Iran Digest: Week of November 18 - 25

Iran Digest

Week of November 18-25

AIC’s Iran digest project covers the latest developments and news stories published in Iranian and international media outlets. This weekly digest is compiled by Research Fellow Nicolás Pedreira, and Research Associate Bryan Falcone.


U.S. - Iran Relations

Trump, Though Critical of Nuclear Deal, Could Offer Opportunities for Iran

At first blush, the election of Donald J. Trump would seem to be bad news for Iran. But there is a chance that on balance, things could work out surprisingly well for the clerics.

Publicly, Iran’s leaders stress that they pay little heed to what happens in the United States, that they pride themselves on their independence.

 “It makes no difference for Iran who the next U.S. president is,” the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said in a speech last week. 

 

U.S. grants second Airbus License to sell planes to Iran

The United States said on Tuesday it had issued a second license to France's Airbus (AIR.PA) to sell commercial planes to Iran Air, bringing Iran's flag carrier a step closer to receiving new Western jets under last year's deal to ease sanctions.

The move in the waning months of Democratic President Barack Obama's administration to further unlock jetliner sales to Iran prompted complaints from Republicans in Congress and is likely to raise the ire of President-elect Donald Trump. Trump has said he would dismantle the 2015 international nuclear deal with Iran, which includes a measure allowing U.S. and European companies to sell Iran civilian aircraft. (Reuters)


Nuclear Accord

Iran warns of retaliation if U.S breaches nuclear deal

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Extending U.S. sanctions on Iran for 10 years would breach the Iranian nuclear agreement, Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei said on Wednesday, warning that Tehran would retaliate if the sanctions are approved. 

The U.S. House of Representatives re-authorized last week the Iran Sanctions Act, or ISA, for 10 years. The law was first adopted in 1996 to punish investments in Iran's energy industry and deter Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons.

The Iran measure will expire at the end of 2016 if it is not renewed. The House bill must still be passed by the Senate and signed by President Barack Obama to become law. (Reuters)

 

JCPOA serves Iran's interest as Oil Supplier

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Iran’s petroleum industry is considered as the main generator for national economy following the implementation of Iran’s nuclear agreement with 5+1, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Energy plays a pivotal role to provide financial resources for Iranian public services and the industrial sector and the deal has paved the way for removal of sanctions on Iranian’s oil sector and benefited the country, the top oil producers and exporters as well as the oil consuming countries.

The absence of Islamic Republic of Iran’s from global markets during sanctions era had caused major problems because some countries were not able and ready to replace country's oil from other states due to the lack of infrastructure. (MEHR)


Economy

Iran's Banks Are Trying to Catch Up After Years of Isolation

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Iranian banks are trying to catch up with the rest of the world. After years of isolation left them with outdated practices, they’re attempting to fall in line with international standards of transparency so they can better attract business and integrate with the global industry.

The central bank has instructed local lenders to set up compliance departments and risk management programs, and to implement globally accepted accounting practices so the economy can take further advantage of the easing of international sanctions under the 2015 nuclear deal.

The central bank “felt the need to address and resolve the issues our banks have,” Vice Governor Peyman Ghorbani said in an interview on the sidelines of the Frankfurt European Banking Congress. “Good steps have been taken.” (Bloomberg)

 

U.S. Treasury reassures Brazil banks trade with Iran OK

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The U.S. Treasury has reassured Brazilian banks they can finance trade with Iran without fear of sanctions, opening the way to billions of dollars in potential exports of jet planes, buses and equipment, a senior Brazilian official said on Wednesday.

Sanctions on non-U.S. entities doing business with Iranian companies were lifted with implementation in January of the nuclear accord with Iran, but Brazilian banks remained worried they could still face repercussions, said Rodrigo Azeredo, Brazil's top diplomat for trade.

"They feared U.S. and European banks could react by cancelling their credit lines," Azeredo said. (Reuters)


Environment

Reneging on Paris climate deal seems unlikely, says Ebtekar

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Asked about possible violation of the climate agreement by the U.S. president-elect Donald Trump who has called climate change a “hoax” and just a “very, very expensive form of tax”.

Ebtekar rendered the claims unlikely as the deal is an international agreement which involves many parties who are determined to save the planet.

She further noted that Iran has also approved the deal and will ratify it in the near future. (Tehran Times)


Inside Iran

Iran's Guards using Trump victory to claw back power

Donald Trump's victory and the war on Islamic State have given Iran's hard-line Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps what it sees as a unique opportunity to claw back economic and political power it had lost.

Sidelined after a nuclear deal was reached with Iranian reformist leaders and the administration of President Barack Obama and major nations, the IRGC is determined to regain its position in Shi'ite Iran's complex governing structure.

Republican Trump said in the campaign that he would abandon the 2015 deal that curbed Iran's nuclear ambitions in return for the lifting of economic sanctions. His tough stance, in contrast to Obama's olive branch, is expected to empower hard-liners who would benefit from an economy that excludes foreign competition. (Reuters)

 

Is Iran's Guardian Council trying to tame lawmakers?

Heated debate continues in Iran over the Guardian Council — the arbiter of candidates qualified to run in parliamentary elections — which appears to be seeking the power to determine who can continue serving in the legislature by supervising members throughout their time in office. 

Controversy first erupted in late March after the council disqualified Minoo Khaleghi, a Reformist politician from Isfahan, although she had been deemed qualified to run and had won a seat in the Feb. 26 parliamentary elections. 

Khaleghi’s Guardian Council approval was reportedly annulled after photos of her without a headscarf appeared on the internet. (Al-Monitor)


Analysis

How the Iranian-Saudi Proxy Struggle Tore Apart the Middle East

By Max Fisher

Behind much of the Middle East’s chaos — the wars in Syria and Yemen, the political upheaval in Iraq and Lebanon and Bahrain — there is another conflict.

Saudi Arabia and Iran are waging a struggle for dominance that has turned much of the Middle East into their battlefield. Rather than fighting directly, they wield and in that way worsen the region’s direst problems: dictatorship, militia violence and religious extremism.

The history of their rivalry tracks — and helps to explain — the Middle East’s disintegration, particularly the Sunni-Shiite sectarianism both powers have found useful to cultivate. (New York Times)