Week of May 12 - 19
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 Shiva Darian and Research Associate Bryan Falcone. Please note that the news and views expressed in the articles below do not necessarily reflect those of AIC.
U.S. - Iran Relations
Iran Denounces New U.S. Sanctions, Adds Some of Its Own
Iran struck back against new Trump administration sanctions against its ballistic missile program, calling them illegal and announcing sanctions of its own.
In a tit-for-tat move, Iran sanctioned seven entities and two individuals on Thursday, including Horacio Rozanski, chief executive officer of Booz Allen Hamilton Holding Corp., alleging human rights violations because the management consulting firm does work in Israel, a U.S. ally that Iran calls an oppressor of Palestinians. Kimberly West, a spokeswoman for Booz Allen, said the company had no comment.
The Trump administration announced Wednesday that it would continue waiving sanctions -- including restrictions on oil sales -- eased under the 2015 deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program. (Bloomberg Politics)
Iran Changes Course of Road to Mediterranean Coast to Avoid U.S. Forces
Iran has changed the course of a land corridor that it aims to carve to the Mediterranean coast after officials in Iraq and Tehran feared a growing US military presence in north-eastern Syria had made its original path unviable.
The new corridor has been moved 140 miles south to avoid a buildup of US forces that has been assembled to fight Islamic State (Isis). It will now use the Isis-occupied town of Mayadin as a hub in eastern Syria, avoiding the Kurdish north-east, which had earlier been mooted by Iranian leaders as a crucial access route.
The changes have been ordered by Maj Gen Qassem Suleimani, commander of the Quds force, and Haidar al-Ameri, the leader of the Popular Mobilisation Front in Iraq, whose Shia-dominated forces have edged closer to the Iraqi town of Ba’aj, a key link in the planned route and where the Isis leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is known to have been based for much of the past three years. (The Guardian)
Iran Nuclear: Trump extends Obama's 'Worst Deal Ever'
Donald Trump's White House has renewed sanctions relief for Iran, despite the US president's past criticism.
The easing of sanctions is part of a crucial nuclear deal brokered in 2015 under then-President Barack Obama with five other world powers.
Mr Trump has described the landmark agreement as the "worst deal ever". However, the US Treasury issued fresh sanctions against specific officials and a Chinese business with links to Iran's missile programme. The move means that sanctions preventing any US companies selling to or dealing with Iran will remain suspended for the time being. (BBC)
Iran Receives First Batch of French Made Passenger Planes
Iranian state media says four ATR 72-600s are being delivered, the first installment of a deal with the French manufacturer to purchase 20 passenger planes following the lifting of sanctions under the 2015 nuclear deal.
The IRNA news agency said the first plane landed in Tehran early Wednesday, with the other three expected later in the day. The planes were officially given to Iran Air in a ceremony Tuesday in Toulouse, where ATR is based.
Iran Air finalized a deal last month with ATR for 20 twin-propeller aircraft, with an option to buy 20 more. The planes are worth $536 million at list prices, though customers usually negotiate discounts. (The Washington Post)
Women Of Iran
Iran Election: Could Women Decide the Next President?
When Iranians go to the polls to choose a new president next Friday, all the names on the ballot paper will be male. In the nearly four-decade history of the Islamic Republic, no woman has been allowed to stand for the top office.
But it's certainly not for want of trying. This year, 137 women put their names forward. Most famous by far is Azam Taleghani, a 72-year old former MP and daughter of a well-known ayatollah.
She has registered to stand in most presidential elections since 1997, determined to challenge the archaic and ambiguous wording of the Iranian constitution which has traditionally been interpreted as meaning only men can become president. (BBC)
Iran Unveils Strategic Plan to Combat Climate Change
Iran on Tuesday unveiled a plan to combat climate change and meet its carbon emissions cuts by 2030.
Officially called the National Strategic Plan on Climate Change, it was launched in a ceremony attended by the Department of Environment chief, Massoumeh Ebtekar, and UN Resident Coordinator in Iran Gary Lewis, at the DOE headquarters in Tehran.
“The plan was put together thanks to the efforts of the ministries of interior, energy, oil, health, agriculture and roads, as well as researchers, academics and UN experts,” Ebtekar was quoted as saying by the official website of the department. (Financial Tribune)
Rouhani, the Ultimate Insider, Promises Change in Iran
He may be the ultimate insider, but Hassan Rouhani is running like the anti-establishment candidate.
At a campaign rally last week at the Azadi stadium in Tehran, Rouhani took to the stage and delivered a speech more worthy of an outsider than the incumbent President of Iran.
Standing behind a lectern and surveying the sea of purple -- his campaign color -- before him, Rouhani promised much. "We want freedom of the press," he declared, "freedom of association, and freedom of thought!" (CNN)
Iranians queue up to vote in fiercely-contested presidential election
Millions of Iranians joined long queues to vote on Friday, an early sign of strong turnout in an unexpectedly tight presidential election that could determine the future of the country's nascent emergence from international isolation.
The presidential vote pits incumbent Hassan Rouhani, who wants to normalize ties with the West, against a hardline judge who says Rouhani has gone too far and sold out the values of Iran's Islamic revolution to its enemies.
Rouhani, who struck a deal with world powers two years ago to curb Iran's nuclear program in return for the lifting of most economic sanctions, said the election was important "for Iran's future role in the region and the world". (Reuters)
Iran's Re-Engagement with the World at Stake in Friday Presidential Vote
Iranians vote for president on Friday in a contest likely to determine whether Tehran's re-engagement with the world stalls or quickens, although whatever the outcome no change is expected to its revolutionary system of conservative clerical rule.
Seeking a second term, pragmatist President Hassan Rouhani, 68, remains the narrow favorite, but hardline rivals have hammered him over his failure to boost an economy weakened by decades of sanctions.
Many Iranians feel a 2015 agreement he championed with major powers to lift sanctions in return for curbing Iran's nuclear program has failed to produce the jobs, growth and foreign investment he said would follow. (Reuters)
A Momentous Week for the Iran Nuclear Deal
By: Antony J. Blinken, Jon Finer, Avril Haines, Philip Gordon, Colin Kahl, Robert Malley, Jeff Prescott, Ben Rhodes, Wendy Sherman
It won’t get the banner headlines of the latest outrage in the Russia investigation or North Korea’s most recent missile test, but we have entered perhaps the most consequential week for American policy toward Iran since implementation of the nuclear deal more than a year ago. As the Trump administration’s May 17 decision to extend sanctions waivers related to Iran’s nuclear program clearly attests, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is working—even in the eyes of its harshest critics. But several upcoming events—including the Iranian presidential election, Trump’s first overseas trip and potential Iran-related action in Congress—could change this picture. In isolation, each has the potential to stress, or even unravel, the multinational agreement that has successfully constrained Iran’s nuclear program through diplomacy and without recourse to war. Together, they risk creating a perfect storm.