Fact Sheet: Designation of Iranian Entities and Individuals for Proliferation

Activities and Support for Terrorism”, US Department of the Treasury, 25 October.

Anonymous (2009) “Profile: Iran’s Revolutionary Guards”, BBC, 18 October, , accessed on 4 April 2017.

Anonymous (2010) “Iran Eyes $250 Billion Annual Revenue in 5 Years”, Mehr News Agency, 22

December, accessed on 14 April 2017.

Anonymous (2017) “Hassan Rouhani wins Iran’s presidential election”, al-Jazeera, 20 May, , accessed on 7 July 2017.

Boroujerdi, M. and Rahimkhani, K. (2011) “Revolutionary Guards Soar in Parliament”, United

States Institute of Peace, 19 September, , accessed on 14 April 2017.

Foroohar, K. (2016) “Iran Seeks Access to Its $100 Billion via US Financial System”, Bloomberg,

15 April, , accessed on 21 April 2016.

Hiro, D. (1991) The Longest War: The Iran–Iraq Military Conflict, Routledge, New York, NY, United


Maloney, S. (2015) ‘Major Beneficiaries of the Iran Deal: The IRGC and Hezbollah”, The Brookings

Institution, 17 September, ,

accessed on 12 April 2017.

Moaveni, A. (2007) “Iran’s Rich Revolutionary Guard”, Time, 5 September, , accessed on 5 April 2017.

Murphy, K. (2007) “Iran’s $12-Billion Enforcers”, The Los Angeles Times, 26 August, , accessed on 12 April 2017.

Nohlen, D., Grotz, F., and Hartmann, C. (2001). Iran, Elections in Asia: A Data Handbook, 1,

Oxford University Press.

Northam, J. (2015) “Lifting Sanctions Will Release $100 Billion to Iran. Then What?”, All Things

Considered, NPR, 16 July, , accessed on 14 April 2017.

Ostovar, A.P. (2009) “Guardians of the Islamic/Muslim Revolution Ideology, Politics, and the

Development of Military Power in Iran (1979–2009)”, PhD thesis, University of Michigan,

accessed 4 April 2017.

Pecquet, J. (2017) “Congress Cautiously Takes on Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps”,

Al-Monitor, 29 March ,

accessed on 4 April 2017.

Safshekan, R. and Sabet, F. (2010) “The Ayatollah’s Praetorians: The Islamic Revolutionary

Guard Corps and the 2009 Election Crisis”, Middle East Journal, 64(4), pp543-558.

Stone, R. (2016) “What will Trump do with the Iran nuclear deal?”, Al Jazeera, 12 December,

, accessed on 12 April 2017.

Wehrey, F., Green, J.D., Nichiporuk, B., Nader, A., Hansell, L., Nafisi, R., and Bohandy, S.R.

(2009) “The Rise of the Pasdaran Assessing the Domestic Roles of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary

Guards Corps”, RAND, National Defense Research Institute, , accessed on 4 April 2017.


Will Relations Between Iran and the United

States Improve in 2017?

Jack Lincoln

After the Second World War, the United States (US) strategically expanded its global

presence to deter foreign nations from increasing their influence. In the Middle East, an

aspect of US foreign policy was to prevent nations like Iran from aligning with the Soviet

Union. Iran in the 1950s is one example of the US plan having unforeseen consequences.

The reason the US wanted to maintain control of the region and specifically of Iran, was

the nation’s energy wealth, its proximity to the energy-rich Persian Gulf, and the fear that

the then hostile Soviet Union would gain access to Iran’s oil (Bakhash 2009). A joint

American and British plan, Operation AJAX, kept Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, commonly

referred to as Iran’s Shah or King, in power for 26 years. The US and the United Kingdom

preferred the Shah to remain in power rather than the legally elected Dr. Mohammad

Mossadeq, who was deemed by London and Washington as pro-Soviet. This even meant

using “quasi-legal” methods to bring down Mossadeq and install a “pro-Western

government under the Shah’s leadership” (Dehghan and Norton-Taylor 2013). However,

the action contributed to the demise of relations between the US and Iran. “Relations” in

this paper are defined as the ever-changing connections between nations and the way in

which their respective political, economic and military policies affect each other. Relations

can be improved by constructive communication between leaders, political compromise,

and military collaboration. There are factions in both the American and Iranian

governments that are not seeking to improve relations. On the other hand, there are

factions in each government that see cooperation and improved relations as a benefit to

both sides. This paper analyzes events that are positively or negatively impacting bilateral

relations between the US and Iran. Currently, relations between the two countries are at

an impasse and are likely to worsen before they improve. Consequently, it can be stated


only with low confidence that Iranian-American relations will improve in 2017.


Many general principles apply can be applied to Iranian-American relations, but three have

been most persistent. The first principle is that most actions are not isolated events. The

second is that most actions are justified with reference to international resolutions or global

conflicts. For example, US President Donald Trump imposed sanctions on Iran in

February 2017 for testing its ballistic missile program (Anon. 2017f). His administration

cited United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231, which bans Iran from developing

ballistic missiles that can carry a nuclear warhead, as justification (Anon. 2017e). In March

of the same year, Iran acted similarly when it reciprocated sanctions against American

weapons and military-equipment manufacturers and exporters, for their involvement and

support in Israel’s alleged “brutal atrocities” against Palestinians (Anon. 2017d). A third

principle of US-Iranian relations is consistent interference in each other’s military

development or activities. This was seen in the recent deployment of the USNS Invincible

to the Persian Gulf following several weeks of Iranian war games and a ballistic missile

test. Iran responded to that move with a maneuver that one US official described as an

“unsafe and unprofessional” tactic to disrupt the US operation (LaGrone 2017).

To understand the current relations between the US and Iran, it is critical to examine

several events that shaped the present situation. Operation AJAX was not only about

preventing Soviet influence from spreading to the Middle East; the ensuing coup d’état was

also economically motivated. Specifically, it aimed to prevent Iran’s oil industry from

becoming nationalized and denying profits to British and American companies that were

active in the region. The British approached the Americans following the assassination of

Iranian Prime Minister, Ali Ramzara, “after he renounced nationalization proposals”

(McMurdo 2012:17). The British were concerned that Mossadeq would go through with

his plans to nationalize the Iranian oil industry, a move that would significantly weaken the

post-war British economy. In August 1953, the coup was carried out successfully

(McMurdo 2012:15). The goal of the operation was to guarantee that the “the Iranian

monarchy would safeguard the West’s oil interests in the country” (Dehghan and Norton-

Taylor 2013). Mossadeq’s “handpicked” replacement, General Fazlollah Zahedi, enabled

the “relatively weak” Shah Mohammad Reva Pahlavi, to gain near-absolute power (Anon

2013). With this added power, the Shah enacted brutal policies on the Iranian people (ibid.),

which worsened the Iranian public perception of the US. As the Shah’s health deteriorated,

many Iranians developed an “anti-American character” that fueled the Islamic Revolution

of 1979 (Gasiorowski 2004). The mutual tension caused the 1979 Revolution in Iran and,

in part, to the prolonged hostage crisis that arose after the US Embassy in Tehran was

captured by an Iranian militia. The subsequent fear and outrage in both the American and

Iranian public accelerated the breakdown of Iranian-American relations.

While the 1979 Revolution in Iran intensified the deterioration of relations, the American

response of applying new economic sanctions on Iranian imports in 1979 demonstrates

the principle that most actions come as a response to what the other nation is doing.

Moreover, the US, foreign governments, and multi-state organizations like the European

Union, continue to apply sanctions on the Middle Eastern country. These center on Iran’s


oil sales, conventional and nuclear weaponry, and alleged links to terrorism (Anon. 2012).

The most recent round of sanctions was issued by the US in July 2017. They center on 18

individuals and corporations that supported Iran’s armed forces with the “[development]

of drones and military equipment” in addition to other machinery (Anon 2017g). In line

with the principles stated earlier, Iran’s parliament promised a defiant response and an

increase in military funding (ibid.). Soon after the sanctions were announced, Mohammad

Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, argued to reporters that these sanctions could be in

violation of terms of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), an agreement

that had been greeted with optimism by those favoring a rapprochement in Iranian-

American relations (Sanger and Gladstone 2017). While direct military conflict has not

occurred, sanctions have been the most common form of aggression between the US and

Iran. The lengthy history of sanctions dating back to the 1979 Revolution in Iran have

negatively impacted the chances of improvement of US-Iranian relations in 2017.

Recent Developments and Analysis

The development of Iran’s nuclear program is a significant factor in Iranian-American

relations. The American reaction to the prospect of a nuclear Iran has also weighed

significantly on relations. As part of its response, the US, in partnership with Germany and

the United Nations Security Council, reached an agreement on the JCPOA with Iran in

July 2015 (State Department n.d.). Under the plan, the United Nations’ International

Atomic Energy Agency is responsible for inspecting declared Iranian nuclear facilities to

ensure compliance with the JCPOA. The JCPOA established a limit to the volume of heavy

water that Iran can possess to operate its centrifuges. Centrifuges are machines designed

to enrich uranium to optimal purity levels. Heavy water helps prevent the centrifuges from

overheating and not functioning. Iran was found to have violated the condition of

possessing no more than 130 tons of heavy water twice in 2016 (Anon. 2017a). The first

violation, which occurred in February 2016, was taken relatively lightly, as Iran was still

transitioning to meet the terms of the JCPOA (Murphy 2016). However, in December

2016, a second heavy-water violation became a “standoff” that was “defused” when Iran

agreed to ship the excess heavy water to Oman (Anon. 2017a). The issue was brought up

again on March 17, when Iran argued that there was no part of the JCPOA that required

that the extra material be stored outside of Iran’s borders. The US quickly denied the

request, as it believed it was acting within the stipulations of the JCPOA (ibid.). This further

demonstrates the principle that neither the Americans nor the Iranians will act in isolation

or without the perceived backing of international agreements.

The heavy-water debate presents a problem in improving bilateral relations. Iran may be

using the JCPOA as leverage in its foreign policy. Tehran acknowledges that the JCPOA

is a significant milestone in American foreign policy under President Obama’s tenure. Due

to the significance of the agreement, Washington may surrender more in future deals to

ensure the survival of the JCPOA. The goal of the Iranian government appears to be to

reap the benefits of the JCPOA, while the US is still recognizing the agreement. President

Trump recently announced that Iran is complying with the terms of the agreement (Anon.

2017h). General David Petraeus, who served as the director of the US Central Intelligence

Agency under the Obama administration in the build-up to the signing of the JCPOA,

recently suggested that the US may be compelled to adhere to the JCPOA agreement. The


consequences of not doing so “would isolate the US more than it does [Iran]”, said General

Petraeus (Anon. 2017b). If General Petraeus’ opinion is shared by members of the US

government, it may explain Iran’s attempt to store the extra heavy water. The latter issue

affirms the aforementioned principles that each nation reacts to the other’s actions, and

also in accordance with international resolutions. The US government has demonstrated a

firm stance on Iran’s possession of heavy water and any attempts to exceed the limits set

by the JCPOA. This indicates that the US government likely does not want to allow Iran

to act freely, nor allow it to make additional demands under the JCPOA.

Ostensibly, the US and Iran are heavily invested in the stability of the Middle East.

However, they envision the stability of the Middle East differently. Iran is in a more central

position than the US in regional affairs, given its geographic location. The frequent US

involvement in the Middle East is seen by Tehran as threatening the interests of Iran. An

example of this is the regular standoffs between US and Iranian vessels in the Persian Gulf,

most recently involving the USNS Invincible. The Invincible, an unarmed ship, with

capabilities to measure the strength of missile tests, was confronted by a smaller Iranian

vessel in July 2017 (LaGrone 2017). The Iranian vessel attempted to separate the Invincible

from the British Naval ships that were escorting it through the Strait of Hormuz (ibid). It

seems reasonable that this was done to provoke a violent, protocol-breaking response by

the convoy, which would cast the Americans and British as the aggressors.

Iran’s deployment of a fast attack craft to impede the Invincible is significant because it

typifies Tehran’s attempts to disrupt US operations in the region. These attempts are

consistent with the principles of the US-Iran relationship. The American ship was deployed

after Iranian military forces, specifically, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC),

conducted a missile launch and multiple weeks of war-game exercises that began on

February 20. The annual exercises conducted by the IRGC, called Payambar-e Azam 11,

or “The Great Prophet”, are designed to offer a “presentation of power and sustainable

security” (Anon 2017c). The Invincible was likely deployed to provide more accurate data

on future ballistic missile tests. The US positioned the ship to the Persian Gulf in response

to Iran’s military exercises. Iran attempted to deter the Invincible from travelling close

enough for its surveillance equipment to be in range of Iranian activities.


In conclusion, it can be stated with low confidence that Iranian-American relations will

improve in 2017, due to the lack of desire from both the American and Iranian

governments to attempt to reach agreements. The JCPOA is a rare deal that demonstrates

that the leadership of both nations can reach compromise. For Iranian-American relations

to improve there needs to be change through a mutual desire to reach compromise, and

move away from the foundation of bilateral relations that has guided Iranian-American

relations for the past half century.


References Cited

Anonymous (2012) “Timeline: Sanctions on Iran”, Al Jazeera News, 16 October , accessed on 8 April


Anonymous (2013) “Aftershock of Iran’s 1953 Coup Still Felt Around the World, 60 Years Later”,

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 15 August , accessed on 17 May 2017.

Anonymous (2017a) “Iran Takes Stand On Nuclear Deal Provision That Clashes With U.S. View”,

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 18 March ,

accessed on 8 Aril 2017.

Anonymous (2017b) “Petraeus: We Pull Out of Iran Deal, we Likely Isolate Ourselves More Than

Iran”, FOX News 09 March

accessed on 8 April 2017.

Anonymous (2017c) “Iran Successfully Test-Fires Advanced Rockets During Military Drills”

Sputnik International 20 February accessed on 10 April 2017.

Anonymous (2017d) “Iran Hits Back at US With ‘Reciprocal’ Sanctions”, Al Jazeera News 26 March

accessed on 13 April 2017.

Anonymous (2017e) “Iran Denies Missile Test Violated UN Resolution”, BBC News 1 February

accessed on 16 April 2017.

Anonymous (2017f) “US Slaps New Sanctions on Iran Over Missile Test”, Al Jazeera News

accessed on 13 April 2017.

Anonymous (2017g) “US Announces New Sanctions Over Missile Programme”, Al Jazeera News

accessed on 20 July 2017.

Anonymous (2017h) “US Certifies Iran Nuclear Deal, but Vows New Sanctions”, Al Jazeera News

accessed on 20 July 2017.

Bakhash, S. (2009) “The US and Iran in Historical Perspective”, Foreign Policy Research Institute

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20 July 2017.

Dehghan, S.K. and Norton-Taylor, R. “CIA Admits Role in 1953 Iranian Coup”, The Guardian

accessed on 20 July 2017.

Gasiorowski, M.J. and Byrne, M. (2004) “Mohammad Mosaddeq and the 1953 Coup in Iran”,

The National Security Archive, 22 June

accessed on 8 April 2017.

LaGrone, S. (2017) “U.S. Navy Surveillance Ship Harassed by Iranian Attack Boat”, United States

Naval Institute, 6 March

accessed on 8 April 2017.

McMurdo, T.L. (2012) “The Economics of Overthrow”, Studies in Intelligence, 56(3), pp 15-26.

Murphy, F. (2016) “Iran Once Again Exceeds a Nuclear Deal Limit: IAEA report”, Reuters

accessed on 16 April 2017.

Sanger, D.E. and Gladstone, R. “As Relations Worsen, Iran Says US Sanctions May Violate

Nuclear Deal”, The New York Times accessed on 20 July 2017.

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on 13 April 2017.



Biographical Notes on Contributors

TAHLEIA BISHOP, from Whitby, Ontario, is a recent graduate of Coastal Carolina University,

where she completed an Interdisciplinary Studies degree in International Relations and Civil

Unrest, as well as a minor in Political Science. In the spring of 2017, she served as the head of

the Chanticleer Intelligence Brief’s North America Section. In May of 2015, she was an invited

keynote presenter at the Crossing Borders International Conference hosted by the State

University of New York - Buffalo. She has also served as a Health Equity Youth Leader for the

Centre of Addiction and Mental Health, which is affiliated with the University of Toronto in

Canada. Tahleia is currently pursuing a Master in International Law at the University of Nottingham

in the United Kingdom.

KAYLA “ACE” CHAMBERS, from Chapin, South Carolina, is a sophomore majoring in Psychology

at Coastal Carolina University. Her political research primarily focuses on the European Union

and European national elections. In May 2017, she was elected to serve as the Records Officer

for the Chanticleer Intelligence Brief. In August of the same year she was appointed to serve as

the head of the organization’s Europe Desk. Ace is the spring 2017 recipient of the CIB’s Best

Intelligence Essay Award.

KIERSTEN CHAMBERS, from Queensbury, New York, is a recent graduate of Coastal Carolina

University where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Intelligence and National Security Studies

with a minor in Spanish. She specializes in Latin America, with a focus on Venezuela and has

served as an analyst in the Chanticleer Intelligence Brief’s Americas Section. Kiersten’s research

interests include drug trafficking organizations, street gangs, law enforcement intelligence

and political corruption, primarily within Latin America.

BENJAMIN DUNHAM, from St. Louis, Missouri, is a senior at Coastal Carolina University, where

he majors in Intelligence and National Security Studies with backgrounds in Communications,

Computer Sciences, and Islamic studies. In the spring of 2017, Benjamin was an analyst in the

Chanticleer Intelligence Brief’s Middle East Section. In May of the same year, he was selected to

participate in a security-focused Coastal Carolina University study-abroad program in Greece

and Cyprus, which was organized in association with the University of Nicosia.

CONNOR KILGORE, from Leesport, Pennsylvania, is a senior at Coastal Carolina University,

where he is majoring in Intelligence and National Security Studies with a minor in Global Studies.

In the spring of 2017, he attended the International Student Festival in Trondheim (ISFiT) and

the Model European Union conference held by the State University of New York (SUNY). In the

summer of 2017, he studied abroad in Greece and Cyprus, as well as in Georgia. He specializes

in energy security and international relations. Connor is the spring 2017 recipient of the CIB’s

Best Intelligence Essay Award.

JACK LINCOLN, from Glen Head, New York, completed his freshman year at Coastal Carolina

University majoring in Intelligence and National Security. He is interested in international relations

with a focus on Middle Eastern affairs. In June 2015, he participated in the Intelligence and

National Security program organized by the National Student Leadership Conference at the

American University in Washington DC. Jack has traveled extensively in Spain, where he lived

as an exchange student.


CASEY MALLON, from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is double-majoring in Intelligence and

National Security Studies and Political Science, and minoring in Statistics, Religious Studies,

and Geographic Information Systems at Coastal Carolina University. Her research primarily

focuses on the change and evolution of terrorist groups. In May 2016, she was appointed to

serve as Chief Financial Officer in the Chanticleer Intelligence Brief’s Executive Team, and has

since served as the head of the Cybersecurity Desk and the Alternative Topics Desk. Currently

serving as the Executive Director of the Chanticleer Intelligence Brief, Casey is also the

Communications Officer for Coastal Carolina University’s National Security Club and an officer

in Women in Intelligence and National Security, of which she is a founding member.

TROY RAMSBACHER joined the United States Marine Corps after graduating from high school

in Minneapolis, Minnesota. After serving honorably during multiple deployments in the Middle

East, he joined the Intelligence and National Security Studies program at Coastal Carolina University,

where he is now a senior. His research primarily focuses on the ongoing reunification negotiations

between the Republic of Cyprus and the self-declared state of the Turkish Republic of

Northern Cyprus. He also focuses on Eastern Mediterranean security issues and geopolitical

developments surrounding natural-gas exploration in the region. In May 2017, Troy undertook

field research on the island of Cyprus, where he explored the state of relations between the

Republic of Cyprus and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

JOSEPH FITSANAKIS, PhD, is Associate Professor of Politics in the Intelligence and National

Security Studies program at Coastal Carolina University. Before joining Coastal, Dr. Fitsanakis

founded the Security and Intelligence Studies program at King University, where he also directed

the King Institute for Security and Intelligence Studies. He has written extensively on subjects

such as international espionage, intelligence tradecraft, counterintelligence, wiretapping, cyberespionage,

transnational crime and intelligence reform. He is a frequent media commentator

and senior editor at, an ACI-indexed scholarly blog that is cataloged through the

United States Library of Congress.

JOHN NOMIKOS, PhD, is Director at the Research Institute for European and American Studies

(RIEAS), Chairman of the Mediterranean Council for Intelligence Studies (MCIS), Chairman of the

Greek Intelligence Studies Association (GISA), Chairman of the European Intelligence Academy (EIA),

and Founding Editor of the Journal of Mediterranean and Balkan Intelligence (JMBI). He is Assistant

Professor at Webster University (Athens Campus), and Visiting Scholar at the John Naisbitt

University in Serbia and the University of Rome (Tre) in Italy. He was previously Adjunct Professor

at the Department of International Relations at the University of Indianapolis (Athens Campus).






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