• Hamid Aboutalebi’s appointment a diplomatic gaffe that will hurt U.S.-Iran ties

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    Published April 13, 2014 at 6:36 am - No Comments After the United States government denied a visa to Iran’s choice to be its next ambassador to the United Nations in New York, senior Iranian foreign ministry officials have spoken out. Whatever the rationale for Aboutalebi’s appointment, it will certainly hurt budding U.S.-Iran relations. The Islamic Republic of Iran’s controversial choice as its next ambassador to the United Nations, Hamid Aboutalebi, has been denied a visa to assume his post because of his involvement in the 1979 hostage crisis. Aboutalebi claims that his role was limited to being a translator for the hostage-takers and that he was not in Tehran at the time that the hostage crisis first […]

    Hamid Aboutalebi’s appointment a diplomatic gaffe that will hurt U.S.-Iran ties
  • The European Union’s human rights gambit in Iran

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    Published April 9, 2014 at 11:08 pm - No Comments In late March 2014, the European Parliament (E.P.) passed a resolution which called on its diplomats to integrate human rights as an essential aspect of its relationship with the Islamic Republic of Iran. The EP’s actions created an outcry among Iranian centrists and principalists. Does the European Union plan to seriously pursue human rights in parallel to already difficult nuclear negotiations? If so, any Iran-E.U. rapprochement could be more difficult than many people expect, with negative consequences for the Hassan Rouhani administration. Toward the end of March 2014 the European Parliament (E.P.) passed a resolution which, among other things, called for “the EU to mainstream human rights in […]

    The European Union’s human rights gambit in Iran
  • Ahmad Jannati hints at mass disqualifications in 2016 elections

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    Published April 3, 2014 at 11:55 pm - No Comments If Council of Guardians (CoG) chairman Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati is to be believed, the upcoming Assembly of Experts (AoE) and parliamentary elections in 2016 could be a tough one for supporters of President Hassan Rouhani, whether centrists, reformists, or Green Movement supporters, who may face mass disqualifications at the CoG. Earlier this week Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, the chairman of the Council of Guardians, spoke very frankly about the role the body he leads could play in Assembly of Experts and parliamentary elections. The CoG is a quasi-judicial quasi-electoral body which plays a multiplicity of roles within the Islamic Republic of Iran’s political system as laid out by the […]

    Ahmad Jannati hints at mass disqualifications in 2016 elections
  • Khamenei’s Nowruz address highlights Iran’s culture war

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    Published March 24, 2014 at 11:46 pm - No Comments This past week Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei gave his annual address in Mashhad, after having unveiled that the Iranian calendar year of 1393 will henceforth be known as the year of “Economy and Culture with National Determination & Jihadi Management” in his annual Nowruz television address. These names are supposed to give each year one or more themes which highlight the central concerns of the regime. Not surprisingly, the economy once again was front and center in this year’s name, as it has been since 1388 (2009). While many have tried to decode the significance of the repetition of the economic theme, fewer have addressed the […]

    Khamenei’s Nowruz address highlights Iran’s culture war
  • Ali Motahari criticizes the IRGC’s political and economic influence

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    Published March 21, 2014 at 12:50 pm - No Comments Maverick Iranian parliamentarian Ali Motahari has once again stirred controversy with a recent interview (originally published in the Nowruz edition of Etemad newspaper and republished elsewhere) in which he touched on a number of issues facing Iran, including what he considered the undue political and economic influence of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the country’s premier security body. While much has been written on the IRGC’s political and economic role by observers outside of Iran, statements by Islamic Republic officials have been limited not only because of concerns over Sepah-harrasi (“IRGC-phobia”) but probably due fear of retaliation as well. Motahari has been an exception to this trend, […]

    Ali Motahari criticizes the IRGC’s political and economic influence
  • Ashton’s visit underlines the nuclear negotiations versus human rights dichotomy in Iranian politics

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    Published March 16, 2014 at 11:30 am - No Comments European Union High Representative Catherine Ashton’s visit to Iran has once again helped demonstrate the dichotomy between P5+1-Iran nuclear negotiations, which most of the Islamic Republic’s political currents appear to have a tentative consensus on, and the issue of human rights in Iran, which is likely to be a majour arena of domestic conflict. For the time being, hardliners are not trying to sabotage nuclear negotiations but they are trying to undermine the domestic human rights agenda. As we have argued in the past, the Islamic Republic of Iran’s often divergent political currents appear to have formed a tentative consensus on the need to conduct nuclear negotiations with […]

    Ashton’s visit underlines the nuclear negotiations versus human rights dichotomy in Iranian politics
  • Voice of the Nation: A new pro-Rouhani faction in parliament

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    Published February 14, 2014 at 9:34 pm - No Comments Since 2009 Green Movement demonstrations, the Islamic Republic of Iran’s factional politics have been in a state of flux, from the left to the right of the political spectrum. On the left, the story has been dominated by the rapid rise and equally rapid repression of the Green Movement, which advocated more radical reforms than its parent Second of Khordad (Reformist) Movement. The latter has also been the subject of considerable repression. Centrists, once equally reviled by the left and right, are now in the ascendency with their own Hassan Rouhani elected as president in June 2013, thanks in part to the policies and failures of the Mahmoud […]

    Voice of the Nation: A new pro-Rouhani faction in parliament
  • Hassan Rouhani’s horrible, no good, very bad week

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    Published February 7, 2014 at 10:53 pm - No Comments This has not been a good week for Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, whose tenure began on a very optimistic note in August 2013. Despite a significant, albeit short-term, diplomatic victory in Geneva with the signing of the P5+1-Iran Joint Plan of Action, Rouhani has had less success on the domestic front when it comes to socio-cultural reforms important to a key bloc of his supporters. As we have noted in the past, on the issue of reforms Rouhani is caught between his largely Green Movement/Reformist-oriented social base on one hand and his Traditional Principalist allies and Neo-Principalist adversaries on the other. Of course, like most newly elected leaders […]

    Hassan Rouhani’s horrible, no good, very bad week
  • Interview: IranPolitik w/ Italy’s L’Indro on the Geneva II Conference

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    Published January 25, 2014 at 12:43 am - No Comments IranPolitik co-founder and managing editor Farzan Sabet recently conducted an interview with Italy’s L’Indro on the conference in Syria this week taking place in Geneva, Switzerland. Excerpts of the interview can be found in Italian on L’Indro’s article page. For an English translation of the interview, please see below. Barbara Ciolli: The power and influence of Iran in Syria, and generally in Middle East, is great, greater than Russian influence. Additionally, UN general secretary Ban Ki-moon underlined the necessity for Teheran’s participation in the Geneva II conference on Syria. Moreover, representatives of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey (big supporters of opposition) will be present. Could there be credible […]

    Interview: IranPolitik w/ Italy’s L’Indro on the Geneva II Conference
  • The human rights issue and Rouhani’s coalition

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    Published December 26, 2013 at 10:47 pm - No Comments In November 2013 Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had a foreign policy success which has eluded his two predecessors: He took a major, concrete, step toward resolving the Iranian nuclear crisis by signing an interim-agreement with the United Nations Security Council permanent five members plus Germany (P5+1). While the agreement is temporary, it goes a long way toward fulfilling his campaign promises, namely ending Iran’s international political isolation and rescuing its sanctions stricken economy. Yet even before he can savour this victory, he is confronted with the important domestic issue of human rights which is rapidly taking on international dimensions. On 18 December 2013, the UN General Assembly accepted […]

    The human rights issue and Rouhani’s coalition

Hamid Aboutalebi’s appointment a diplomatic gaffe that will hurt U.S.-Iran ties

April 13, 2014 in Analysis, News

After the United States government denied a visa to Iran’s choice to be its next ambassador to the United Nations in New York, senior Iranian foreign ministry officials have spoken out. Whatever the rationale for Aboutalebi’s appointment, it will certainly hurt budding U.S.-Iran relations. The Islamic Republic of Iran’s controversial choice as its next ambassador to the United Nations, Hamid Aboutalebi, has been denied a visa to assume his post because of his involvement in the 1979 hostage crisis. Aboutalebi claims that his role was limited to being a translator for the hostage-takers and that he was not in Tehran at the time that the hostage crisis first […]

The European Union’s human rights gambit in Iran

April 9, 2014 in Analysis, News

In late March 2014, the European Parliament (E.P.) passed a resolution which called on its diplomats to integrate human rights as an essential aspect of its relationship with the Islamic Republic of Iran. The EP’s actions created an outcry among Iranian centrists and principalists. Does the European Union plan to seriously pursue human rights in parallel to already difficult nuclear negotiations? If so, any Iran-E.U. rapprochement could be more difficult than many people expect, with negative consequences for the Hassan Rouhani administration. Toward the end of March 2014 the European Parliament (E.P.) passed a resolution which, among other things, called for “the EU to mainstream human rights in […]

Ahmad Jannati hints at mass disqualifications in 2016 elections

April 3, 2014 in Analysis, News

If Council of Guardians (CoG) chairman Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati is to be believed, the upcoming Assembly of Experts (AoE) and parliamentary elections in 2016 could be a tough one for supporters of President Hassan Rouhani, whether centrists, reformists, or Green Movement supporters, who may face mass disqualifications at the CoG. Earlier this week Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, the chairman of the Council of Guardians, spoke very frankly about the role the body he leads could play in Assembly of Experts and parliamentary elections. The CoG is a quasi-judicial quasi-electoral body which plays a multiplicity of roles within the Islamic Republic of Iran’s political system as laid out by the […]

Khamenei’s Nowruz address highlights Iran’s culture war

March 24, 2014 in Analysis, News

This past week Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei gave his annual address in Mashhad, after having unveiled that the Iranian calendar year of 1393 will henceforth be known as the year of “Economy and Culture with National Determination & Jihadi Management” in his annual Nowruz television address. These names are supposed to give each year one or more themes which highlight the central concerns of the regime. Not surprisingly, the economy once again was front and center in this year’s name, as it has been since 1388 (2009). While many have tried to decode the significance of the repetition of the economic theme, fewer have addressed the […]

Ali Motahari criticizes the IRGC’s political and economic influence

March 21, 2014 in Analysis, News

Maverick Iranian parliamentarian Ali Motahari has once again stirred controversy with a recent interview (originally published in the Nowruz edition of Etemad newspaper and republished elsewhere) in which he touched on a number of issues facing Iran, including what he considered the undue political and economic influence of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the country’s premier security body. While much has been written on the IRGC’s political and economic role by observers outside of Iran, statements by Islamic Republic officials have been limited not only because of concerns over Sepah-harrasi (“IRGC-phobia”) but probably due fear of retaliation as well. Motahari has been an exception to this trend, […]

Publication – Détente, not Rapprochement (Part 1): The Islamic Republic of Iran’s policy in the Syrian Civil War

March 18, 2014 in Announcements, Syrian Front

IranPolitik co-founder Farzan Sabet has published the first of a two part series for the Geneva-based Pierre du Bois Foundation’s Current Affairs in Perspective series: “Iran, a central actor in both of these dramas, has been engaged in intense diplomacy in Geneva, Switzerland, with the E3+3 (Great Britain, France, and Germany, plus the United States, China, and Russia), resulting in the historic Joint Plan of Action (JPA) in November 2013. This interim-agreement addresses some of the fundamental issues of the Iranian nuclear crisis, albeit temporarily, and gives six months to one year of breathing space to allow for the negotiation of a more permanent agreement. It has been […]

Ashton’s visit underlines the nuclear negotiations versus human rights dichotomy in Iranian politics

March 16, 2014 in Analysis, News

European Union High Representative Catherine Ashton’s visit to Iran has once again helped demonstrate the dichotomy between P5+1-Iran nuclear negotiations, which most of the Islamic Republic’s political currents appear to have a tentative consensus on, and the issue of human rights in Iran, which is likely to be a majour arena of domestic conflict. For the time being, hardliners are not trying to sabotage nuclear negotiations but they are trying to undermine the domestic human rights agenda. As we have argued in the past, the Islamic Republic of Iran’s often divergent political currents appear to have formed a tentative consensus on the need to conduct nuclear negotiations with […]

Soft War: The 2014 Fajr International Film Festival

March 9, 2014 in Announcements, Soft War

On February 1st to 11th, 2014, the Islamic Republic of Iran held its 32nd Annual Fajr International Film Festival. Despite restrictive state policies and limited financial support for the arts since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, the arts scene in Iran is nonetheless very dynamic. Iranian cinema in particular has been a key source of cultural exports since the revolution and won acclaim around the globe. Historically, many of Iran’s best films have been showcased at the Fajr festival, with the best films receiving Iran’s equivalent of an “Oscar,” known as a “Crystal Simorgh.” Despite being a state-backed event, the Fajr festival continues to show-case high quality and […]

Iran Cyber Front: Culture minister signals possible changes in Iran’s cyber policies

March 4, 2014 in Iran Cyber Front, News

Could the Islamic Republic of Iran be taking a new approach to cyberspace, and some media freedoms more broadly? It is perhaps too soon to tell, but recent comments by the Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Ali Jannati have raised hopes that the regime may in fact be moving in this direction. Speaking to Mehr News Agency at the sideline of a “digital media activists conference”, Jannati was asked about the filtering of social networking websites such as Facebook . He responded that this was an issue under the oversight of the website filtering committee, an independent body in which the culture ministry only has a single […]

Voice of the Nation: A new pro-Rouhani faction in parliament

February 14, 2014 in Analysis, News

Since 2009 Green Movement demonstrations, the Islamic Republic of Iran’s factional politics have been in a state of flux, from the left to the right of the political spectrum. On the left, the story has been dominated by the rapid rise and equally rapid repression of the Green Movement, which advocated more radical reforms than its parent Second of Khordad (Reformist) Movement. The latter has also been the subject of considerable repression. Centrists, once equally reviled by the left and right, are now in the ascendency with their own Hassan Rouhani elected as president in June 2013, thanks in part to the policies and failures of the Mahmoud […]