• 2020-08-08

    In identical letters to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the UN Security Council circulated on Friday, Iran’s UN Ambassador Majid Takht Ravanchi said Tehran “expresses its strongest objections against this violation of international law and will pursue the issue through relevant international bodies.”.” The Iranian envoy said a Mahan Airlines Airbus A310 en route from Tehran to Beirut on July 23 “was aggressively and unexpectedly intercepted” by two US F-15 fighter jets while traveling through internationally specified air corridors in Syria’s airspace, the Associated Press reported. “In reaction to the offensive and hazardous maneuverings of the United States fighter jets and in order to save the civil aircraft and passengers’ lives, the airliner had to change altitude abruptly, causing injuries to the passengers onboard,” the ambassador said.

  • 2020-08-04

    Iranian Ambassador to China Mohammad Keshavarz-Zadeh has highlighted the opportunities for cooperation with Beijing in the aerospace industry given the recent successful launch of a Chinese networking satellite that has broken monopoly of the U.S. government-owned Global Positioning System (GPS).

  • 2020-08-03

    The recently announced 25-year agreement between China and Iran appears to have become almost an urban myth among Middle East watchers. The importance of the agreement has been exaggerated and even become the subject of conspiracy theories. It has been both demonized as a “shameful treaty” that enables China to exploit Iran’s natural resources as claimed by Reza Pahlavi in his twitter, or as a sign of “Chinese expansive policy” which allows China to deploy soldiers globally. Those claims either fit the political stance of the exiled political dissents from Iran who would like to label the current Iranian regime as “selling out interests to foreigners” or fit the overall anxiety of Western society toward a so-called “aggressive Chinese expansion.” However, these assumptions are misunderstanding the agreement; it does not have any sort of revolutionary dimension for the China-Iran relationship. Rather, the agreement is mostly a gesture of friendship and the natural and unsurprising continuation of the relationship between the two states. China does not plan to and will not deploy soldiers in Iran, nor does it plan to pick any sides among the regional conflicts in the Middle East.

  • 2020-08-03

    Various U.S. scholars and policy wonks have warned that the burgeoning partnership will compromise our interests in the Middle East. Analysis predicts an expanded Chinese foothold in the region and a massive market for sanctioned Iranian oil. On the surface, it indeed appears that such an agreement will undermine two major U.S. foreign policy objectives: taming its most powerful peer competitor and neutralizing its most troublesome Middle East foe. But this agreement will not prove entirely advantageous to besieged Iran. The Islamic Republic, buffeted by Western sanctions, international isolation, a hawkish Israel, and, of course, COVID-19, has lost considerable ground economically and militarily. Aspiring for leadership in the Muslim world, Iran has no choice but to rely on its soft-power influence. 

  • 2020-07-30

    The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, said today she was alarmed by the Iranian Government’s increased pressure on a prominent civil society group working on poverty and social protection, and the arrest of its founding member. Iranian authorities have pressured Imam Ali Popular Students’ Relief Society (IAPSRS) to change its structure, in what appears to be an attempt to close down the organisation.

  • 2020-07-29

    By increasing pressure on both China and Iran, the US has encouraged the two countries to forge a common front. Though the Sino-Iranian a relationship is still a long way from becoming a new axis, the recent negotiations show that such an arrangement is possible. American foreign policymakers should take note. The US will need to try placing a wedge between China and Iran, which requires deciding which one poses the greater threat. Americans may want nothing more than to leave the Middle East once and for all. But the fact is that the strategic competition with China will not play out only in East Asia.

  • 2020-07-26

    Iran produced just 770,000 automobiles in 2019, down from 1,418,550 just two years prior. The re-imposition of U.S. secondary sanctions interrupted new investment in Iran’s automotive sector, particularly by European automakers such as Renault, Peugeot, and Volkswagen. […] Notably, the new post-JCPOA investment was intended to facilitate the partial privatization of the state-owned manufacturers. Through the Industrial Development and Renovation Organization (IDRO), the Iranian state was set to become a minority shareholder in the new Renault joint venture. A similar deal was struck between Daimler and Iran Khodro Diesel for the manufacturing of Mercedes-Benz trucks in Iran. Allowing foreign firms to be the majority shareholders of their joint ventures was an important shift in industrial policy for the “strategic” automotive sector. Such policy was also intended to address the long-running issue of inefficiency and poor productivity among the state-owned automakers. There were also a number of deals between foreign automakers and private sector firms in Iran, such as the agreement between Volkswagen and Mammut, which has produced Scania trucks in Iran since 2008. Scania’s persistence in the Iranian market has earned it a commanding market share of over 60 percent. 

  • 2020-07-23

    The agreement between China and Iran is of great importance to Iran, including in the context of a possible easing of the pressure generated by the sanctions. From a Chinese perspective, the basis for the agreement is the principle of commercial-economic benefit, while maintaining the balance in its relations with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. China's goal in relations with Iran is not to create a military alliance with Iran against the United States, and certainly not against Saudi Arabia and Israel. Israel is of little importance to China in this case, and does not necessarily figure in Chinese considerations, except as part of China's concern about an Israeli military attack against nuclear facilities in Iran, which is liable to set off a regional war and destabilize the region. The Chinese will likely consider the level of risk in approving an agreement of this type, and will hesitate to advance it if they feel that their financial interests will be affected by instability in the region and in Iran. This aspect, in which Iranian activity destabilizes and threatens the region, should be emphasized by Israel to high-level Chinese parties.

  • 2020-07-21

    That the U.S. government could underperform a country like Iran fighting the coronavirus pandemic will take a bite out of U.S. prestige. But it will also drive partners to consider the very real possibility of what the world might look like without an outsized U.S. role. Most of them will want to do what they can to bring that role back. They do not want to face the world alone. That is an opportunity for whomever wins the presidential election in November, and he should seize it.

  • 2020-07-18

    India seems to be headed for some rough terrain in its relationship with Iran with a leaked draft of the ‘Comprehensive Plan for Cooperation between Iran and China’ highlighting a deep strategic partnership in the works between Tehran and Beijing.

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