• 2020-03-09

    Since the 1980s, Iran has forged a network of political alliances across the Middle East that now give it more influence than its Gulf rivals and the United States. Tehran has exploited local grievances, sectarian identity, and conflicts to create or foster political parties, most visibly in Lebanon, Iraq and the Palestinian Territories but also smaller underground movements in Bahrain and Kuwait.

  • 2020-03-08

    The record thus appears clear: by imposing stifling sanctions, the Trump administration has deprived Iranian women of economic empowerment and the social independence that can accompany it; by politicising the women’s movement in the service of its own goals, it has exposed them to graver danger; and by zeroing in on women’s rights in Iran while it ignores them elsewhere in the Middle East, it has highlighted its own insincerity. The monumental challenges that Iranian women face in fighting their government’s discriminatory laws and repressive policies are difficult enough without the debilitating impact of sanctions. If they could collectively send a message to Washington, they might draw from the words of the thirteenth-century Persian poet, Sa’adi, who said: “I do not expect any favours from you. Just do no harm”.

  • 2020-02-27

    US President Donald Trump did the unthinkable and admitted some much-needed truth about US foreign policy. By declaring that it is time for the US to pass the fight against the terror group Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) over to Russia, Iran, Iraq, and Syria, while suggesting that the US should instead focus on maintaining control of oil resources in the region, he willingly shone a whole new light on the true motives of the powers-that-be in the Middle East region. Most notable is his willingness to pass control of the war against IS onto one of his prime arch enemies: Iran. Stating that “Iran hates ISIS and they should do it” is probably the most surprising statement to ever leave Donald Trump’s mouth, and that’s really saying something.

  • 2020-02-24

    There are many underlying factors behind the popular discontent that the election results reflect — in particular, the anger at the 2015 nuclear deal’s failure to bring jobs and social improvements (as promised by President Hassan Rouhani), corruption, mounting social inequality, inflation and poverty rates, water shortages, spiralling cost of living and high unemployment. Strikes and protests among teachers and the working class became frequent in the recent years. […] It almost seems now as if the hardliners in the Trump administration preferred to have the Principalists at the helm of affairs in Tehran. Indeed, no sooner than the conservative surge in the Majlis election appeared, the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has floated an inflammatory idea, during a visit to Saudi Arabia this week, that in the coming months, he and Trump will make a major decision about whether to petition the UN to invoke what is known as “snapback” on a set of international sanctions on Iran that were lifted as part of the 2015 nuclear accord. The US sanctions have devastated social conditions, driving up inflation and poverty rates. A report last year by the Iranian parliament’s research office acknowledged that some 57 million of Iran’s 80 million population would live in poverty. 

  • 2020-02-24

    Conservative and hardline factions, including candidates closely aligned with the Revolutionary Guards, won a sweeping victory in parliamentary elections held on February 21. They won 221 of the 290 seats, more than doubling their presence in parliament; 83 were elected in the 2016 poll, according to Icana, the parliament’s news outlet. Also known as “principlists,” they are committed to rigid interpretations of revolutionary principles. In a major setback for allies of President Hassan Rouhani, only 19 reformists or centrists won seats. In the 2016 election, reformists and centrists won 121 seats, six times larger than in 2020. Independents won 38 seats, twice as many as reformists. Iran has 82 national political parties and 34 provincial parties.

  • 2020-02-24

     This rebuke, however, does not mean that the system is about to crumble. There is no evidence that Iranians are willing to compound their current woes with major and bloody disruption that a new revolution would bring. However hopeless many may feel about the prospects of reform, there is no credible alternative to the Islamic Republic in sight. The heir to the Pahlavi dynasty, the so-called “crown prince” Reza Pahlavi and Mojahedeen-e Khalk (MEK), a widely despised exiled cult, qualify as such only in febrile imagination of neoconservative schemers. Such grassroots opposition as there exists, like the association of “United Students,” both called for boycott of the elections and denounced the “corrupt monarchical opposition” on their Telegram channel. This lack of alternatives means that the international community will have to deal with Iran as it is, not as it would like it to be. The task will become even more difficult if the conservatives, with wind in their sails, will succeed in capturing the presidency in the next year’s elections — the one institution of the state still controlled by the moderates around the President Hassan Rouhani. For all the divisions among the conservatives and focus on economic issues, it is safe to assume that their foreign policy will be more defiant towards the West. They will feel less compunction about abandoning the JCPOA for good and withdrawing Iran from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), all this accompanied by more assertive regional posturing and more repressive domestic environment.

  • 2020-02-23

    According to the figures, the total turnout across the country has been about 42 percent, while the number for Tehran province is about 25 percent. Based on recent polls prior to the elections, carried out both before and after major events such as fuel price hike and assassination of General Soleimani or downing of the Ukrainian flight, the turnout in Tehran constituency was expected to be about 38 percent. The polls showed that due to economic difficulties and low profile of the government and parliament, people are less interested in voting. The surveys also showed that the reformist voters will usually rise when the turnout passes 45 percent, the point form which, most of the voters would go for reformist camp. Besides this major reason behind loss of reformists, there are other external factors as well. There was a campaign promoted by dissident journalists funded by the US State Department trying to discourage Iranians from voting as a form of civil protest against the Islamic Republic. Well, bad news for the reformists is that they supporters are more likely to follow such campaigns promoted by outsiders! And this adds to less turnout on their supportive community.

  • 2020-02-21

    Over the past few weeks, the Trump administration has turned up the heat on Tehran. Way up. As part of a “maximum pressure” campaign aimed at curbing the malign international activities of Iran’s ruling regime, the White House has dramatically intensified sanctions, blacklisted the country’s clerical army, and put foreign buyers of Iranian crude on notice that they need to pull out of the Iranian market or face potentially catastrophic consequences.

  • 2020-02-21

    The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a global body that sets standards to combat money laundering and terrorist finance, has placed Iran back on its infamous “blacklist,” following the failure of Iranian policymakers to enact two key bills in accordance with an action plan set in 2016. The FATF statement, issued on Friday at the conclusion of the body’s latest plenary meeting, calls on members to “to apply effective countermeasures” following Iran’s failure to implement “the Palermo and Terrorist Financing Conventions in line with the FATF Standards.” 

  • 2020-02-20

    With the campaign season ending Thursday morning, the countdown to the 11th vote for the Islamic Consultative Assembly has begun. For over a week, candidates were trying hard to appeal to nearly 58 million Iranians who are eligible to cast votes in the country of 83 million.

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