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Khamenei speech suggests possible tension over parts of Iran deal

July 20, 2015 in Analysis, News, Nuclear File

In his Eid-e Fitr sermon following the signing of the nuclear agreement Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was ambivalent toward the deal, thanking Iran’s negotiating team but expressing pessimism about whether the deal marked a rapprochement with the United States. In his Eid-e Fitr sermon closely following the conclusion of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iranian supreme Ayatollah Ali Khamenei signalled ambivalence about the agreement reached with the United Nations Security Council permanent five members plus Germany (P5+1). He started by thanking Iran’s negotiators and president and said that the JCPOA as a “text” (rather than “agreement”) still had to undergo legal processes, presumably a […]

Rouhani calls for greater transparency in how Iran prosecutes political crimes

July 6, 2015 in Analysis, News

President Hassan Rouhani has called for greater judicial transparency to change how the Islamic Republic prosecutes “political crimes”, which are currently vaguely defined in the Iranian judicial system. A law to do precisely this has been sitting in a parliamentary commission for some time. Could President Rouhani’s highlighting of this issue help give momentum to judicial reform in Iran? Rouhani calls for greater judicial transparency Speaking at a session during Judiciary Commemoration Week on Sunday 28 June, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called for Iran’s judiciary to be more transparent. The occasion commemorates the death of the first head of Iran’s judiciary, Ayatollah Mohammad Beheshti, who was killed in […]

General Jazayeri: “Absolutely no permission shall be given to foreigners for any type of access to military centers”

June 18, 2015 in News, Nuclear File

On Sunday 14 June 2015, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces Brigadier General Masoud Jazayeri joined a cacophony of voices in Iran denouncing any type of inspections of Iranian military facilities by foreigners as part of a final nuclear agreement. He was quoted by Islamic Students’ News Agency (ISNA) as saying: “The armed forces and defence system of the country are responsible for guarding the interests of the country and regime and entry of foreigners to defence and military centers and extraction of information on associated equipment and tactics is against the commands and expedience and demands of the public of Iran.” “We emphasise that absolutely […]

YEKTA: Iranian conservatism’s future or a flash in the pan?

June 15, 2015 in Analysis, News

Iranian conservatives, torn by schisms during the Mahmoud Ahmadinejad administration second term and defeated in the 2013 presidential election, have begun to reorganise themselves ahead of the 2016 Assembly of Experts and parliamentary elections. One such group, officially announced today, is YEKTA. Is this future of Iranian conservatism or a just flash in the pan? Introduction In the Islamic Republic of Iran’s history we have repeatedly seen a pattern in which the act of holding political power by a coalition of actors tends to, over time, erode the bonds of the coalition as its contradictions are laid bare, eventually contributing to its demise. This was the case from […]

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, […]