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.
Mohamed Fayez Farahat | 10 May 2021
On 21 June 2020, the Iranian government announced its approval of the draft "comprehensive cooperation agreement" for a period of 25 years with China, as part of the "comprehensive strategic partnership" signed between them in March 2016. On 27 March 2021, the agreement was formally signed by the foreign ministers of the two countries.
The agreement sparked great controversy, ranging from the motives behind it, to the expected gains for its two parties, the potential repercussions that the agreement could have for the Middle East and the Arabian Gulf region, and the future of the agreement and its ability to hold in case of change in the current regional and international conditions.
There are several interests behind the decision by China and Iran to sign the agreement at this time. Some of those interests date back to before the signing of the agreement, but some other interests are related to the timing of the signing of the agreement. This raises important questions about the extent of the agreement’s ability to survive and continue in the event of a change in the current international and regional context. The future of the agreement is not merely related to the nature of the interests that stand behind it, but is also related to the nature of the agreement, or rather the way the two parties to the agreement view its real goals, and China's ability in particular to fulfill the promises related to the agreement to the Iranian side, as well as the nature of the future ruling elite in Iran and its position on assessing the gains and costs of the agreement.
EPC | 03 Mar 2021
In recent days, the Iranian issue has witnessed a congestion in the positions issued by the relevant parties, in addition to some mediation initiatives at the diplomatic level (the Qatari and European initiatives). This indicates an increase in efforts to find a solution to this issue and pave the way for the revival of the nuclear agreement. However, there are indications that the European efforts in particular have begun to deviate from their main goal, which is to solve the Iranian nuclear issue, towards the implementation of a political agenda, namely to support the moderate Iranian trend in the upcoming presidential elections, scheduled for 18 May 2021.
Nizar Abdul Kader | 24 Feb 2021
Iran began its military intervention in Syria with the outbreak of the civil war in 2011. The main goal of this intervention was to defeat the Revolution and save Bashar al-Assad’s rule from falling, and thus maintain the “Alawite rule” which is a focal point in the Islamic Republic's long-term strategy aimed at establishing a “Shiite crescent” extending from Iran through Iraq and Syria, all the way to Lebanon. A full decade after the military developments in Syria, this paper seeks to foresee the future of the Iranian military presence in this country in the light of the intense competition for influence between the various regional and international players, especially the US and Russia, and in the light of the continuous Israeli military pressure on the Iranian presence to get Iran out of Syria.
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.
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.
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.
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.