President Hassan Rouhani, 68, won a landslide victory in the presidential election on May 19. More than 40 million Iranians voted on that day. That puts turnout above 70 percent.
Amid a major breakdown in diplomatic relations between Turkey and Germany, Turkey's Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said that Berlin must decide between its friendship with Ankara and alleged coup plotters, after Germany granted political asylum to military officials with suspected links to last year's failed coup d’état. In retaliation, Turkey refused to allow lawmakers to visit Incirlik base near Syria...
Angela Merkel is on course to secure another term as German Chancellor with 49 % of Germans giving her their support. A poll conducted by German ARD broadcaster shows that 63 per cent of respondents are pleased with her work, and 72 per cent of those voters back her because she «ensures the people in the country are doing well».
The US Defense Department announced on May 9 that President Donald Trump had authorized arming the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a coalition of rebel fighters led – by the United States in Syria, which includes the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) as its main element. The package is to include small arms, machine guns, construction equipment and armored vehicles among the provisions. The decision was taken to boost the SDF firepower before the offensive to retake the Syrian city of Raqqa – the unofficial capital of the Islamic State (IS) group...
Congress on May 4 authorized a new effort to counter «Russian influence and aggression» and to support civil society organizations in Europe and Eurasia. The lawmakers also backed a measure imposing new restrictions and oversight on Russian diplomats in the United States. The provisions are part of the $1.1 trillion budget to fund the federal government for 2017 backed by Senate. The bill is expected to head to the president’s desk soon.
With sanctions against Russia put on hold, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is pushing through a bill to introduce more sanctions on Iran. Lawmakers will likely consider an Iran sanctions bill in coming weeks but will not do the same for a Russia sanctions bill, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Tennessee senator Bob Corker, told reporters on May 1. According to him, it would be better to wait on Russia sanctions while the Senate Intelligence Committee conducts its investigation into the alleged Russia’s election interference.
Moscow is ready to cooperate with the United States on settling the Syrian crisis, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on April 29. The statement was made at a time the much-awaited round of Astana talks were to kick off on May 3-4 and the UN-brokered talks in Geneva were about to resume. There is a good reason to address the issue without delay.
In a statement made on April 24, Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Isik said the purchase of the S-400 air defense system will be discussed during the Russia-Turkey summit on May 3 in Sochi.
The meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) member states wrapped up in Astana on April 21. The participants confirmed the unanimous decision to grant full-fledged membership to India and Pakistan at the SCO Astana summit on June 8-9, 2017.
President Trump’s policy on Iran is still to be shaped. The signals sent are more than contradictory. During the election campaign, the president used to say that the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, was a bad deal which he would rip up when in power.