Archive for the ‘Topics’ Category


Earlier this month, students from our current MIR intake organized a visit to the U.S. Embassy in Madrid. Here is current MIR student Calvin Nguyen’s account of the visit.

Embassy visit

Through the initiative of MIR student Jose Miguel, students from the Master in International Relations and other interested IE students attended a special talk on July 1st at the United States Embassy in Madrid, Spain. The talk focused on the topic of Public Diplomacy featuring civil servant Vickery Sanchez and her experience while working with the Department of State in Washington D.C.

3pm that day, we began the process of entering the fortress-like U.S. embassy undergoing a very lengthy security screening process. Soon after, we were led into a room that reminded me of a miniature theater with comfortable sofas, classical chairs, and lazy boy armchairs. With the air conditioning blowing cooling us from the oppressive 40 C degree Madrid summer heat and being comfortably seated in the sofas and armchairs, the presentation began.

It was a great opportunity to learn about Public Diplomacy which is different than classical diplomacy between governments and larger organizations. Rather, Public Diplomacy is the government directly engaging with the people themselves.

Throughout the presentation, we saw an example of an action plan of the U.S. government about how it engages in Public Diplomacy with the world. Additionally, we learned about the way social media has changed the way the government engages with people and how it serves as a valuable tool in Public Affairs and Public Diplomacy.

I had always heard of and knew about the U.S. Fulbright program which students utilize as an opportunity to teach, to work, and to conduct research abroad. Originally, I had thought of it as a way to expose Americans to other cultures, but after the presentation, I now see it as a means of the U.S. government to spread soft power through the world.

Vickery also mentioned the importance of Foreign Service Officers working in Public Diplomacy abroad as a means to combat both disinformation and misinformation by helping to deliver accurate information and news, and to properly represent the views of the United States.

Overall, it was a very informative event and a nice break during the extremely hectic period of thesis writing. Specially organized talks and events like these provide a very nice change from the classical classroom learning environment.


The historic deal between Iran and world powers reportedly reached on July 14 in Vienna has paved the way for international sanctions against Tehran to be lifted in exchange for limits on its nuclear activities. While the six powers have said the deal will slow Tehran’s ability to acquire a nuclear weapon, the accord could also have other far-reaching ramifications linked to Iran’s possible reintegration into the global community.

From potentially stoking a Middle East arms race, to enabling political reforms in Iran, to undercutting Russia’s energy might by freeing up massive oil and gas supplies, here are some possible implications of the agreement.

‘Destabilizing’ Factor?

The prospect of a prospering Iran has sparked concern among skeptics of the nuclear deal — and even some U.S. officials who back it — that Tehran could use this financial windfall to destabilize the already volatile Middle East.Sanctions relief could allow Iran to repatriate more than $100 billion in oil revenues currently frozen overseas , and some experts estimate that sanctions relief could help Iran’s $420 billion economy grow by 5 percent to 8 percent annually.

“We are, of course, aware and concerned that, despite the massive domestic spending needs facing Iran, some of the resulting sanctions relief could be used by Iran to fund destabilizing actions,” The Daily Beast quoted a U.S. State Department official as saying in a July 8 report. 

However, Mohsen Milani, the executive director of the Center for Strategic & Diplomatic Studies at the University of South Florida, told RFE/RL that the deal could be a “transformative event” in the Middle East because it opens the door to better ties between Iran and the West, which could reduce tension in the region.

Richard Nephew, who served as the State Department’s principal deputy coordinator for sanctions policy and as director for Iran at the National Security Council, argues that fears that Iran will use money from sanctions relief to bankroll its regional ambitions are overblown.

“Iran’s domestic economic needs are real, as is [President Hassan Rohani’s] imperative to deliver on the promises that got him elected,” Nephew wrote earlier this month. “To ensure the stability of their government, Iran’s leaders must tend to the problems at home and make the investments necessary to sustain their future. Supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and other regional actors is an important, but secondary, objective.” 

Shifting Alliances

The U.S. push for the nuclear deal with Iran has also raised fears among Sunni-dominated Arab states that Washington, their traditional guarantor, is essentially stepping back to allow Shi’ite Iran free rein in the region. Amid these concerns, Gulf Arab states are increasingly talking about diversifying their international alliances.

“[U.S. President Barack] Obama is going to be remembered as the U.S. president who restored relations with Iran. But he may also be remembered as the U.S. president who lost his traditional allies in the region,” Sami al-Faraj, a Kuwaiti security adviser to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), told Reuters in June. Read more…

Written by By Carl Schreck and Golnaz Esfandiari

Published on July 14th in


You’d be forgiven for thinking that Iran, unshackled from economic sanctions, would have free rein to domineer its vulnerable Persian Gulf Arab neighbors and cause trouble for Israel. As the fearful refrain goes, if an Iran restrained by crippling sanctions has managed to assert its influence over four Arab capitals — those of Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen — what will an Iran freed from sanctions and a global arms embargo do? As noted Iran hawk Ray Takeyh recently wrote, “the most important legacy of the prospective agreement [may be that it] enable[d] the Islamic Republic’s imperial surge.” This same line has been pushed so hard that it has become accepted fact in Washington.

The problem is, the line isn’t true. But, nonetheless, it is threatening to upend a lasting nuclear deal with Iran.

As the nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1 countries head down to the wire in Vienna, the issue has arisen in the question of whether the arms embargo imposed on Iran as part of the U.N. Security Council resolutions would be maintained following a nuclear deal. The United States and its European partners say yes; Russia, China, and Iran say no.

The timing is troubling to say the least. Just as solutions have been found to constrain and roll back elements of Iran’s nuclear program, this issue — one that’s outside the scope of the nuclear talks — is now taking on such exaggerated importance that it threatens to undo the serious progress of the past 18 months. Having performed so well at insulating the nuclear talks from outside complications, U.S. and Iranian negotiators have nearly reached agreement only to come to a standstill over this regional dimension. Of course, no one imagined back in 2010 that a conventional arms embargo — part of what was otherwise a U.N. Security Council resolution focused squarely on Iran’s nuclear-proliferation activities — would rear its ugly head in quite this manner.

The Russian and Iranian position is that the Security Council resolutions rested on the understanding that the arms embargo would be lifted once concerns regarding Iran’s nuclear program were resolved. Provided that a deal is reached on Iran’s nuclear program, Russia and Iran thus argue, the arms embargo loses its legal justification. The current U.S. position, however, may be less interested in maintaining coherence with past policy than it is with ensuring that it mitigates regional allies’ concern as much as possible as part of a nuclear deal with Iran. Understandably, U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration fears that undoing the arms embargo on Iran would be a step too far for some of the United States’ key regional allies, all of which — but particularly Saudi Arabia — threaten to undermine the administration’s case for a nuclear deal should they perceive their interests to dictate in favor of doing so. Read more…

Published on July 10th in

Trita Parsi is president of the National Iranian American Council and author of A Single Roll of the Dice: Obama’s Diplomacy With Iran.

Tyler Cullis is a legal fellow and policy associate at the National Iranian American Council.


By Deniz Torcu, MIR 2014/2015 Current Student

The image that has started to go viral in social media amongst Greek users is simple, yet strong enough to explain the stand of the majority. It says a clear “NO”, however the rejection is composed of the sentence “YES TO THE EURO”.

My recent trip to Athens was a clear depiction of how devastated the country really is. The once busy neighbourhoods filled with restaurants, cafés and shops are now being replaced by two yellow signs that mark the desperation of the people: “for rent” and “for sale”, appearing side by side.

Yes, Greece owes billions of dollars. Yes, Greece cannot pay her debt to the IMF and has to redeem billions of bonds held by the ECB or run the risk of going into default.

These are the dry, non-human facts that we read in the news every day.

However, what we don’t get to read as much is the following: after the measures taken by the Greek governments over the past 5 years, the situation only got worse where the real GDP fell as much as 27%, unemployment rates broke a new record, pensions were cut by 48%, unofficial and non-registered labour started to make up as much as 34% of the entire labour force, and public debt kept growing finally reaching a level of nearly 180% of the GDP.

Do those developments seem as a healthy way to bring back an economy? Maybe to Angela Merkel and the German creditors who hold a majority of Greece’s debt, but definitely not to the Greek people.

Go to Greece, speak to ordinary people on the streets, the cafés, taxis, etc. You will hear stories like that of the taxi driver Antoni, who, despite having two degrees in hospital management, has to work in a rented taxi because the highest salary that he can get practicing his own profession doesn’t even reach 500 euros per month; he is thinking of migrating to Canada with his wife, even though he doesn’t want to leave Greece.

You will encounter the taverna owner Dimitri, who is concerned about the anti-Syriza propaganda that has been going strong from the creditors, pointing out to the fact that two extreme right-wing parties are already backing the government. There are fears that if Syriza is not given a proper chance to try to make things right, the fascist Golden Dawn would gain even more power.

Read more…

Published on 1 July, 2015 in

Deniz Torcu has a degree in Economics and previously worked for the Spanish governmental organization Instituto Cervantes and the Turkish National Commission for UNESCO. She currently studies International Relations at IE School of International Relations in Madrid as the Turkish scholar for 2014-2015.


Four students of International Relations at IE University have been invited to participate in a crisis management and armed conflict simulation, organized by the The Higher Staff College of The Armed Forces (ESFAS) of Spain. During this simulation more than 250 people were involved in a Computer Assisted Exercise (CAX) that simulates joint, combined, and coalition civil-military operations at the operational level.

Following a demanding selection process IE School of International Relations and the The Higher Staff College of The Armed Forces invited Ana Barrenechea, Marco Pastor, Pilar Arenas and Thitivut Ekphaisansup to participate in the computer-based simulation that is taking place in Madrid from May 21st to May 28th.

In this series of blog posts IEU students will share their experience during the simulation!


“This means war!” – These where the words which came out of the Coalition Secretary General’s mouth after the UN and the members of the Alliance sank one of their boats in the Celtique Straits without any reason. Immediately after this action, politicians, diplomats and the military where coming in their masses to our Headquarters to ask for Political and Legal advice. We officially shifted from phase 2.1, which was offensive but more defensive, to 2.2, which was totally offensive. 2015-CAX (27)Throughout the day, we were able to see how this simulation had created a binomial relationship with reality. Moreover, we saw how war is not that simple and that it implies much more than shooting weapons and dropping bombs.

Firstly, it is important to explain that for an army to attack or take ANY action they need the approval from the Political level through what is called the Rules of Engagement (ROEs). This is where the LEGAD comes in and tells both the military and the politicians which ROEs they need to implement or remove and change for other ones (always following the parameters given by International Law).

In addition, we discovered how war is not only fought in the battlefield but in many other places. An example of it is the Media War, which is fought to obtain a positive view from the International and National public opinion. Sometimes your country is seen as the aggressor when you are really not. This makes people to not cooperate and for other countries to condemn you and can make it hard for you to take any action. However, if your Media centre is able of turning this around appealing to the emotions of people (i.e. showing the sufferment inside the Refugee Camps) it may give you the upper hand and lead you towards victory.

Therefore, war is not only about the Military and the Politicians but everybody and everything surrounding it.


Written by Pilar Arenas Merino

You can read more blog posts about the simulation and our students’ experience here.

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