Iranian Policies

Iran’s Foreign Policy Under Ebrahim Raisi: General Directions and New Faces

EPC | 01 Sep 2021

The composition of the foreign policy team in the government of new Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi indicates that conservatives will have an almost total control over decision-making in Iran. Hossein Amirabdollahian was appointed as foreign minister, Mahdi Safari as deputy foreign minister, while Ali Shamkhani remained as secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council. This paper sheds light on Iran's foreign policy under President Ebrahim Raisi, and the implications of Hossein Amirabdollahian's appointment as foreign minister.

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Iran's Position on Afghanistan after the Withdrawal of the U.S Forces from the Country

EPC | 16 Aug 2021

Over the few days that followed the withdrawal of the U.S troops from Afghanistan the political and military landscape in the country has witnessed dramatic changes. Tehran has been very cautious in dealing with the rise of Taliban in Afghanistan while Iranian decision-makers circles appear divided on how to deal the situation in their neighbor country. Iran shares more than a 850-kilometer-long rugged border with Afghanistan which has represented a main source of concern for the Iranian regime for the past decades. This paper sheds light on Iran’s position vis-à-vis the latest developments in Afghanistan and emerging chances and challenges.

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The Conservatives’ Republic: Significance and Repercussions of Ebrahim Raisi’s Victory in the Iranian Presidential Elections

EPC | 27 Jul 2021

The Iranian elections did not bring any major surprises. The victory of the conservative candidate therein was expected, namely the head of the judiciary Ebrahim Raisi, after obtaining more than 62 percent of the votes of those participating in the poll. In the overall electoral process, which is usually engineered in the corridors of the Iranian regime, it is possible to notice the domination of the regime's internal priorities this time, especially those related to internal political competition and preparations for the likely sovereign transition.

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Landscape of Iran’s Election: Likelihoods, strategies of Factions and Key Candidates

EPC | 18 May 2021

The upcoming Iranian presidential elections on June 18, 2021 are arguably one of the key political milestones since the revolution of 1979 for several considerations. After taking control of parliament and their success in weakening and dismantling the moderate camp, conservatives are making extra efforts to control the government in this round of competition with moderates who are trying to stay in power and preserve their control over the executive branch. The upcoming presidential elections happen at a time when Iran is at a critical juncture in terms of its relations with the international community in the wake of efforts to revive the nuclear deal and the signing of the strategic cooperation agreement with China. The elections also take place at a time when the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei might die during the next presidential term. Whichever faction secures the presidency in June will therefore have the opportunity to greatly shape the next four years that will determine both Iran’s relations with the outside world and the post-Khamenei era.

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Exhausted Iran: Extent and Scenarios of Iran’s Economic Crisis

EPC | 17 Nov 2020

Iran is facing an ongoing economic crisis since the US withdrew from the nuclear deal in May 2018 and imposed comprehensive sanctions as part of the "maximum pressure" campaign targeting all key sectors of the Iranian economy. During the first five months of the current Iranian year (April-August 2020), the crisis was exacerbated by other influences, most notably the spread of the coronavirus which led to heavy losses at the economic level, making this the worst period in terms of economic performance over the past four decades of the Revolution’s lifetime. Given the experience of the Iranian social and political behaviour during the past decades, it could be asserted that the current Iranian economic crisis will have repercussions and implications at the social mobility level and the activities of official political trends and their relations. This would bring about change in the political trends in the coming period, both internally and externally. The crisis situation has led to a successive wave of collapses, namely a decline in the important indicators and a rise in poverty rates to record levels. This heralds undesirable repercussions at the social and political level, and opens the way to several scenarios, some of which have been proven to occur in recent years, under similar circumstances.

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Iran Changes its Position on the War between Azerbaijan and Armenia: Reasons and Indications

EPC | 26 Oct 2020

​Iran’s northwestern border has been witnessing a fierce war between its two neighbours Armenia and Azerbaijan. The spillover of the war seems to have affected the Iranian territories. Artillery shells are reported to have fallen on Iranian villages in the East Azerbaijan and Ardabil provinces, which are inhabited by the Azeri community in Iran. In addition, the Iranian air defense system has responded to a drone that crossed the Iranian borders. This prompted Iran to express a strong-language objection to both parties to the conflict, stressing that "encroachment on the Iranian borders is a red line". In terms of rhetoric and political positions, Iran considers that the conflict is taking place in the area right outside its borders where it has played a clear role during the past years, and on which it has relied to withstand US sanctions, despite the limited Iranian role in this region in particular, considering that Russia is against any attempts at carrying out any activities therein. Moscow considers the region a traditional sphere of its influence.

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The Iranian-Chinese Agreement and its Strategic Repercussions

Mohamed Fayez Farahat | 30 Aug 2020

On 25 June 2020, the Iranian government approved a draft agreement for a comprehensive strategic partnership with China for a period of twenty-five years. President Hassan Rouhani assigned Foreign Minister Muhammad Javad Zarif to take the executive measures to sign the agreement. Since that date, a wide debate has arisen over the content of this agreement, the main motives behind it, and its expected strategic implications. The intensity of this controversy is attributable to the nature of the current stage in Sino-US relations and Iranian-US relations, on the one hand, and the nature of the internal conditions in Iran, on the other hand, as well as the existence of models for relatively long-term Chinese strategic partnerships with other countries on the "Belt and Road" path. This was followed by the transformation of those countries into regional hubs or a Chinese support point. The most prominent model in this context is the case of the Sino-Pakistani partnership, which opens the way for the possibility that the Sino-Iranian relations would simulate this model.

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Syrian-Iranian Military Agreement: Significance and Ramifications

EPC | 05 Aug 2020

​The military agreement on the development of the Syrian air defence system, concluded between Iran and the Syrian regime on 8 July 2020, raises many questions about its timing and objectives and the extent of the capability of Iranian technology to compete with the capabilities of Russia that is the dominant party in the Syrian skies, in addition to the effectiveness of the system in preventing Israel from hitting Iranian targets in Syria. The agreement also raises a question about its repercussions for the existing balances of power in the region, its impact on the confusion experienced by the Iranian regime, and the shaking of its image at home and in front of the regional allies as a result of the attacks on Iran’s assets, whether in Syria or at home.

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Explosions in Iranian Military Sites: Accused Parties and Extent of Tehran’s Response

EPC | 28 Jul 2020

In June 2020, Iran experienced a series of explosions and fires that extended to military sites (including an explosion that shook the Parchin military complex, an explosion at the Natanz nuclear facility, and news of a series of explosions that extended to military sites east of the capital Tehran) and industrial zones (including an explosion in a power plant in Ahwaz in southwest Iran, a petrochemical company near Mashhad in northeast Iran, and a fire that broke out in a factory south of the capital Tehran), thereby raising serious questions about the nature of those incidents, their consequences, and the causes behind each one of them.

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National Development Fund of Iran: Savings Estimation and Expected Scenarios

EPC | 27 May 2020

There is a significant disagreement in the estimation of the savings size of the National Development Fund of Iran (NDFI). The gap of this disagreement gets even wider between internal and external sources. According to reports released by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 2018, the Fund’s savings stand at 91 billion dollars. However, according to other reports released by the same institution in 2019, the size of the NDFI’s savings is 85.5 billion dollars. Estimates of internal sources appear to be completely different. While sources in the NDFI have announced that the government paid it 170 billion dollars as of 2013, the Research Centre of the Iranian Parliament underlined in a 2014 report that the former government sweeped the NDFI’s savings which, in that year, did not exceed 17 billion dollars. This is supported by figures released by the NDFI. On the other hand, official sources have indicated that the NDFI’s savings fell to nearly 22 billion dollars in September 2013, and subsequently to 12 billion dollars in October 2017.

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Iran’s Budget between Discrepancy in Official Figures and the Reality of Collapse

EPC | 17 May 2020

On 20 March 2020, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced the start of the implementation of the Iranian general budget for the current Iranian year (March 2020/March 2021). Thus, it became the first general budget in the history of the new Iranian regime to be implemented without being debated in Parliament. After the Iranian Parliament had rejected the draft general budget in January 2020, the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei dropped the role of Parliament in debating the budget owing to the suspension of Parliament’s activity as a result of the spread of coronavirus. The Guardian Council of the Constitution was tasked with debating the general budget and presenting it to the government for implementation. As a result, on the last day of the last Iranian year, Rouhani informed the ministries of the draft general budget and of its effect.

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Rings of the Embargo Imposed on the Iranian Economy: Effects, Gaps and Scenarios

EPC | 20 Apr 2020

The US sanctions, placing Iran on the blacklist of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the corona pandemic could be viewed as three separate, but integrated, rings that tighten controls on the Iranian economy and subject it to some kind of comprehensive embargo that isolates Iran from the international economic system. Each one of those rings serves to deepen the impact of the other two, despite the difference in the extent of the impact of each one. This paper seeks to examine the three rings of the embargo on the Iranian economy and shed light on the gaps created by each of the embargo rings, and shows how the other levels have greatly contributed to bridging those gaps and blocking the outlets through which the Iranian economy used to breathe. Finally, the paper determines the remaining outlets before the Iranian economy until now, and indicates whether those gaps could ensure the resilience of the Iranian economy for a longer period.

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Iran’s Parliamentary Elections: Political Actors Strategies & Potential Fallout of Conservative Victory

EPC | 17 Feb 2020

Iran's political scene continues to heat up as the country gears up for the next parliamentary elections. On the official level, there have been verbal clashes between the conservative wing-held Guardian Council of the Constitution, which is charged with qualifying parliamentary candidates, and the government, which accused the Council of not being neutral and excluding all candidates who belong to political groups outside the conservative line. On the political groups’ level, the reformists keep mum on the elections after hundreds of reformist candidates have been disqualified from running in the forthcoming polls. On the other side, cracks have started to appear among the conservatives, otherwise known as the principlists. In the meantime, the grassroots remain relatively apathetic towards the electoral warm-up with no indications that there are above-average preparations for the next vote, sparking fear among regime's circles that the turnout might sink to unprecedented levels.

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Iranian Scene Expectations for 2020

EPC | 03 Feb 2020

Over the next two years, Iran is likely to see harsh political and economic conditions; it is awaiting a parliamentary election station in 2020, punctuated by the prospect of a return to protests. The country will undergo a political transition from Rouhani to another president in 2021, and the likelihoods of a having a political transition at the level of the supreme leader are increasing. Iran is reeling under tough US sanctions and a deepening economic crisis, which spurs internal conflicts over power and resources. Given the peculiarity of Iranian-American relations, the remainder of President Trump's term is a period of labor and awaiting that leaves its impact on shaping the main features of any future political process in Iran.

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Iranian presence in East Africa: Goals, Tools and Prospects

EPC | 01 Feb 2020

ran attaches special importance to eastern African countries. It conceives in this region a wide and fertile field for political, military and economic activities, particularly the countries bordering the Red Sea coast. Iranian interest in Africa magnified during the tenure of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who placed the African continent on his foreign policy priorities, and put forward political, military and cultural goals for this issue. Due to the Western and American pressure on Iran over its nuclear program, Iranian foreign policy adopted a new strategy, through which it seeks to enhance relations with the countries of the African continent, with the aim of rallying African diplomatic support in the corridors of the United Nations and the Security Council to break the international economic sanctions imposed at the time.

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