• 2020-06-29

    This essay focuses on how women use and negotiate public spaces in Tehran and how urban developments have shaped and transformed gendered experiences of the public realm. In the past two decades, the development of public spaces and expansion of public transportation and urban infrastructure have significantly changed Tehran. Together, these shifts have made it easier to move across the metropolitan area and new cultural practices and social norms have translated into more mobility in the city. Through observations, survey data, and interviews with users of public spaces, I explore how women use and negotiate public spaces within –and beyond– gender, class, and socio-spatial hierarchies. Moving beyond narratives of a controlling state and restrictive social and cultural norms, the essay shows the nuanced experiences of women as they navigate public spaces and explores some of the ways in which the city and its public spaces work as both prohibitive structures and emancipatory contexts.

  • 2020-06-29

    Marriage practices in the Islamic Republic of Iran have evolved in the twenty-first century as unfulfilled expectations of emotional intimacy in marriages which have caused an increase in divorce rates and the tendency to postpone marriage and engage in unsanctioned sexual relationships. Over the past decade, the emergence of white marriages, or cohabitation, has made some of these unsanctioned relationships more visible. In response, clerics and state actors publicly condemned the practice because it violates Islamic values, and potentially the law, given Iran’s hybrid Islamic-civil legal system. Still, some Iranians prefer this conjugal arrangement to sanctioned marriages. While scholars who address the question of gender and sexual politics in post-revolutionary Iran have addressed temporary marriage, Iranian women’s mobilization of the law, and the relationship between women, shari’a (Islamic law), and the state in negotiating rights, they have yet to examine white marriage. Through an analysis of narratives from legal experts and practitioners of white marriage in Iran, this article reveals the motives for electing this practice, and the ways in which it is made legally and socially navigable. This article finds that through their everyday practices, white marriage practitioners have sparked a public discussion on the politics of intimacy and have forced state actors, clerics, and law makers to revisit legal and Islamic debates about gender and rights. When situated within official state discourses and implementation of gender laws, this analysis brings to light the power and agency that Iranians have in controlling gender and sexuality norms and discourses.

  • 2020-06-26

    France said on Friday it would download the black boxes from a Ukrainian airliner shot down by an Iranian missile in January, easing a stand-off over where they should be read. France’s BEA crash investigation agency said it was acting at the request of Iran, which remains responsible under global rules for conducting a formal accident probe after acknowledging that the Boeing 737 was downed by its forces.

  • 2020-06-24

    Iran’s production of aluminium powder for use in missiles, which hasn’t previously been reported, was developed amid international sanctions designed to block the country’s efforts to acquire advanced weapons technology. The United States and allies view Iran’s missile capabilities as a threat to the region and the world.

  • 2020-06-22

    In an exclusive interview with Al-Monitor, Rabbi Yehuda Garami, chief rabbi of the Jewish community in Iran, explains about their daily lives and why he paid a condolence visit to the family of assassinated Gen. Qasem Soleimani.

  • 2020-06-15

    How does the weakening of the moderate establishment impact Iranian foreign policy, particularly relations with Washington? It’s tempting to presume that the rise of Iranian hardliners will intensify U.S.-Iran tensions, as “voices against the deal in Iran will strengthen, and those who favor a more confrontational policy toward Washington will once again have the wind in their sails.” However, this assumes that the nuclear deal — a major diplomatic breakthrough that pulled the relationship back from the brink of war — was driven to a significant degree by Iran’s moderates. That’s a superficial read of Iranian internal dynamics; in fact, in many instances Tehran’s factional differences serve a utilitarian purpose in foreign policy. As an outgoing moderate member of parliament recently acknowledged, hardliners’ harsh protests against Rouhani’s détente policy were deployed to assist Tehran in obtaining greater concessions under the deal. And it should not be forgotten that Iran and the U.S. started secret negotiations in Oman in November 2011, precisely when hardliners controlled both the presidency and parliament. The bottom line is that the Islamic Republic’s foreign policy is not determined by its president, particularly in the context of U.S.-Iran relations. Echoing this point, Ali Motahari, a self-described nonpartisan and longtime member of parliament who was not permitted to run in the recent election, admitted that “Iran is under unprecedented pressure” and argued that “hardliners, by taking power, probably will agree with relations with the United States.” 

  • 2020-06-15

    For those seeking pathways to stable economic growth in the Middle East, developments in Iran may serve as a model – Iran represents the first major oil producer in the Middle East to transition to overall dependence on non-oil exports.

  • 2020-06-01

    The head of an Iranian parliamentary committee has said 230 people were killed during the November protests triggered by a spike in petrol prices - the first time an official has given an overall death toll for the unrest. "During these events 230 people were killed, six of whom were official agents and security forces," Mojtaba Zolnour, head of the parliament's national security and foreign affairs committee, was quoted as saying by state news agency IRNA on Monday. "Twenty percent of them were forces keeping order and peace," he said, adding that they included "the police, security and intelligence forces, and the Basij" militia, some of which are not under government control and considered unofficial.

  • 2020-05-28

    Given that China’s oil demand has now recovered from the COVID-19 outbreak to even higher levels than before, Iran is operating at full tilt to optimise the oil available to key ally Beijing from any and all of its fields. Principally this involves optimising output from the cluster of supergiant fields in the West Karoun oil region, attempting to increase the average recovery rate from older fields, and pushing forward on production increases from fields shared with Iraq and Kuwait. All of this is geared to twin objectives: increasing Iran’s crude oil production to 5.7 million barrels per day (bpd) by the end of the sixth development plan (ending in 2021/22), and ensuring that it is able to provide China with the steady flow of oil that it requires.

  • 2020-05-14

    The history and historiography of Iranian socialism and communism are myriad, plurivocal, and inevitably contentious. Like almost all national histories of socialism, they abound in emancipatory horizons, tales of unstinting bravery, and the unflappable conviction that things might have been otherwise. The first stirrings of social democracy in cities such as Tabriz during the Constitutional Revolution (1905–11), the Soviet Republic of Gilan (1920–21), the creation of the Communist Party of Iran, the activities of the group of fifty-three, the establishment of the Tudeh (Masses) Party in the course of the Allied occupation (1941-1946), and the revolutionary guerrilla campaigns of the 1970s, stand among a multitude of examples. The scholarship collectively attests to the immense importance of socialist intellectuals, parties, organizations, and movements, as well as the role they played throughout twentieth-century Iran’s politics and history. These histories feature various casts of heroes, villains, and renegades. They are imbued with tragic pathos, sectarian polemics, and lost futures. They have been characterized by unparalleled courage, commitment, and sacrifice in the struggle for revolutionary transformation, democracy, and radical equality. Yet they have also fallen foul of dubious trade-offs, miscalculations, intra-organizational violence, and blunders, as well as the perennial challenge of survival in the face of implacable and brutal state repression—first under the Pahlavis and subsequently in the shadow of the Islamic Republic.