Weekly Intelligence Brief | Vol. 02 | Iss. 07 | March 26, 2018.


Weekly Intelligence Brief | Vol. 02 | Iss. 07 | March 26, 2018.

Volume 2 | Issue 7 March 26, 2018


Published by the Chanticleer Intelligence Brief at Coastal Carolina University in Conway, South Carolina, USA




Michael Gompper, Head, Europe Section

The recent power-sharing talks between the predominantly loyalist

(pro-British) Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and the secessionist

(pro-Irish) Sinn Fein have come to a political stalemate once again

in Northern Ireland.

In January 2017, Martin McGuinness resigned as the Northern Ireland

deputy first minister in protest against a scandal involving the local

government’s Renewable Heat Incentive. This caused the Sinn Fein

and the DUP to abandon their power-sharing agreement and leave

Northern Ireland without a government. In January, Karen Bradley was

appointed by London as the Northern Irish secretary. She said that

forming an executive at Stormont would be her top priority. Since then,

she has held individual meetings with the leaders of the main parties.

All of this has been happening under the shadow of Brexit, as the United

Kingdom is preparing to leave the European Union. Brexit poses a

major question, namely whether there should be a soft or hard border

between Northern Ireland and Ireland. British Prime Minister Theresa

May stated that the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland was

going to be a major discussion point during the first round of talks that

took place in December 2017. The border issue between the two

countries, widely viewed as the most difficult issue in the Brexit negotiations,

remains inconclusive. (continued on page 2)

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(Continued from front page) In the wake of Brexit,

Secretary Bradley has tried to resume talks with

the Northern Irish political parties. Her hopes

were short-lived because the DUP and Sinn Fein

could not agree on a common Irish language, an

issue that has been dividing the local Protestant

and Catholic communities for years. This means

that Northern Ireland will continue to be without

an elected government for the foreseeable future.

On February 13, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar

and Theresa May met to discuss the border

issue. Some speculated that this was more of a

distraction than an actual effort to work out an

agreement between the two sides. Sinn Fein has

protested that the British government has no

plan for Northern Ireland. Sinn Fein president

Mary Lou McDonald has even accused Theresa

May of “facilitating the DUP blocking” the restoration

of power-sharing.

With Northern Ireland’s government still without

an elected executive, and Brexit talks still moving

slowly, the restoration of a border with major

checkpoints will have huge ramifications on the

economic and political practices of both Northern

Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Additionally, if

a hard border is put into place, there could potentially

be another rise in paramilitary violence

in Northern Ireland. When there was a hard border

in place between Ireland and Northern Ireland,

we saw the Troubles, which was a 30-year

civil war in Northern Ireland involving pro-Irish

secessionists, pro-British loyalists, and the British

Army. Violence subsided when both the

United Kingdom and Ireland were members of

the European Union, which meant that the border

between them became soft, much like that

between South Carolina and North Carolina in

the United States. But if hard border is restored,

we could see more of that type of conflict, as pro-

Irish secessionists will once again feel disconnected

from Ireland.

In December of 2017, during the first round of

talks, there needed to be sufficient progress made

in all major areas. By the time the second round

of negotiations started, the border issue was, and

still is, the most prominent, and a resolution is

nowhere in sight. With the DUP and Sinn Fein

both blaming the other for the failure of the power

sharing-agreement, negotiations on a border

agreement are going to take even longer. Therefore,

providing that the power-sharing agreement

in Stormont remains elusive, I can say with

moderate confidence that there will not be a soft

border in 2018.



Nathan Lake, Head, Middle East Section


United States President Donald Trump has given a speech in

which he outlined his strategy for dealing with Iran and its nuclear

program, as well as his main objections to the Joint Comprehensive

Plan of Action (JCPOA). This speech indicates that the

US may withdraw from the JCPOA.

In July 2015, six countries known collectively as the P5+1, reached

an agreement with Iran concerning its nuclear program. The P5+1

are the five permanent members of the United Nations Security

Council (US, UK, Russia, China, and France) as well as Germany.

This agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action

(JCPOA), exchanges economic sanctions relief for restrictions

on Iran’s nuclear program. However, on October 13, 2017, President

Trump announced his decision to decertify the JCPOA as part of

his new strategy in dealing with Iran and its nuclear program.

In his recent speech, the US president put forward his reasoning

for his decision to decertify the deal and threaten to leave it if his

demands are not met. In addition to blaming Iran for many terrorist

atrocities, President Trump also accused Iran of violating the

agreement on multiple occasions by exceeding its heavy water

limit and intimidating inspectors, thus preventing them from carrying

out full inspections. This development has potentially very serious

implications for the JCPOA, and therefore the world, because

it greatly increases the odds that the US will eventually withdraw

from the JCPOA. The United States is a very influential country,

and by making its commitment to the JCPOA questionable,

greatly jeopardizes the survival of the deal. Additionally, a potential

US withdrawal from the JCPOA will send a message to other

nations that diplomacy does not work, and moreover that there is

no point in making a deal with the US because the next president

might simply cancel it.

Given the high publicity that the JCPOA received by from the media,

and the corroboration between the United Nations and various

media outlets on the details of the agreement, I can say with high

confidence that my sources are accurate. This development is exceedingly

important to the broader question: “Will the P5+1 continue

to support the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in 2018?”,

because if the US withdraws support from the JCPOA, then the

P5+1 no longer supports the JCPOA. This development leads me

to state with moderate confidence that the US will withdraw from

the JCPOA.

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