Middle East And North Africa
The contrast between richly endowed oil-and-gas economies and resource-poor countries is an important marker in the region. Its strategic location between the East and West, along with its energy wealth, make it vulnerable to the clashing policies and interests of local and global powers, including the United States, Europe and Russia. Foreign interventions tend to exacerbate local conflicts.
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The risky quest for a new nuclear deal with Iran
With the recent downing by Iran of a U.S. drone, tensions between the two countries may be entering a new phase. The Trump administration has imposed more sanctions and made new threats, in hopes of getting Iran back to the table for another nuclear deal. The U.S. does not want war, but it is hard to see how productive negotiations can resume. If it can bear the costs, Iran may prefer to wait out the situation until a more favorable American leader takes office.