• 2020-07-17

    Both Iran and China stand to gain from a formal and long-term framework that organises their bilateral relations. While an overarching agreement will almost certainly make their partnership stronger, it is highly unlikely to develop into a full strategic alliance. Clearly, such a move would face strong resistance from within Iran. China – which has yet to substantively comment on the deal – will also need to carefully balance deepened relations with Iran against the concerns of Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates – which have in recent years become important economic partners in the Middle East. And it is unclear how far China’s commercial and banking sectors will be willing to engage with Iran under the threat of US sanctions. Moreover, the extent to which Beijing and Tehran develop this partnership will be tied to the fate of their respective relations with Washington.

  • 2020-07-17

    The recent arrest of 5 senior officials of Albania’s Regional Border and Migration Directorate on charges of people smuggling and illegal assistance to cross the borders, after an investigation into illegal trafficking and abuse of migrant documentation, illustrates the depth of Albania’s problems. Coordination with the CIA in these arrests by Director General of the State Police, Ardi Veliu also reminds us that one of Albania’s difficulties has been to emerge in any meaningful way from under the control of the US as a NATO state. These arrests have inadvertently exposed another significant, but easily ignored aspect to US influence – the presence of the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK, MKO, Rajavi cult), an Iranian terrorist group which operates as a mind control cult. The MEK in Albania is protected by the Trump administration and claims CIA links. Albania’s government has allowed the MEK unprecedented freedom; freedom that former benefactor Saddam Hussein never granted. Indeed, the tolerance of and collusion with the MEK’s maverick, often criminal behaviour acts like a litmus test for how corrupt various Albanian institutions are.

  • 2020-07-15

    Last week’s dramatic report that China and Iran are close to completing a twenty-five-year trade and military partnership would appear to have significant geopolitical consequences for the Middle East. However, a closer look at the negotiations reveals more questions than answers. It would also be wise to consider the leaked details with a healthy dose of skepticism.

  • 2020-07-15

    Iranians from all walks of life — teachers, doctors, designers, cooks, actors, directors, artists, homemakers, bloggers — have taken to social media with a message for the government: Stop the executions. The online campaign, which took place on Tuesday and which analysts said was remarkable for its scope and the breadth of its support, was in response to the judiciary’s announcement earlier in the day that it had upheld the death sentences of three young men who joined antigovernment protests in November.

  • 2020-07-15

    The news of a 25-year comprehensive cooperation agreement secretly signed between the Iranian government and China has been the hot topic of the last few weeks, generating a considerable amount of speculation, exaggeration, and politically biased interpretation. In reality, the accord does not seem to have the potential to revolutionize the path of China-Iran relations, which has been quite consistent since 1979. Much of the hype brewed around the agreement has been pushed by political figures and organizations that have agendas to promote. The former President Ahmadinejad, rallying his base in the Gilan province, pointed to the supposed secrecy of the accord, predicting its rejection by the Iranian nation. From his exile in Washington, Reza Pahlavi denounced the “shameful, 25-year treaty with China that plunders our natural resources and places foreign soldiers on our soil.” The son of Shah mentioned the “stationing” of Chinese troops in Iran as part of the agreement, implicitly quoting a Petroleum Economist’s piece published in September 2019, which I spent some time to debunk. Interestingly, the same author penned another piece published by OilPrice on July 6, 2020, quoting the same enormous figures presented last year and highlighting a “new military element with enormous global security implications” added to the 25-year agreement.

  • 2020-07-14

    Spot crude oil prices continued rising in June for the second consecutive month, given the continued improvement in physical crude market fundamentals and gradual reductions in global supply overhang. The OPEC Reference Basket (ORB) value rose by $11.88, m-o-m, to $37.05/b, up by 47.2%. In June, ICE Brent rose by $8.36, or 25.8%, to average $40.77/b, while NYMEX WTI rose by $9.79, or 34.3%, to average $38.31/b. The increase was driven by a drop in global oil surplus, signs of further improvements in oil market fundamentals, as well as prospects that the oil market would tighten further in 2H20. The contango structure of Brent and WTI continued to ease, while the DME Oman structure flipped into mild backwardation. Hedge funds and other money managers slightly raised their bullish bets on futures and options contracts in June, amid concerns about the spike of COVID-19 cases worldwide and potential impact on economic activity and oil demand.

  • 2020-07-11

    China will invest $400 billion in Iran energy and infrastructure but nothing in strategic pact allows for a Chinese troop presence or island handover. 

  • 2020-07-10

    The potential 25-year trade and strategic cooperation deal with China is a shrewd, opportune, and necessary move by Iran given the Atlantic world's betrayal of the Islamic Republic, an international lawyer and political analyst says. Barry Grossman, who is based on the Indonesian island of Bali, made the remarks in an interview with Press TV on Friday. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif reportedly told Parliament last week that Iran and China were working on a 25-year trade agreement. China has said it will invest US$400 billion in the Iranian economy. 

  • 2020-07-09

    Ever since Chinese President Xi Jinping’s January 22-23, 2016 visit to Tehran and the release of a joint statement following the signing of a comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries, rumors have been swirling as the parties finalize the details as to what the partnership will encompass. What are the exact terms of the agreement? What are the Islamic Republic’s motives for committing itself to this partnership? And what are the prospects for its realization?

  • 2020-07-08

    Tehran and Washington have butted heads in many parts of the Middle East, but they share common objectives in Afghanistan. Iran supported U.S. efforts following the invasion in late 2001, helping build the coalition that would replace the Taliban in Kabul. In early negotiations after the invasion, Iranian officials insisted on the importance of holding democratic elections in the post-Taliban era. Today, neither Iran nor the United States has any desire to see ISKP grow stronger in the country.

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