Oil prices dropped to record lows on March 9, 2020, which had a direct impact on national markets in the region, especially those of oil-producing nations. Although initial outlooks do not suggest that Iran will be greatly impacted by the drop in global oil prices, owing to the stability of its exports, kept at very low levels due to sanctions, and its apparent lack of dependence on oil revenues, the Iranian markets have nonetheless responded clearly to the price drop.
Last February, Iran was hit by a major cyber-attack which brought national internet connectivity down to 75%. The powerful attack came after recent failed Iranian satellite launches, raising doubts about a potential role of cyber-attacks. However, and despite Israeli reports, Iran continued to deny the occurrence of any systematic attacks which seem to be mounted by the U.S. and its allies.
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.
It has become clear that the most important controversy on the threshold of the US presidential elections concerns the issue of the extension of the embargo on arms trade with Iran. International sanctions provided for by the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) had imposed an embargo on arms trade with Iran. However, the nuclear deal (which is in turn an international document recognized by the UNSC) provides for the termination of the said embargo in October 2020. Thus, the issue of lifting the embargo has become the subject of disagreement between the US and its former partners in the nuclear deal.
At its last meeting in February, Iran was placed on the blacklist of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), thus becoming the second country, after North Korea, to be placed on that list. The placement of Iran on the list came after several stages of deferral of the respective decision and granting Iran a grace period to enact laws that ensure financial transparency, combating terrorism and anti-money laundering, after the Iranian government failed to enact those laws due to the objection of the hard-line current which prevented the adoption of the bills at the Expediency Discernment Council of the System.
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.
Our neighbor, Iran, is currently experiencing significant social turmoil in the face of escalating economic challenges and political crises – largely manifested in the form of ongoing public protests.
On December 28, 2017, massive popular protests erupted in the Islamic Republic of Iran, starting in Mashhad before engulfing more than eighty cities and towns across the country.
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