This paper provides an introduction to the Islamic Republic of Iran; its politics, economy, foreign and defence policies, and nuclear programme. It examines the governmental structure of the theocratic state, analyses the key personalities and forums of decision-making and assesses Iran’s policies at home and abroad.

This Note looks at the possibility of introducing primaries into the candidate selection processes of UK political parties, following the experiment of an open primary in Totnes, Devon, by the Conservative Party. It also examines experience of primaries in the United States, where the procedure is well established.

This note provides an introduction to the human rights situation in the Islamic Republic of Iran. It examines the overall political and legal framework in Iran as it relates to human rights and considers the human rights experiences of religious and ethnic minorities - groups like the Baha'is and Jews - and at the human rights situation relating to gender and sexuality.

  • Research Briefing

    This note provides an introduction to Syria, its politics, history, and international relations. It gives an overview of Syria's political system and examines the rule of President Bashar al-Assad, who won a second term of office on 29 May 2007. The note also considers Syria's human rights record. In addition, it examines Syria's relationships within the Middle East - with Lebanon, Israel, Iraq and Iran - and with the United States, the European Union, and the United Kingdom. Finally, it provides suggestions for further reading.

  • Research Briefing

    This note provides an overview of the forthcoming presidential elections in Iran. It outlines the main candidates and their platforms, analyses the campaign, assesses the fairness of the elections, and discusses their political and constitutional significance within the context of Iran's broader political system.

  • Research Briefing

    This note provides background information on the detention of seven leaders of the Baha'i faith who have been imprisoned in Iran since March and May 2008. It also considers the international responses to their imprisonment.

  • Research Briefing

    A year on from Dmitry Medvedev’s succession to the Kremlin, this paper analyses the evolution of Russian foreign policy under both Putin and Medvedev. It seeks to identify the main themes, interests, and objectives of Russian foreign policy, and to appraise the role of President Medvedev in the direction of Russian diplomacy and his relationship with Prime Minister Putin. In so doing, it examines, in detail, Russia’s relationship with the United States, NATO, the EU, and the UK and analyses the role of energy in relations between Russia and the West. Finally, it looks ahead at the prospects for the relationship in light of President Obama’s declared intention to press the “reset” button in US-Russian relations.

  • Research Briefing

    This note provides details on the Government's new investment programme at the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) and examines the new ownership arrangements at AWE Management Ltd (AWEML), the consortium which manages AWE on behalf of the government, which resulted from the decision by British Nuclear Fuels Ltd (BNFL) to sell their one-third stake in AWEML to the US-based Jacobs Engineering Group on 18 December 2008.

  • Research Briefing

    This note examines the scale of the opium problem in Afghanistan and analyses recent trends in opium production in the country, including the latest figures published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in August 2008 and its forecast for 2009, published in February 2009. It also outlines the linkages between the narcotics trade and the Taliban insurgency.

  • Research Briefing

    This note examines the conflict between Israel and Hamas of December 2008 to January 2009. It analyses the original six month ceasefire between Israel and Hamas and the reasons for its breakdown. It examines the international responses to the conflict and assesses its humanitarian impact.

  • Research Briefing

    Elections for US President, Senate, House of Representatives and 11 State Governors, 4 November 2008. Democratic candidate Senator Barack Obama won the US Presidential Election, defeating the Republican candidate Senator John McCain.