A competition between the United States and Saudi Arabia to reach a deal with Iran has put Iran in a strong short-term regional position. The Iranians are in a race against time, however, to cement this advantage before Turkey assumes its dominant role on the regional stage.
After a decade of aggression, authoritarianism and nationalism, Russia has become strong enough again both internally and in its region that its leadership is sufficiently confident to shift policies and plan for its future — all the while being carefully managed behind the scenes.
The beginning of the drawdown of U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan will entail opportunities for the Taliban on the battlefield as forces fall back to a more limited and more secure presence. (With STRATFOR maps)