• Inspection of military bases and interviewing nuclear personnel: Iran’s “hard” red-lines?

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    Published May 26, 2015 at 2:57 am - No Comments A new potential obstacle faces the successful completion of the P5+1-Iran nuclear negotiations: Will the IAEA be allowed to conduct inspections of Iranian non-nuclear facilities, including military bases, and interview nuclear scientific and technical personnel? A number of senior Iranian political and security officials have lashed out at this as an egregious invasion of Iranian sovereignty, while some among the P5+1 member states view transparency and verification as a pillar of any successful final agreement. Are we merely witnessing a new phase of haggling in these negotiations or is these issues a potential point of rupture for the talks? The Barack Obama administration and its partners in the […]

    Inspection of military bases and interviewing nuclear personnel: Iran’s “hard” red-lines?
  • Rouhani’s social and political agenda and his fractious coalition

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    Published May 18, 2015 at 4:45 am - No Comments As Iran inches closer to a nuclear agreement with the P5+1, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani may be starting to make a new set of moves to deliver on his election campaign promises of expanding social and political freedoms. This could be especially important if the president hopes to see his allies elected to power in the 2016 parliamentary and Assembly of Expert elections. However, early signs indicate that this could fracture the broad coalition which has carried him through his first two years as president. During his first two years in office President Hassan Rouhani has largely neglected his campaign promise of expanding social and political freedoms. This […]

    Rouhani’s social and political agenda and his fractious coalition
  • The neglected pillar of Rouhani’s agenda: Social and political freedoms

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    Published May 10, 2015 at 10:56 pm - No Comments During an interview last week Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said that Iran does not jail people for their opinions. His comments resulted in a strong backlash, much of it coming from Zarif’s own supporters who also back the larger political agenda of President Hassan Rouhani. This has been among the first major missteps by the administration with Iranian voters who seek greater social and political freedoms, a bloc which came out to vote for Rouhani in droves in the 2013 presidential election. Can Rouhani afford to alienate these voters, and how could this impact him and his allies’ attempt to take parliament and the Assembly of Experts […]

    The neglected pillar of Rouhani’s agenda: Social and political freedoms
  • Event – IranPolitik @ the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

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    Published May 9, 2015 at 1:49 am - No Comments IranPolitik co-founder and managing editor Farzan Sabet chaired a panel on the recent P5+1-Iran framework agreement with the Iranian Studies Group based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on 05 May 2015. Topics of discussion included the provisions of the 02 April 2015 framework agreement, economic sanctions on Iran, and the geo-political dynamics of the MENA region. Panelists included Jim Walsh of MIT’s Center for International Studies, Payam Mohseni of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and Aaron Arnold of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. To learn more please visit the Facebook event page.

    Event – IranPolitik @ the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  • Former agriculture minister Kalantari’s alarming remarks on Iran’s water crisis

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    Published April 29, 2015 at 2:09 am - No Comments As we have noted in the past, Iran’s political leadership has increasingly become aware of the scale of environmental problems facing the country. In this context, former Minister of Agriculture Isa Kalantari has called on the country’s senior political leadership to take decisive action to avert or at least lessen what he sees as a coming water crisis in Iran. The environment has increasingly become a hot-button political issue in the Islamic Republic of Iran, with the country facing a myriad of problems including: Severe air-pollution in Tehran and other major urban areas; out of control dust storms in Ahvaz and Khuzestan province; and the drying-out of lake […]

    Former agriculture minister Kalantari’s alarming remarks on Iran’s water crisis
  • Iran’s conservative consensus on the nuclear deal

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    Published April 15, 2015 at 7:29 pm - No Comments IranPolitik co-founder and managing editor Farzan Sabet has written a new article in the Washington Post Monkey Cage political science blog as part of their “Iran and the Nuclear Deal” symposium. “Explanations of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s decision to come to the negotiation table and conclude a nuclear deal often emphasize the will of Iranian voters and the election of Hassan Rouhani as president. These explanations ignore two equally important factors behind both Rouhani’s election and the decision to negotiate: Disunity among Iranian conservatives and intra-factional consensus politics in Iran. Understanding these factors is crucial to making sense of Iran’s decision to negotiate and evaluating claims about […]

    Iran’s conservative consensus on the nuclear deal
  • Khamenei’s 1394 Nowruz Speech in Mashhad: Preparing Iranians for a nuclear agreement?

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    Published March 25, 2015 at 10:13 pm - One Comment In his annual new year’s address to Iranians from the city of Mashhad, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei defended the Hassan Rouhani administration as being both lawful and legitimate. At the same time, he appeared to strike back at Barack Obama’s Nowruz message to Iranians, in which the American president touted the economic benefits of a nuclear agreement between the P5+1 and an Iran which is open to the world. Is Khamenei preparing Iranian elites and people for an agreement, while trying to maintain the status-quo in other key areas of domestic politics and foreign policy? Preparing Iranian audiences for a nuclear agreement? On 21 March 2015, […]

    Khamenei’s 1394 Nowruz Speech in Mashhad: Preparing Iranians for a nuclear agreement?
  • Assembly of Experts win for Yazdi reaffirms conservative control of key Iranian political body

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    Published March 14, 2015 at 4:17 am - No Comments In the recent race for the leadership of Iran’s Assembly of Experts, Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi handily defeated his rival Ayatollah Ali-Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani. This was a clear victory for Iranian conservatives, which may ripple out to affect other aspects of Iranian politics. On 10 March 2015, Iran’s Assembly of Experts held a leadership race to select its next general secretary. As we noted earlier, the outcome of leadership race is indicative of the existing balance of power in the Assembly, an elected body responsible for selecting, monitoring, and removing the supreme leader. It has 86 members, who serve for eight years, all of whom are faghih (Shi’a jurists) educated […]

    Assembly of Experts win for Yazdi reaffirms conservative control of key Iranian political body
  • Ban on media coverage of ex-president Khatami highlights ongoing tensions in Iran

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    Published March 3, 2015 at 5:57 am - No Comments The judiciary’s ban on media coverage of Khatami, a former president of the Islamic Republic, is only the latest episode which highlights the ‘great divide’ in Iran. On 16 January 2015, Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei, the current prosecutor general and a former intelligence minister under Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, stated in a press conference that Iran’s judiciary had issued an order to ban the publication of the name and image of the head of the reformist administration, by which he meant Mohammad Khatami: “And about those who the Supreme National Security Council has decided or the judiciary considers them to be among the leaders of the sedition [Iranian conservatives term for the […]

    Ban on media coverage of ex-president Khatami highlights ongoing tensions in Iran
  • Iran Expediency Council policy bans participation of security forces in elections

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    Published February 17, 2015 at 4:42 am - No Comments On Saturday 14 February the Expediency Discernment Council, an appointed body which has supervisory authority over the branches of Iran’s government and an advisory role to the supreme leader, met to discuss and approve general election policies. Those in attendance included the council’s head, Ayatollah Ali-Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani, President Hassan Rouhani, Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani, Minister of the Interior Abdol-Reza Rahmani-Fazli, Minister of Intelligence Mahmoud Alavi, and Minister of Justice Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi, among others. The outcome of the session included general points on improving elections which were largely unremarkable, except perhaps for the final article which called for the: “Banning Armed Forces personnel, including Army, IRGC, Police, and […]

    Iran Expediency Council policy bans participation of security forces in elections

Inspection of military bases and interviewing nuclear personnel: Iran’s “hard” red-lines?

May 26, 2015 in Analysis, News, Nuclear File

A new potential obstacle faces the successful completion of the P5+1-Iran nuclear negotiations: Will the IAEA be allowed to conduct inspections of Iranian non-nuclear facilities, including military bases, and interview nuclear scientific and technical personnel? A number of senior Iranian political and security officials have lashed out at this as an egregious invasion of Iranian sovereignty, while some among the P5+1 member states view transparency and verification as a pillar of any successful final agreement. Are we merely witnessing a new phase of haggling in these negotiations or is these issues a potential point of rupture for the talks? The Barack Obama administration and its partners in the […]

Rouhani’s social and political agenda and his fractious coalition

May 18, 2015 in Analysis, News

As Iran inches closer to a nuclear agreement with the P5+1, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani may be starting to make a new set of moves to deliver on his election campaign promises of expanding social and political freedoms. This could be especially important if the president hopes to see his allies elected to power in the 2016 parliamentary and Assembly of Expert elections. However, early signs indicate that this could fracture the broad coalition which has carried him through his first two years as president. During his first two years in office President Hassan Rouhani has largely neglected his campaign promise of expanding social and political freedoms. This […]

The neglected pillar of Rouhani’s agenda: Social and political freedoms

May 10, 2015 in Analysis, News

During an interview last week Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said that Iran does not jail people for their opinions. His comments resulted in a strong backlash, much of it coming from Zarif’s own supporters who also back the larger political agenda of President Hassan Rouhani. This has been among the first major missteps by the administration with Iranian voters who seek greater social and political freedoms, a bloc which came out to vote for Rouhani in droves in the 2013 presidential election. Can Rouhani afford to alienate these voters, and how could this impact him and his allies’ attempt to take parliament and the Assembly of Experts […]

Event – IranPolitik @ the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

May 9, 2015 in Announcements, Nuclear File

IranPolitik co-founder and managing editor Farzan Sabet chaired a panel on the recent P5+1-Iran framework agreement with the Iranian Studies Group based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on 05 May 2015. Topics of discussion included the provisions of the 02 April 2015 framework agreement, economic sanctions on Iran, and the geo-political dynamics of the MENA region. Panelists included Jim Walsh of MIT’s Center for International Studies, Payam Mohseni of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and Aaron Arnold of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. To learn more please visit the Facebook event page.

Former agriculture minister Kalantari’s alarming remarks on Iran’s water crisis

April 29, 2015 in Environmental Crisis, News

As we have noted in the past, Iran’s political leadership has increasingly become aware of the scale of environmental problems facing the country. In this context, former Minister of Agriculture Isa Kalantari has called on the country’s senior political leadership to take decisive action to avert or at least lessen what he sees as a coming water crisis in Iran. The environment has increasingly become a hot-button political issue in the Islamic Republic of Iran, with the country facing a myriad of problems including: Severe air-pollution in Tehran and other major urban areas; out of control dust storms in Ahvaz and Khuzestan province; and the drying-out of lake […]

Could Hashemi-Rafsanjani face another political battle, this time over his son’s fate?

April 23, 2015 in Analysis, News

With his son Mehdi Hashemi possibly facing 15 years in prison, Ayatollah Ali-Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani, once among Iran’s foremost political figures, continues his political descent, coming under attack by the heads of Iran’s powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and judiciary. In a speech on 12 April 2015, Expediency Council Chairman Ayatollah Ali-Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani mocked those in Iran who he said believed that all misery derived from “a few women on the streets with bad hejab”. While observing that women indeed “must have the minimum of Islamic hejab”, he asked rhetorically: “But the issue is: what about the other issues? What about oppression? What about unjust prisons? What […]

New challenges to Russia and Iran’s partnership in Syria

April 18, 2015 in Analysis, Syrian Front

By guest contributor Anton Evstratov The Syrian civil war is one of the most dangerous conflicts in the world today. There are many political players who over time have become involved on this conflagration. While the Bashar al-Assad regime continues fighting Salafi extremists, it is unclear how long it can continue the fight against these extremists as well as the other forces supported by U.S. allies in the Middle East. It’s ability to continue fighting is sustained by the help and protection of its main allies Iran and Russia, who competing interests in this conflict. Why is Syria so important to Moscow and Tehran, despite not being adjacent […]

Iran’s conservative consensus on the nuclear deal

April 15, 2015 in Analysis, Announcements

IranPolitik co-founder and managing editor Farzan Sabet has written a new article in the Washington Post Monkey Cage political science blog as part of their “Iran and the Nuclear Deal” symposium. “Explanations of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s decision to come to the negotiation table and conclude a nuclear deal often emphasize the will of Iranian voters and the election of Hassan Rouhani as president. These explanations ignore two equally important factors behind both Rouhani’s election and the decision to negotiate: Disunity among Iranian conservatives and intra-factional consensus politics in Iran. Understanding these factors is crucial to making sense of Iran’s decision to negotiate and evaluating claims about […]

Analysis: The Joint Statement by the EU’s Mogherini & Iran’s Zarif

April 3, 2015 in Analysis, Nuclear File

Disclaimer: The following analysis is based on the text of the Joint Statement by EU High Representative Federica Mogherini and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. The latter’s comments to journalists after joint statement press conference, Iran’s press-release, the U.S. fact-sheet, and subsequent speeches by U.S. leaders potentially diverge somewhat on questions like economic sanctions relief. As the joint statement appears to be the only commonly agreed upon framework, we have limited our initial analysis to this text at present. Introduction Today the United Nations Security Council permanent five plus Germany (P5+1) and the Islamic Republic of Iran concluded a political framework agreement, which they are calling the Joint […]

Khamenei’s 1394 Nowruz Speech in Mashhad: Preparing Iranians for a nuclear agreement?

March 25, 2015 in Analysis, News

In his annual new year’s address to Iranians from the city of Mashhad, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei defended the Hassan Rouhani administration as being both lawful and legitimate. At the same time, he appeared to strike back at Barack Obama’s Nowruz message to Iranians, in which the American president touted the economic benefits of a nuclear agreement between the P5+1 and an Iran which is open to the world. Is Khamenei preparing Iranian elites and people for an agreement, while trying to maintain the status-quo in other key areas of domestic politics and foreign policy? Preparing Iranian audiences for a nuclear agreement? On 21 March 2015, […]