• 2020-08-14

    The Islamic Republic of Iran is facing one of the most difficult periods in its history. Recurring protests, labor strikes, and other forms of civil unrest have become common, drawing in Iranians from all classes, ethnic backgrounds, and regions of the country. Protesters decry the country’s faltering economy and systemic corruption while turning a deaf ear to the regime’s incessant blaming of all things wrong in Iran on U.S. sanctions. Many Iranians, in fact, see the regime, more than just the sanctions, as the primary cause of the country’s poor economic and social conditions.

  • 2020-08-14

    If there is an ongoing US-Iran backchannel, it may be similar to the one Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama conducted via Oman late in the term of former hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Those talks laid the groundwork for rapid diplomatic progress after Rouhani was inaugurated in 2013. Trump has said four times in the past week that he could reach a deal with Iran weeks after winning reelection. He could be hoping for similar results

  • 2020-08-11

    No matter what administration is to come next, the Iranian political system and Ayatollah Khamenei will adamantly pursue the 25-year deal in order to more fully implement the CSP first signed in 2016. The hope will be that an economic uplift from China’s renewed commitment to Iran will win the hearts and minds of a wary public.

  • 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.

  • 2020-08-07

    Iran has been one of President Trump’s main foreign policy issues. By withdrawing from the Iran Nuclear Deal (JCPOA) and re-imposing sanctions lifted as part of it, his administration re-orchestrated the decades-long enmity between Iran and the U.S. The “maximum pressure” campaign, which targeted every relevant and sanctionable Iranian business and economic entity, aimed to force Iran to succumb to a “negotiating” table on American terms. So far, however, Washington has not achieved what it demanded from Tehran. Despite mounting political, economic and military pressure, Iran developed its own strategy of “active resistance”—a strategy of pushback that aims at maximizing the costs for the U.S and its regional supporters for their anti-Iran policies while simultaneously building up Iran’s leverage vis-à-vis the U.S. If Trump is re-elected in November, Iran will stick to its active resistance strategy, which, in Tehran’s eyes, has been more effective than the maximum pressure campaign pursued by Washington.  Trump’s re-election would mean a continuation of his administration’s current Iran policy. While the maximum pressure has yet failed to achieve its stated objectives, there seems to be no alternative to replace this ill-fated policy anyways. By resorting to a maximalist approach – outlined in the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s 12-point demands — Trump’s Iran team deprived the administration of other alternative options. Consequently, there is little to no room for change in the maximum pressure in Trump’s second term.

  • 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. 

  • 2020-08-02

    In a meeting with Chairman of the Russian State Duma Foreign Affairs Committee Leonid Slutsky in Tehran on Sunday, Zarif added that given the level of cooperation between the two countries in different fields, it is necessary to update the document on long-term cooperation to the level of strategic relations. […] During the meeting, Zarif and Slutsky also discussed ways to boost bilateral ties, especially in the economic sector, maintain the multilateral nuclear agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and solve ongoing conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Libya, as well as enhance bilateral cooperation on regional and international developments.

  • 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.

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