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.
EPC | 20 Jul 2020
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.
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.
EPC | 20 May 2020
In October 2020, the ban on trade in conventional weapons with Iran imposed under article 5 of Annex II of the nuclear agreement — which prohibits all countries from trading in such weapons with Iran — will come to an end. The ban was scheduled to last for five years from the day that the agreement came into effect, ending in October of this year. The various parties to the agreement are ramping up their political maneuvers, however, as the US administration and the remaining parties to the agreement appear to hold incompatible positions regarding the end of the embargo.
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.