The departure of President Trump’s Special Representative for Iran, Brian Hook, and the appointment of Elliott Abrams as his replacement has raised expectations in the Iran and the wider region. This paper will examine the impact of this change within the US government on the eve of the US presidential elections.
Shortly ahead of the expiry of the embargo imposed on arms trade with Iran (scheduled to end in October 2020), the issue of extending that embargo has become a major topic in the US rhetoric on the Iranian issue. This makes it likely to continue throughout the summer of 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.
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.
The Trump administration’s current policy on Iran has largely been a lost opportunity, as US sanctions against the country have failed to force Tehran into submission. The next US administration will therefore need to re‑assess its options. This paper discusses the potential future pathways of the Iranian question in light of the US elections in November 2020 and with regard to Tehran’s relations with the USA and the regional and international communities.
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.
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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