Paul Pillar, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institute and former CIA Intelligence Officer
Ali Vaez, Senior Analyst on Iran, International Crisis Group
Ellie Geranmayeh, Policy Fellow, ECFR
Daniel Levy, Director of MENA Programme, ECFR
On 2 April in Lausanne, world powers and Iran declared the parameters of a comprehensive nuclear deal, offering greater detail than expected. Although much progress has been made so far, forceful opposition in the US Congress and the region pose real obstacles to a final deal being reached and implemented.
Alongside the dramatic P5+1 Iran nuclear breakthrough, the Middle East regional landscape descended further into turmoil. Western and Iranian allies have ratcheted-up conflict in a chaotic Yemeni civil war, the emergence of a broad Saudi-led military alliance coinciding with the Lausanne talks. In parallel, military coordination between Iran and the West appeared to intensify in Iraq in pursuit of the shared goal of depleting and defeating the Islamic State. Not so in Syria where confrontation continues to trump coordination, in spite of a similarly robust Islamic state presence there. The US has re-asserted its commitment to traditional allies while suggesting a new equilibrium needs to be found in the region. Those allies have in the meantime largely doubled down on their existing adversarial relations with Tehran.
How will the framework for a nuclear deal take shape over the coming months and how will all sides navigate the local and geo-strategic politics involved? Are there new openings for diplomacy and de-conflicting regional crises or will existing constraints and antagonisms prevail or even intensify post-Lausanne? This lunch brought together US, regional and European expertise to explore these complex but potentially game-changing developments.
Paul Pillar is a Senior Fellow at the Center for Security Studies at Georgetown University and at the Brookings Institution. He had a 28-year career as an intelligence officer with the CIA and the National Intelligence Council, and is now a contributing editor to The National Interest, where he writes a blog.
Ali Vaez is a senior analyst on Iran at International Crisis Group. He previously headed the Iran project at the Federation of American Scientists in Washington, DC, focusing on Iran’s nuclear and missile programs.
Ellie Geranmayeh is a MENA policy fellow at ECFR, focusing on Iran. She is the author of several publications including ‘Détente with Iran: how Europe can maximise the chances of a final nuclear deal’.
Daniel Levy is the Director of ECFR’s MENA programme.