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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 […]

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 […]

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, […]

Iranian workers and the 1394 minimum wage: One step forward?

March 18, 2015 in Analysis, News

During the annual negotiations to set Iran’s average minimum wage, Iranian workers won a raise of 17 percent. While this is one of the biggest steps forward in recent years for the country’s struggling workers, this small victory comes amidst a larger context of economic decline and political under-representation. The Islamic Republic of Iran’s trilateral commission responsible for managing the minimum wage, composed of representatives of the government, employers, and workers, met on 14-15 March 2015. They decided to set the minimum wage at 7,124,240 rial/month for the 1394 (2015-2016) calendar year, a 17 percent rise over last year’s minimum wage which Minister of Labour Ali Rabi’i called […]

Assembly of Experts win for Yazdi reaffirms conservative control of key Iranian political body

March 14, 2015 in Analysis, News

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 […]

Iran’s top leaders increasingly aware of stark environmental future facing the country

March 11, 2015 in Environmental Crisis, News

As Iran’s environmental situation deteriorates, the Islamic Republic’s political leadership has started to frame the environment as a major policy and even national security issue. In recent years the environment in Iran has begun to deteriorate to an unprecedented degree, in line with trend seen elsewhere in the Middle East and broader global south. Severe air-pollution in Tehran and other major urban areas; out of control dust storms in Ahvaz and Khuzestan province; the drying-out of lake Urmia, among other bodies of water in the country. Hardly anyone has been able to escape the effects of environmental degradation, and there is increasing mobilisation around this issue. Of course, […]

Ban on media coverage of ex-president Khatami highlights ongoing tensions in Iran

March 3, 2015 in Analysis, News

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 […]