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.
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.
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.
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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