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Assembly of experts leadership race may hint at balance of power 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 […]

Higher education minister Faraji-Dana faces impeachment efforts by parliament

August 13, 2014 in Analysis, News

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s domestic reform program looks set to take yet another blow from conservatives, this time in parliament where an effort to impeach Minister of Education, Research, and Technology Reza Faraji-Dana is gaining momentum. According to ISNA,  51 members of the Iranian parliament have signed a letter to the speaker of the parliament Ali Larijani asking Minister of Education, Research, and Technology Reza Faraji-Dana to be brought before the parliament for an impeachment vote. Their letter lists a number of grievances, including: Re-hiring professors who were fired: This likely refers to the reinstatement of prefers who were ousted from their positions for political reasons Changing the […]

Ghalibaf’s segregation plan and Rouhani’s isolation on the domestic front

August 11, 2014 in Analysis, News

A recent controversy involving Tehran Mayor Mohammad-Bagher Ghalibaf and his municipality’s plans to segregate male and female work-places has created a new battle for Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. The latter was elected on a platform of resolving the nuclear crisis, improving Iran’s economy, and expanding domestic social, political, and cultural freedoms, and while he has had successes on the first two issues, the conflict with Ghalibaf shows that success on the third eludes him yet. In July 2014 it was revealed that the municipality of Tehran, run by the conservative leaning Mayor Mohammad-Bagher Ghalibaf, had decided to segregate male and female offices. Supporters and detractors of President Hassan […]

Iranian Deputy FM denies military involvement in Iraq, lashes out against Kurdish secession

July 8, 2014 in News

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, speaking with the Arabic language Al-Alam news network, denied any Iranian military involvement in Iraq or cooperation with the United States there, came out strong against Kurdish succession, and criticized the Saudi role the conflict. In a recent interview with the Arabic language Al-Alam news network, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian laid out the Islamic Republic of Iran’s official position on the ongoing crisis in Iraq. He strongly refuted claims suggesting that Iran had military advisers in Iraq, saying that rumours about Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Jerusalem Force (JC) commander Majour General […]