Sanctions are a perennial subject in American political discussion about Iran as the US tries to curtail what it views as Iran’s destabilizing activities in the region. Over the years, many rounds of sanctions have been imposed on Iran, in varying forms. Some have primarily targeted institutions and individuals related to Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs, others have either directly or indirectly affected ordinary Iranian citizens.
This Media Guide will present a brief overview of the history of sanctions on Iran and highlight the effects that American and international sanctions have had upon the broader Iranian economy and average Iranians.
Aspiring to grow its clout across the Persian Gulf and the broader Middle East, Iran has increasingly engaged its military in other countries in the region. From intervening in civil wars to fighting terrorism in foreign states, Iran’s security forces are playing a larger role in regional affairs and have thus emerged as a critical focus of the West.
The U.S. media typically covers Iran’s military involvement abroad as unfoundedly aggressive or destabilizing, without examining the broader role these organizations play within Iran itself, or Iran’s interests and goals for participation abroad. This media guide will focus on the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the al-Quds force of the military with the aim to demystify these organizations, their role, as well the reasons and timing behind the government’s decisions to use them in foreign interventions.
Iran’s government structure can be difficult for foreigners to understand. In part, this is due to the intrinsic complexity of Iran’s system, which some argue is due to the combination of modern institutions (like the Majles and Assembly of Experts) with pre-modern ones (like the Supreme Leader).
While this dual nature of Iranian government has contributed to the confusion, a lack of media coverage in the West is also part of the problem. Western media has a mixed record with coverage of the Iranian government – at times covering the democratic process in Iran (as it did recently in the 2017 Presidential elections), but at others, portraying Iran as a dictatorship run by the Supreme Leader. This is unfortunate since understanding Iran’s government structure and process for decision making is crucial in order to interpret the government’s actions and policy positions. With this guide, we hope to provide some foundational information about each government body, its powers, the democratic forces that underlie its authority, and the extent of religious influence in each branch.
Naval incidents between American and Iranian ships in the Persian Gulf have recently received increased media attention. Although such incidents have been occurring for some time, the new US administration and changing political environment in Iran have heightened their significance. In keeping with the goal of our Media Guide series to clarify and explain topics in US-Iran relations, we hope this guide will promote increased understanding of the issues at hand.
On January 29, 2017, the Islamic Republic of Iran conducted its first ballistic missile test since the beginning of the Trump administration. What followed was a throng of varied, often hyperbolic news reports, few of which contained basic information that would help their audience properly understand the news. In keeping with the goal of our new Media Guide series, this paper intends to explain and clarify the issues surrounding this news topic, for use by the media and news consumers.