A debate within the Islamic Republic’s halls of power over the positions of the rahbar (supreme leader) and president (head of government) is occupying a growing number of leaders and representatives in the Vilayat-e Faqih system.
Many of the economic gains made in President Rouhani’s first term are rapidly crumbling as the economy falters in the face of renewed US sanctions – all too predictably adding to hard-line factions’ momentum
In early August, a fresh round of US sanctions is due to be placed on Tehran, marking the imposition of what Washington hopes will be an economic straitjacket that the economy will struggle to escape from. Yet much will depend on the response from other world powers.
The French marque is likely to followed by other western firms leaving Iran ahead of new US sanctions – which opens the way for Chinese and South Korean firms to expand their presence and could encourage new domestic rivals to set up
Unilateral withdrawal from the JCPOA leaves the US looking more isolated on the world stage, but with strong support from Israel and some Gulf allies. Life is certain to get tougher for Iran and its trading partners once US sanctions are reimposed, even though Trump and his supporters, plans for what to do next remain unclear
International pressure on Tehran is ratcheting up, with the White House set to announce a decision on whether to ‘fix or nix’ the nuclear deal on 12 May, but before and after that point domestic disputes have the potential to cause significant problems for President Rouhani and his allies
Tehran is engaged in an increasingly desperate attempt to control the market value of the rial, which has dropped precipitously this year amid geopolitical concerns
When Patrick Pouyanne, CEO of French oil major Total, said in mid-March that his company wanted to continue with its contract to develop phase 11 of Iran’s giant South Pars natural gas field, it represented an important vote of confidence for Tehran amid its standoff with the US administration of President Donald Trump.
The war of words between the conservative principalists that surround Rahbar (Supreme Leader) Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani’s more pragmatic allies shows no sign of dying down, with the issues of public referendums and the wearing of the hijab among the latest bones of contention. At the same time, there is still clear potential for public demonstrations to destabilise the political scene. A substantial Gonabadi Dervish protest turned violent on 19 February, outside a police station in northern Tehran, where a member of the Sufi group was being held. More than 300 people were subsequently arrested and six people lost their lives, including three policemen, two Basij militiamen and one protestor. Coming so soon after a widespread and diverse series of demonstrations during December and January – including protests against corruption and the enforced wearing of the hijab (GSN 1,051/1) – the impression is building that the regime is struggling to balance its own needs with those of its people.
When French oil major Total warned in November 2016 that it might be forced to pull out of a deal to develop phase 11 of the South Pars gas field, it threw into stark relief one of the biggest challenges Iran faces in the year ahead: how best to respond to the belligerent rhetoric from Washington and the pressure it is exerting on Iranian economic activity.