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.
Iran's political scene continues to heat up as the country gears up for the next parliamentary elections. On the official level, there have been verbal clashes between the conservative wing-held Guardian Council of the Constitution, which is charged with qualifying parliamentary candidates, and the government, which accused the Council of not being neutral and excluding all candidates who belong to political groups outside the conservative line.
On the political groups’ level, the reformists keep mum on the elections after hundreds of reformist candidates have been disqualified from running in the forthcoming polls. On the other side, cracks have started to appear among the conservatives, otherwise known as the principlists. In the meantime, the grassroots remain relatively apathetic towards the electoral warm-up with no indications that there are above-average preparations for the next vote, sparking fear among regime's circles that the turnout might sink to unprecedented levels.
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.
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.
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.
Since 1979, Iran’s Islamic revolution has resumed the Safavid state project which has rebuilt the Iranian identity on a combination of selected Iranian national images and the Shiite doctrine.
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