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Younesi downplay’s Rouhani administration’s authority to end house-arrest of Mousavi and Karroubi

November 12, 2014 in Analysis, News

The continued house arrest of Mousavi and Karroubi highlight the “great divide” in Iranian politics, whereby President Hassan Rouhani is able to advance his non-confrontational foreign policy in nuclear negotiations but finds himself at pains to make advances in domestic politics. Iran’s less than stellar performance before the United Nations Human Rights Council, led by Supreme Council for Human Rights secretary Mohammad-Javad Larijani, during the periodical review this past 31 October 2014 highlights the country’s deteriorating human rights situation. This deterioration under President Hassan Rouhani, who made improvements in the area of human rights a key plank of his campaign, has been repeatedly noted on our website as […]

Ashura’s contested meaning in Iran

November 6, 2014 in Analysis, News

For Iranian Shi’a, Ashura has a diversity of meanings. Photo: Asr-e Ashura (“Eve of Ashura”), by Mahmoud Farchian. It is Muharram in the Islamic Republic of Iran, a time when Iranian Shi’a will be mourning the martyrdom of Imam Hossein, grandson of the Prophet Mohammed and son of Imam Ali, and the third Imam of Shi’a Islam, at the Battle of Kerbala. The centrality of Ashu’ra to Iran’s Islamic political system is apparent not only from the role it plays in doctrine and the history of the Islamic Revolution, but also in the public discourse and spectacle of the regime. The regime leadership all the way down to ordinary […]

Iran human rights chief talks Internet, compares filter-evaders to thieves

October 29, 2014 in Iran Cyber Front, News

The secretary of the Islamic Republic’s judiciary human rights staff gives insight into regime views of the Internet and its future in Iran. Mohammad-Javad Larijani, the secretary of the judiciary human rights staff, recently gave an illuminating interview on the Internet in Iran which may be indicative of key aspects of the Islamic Republic’s approach to cyberspace. As the head of the Institute of Research in Fundamental Sciences (IPM), which was the first center in Iran to be connected to the Internet in the early 1990s, Larijani scoffed at accusations of “being against the Internet”, saying that it did not apply to him. However, he did raise two […]

Assembly of Experts leadership race may hint at power balance in Iran

October 23, 2014 in Analysis, News

The race for the leadership of Iran’s Assembly of Experts is on. Who wins with what votes may tell us much about the current factional balance of power in Iran. On 21 October 2014, Ayatollah Mohammad Reza Mahdavi-Kani passed away, leaving a vacuum at the top of one of Iran’s most influential but little known centers of power, the Assembly of Experts. The race to replace this body’s general secretory is on, and who wins with what votes could be very revealing about the balance of power between the various political currents in Iran. The Assembly in Iran’s political system is an elected body responsible for selecting, monitoring, […]

Haddad-Adel, Soft War, and the Islamic Republic’s generational divide

October 18, 2014 in Analysis, News, Soft War

At the inauguration of the Toranjestan-e Behesht, a store selling Iranian and Islamic cultural products, senior parliamentarian Gholam-Hossein Haddad-Adel discussed the Islamic Republic’s growing generational divide, its implications for the regime, and how to address it. It is an understatement to say that the generation of Iranians who made the Iranian and later Islamic Revolution differ in outlook from their children, who are sometimes referred to as the “burnt-out generation” (nasl-e sookht-e). Broadly speaking, the former came of age during a period of rapidly rising material affluence under Shah Mohammad-Reza Pahlavi but were more interested in grand political ideologies and tended to be more idealistic in their outlook. […]

Sadegh Kharazi and Iranian Reformism 2.0

October 9, 2014 in Analysis, News

A group led by foreign policy establishment figure Sadegh Kharazi is trying to revive the fortunes of the reformist movement, albeit in a new form. Amidst all of the turmoil of Iranian domestic politics and foreign policy issues in the center of the international media spotlight today, an attempt by a group of reformists to revive their political current, which has largely fallen outside of the mainstream of Iranian politics since the end of the Green Movement demonstrations, has gone relatively unnoticed. This revival effort has been led by Sadegh Kharazi, among the few reformists in Iran’s senior foreign policy establishment. Kharazi, an accomplished diplomat, has served as […]

Iran Cyber Front: The battle over WhatsApp, Viber, and Tango

October 2, 2014 in Iran Cyber Front, News

In a mark of the ongoing struggle between President Hassan Rouhani, who was elected on a platform of reform over one year ago, and conservative adversaries who dominate much of the Iranian political system, the Iranian judiciary has called on the presidential administration to ban or at least bring under stricter control a number of popular social networking and communication applications. This week the responsible minister and head of the judiciary both weighed in on the issue. One of the most recent episode in the clash between President Hassan Rouhani’s reform agenda and Iranian conservatives has been on the cyber front, specifically on the queston of what to […]

Senior Rouhani admin official: We are no match for IRGC construction arm

September 23, 2014 in Analysis, News

Recent comments by Akbar Torkan, a senior official in the Hassan Rouhani administration, may indicate underlying tensions between the government and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) construction and engineering unit and how over a year since the new president’s election, the organisation retains its strong position within the Iranian state. In a recent interview with ILNA, Akbar Torkan, Secretary of the Council of Cooperation of Special and Free Zones, made statements that may be indicative of tensions between the Hassan Rouhani administration and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), at least in the economic sphere. In his statements Torkan highlighted the Persian Gulf Bridge of Gheshm Island, […]

Jafari: Goal of anti-ISIL coalition to destroy Syrian regime

September 17, 2014 in Ayatollah's Praetorians, News

In a recent speech, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commander Majour-General Aziz Jafari laid out the Islamic Republic of Iran’s reasoning for not entering the anti-Islamic State coalition under the leadership of the United States, and also touched on a range of other issues relating to the ongoing and increasingly overlapping civil wars in Iraq and Syria. Speaking on the anniversary of the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s order forming the three military branches (Ground Force, Navy, and Air/Aerospace force) of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) this past Tuesday, Majour General Mohammad-Ali Jafari discussed the United States-led anti-Islamic State (IS, formerly Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant or […]

Faraji-Dana’s impeachment and the ‘great divide’ in Iranian politics

August 21, 2014 in Analysis, News

Minister of Science, Research, and Technology Reza Faraji-Dana, seen as being among the most reformist figures in President Hassan Rouhani’s cabinet, has been impeached by the Iranian parliament over his efforts to reform the higher education system in Iran. While this is by no means the end of Rouhani’s domestic reform project, the president and Faraji-Dana’s handling of the affair does not bode well for the future of this project. This episode highlights the “great divide” in Iranian politics in which there is a tentative regime consensus on moderating foreign policy, especially in nuclear negotiations with the West, no consensus exists on introducing domestic reforms on the pressing […]