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Rouhani call for greater electoral plurality may presage rising post-deal domestic tensions

August 21, 2015 in Analysis, News

Hassan Rouhani has called for the Council of Guardians to take a supervisory rather than executive role in elections. But this may have more to do with the Iranian president’s fears of disqualification of his allies than a desire for greater electoral plurality. In a speech on Wednesday 19 August 2015, Hassan Rouhani called for a more cautious Iranian foreign policy and for the Council of Guardians (CoG) to take a more limited supervisory role in election. Rouhani’s opening salvo Speaking at a meeting of his Cabinet and provincial governors, the Iranian president discussed the nuclear negotiations and the post-deal course of the country’s foreign policy. Saying that […]

After the nuclear agreement, Iran’s supreme leader warns against American penetration

August 18, 2015 in Analysis, News, Nuclear File

In a speech yesterday Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called for an end to Sunni-Shi’a conflict in the Middle East, laying these tensions at the feet of the United States. He also stated his staunch opposition to any move toward the Americans, political, economic, cultural, or otherwise. During a meeting with members of Ahl ul-Bayt World Assembly and Islamic Radios and Televisions Union (IRTVU) on Monday 17 August 2015, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei discussed the Sunni-Shi’a conflict in the Middle East and US-Iran relations after the nuclear agreement. This speech was a clear indication that while Ayatollah Khamenei may push his country toward lowering tensions […]

Mehdi goes to Evin: Hashemi-Rafsanjani under pressure in lead up to potential 2016 election run

August 11, 2015 in Analysis, News

Mehdi Hashemi has surrendered himself to Evin prison to serve a sentence on political and economic charges. Mehdi’s imprisonment may have been a preemptive strike against Ayatollah Ali-Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani’s participation in the upcoming 2016 elections and highlights this once mighty figures continued political decline. Mehdi goes to prison Iranians awoke on 09 August 2015 to news that Mehdi Hashemi, son of legendary Iranian politician Ayatollah Ali-Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani, had surrendered himself to prison officials to serve out his 10 year sentence on a slew of political and economic charges. In a video of their farewell posted on his official website, a haggard looking Ayatollah Rafsanjani prayed for his son’s […]

Banning of “He Who Said No” and the undermining of Iranian culture

August 8, 2015 in News, Soft War

The withdrawal of Ahmad-Reza Darvish’s “He Who Said No”, an acclaimed film about revered Shi’a figure Imam Hossein, from Iranian cinemas this past week highlights how censorship in Iran continues to be an obstacle to the indigenous production of culture. This past week director Ahmad-Reza Darvish’s award winning film Rooz-e Rastakhiz (entitled “He Who Said No” in English), about the revered Shi’a figure Imam Hossein’s uprising against and martyrdom at the hands of the Umayyad Caliph Yazid, was pulled from cinemas in Iran due to what some claim is the film’s irreverent treatment of its subject matter. The film was originally created in 2010 and first shown at […]

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 […]