Iran is parched. Indeed, this year is expected to be among the driest in the last 50 years. Of the country’s 85 million people, some 28 million people live in water-stressed areas, mostly in the central and southern regions. Water scarcity is hitting all segments of society, from urban households to rural farming communities. Iran isn’t alone in its plight. Of the 17 most water-stressed states in the world, 12 are in the Middle East and North Africa, which includes all the littoral states of the Persian Gulf. In tackling the region’s water challenges, Iran and its Arab neighbors to the south have much to gain by accepting the need for regional cooperation to promote water security while minimizing harm to the Persian Gulf’s ecology. In fact, regional cooperation in this area is an easy mark and one U.S. President Joe Biden has good reasons to encourage given his administration’s focus on combatting climate change.
The Islamic Republic will hold its thirteenth presidential election on June 18. The Guardian Council, a twelve-member body comprised of six clerics and six attorneys, will announce the list of candidates allowed to run for president. While the final list of candidates will not be announced by the Guardian Council before May 26, it can be said with certainty that whoever emerges victorious will not have a material impact on Iran’s domestic or foreign policy. Iran has had seven presidents. The first one, Abolhassan Bani-Sadr—who served a little over a year from 1980 until 1981—is in exile in France. The second one, Mohammad Ali Rajaei, was assassinated in a bombing in 1981. The third one, Ali Khamenei—who was president during 1981-1989—is the current Supreme Leader. The fourth, fifth, and sixth presidents have been sidelined after the end of their respective presidencies. Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani—who served from 1989 to 1997—was disqualified by the Guardian Council when he sought a third term in 2013. Mohammad Khatami, who was president from 1997 to 2005, has faced severe restrictions due to the 2009-2011 Green Movement; newspapers are barred from mentioning his name or printing his image until this day. His successor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad—who was president during 2005-2013—has fared better, but he was also disqualified by the Guardian Council when he sought a third term in 2017.
Should we define the current Russia–Iran relations as a strategic partnership or rather as a tactical alliance between countries with diverging foreign policy aspirations and ambitions? To answer this question, we should clarify what strategic partnership actually means in the modern international relations.
Summary: The strong Iranian presence in Iraq troubles Arab Gulf leaders and discourages them from engaging with the country more deeply. / Iran adopts a strategically pragmatic approach to Iraq, cooperating widely to maximise its influence while working hard to retain vital Iraqi economic support, especially vis-à-vis its rivalry with the US. / In contrast, Arab Gulf states’ approaches to Iraq have been stop-start – although Iraq’s own weak governance also contributes to this. / Popular Iraqi anger at Iranian influence allows Arab Gulf states to present a positive image of themselves as potential investors in Iraq’s economy. / Europeans should encourage Arab Gulf states to act more strategically on Iraq. /An Iraq that has diverse regional relationships is more likely to be stable and secure, in line with European interests in the Middle East.
Saudi Arabia and Iran reportedly held a significant diplomatic meeting in Iraq in early April, which was itself the product of a series of earlier, more low-key and low-level meetings. The two sides are said to be planning a follow-up soon. And Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, one of the Arab leaders most vociferously critical of Iran, said in a major televised interview that his government seeks “good relations” with Iran and is “working with our partners in the region to overcome our differences with Iran.” The talks in Iraq reportedly focused on the situation in Yemen, but the details are probably less significant than the development of such a dialogue.
With the recent blockage of the Suez Canal by the container ship Ever Given, many countries are already actively involved in the search and discussion of a possible future alternative to this maritime transport route connecting Europe and Asia. For instance, Russia proposed the Northern Sea Route, and Israel recalled the idea of the Ben-Gurion Canal, which could connect the Mediterranean with the Red Sea, bypassing the Suez Canal. Iran is not far behind in this regard, proposing as one of the “bypass routes” the North-South transport corridor from the Persian Gulf to the Black Sea, the idea of which it suggested way back in 2016.
2021-04-28Iran's Zarif Says Leaked Tape Sparked ‘Domestic Infighting’, Touts 'Synergy' of Military & Diplomacy
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani earlier ordered an investigation into the leak of an audiotape of Foreign Minister Javad Zarif's interview, not intended for public release, where he alleges that his diplomatic efforts within the government are overshadowed by the demands of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has expressed deep regret over the potential fallout from a recently leaked audio of him expounding on the decision-making process in the Islamic Republic.
2021-04-26Saudi Broadcaster 'Leaks' Context Free Quotes From Iran's Foreign Minister Talk - Should It Be Trusted?
In a leaked audiotape that offers a glimpse into the behind-the scenes power struggles of Iranian leaders, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the Revolutionary Guards Corps call the shots, overruling many government decisions and ignoring advice. In one extraordinary moment on the tape that surfaced Sunday, Mr. Zarif departed from the reverential official line on Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, the commander of the Guards’ elite Quds Force, the foreign-facing arm of Iran’s security apparatus, who was killed by the United States in January 2020. The general, Mr. Zarif said, undermined him at many steps, working with Russia to sabotage the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers and adopting policies toward Syria’s long war that damaged Iran’s interests. If the Revolutionary Guard really 'calls the shots' and was against the nuclear deal why was it signed and sealed?
China and Iran recently signed a major 25 year agreement to enhance comprehensive cooperation in a range of fields including trade. After the signing of the agreement, some Western Media Outlets tried to depict the agreement negatively. Some claimed that this agreement met with backlash in Iran. What is the actual situation? Will the agreement implementation be influenced by US sanctions? How does Iran evaluate its cooperation with China? Iranian Ambassador to China, Mohammad Keshavarzzadeh shared his views on these issues.
International experts view the China-Iran agreement, based on its content and timing, as a political maneuver against the nuclear deal, which has been going back and forth between the Biden and Tehran administrations. While some claim that the indecisiveness of the Biden administration in returning to the nuclear deal with Iran is moving Iran increasingly closer to China, others see the deal as a “game changer” for Iran. On the other hand, given Iran’s recent experience with both China and the US, we can argue that the agreement is not a “game changer” for Iran’s foreign policy in the international arena, but rather “a part of the current plan”. This is because this issue is essentially a global one that transcends Iran’s bilateral relations with the two countries, is intertwined with the global rivalry between the US and China, and moves in cycles at the regional level. In this context, three points must be considered in order to thoroughly assess the agreement’s impact on bilateral relations: the dynamics of the global power transition between China and the US, China’s general Middle East policy, which has been gradually taking shape since 2016 as an extension of its power transition project, and the “multilateralism” policy followed by Iran at a global level.