Salman Rafi Sheikh

Iran’s SCO Membership: Implications for the JCPOA Revival

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Even as the Biden administration continues to follow a lacklustre approach to revive the JCPOA, following essentially the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” strategy to force Iran into agreeing to enter a new JCPOA, Iran’s recently ensured membership of the SCO comes as an additional dilemma for the US in the sense…

Afghanistan: America’s Moment of National Embarrassment

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With the Afghan Taliban’s (terrorist organization, banned in RussiaDahJTkfw successful military occupation of Kabul on August 15, 2021 America’s twenty years’ debacle in Afghanistan has come to an embarrassing end after almost twenty years of what millions of the Americans believed was a ‘war on terror’ to ‘end terror.’ While the Taliban’s ultimate success was never unexpected…

The US has Little to Offer to Southeast Asia

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In his recent visit to Southeast Asia – the Philippines, Vietnam and Singapore – the US Defense Secretary, Lloyd Austin, outlined what can be called the blueprint of US re-engagement with the region after a lull of few years. One thing that becomes strikingly clear is that the US needs China to survive in Southeast Asia. However, the US does not need China as a friend…

Erdogan’s Troubled Path to Better Ties with the US

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Ever since Joe Biden’s inauguration as the US president, US-Turkey ties seem to have undergone a shift from a thorny and crisis-ridden path that characterised the Trump era to a relatively period of calmness and cooperation. This calmness manifested itself in a relative absence of exchange of critical statements between both leaders. Erdogan’s most recent…

Can Biden Force Iran into Accepting a New JCPOA?

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The US-Iran talks in Vienna are reportedly stuck, with Washington still unable to force Iran into accepting a deal that goes beyond the framework of existing JCPOA. However, the fact that Iran has not given up shows the limits of the strategy both the Trump and Biden administrations have been following ever since Washington unilaterally withdrew from the agreement…

Biden’s Iraq Withdrawal: Will It Happen?

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Whereas the US has almost fully withdrawn from Afghanistan, leaving it for Afghanistan’s neighbours to clean up the mess, the Joe Biden administration’s announcement to end the US military’s combat mission in Iraq is an ambiguous proposition, one that the administration is likely to use to conceal its active presence inside Iraq to combat and check Iranian presence and role…

Biden’s New War in Afghanistan

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When the US president Joe Biden decided to withdraw the US forces from Afghanistan and delivered his ‘victory speech’, he didn’t sound like a winning commander-in-chief of the world’s supposedly most powerful military force, especially the one that failed to defeat the Taliban (banned in RussiaDahJTkfw even after 20 years of war. America’s self-perceived and self-nurtured sense of invincibility has been further shattered…

Nord Stream 2 Signals American Decline in Europe

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The US ‘decision’ to not stand in the way of Nord Stream 2 is hardly a surprise. While the US officials made their decision to look like a diplomatic victory for them when they said that the US “will not tolerate Russia using energy as a geopolitical weapon in Europe or escalating its aggression against Ukraine”, it remains that the US did not have any leverage to force…

Washington Relocating from the Middle East to Southeast Asia

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With Joe Biden being one of the key architects of the Obama administration’s “Asia Pivot”, an increasing focus on Asia – especially, Southeast Asia – was/is inevitable. However, it is not just Biden’s obsession with the region that explains the on-going shift. America’s drastic failure in the Middle East despite decades of military…

The SCO Devises a ‘Regional Approach’ to Afghanistan

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Even though the US withdrawal from Afghanistan was expected to make the Afghan war less ‘international’, this has been far from the case. Contrary to the projections, even ‘civil war’ in Afghanistan has an international dimension, not because some international actors are militarily involved in it, but mainly because the fallout could destabilise the whole region…

Biden’s New Russia Sanctions Reverse the ‘Geneva Spirit’

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While there was a lot of optimism surrounding the Biden-Putin summit in Geneva as a big leap towards re-defining US-Russia ties in an era when the US is primarily engaged with China as its leading competitor, the post summit developments have clearly shown that the rivalry between the US and Russia is too deep to be simply overcome just because the US has another…

Saudia-UAE Rivalry Upends ‘Gulf Unity’

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With Saudia’s strategic partnership with the UAE largely unravelling in the face of a directly growing competition and rivalry between them — which in turn is an outcome of the UAE’s own bid to position itself as the new leader of the ‘Sunni Muslim world’, and Saudia’s bid to ensure its survival as the traditional hegemon – ‘Gulf unity’ is facing an unprecedented crisis…


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