• 2020-10-07

    The Iranian public is more concerned about the government’s mismanagement of the economy, failure to protect them in the face of the disastrous coronavirus pandemic, and incapacity to neutralize the impact of the U.S.-imposed sanctions. Accordingly, those who may have leadership aspirations, including Rouhani, Chief Justice Ebrahim Raisi, Hassan Khomeini (grandson of Ruhollah Khomeini), and Mojtaba Khamenei (son of Ali Khamenei), alternate between aligning themselves with or blaming each other and the IRGC for Iran’s chronic problems. But none of the leadership hopefuls can seize power in Iran without IRGC support, and any future leader of the Islamic Republic will, for all practical purposes, be beholden to the IRGC. The IRGC will also most likely decide the fundamental tenet of Iran’s behavior toward the United States. Regardless of the outcome of the November U.S. presidential election, Washington and Tehran will remain at odds over the IRGC’s vision for the Islamic Republic as a regional hegemon. In this regard, there will most likely be a greater degree of continuity than change in Iran’s behavior. Notwithstanding the pandemic, those engaged in formulating U.S. policy toward the Islamic Republic should look beyond Khamenei, shift the focus away from potential individual leadership candidates, and pay more attention to the likely transformation of the Islamic Republic into a military-style dictatorship, albeit one with a clerical figurehead.

  • 2020-10-06

    US intelligence officials have concluded that Iran prefers a Joe Biden win come November. And why wouldn’t it? Biden has vowed to return to the Iran deal, the nuclear agreement that was forged when he served as vice president to Barack Obama. […] Even before Trump won in 2016 and began steps to pull the US out of the JCPOA in 2018, Tehran was grumbling that Washington wasn’t holding up its end of the bargain and was continuing to block trade with the Islamic Republic. No matter who wins on November 3, there may be more continuity than change in US-Iran relations.

  • 2020-10-01

    Congratulating China on its National Day, Iran has hailed strategic ties between the two countries, saying the partnership agreement that Tehran and Beijing are working to finalize will open a new chapter in bilateral relations.

  • 2020-10-01

    Imprisoned Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh has been awarded the Right Livelihood Award in recognition of her 'unrelenting commitment to justice’. The prize, which is awarded by the Right Livelihood Foundation based in Stockholm, is known as the ‘alternative Nobel prize’ and celebrates those ‘offering practical and exemplary answers to the most urgent challenges facing us today’.

  • 2020-09-30

    Originally, Norway’s Statoil started developing the Anaran oil field in 2003 and when oil was found in 2005 (in both Azar and Changuleh) it was joined by Russia’s Lukoil in developing the site. Lukoil pulled out of its 25 percent stake in the entire Anaran block in 2008/9 after various sanctions by the U.S. and E.U. countries were imposed, followed by Statoil from its 75 percent stake in 2011, after the sanctions were intensified. When the JCPOA was agreed in principle in 2015, a number of IOCs signed memoranda of understandings for fields in the Anaran block, either for singular or multiple fields, including Norway’s DNO, Thailand’s PTTEP, and Russia’s Gazprom Neft and Lukoil again. A corollary was that a preliminary agreement with Austria’s OMV was also reached to invest up to US$6 billion in a petrochemical plant at the Dehloran site. Given the unilateral withdrawal of the U.S. from the JCPOA in 2018 and the subsequent far-reaching sanctions imposed, Iran has been left to look for assistance from China and Russia, although Tehran wants to indigenize as much of the technology, equipment, and expertise as quickly as possible in the process. Specifically, this is to include using the expertise available in Iranian universities and similar academic institutions from their Chinese and Russian counterparts.

  • 2020-09-30

    Prince Reza Pahlavi presented his “new covenant” in a live broadcast. He said his speech was a “response to the innumerable messages of those of you who are rightly worried about Iran and its future.” He said his motivation was “to establish a system in which power is never monopolized by one individual or one group. Every Iranian across the country, irrespective of gender, ethnicity, religion, ideology, lifestyle, must accept responsibility and share equally in decision making in their future and that of the country. One-man rule and pyramidal power structures, in today’s world, are not sufficient to meet the needs of a pioneering and dynamic society.”

  • 2020-09-30

    Headlines around the world have heralded a “strategic alliance” between Iran and China. A raft of secret deals on the sale of discounted oil, the provision of 5G communications technology, and the deepening of the military partnership, are presumed to challenge American hegemony in the Middle East. But there is no alliance in the offing. While Iran has a unique place in China’s Middle East strategy, the partnership that China has with the Islamic Republic is carefully calculated and the renewed negotiations between China and Iran are in fact a continuation of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP) signed in January 2016. The CSP does not reflect China’s intention to elevate its relationship with Iran above others across the Middle East. On the contrary, China is seeking to balance its ties with Iran and with states that see themselves locked in regional competition with the Islamic Republic. As such, the CSP must be viewed within a wider regional context. The authors compared China’s engagement with Iran in trade, investment, and security cooperation with five other countries: Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Iraq, Turkey, and Pakistan. Compared with the region at large, China’s engagement with Iran has lagged behind its engagement with other countries. Despite the rhetoric of both Iranian and Chinese policymakers, the privileged status of an alliance remains out of reach for Iran, which finds itself seeking to rectify its position within Chinese bilateral relationships in the Middle East: the last among equals.

  • 2020-09-24

    More than 100 Iranians from around the world have penned a letter to United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, expressing concern about an upcoming deal between Iran and China which they say will erode Iranian sovereignty. The co-signatories are a remarkable group of luminaries from all walks of life: artists, former cabinet ministers, scholars and journalists.

  • 2020-09-24

    Calls for the release of prisoners wrongly held by Iranian authorities have continued to grow louder as unjust detentions of dual nationals, human rights activists, and political prisoners continue unabated. Distinguished lawyer and human rights defender, Nasrin Sotoudeh, is central to this renewed attention to the plight of prisoners in Iran, as she continues her hunger strike that has now spanned 45 days. 

  • 2020-09-21

    Under no circumstances should this book be used to legitimize confrontation of any kind with Iran. I emphatically believe that the future of Iran should be determined solely by Iranians in Iran – those who know best the reality that they face. More importantly, the fact that Iran’s future affects them first and foremost also gives weight to the primacy of their views and wants. They retain their agency, and have erupted in revolt time and again. The Green Movement is part of a long, robust, and organic history of Iranians seeking more humane and representative governance. To be clear, Iran’s future is not the business of any other person, group, or government. Foreign heads of state, especially those who speak of freedom for Iranians while either denying it to others or enabling and protecting authoritarian regimes, do more harm than good in their “support” of the Iranian people. Their interference empowers the Iranian government to cast cracking down on dissent as part of an effort to stave off imperialism. Added to this are Iranians in the expatriate community, from which I come, some of whom fail to listen to their counterparts inside the country, instead telling them what they should want, need, or do. 

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