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  • Publication Date: 08-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: On July 15, Khuzestan in South West Iran witnessed a range of protests against the disintegrating economic and living conditions in the country, particularly the lack of water within the province, which was called ‘water protests’ or ‘thirst protests’, This was extended to other Iranian cities outside Khuzestan. The protesters' demands evolved to demand the overthrow of the regime itself raising slogans of ‘Death to Khamenei’.
  • Topic: Economics, Water, Minorities, Protests
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 08-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: On Friday, July 30, Iran targeted the Mercer Street oil tanker in the Northern Arabian Sea off the Omani port of Duqm, which was on its way from Dar es Salaam in Tanzania to Fujairah in the UAE, killing two crew members: a British and a Romanian. The Israeli ship was attacked by one or more drones. The attack came in two waves. The first wave was the bombing of the tanker with missiles carried by a normal drone. As the damage was limited, a larger suicide attack was launched on the dormitories of the ship's crew, with the aim of causing casualties, which actually resulted in the deaths of a British and a Romanian. The oil tanker belongs to the London-based Zodiac Maritime company, which is part of the Zodiac company owned by Israeli businessman Eyal Ofer. This is the second attack within the month of July, as the first one took place on July 3, targeting Csav Tyndall, which is also owned by Eyal Ofer.
  • Topic: Oil, Conflict, Crisis Management, Trade
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Israel, Persian Gulf
  • Publication Date: 08-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: On July 19, 22 and 25, Israel carried out three strikes in less than one week using surface-to-air missiles against Syria. These strikes are considered the first of their kind executed by the new Israeli "Bennett-Lapid" government. Although this type of strikes is not novel, the Russian reaction to it was different this time. The Russian Ministry of Defense engaged in the scene for the first time, sending indirect messages to Israel. This made analysts refer to a possible shift in the rules of engagement in Syria. The understandings between Moscow and Tel Aviv were based on Moscow turning a blind eye to Israeli fighters launching airstrikes in Syria against Iranian targets, in return for Israel not targeting Syrian regime forces or Russian forces, which provide direct support to the Syrian army against the armed opposition. The Russian position reflected a clear desire to weaken the Iranian military presence in Syria, particularly with the escalation of rivalry between Moscow and Tehran over economic and military influence there.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Armed Forces, Military Affairs, Economy
  • Political Geography: Russia, Iran, Middle East, Israel, Syria
  • Publication Date: 08-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Ousted Afghan president Ashraf Ghani left Afghanistan on August 15th when the Taliban reached the outskirts of the capital Kabul. At the time, a source close to Taliban stressed that the two sides reached an agreement whereby Ghani should step down and hand over power to a transitional administration. While the United States and the European Union might well consider the use of sanctions as a weapon against the Taliban, if the movement does not live up to its commitment not to target US and European citizens leaving Afghanistan, it should be noted that most of Afghanistan’s neighbors expected the collapse of the Afghan government – although not this fast- and even began to open up to the Taliban. Irreversible US Withdrawal The United States defended its decision to pull out of Afghanistan rebuffing criticism both at home and abroad. It reiterated that kept forces in Afghanistan twice as long as the Soviets. The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said remaining in Afghanistan is “simply not in the national interest.” He added that the US succeeded in the mission of reducing attacks on its soil and interests. The US withdrawal will leave wide repercussions both regionally and internationally.
  • Topic: Military Affairs, Taliban, European Union, Refugees, Humanitarian Crisis, Adaptation, Pragmatism
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Russia, Iran, South Asia, Turkey, India, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 07-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The ‘shadow war’ between Iran and Israel continues. The sabotage operations remain, evident in the attacks on Natanz, the most famous uranium enrichment facility in Iran in July 2020 and in April 202, and assassination of nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in Tehran. This is in addition to the mutual targeting of ships in the Persian Gulf, the Sea of Oman, the Mediterranean and the Red Sea between the two sides.
  • Topic: Armed Forces, Violence, Nuclear Energy
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Israel
  • Publication Date: 07-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The Israeli ‘Walla’ news website published a report that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has reorganized the deployment of military forces in Syria, and has restricted the movement of Iranian forces internally in order to prevent internal frictions and achieve peace and stability. Walla deems the change in Damascus’s stance towards Iran to be in response to the political, economic and military pressures implored on the former. The website has also indicated that the Iranian presence in Syria has also weakened for other reasons, including the continuous Israeli and US pressures on Iranian presence there. While there were no sources confirming such notions, considering the policies of regional and international powers’ concerning the Syrian crisis, there might be some truth to this notion, pushing Damascus to embrace such tactics.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Military Affairs, Political stability, Peace
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Israel, Syria
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: On April 16, the Head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization, Ali Akbar Salehi, announced Iran's hourly production of 9 grams of uranium enriched to 60%. This step provoked Western countries participating in the Vienna talks.
  • Topic: Treaties and Agreements, Uranium, Nuclear Energy
  • Political Geography: Iran, Vienna, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The Biden administration has been keen on sending several messages implying that it shows little interest in the results of the Iran presidential elections due to take place on June 18. Washington believes that the identity of Iran's next president will not change the decision-making trends in Tehran or the potential course of the relations between Iran and the US over the next phase. On March 11, Robert Malley, the US envoy to Iran, said that “Iran's elections in June are not a factor in the Biden administration’s decision-making for how to proceed with nuclear talks” adding that “the pace will be determined by how far we can get consistent with defending U.S. national security interests”. He continued saying, “we won’t rush or slow things because of the Iranian elections”. This reflects several indicators relevant to the new strategy adopted by the Biden administration in dealing with Iran during the current phase, which can be addressed as follows:
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, National Security, Elections, Joe Biden
  • Political Geography: Iran, Washington
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The Lebanese internal arena is experiencing escalating instability. This is clearly reflected in the influence of political forces, especially Hezbollah, which is under internal and external pressures as a result of the faltering formation of the government. The balance of power is drawing more to be in favor of the Bashar al-Assad regime over the past few years. In addition to its continued involvement in the Syrian conflict, Hezbollah identifies with the Iranian public discourse on many regional and international issues, particularly during the escalation of tensions with the US and Israel.
  • Topic: Politics, Conflict, Hezbollah
  • Political Geography: Iran, Lebanon, Syria
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, has proposed the possibility of settling disputes over the nuclear deal by adopting the ‘simultaneous’ approach, meaning that Iran will once again comply to the deal in return for US lifting sanctions imposed on it. On February 2, during his interview with CNN network, Zarif responded to the question by Christian Amanpour, about whether Iran is still demanding that the US act first, saying that the necessary steps can be synchronized. He also suggested the EU mediate to settle the disputes and remove any obstacles against Washington's return to the agreement. This may imply that Iran made early concessions in its position, regarding the adherence to strict conditions, similar to: the US returning to the agreement first, lifting sanctions and providing compensation for the losses incurred. However, these may not be major concessions impacting the general attitudes of the Iranian leadership, nor may they necessarily indicate Iran's intention to make significant changes in its policy regarding the nuclear deal. To be precise, this new approach announced by Zarif may simply be a tactical change in the Iranian policy aiming to enhance the access to understandings and to avoid early problems with the US administration, at a time when Iran appears to be in dire need of lifting US sanctions.
  • Topic: Treaties and Agreements, Nuclear Power, Elections, JCPOA
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Mervat Zakaria
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Uncovering the limitations of the Chinese Iranian agreement The Economic Cooperation Agreement signed between Iran and China in March 2021 unfolded a development plan that includes China injecting $ 400 billion into various sectors of the Iranian economy. This grants Tehran an opportunity to increase the pressures imposed on the new US administration, regarding resumption of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action held with the P5+1 in 2015, as well as confronting the surrounding regional threats and alleviating internal pressures by improving the Iranian standard of living.
  • Topic: Economics, International Cooperation, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: China, Iran, Middle East, Asia
  • Author: Hussam Ibrahim
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: After the announcement of the victory of Ebrahim Raisi, Iran's hard-line judiciary chief, various analysts raised questions about the future of US-Iranian relations, particularly in light of major determinants. The most prominent of which is Ebrahim Raisi himself, who is subject to US sanctions, and his term, which may coincide with reaching a new nuclear agreement between Washington and Tehran, as well as the current debate in Washington’s political circles regarding the situation in Iran.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Bilateral Relations, Elections, Hassan Rouhani
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Rania Makram
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Israel and Iran are witnessing significant political changes that affected the ruling elites. The developments came in the wake of early legislative elections held in Israel in March leading to the formation of a new coalition government headed by Naftali Benett, leader of the right-wing party Yamina. In Iran, presidential elections held on June 18, were won by hardline chief justice Ebrahim Raisi. The internal political dynamics in Tel Aviv and Tehran cast a shadow on the whole political landscape in both countries, and are projected to have an impact on the trajectory of the non-traditional conflict between the two sides, which escalated over the past few months.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, International Relations, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Rania Makram
  • Publication Date: 08-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Iran’s water shortage crisis is neither new or surprising and was predicted by experts and officials several years ago. As far back as 2015, former Iranian agriculture minister, Isa Kalantari, warned that water scarcity would force 50 million Iranians to leave the country. Later, he claimed that a 'water war' might hit rural areas. However, this early warning has not triggered an effective policy to preempt or solve the crisis already hitting the country. More than 12,000 villages have run out of water and around 7,000 rely entirely on water deliveries by tankers, according to Hamid-Reza Mahbubfar, a member of Environmental Risks and Sustained Development. The ecologist explained that 90 percent of surface and underground water resources have been used up. The water crisis triggered a series of political upheavals due to its implications for the population in affected villages and towns. In recent weeks, protests broke out in several Iranian cities over water scarcity and the resulting environmental problems.
  • Topic: Environment, Natural Resources, Water, Crisis Management
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The Conservative Fundamentalist movement in Iran, directly linked to the Republic’s Supreme Leader and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), is apparently heading towards achieving a significant win in the parliamentary elections due to take place on February 21, 2020. This will play a pivotal role in mapping out political forces within the country before the presidential elections of next year, which the Conservatives might also seize from the moderate stream. The Conservatives are trying to take advantage of the heated political dynamics by using the current escalation with the US, after the murder of Qassem Soleimani, leader of ‘the Quds Force’, the rising possibilities of the failure of the nuclear agreement, and the referral of the Iranian case back to the Security Council, all for the sake of boosting their chances of taking control over the Regime’s center of authority.
  • Topic: Government, Reform, Elections, Conservatism
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The utilization of mercenaries has become one of the key predicaments in the Middle East, particularly in the hotbeds of armed conflict, including Libya, Yemen and Syria. Such militia are usually transferred through the use of civil flights, crossing land borders or smuggling through organized crime networks. This has been reflected by numerous evidence including the escalating tensions between the international powers such as ‘France’ and regional ones such as ‘Turkey’, even affecting the mutual hostility between the ‘Syrian Democratic Forces’ and Ankara, and the latter's policy aiming at disturbing Libya's neighboring countries. In the case of Yemen, the Houthi militia and Islah party have also used African mercenaries. It is further evident in the warning given by the Yemeni government to ‘Tehran Mercenaries’ against turning Yemen into a battlefield after the murder of Qassem Soleimani.
  • Topic: War, Non State Actors, Houthis, Militias, Mercenaries
  • Political Geography: Iran, Turkey, Middle East, France, Libya, Yemen, North Africa, Syria
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The attacks on some Iraqi demonstrators on February 3, 2020, on account of which a number of so-called "blue hats" were indicted, imply the persistence of the Iraqi political crisis, despite the appointment of Muhammed Tawfiq Allawi as head of the new government. Allawi, who was the former Minister of Communications, was officially appointed by President Barham Saleh at the beginning of February 2020. The announcement comes two months after the House of Representative accepted the resignation of Adil Abdul-Mahdi, the former Prime Minister of the Caretaker Government. However, according to the Iraqi constitution, the appointment of a new prime minister should have been selected from the ‘largest bloc’ within the Parliament and should have taken place within a maximum period of 15 days, following the resignation. What is worth noticing here is that the mechanism by which Allawi was nominated for Prime Minister resembles that of Adil Abdul-Mahdi. Identifying the largest bloc within the parliament was also overlooked, because of the consensus between the various political forces, particularly between the two the coalitions, Saairun ‘Alliance Towards Reforms’and the Fatah ‘Conquest Alliance’, which are occupying the largest number of seats in Parliament. This is actually contrary to what is affirmed by the Iraqi constitution in Article 76 thereof, which states that “the President of the Republic shall charge the nominee of the largest Council of Representatives bloc with the formation of the Council of Ministers…".
  • Topic: Government, Constitution, Protests
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Middle East, Gulf Nations
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Iran quickly supported the advance of the Syrian regular forces towards the Kurdish militias-controlled town of Manbij on 28 December 2018, albeit some parties denied that, which indicate that it has begun to re-calibrate its strategies to deal with the new realities after the decision of the US president Donald Trump to withdraw his military forces from Syria on the 19th of the same month.
  • Topic: Armed Forces, Conflict, Syrian War, Kurds, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Syria, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: India has recently exempted Iranian oil payments from taxes and fees, in a move aimed at fostering its relations with Tehran, in the wake of the US temporary waivers, in November, to India along with seven other countries from the sanctions on Iranian oil imports, in order to be able to develop the Iranian port of Chabahar. The US waivers have allowed India to resume trade and investment relations with Iran, albeit in a limited manner. However, despite the expected gains, economic relations between India and Iran will hinge on the extent to which the US administration will renew the waivers granted to the eight countries, to continue buying Iranian oil after the current grace period expires.
  • Topic: International Relations, Oil, Sanctions, Tax Systems
  • Political Geography: Iran, South Asia, Middle East, India, North America, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The decision taken by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, on December 30, 2018, to appoint the head of the judiciary, Sadeq Amoli Larijani, a head of the Expediency Council, to replace Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, who died about a week earlier, was not a surprise to the political forces and movements in Iran for several reasons. The most important of them are the regime’s commitments to rotate key positions over the past four decades, coupled with the changes in political power balances ensuing from the internal political crises, which are exacerbated by US sanctions and pressures. These are set to re-entrench the influence of the fundamentalist conservatives close to the Supreme Leader’s establishment, which suggests that the coming period may see further steps aimed at broadening the influence of this movement on the political decision-making process.
  • Topic: Government, Politics, Hassan Rouhani
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Tehran
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Remnants of the past have become one of the drivers of the region’s interactions in 2019, via various forms, such as the call to restore membership of some organizations after it has been on a freeze for years, sending messages of resistance through arts and music, eruption of student protests over the policies of the existing governments, and betting on the networking of economic interests at times of international sanctions and wars.
  • Topic: History, Sanctions
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Middle East, Syria, Jordan
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Iran is currently making unremitting efforts to further its relations with the Afghan Taliban. Although these attempts are not new, as there have always been unannounced channels of communication between the two parties, Iran is keen to uncover the presence of these channels and its efforts to foster relations with the movement. This was evident in the recent statements of Iranian officials such as its Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and the Secretary of the Supreme Council for National Security Ali Shamkhani. This is, without a doubt, inseparable from the Iranian attempts to pave the Afghan arena for the return of elements of the Fatimid militia, and perhaps prepare in advance for a possible and sudden US withdrawal from the country, like the recent US decision to withdraw from Syria.
  • Topic: Non State Actors, Taliban, Conflict, Militias
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iran, South Asia, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Following the announcement of hosting an international summit on February 13 and 14, 2019, Iran has launched a diplomatic offensive against Poland, where one of the conference main elements will be how to respond to the Iranian interventions in the region. In addition, Iran has also begun to take preemptive moves both to send messages to the powers concerned with the repercussions of those interventions and to tout its ability to contain the pressures of US policy. These moves include attempts to pivot to the East, particularly towards some neighboring countries, and hints at its ability to withdraw from the nuclear deal and resume its suspicious program again.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Nuclear Weapons, European Union, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: Europe, Iran, Middle East, Poland, North America, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Iran was quick to support President Nicolas Maduro's regime, rejecting any attempt to take over power unlawfully, and at the same time considering the U.S. position on the Venezuelan crisis as a direct interference in its internal affairs. It has even instructed its allied militias, like Hezbollah, to adopt a similar position on the crisis in Caracas.
  • Topic: Oil, Hezbollah, Donald Trump, Juan Guaido, Nicholas Maduro
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, South America, Venezuela, North America, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: While the US prepares to withdraw its troops from Syria, it considers redeploying its troops in Iraq. Although this might not have caused a crisis between the two countries, as the US troops have been in Iraq for the past 15 years, the US president Donald Trump justification for the move, to “watch Iran”, has pushed relations between Washington and Baghdad to this path. To make things worse, this move was accompanied by selecting a site in the Anbar governorate for that purpose, which is to reduce Iran’s movements towards Syria through the Iraqi territory, putting Baghdad in trouble with its frenemies.
  • Topic: Bilateral Relations, Crisis Management, Donald Trump, Hassan Rouhani
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Idlib has been the delayed battle in the Syrian conflict throughout its various stages, but this seems to be coming to an end, as many indicators reveal. For example, Russia, for the time being, is keen to resolve Idlib’s issue which would reinforce the specter of military intervention. Moscow indicates that there are no options left for the parties to the Sochi agreement, pointing also to the difficulty of implementing its terms. The 10 points-agreement has not achieved its purpose for five months, given the terrorist organizations’ control over the area, in particular al-Nusra Front. This happens amid lack of actions from the Turkish side, which has threatened, more than once, to deter those who jeopardize the agreement, which compelled it to agree, ostensibly, with the other parties on launching a military offensive in Idlib. Despite the challenges and consequences of this option, it is the scenario that looms large over the Syrian scene at present.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Military Affairs, Conflict, Syrian War
  • Political Geography: Russia, Iran, Turkey, Middle East, Syria, Idlib
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The decision of the supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ali Khamenei, to appoint Ebrahim Raisi, the head of the Imam Reza Shrine in Mashhad, as the judiciary chief, earlier this month, is not only linked to the former’s continued efforts to readjust the balance of power in the Iranian regime. It is also related to the impact of the pressures facing Tehran on Khamenei’s vision of the regime itself, especially since these pressures have not only affected the domestic situation but also spread abroad. International and regional powers have become increasingly concerned over Iran’s role in the region, its missile and nuclear programs, and its human rights violations.
  • Topic: Human Rights, Protests, Judiciary, Hassan Rouhani
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Tehran
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Qatar and Turkey were quick to express their opposition to the US designation, on April 8, 2019, of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization. This stance cannot be separated from Doha and Ankara's perception of the repercussions that such a move could have on their position on various regional crises or the bilateral relations with Iran, which appear to be heading toward difficult challenges. The most critical of these challenge are the continuous pressures it faces at home and abroad. This could spell serious problems for Qatar and Turkey if they insist on siding with Iran in the coming period.
  • Topic: Economics, Terrorism, Sanctions, Alliance, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC)
  • Political Geography: Iran, Turkey, Tehran, Qatar, Ankara, Doha
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Iran is still anticipating the various alternatives that the United States may utilize to address the Iranian escalatory behavior, during the coming period. Such actions may not be limited to the new sanctions imposed on September 20, 2019 that included the Central Bank of Iran, National Development Fund and Etemad Tejarat Pars. Arguably, the procedural steps planned by the Donald Trump's administration will substantially determine the possible alternatives for the Iranian reciprocal behavior/ which Iran may rely on.
  • Topic: Oil, Sanctions, Economy
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 11-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Currently, Russia is trying to maintain its political and security understandings with key parties to the Syrian conflict. But one of the main obstacles facing it is the intertwining and conflicting interests of parties, which leaves Russia with limited options and narrow room for maneuvering. Furthermore, it strains its relations with these parties, as is the case with Israel, following the Russian accusation to Israel of shooting down the Ilyushin Il-20 in September 17, 2018.
  • Topic: Security, Sanctions, Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Hassan Rouhani, Bashar al-Assad
  • Political Geography: Russia, Iran, Syria
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) has replaced Total of France as a major operator in the development of phase 11 of the South Pars gas field. This is a substantial gain for the Iranian government, which strives to lure international investors to shore up its economy following the withdrawal of most foreign companies from the market due to US sanctions in last August and November. However, the project appears to hit many hurdles, including the Chinese company’s fears of heavy US fines or escalation of the US ongoing trade war against the county in the coming period.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, Government, Oil, Sanctions, Gas, Trade Wars
  • Political Geography: China, Iran, Middle East, Asia
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The accusations leveled by Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, On November 12, 2018, at the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) of profiting from money laundering and obstructing Iran’s signing of the relevant treaties, provoked a new conflict between the government and the IRGC. These accusations highlight the latter’s involvement in large scale money laundering activities, which it employs to support terrorist organizations and armed militias, a matter the Western countries may exploit to impose further sanctions. Such accusations also bring the past corruption cases to the fore, particularly that of the Iranian businessman Babak Zanjani case.
  • Topic: Corruption, Financial Crimes, Money, Hassan Rouhani, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC)
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Iran has shown a particular interest in improving its bilateral relations with Turkey, mainly at the economic level. This was evident in the visit of Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani, to Turkey, on December 20, to participate in the fifth session of the Supreme Council for Strategic Relations between the two countries, accompanied by a mostly economic delegation. Tehran believes that there are several factors, related to developments in the regional and international arenas over the past period, which can help achieve this goal, namely increasing the volume of trade between both countries to USD 30 billion. However, Iran’s betting on the Turkish role seems to have limits due to the ever-changing and unstable nature of Turkish policy, which casts doubts over the possibility of reaching such level of rapprochement.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, Sanctions, Hassan Rouhani
  • Political Geography: Iran, Turkey, Middle East, Syria, North America, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The announcement by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, on December 22, 2018, of a change in its military doctrine during recent exercises in the Gulf region, to keep pace with numerous developments in the internal and external fronts, reflect the mounting threats facing Iran due to its aggressive policy. This new move, however, may not necessarily reflect an overall shift in doctrine, as much as a pivot towards adopting new tactics in the military strategy to be better able to confront these threats. Most importantly, it does not involve a development in the tenets of the traditional military doctrine, which is predicated on a central doctrinal pillar that is hard to change, amid the current regime. Moreover, the IRGC has always pursued aggressive policies, as evident in its roles in conflict zones, exacerbating them and hampering the efforts to reach a settlement.
  • Topic: History, Military Strategy, Conflict, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC)
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The Indian energy sector faces a dilemma amid the US administration plans to impose the second batch of sanctions on Iran in November. The US exerts pressure on the main buyers of Iranian oil, including India, to stop importing it in the coming period. For India, Iranian oil is one of the indispensable options for its energy security because of the preferential terms granted by Iran. Despite the Indian stance rejecting the US sanctions, Indian refineries have decided to halt the Iranian oil shipments starting from next November, and hence they may turn to other producers to fill the potential gap, but at a higher cost.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, Oil, Sanctions, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: Iran, South Asia, Middle East, India, North America, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: As the second batch of US sanctions, which are set to focus on oil exports, approaches, the government of President Hassan Rouhani are taking proactive measures to ease the sanctions that coincide with the spiraling internal protests due to the failure of handling various crises affecting living conditions. However, many obstacles continue to undercut the ability of government to pass its plans to cope with the sanctions, most notably the regime’s attempts to revive the roles of certain institutions that have oversight powers over government programs, such as the Expediency Council, and to continue questioning the ministers, such as the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance on some security and cultural issues.
  • Topic: Nuclear Weapons, Treaties and Agreements, Sanctions, Donald Trump, Hassan Rouhani, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC)
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Iran has reacted swiftly after the kidnapping of 14 of its soldiers from the Basij and border guards in Mirjaveh, along the border with Pakistan, on October 16. Tehran summoned the Pakistani ambassador to inform him that Islamabad should take the necessary actions to secure the release of soldiers after being transferred to Pakistan. Remarkably, Iran has been keen- this time - not to escalate with Islamabad, unlike previous incidents, the latest of which was the killing of 10 Iranian soldiers, on April 26, 2017, which prompted Iran to threaten military intervention if the Pakistani government did not launch strikes against the armed groups that carry out such operations. Iran went further, firing mortar shells on the border on May 27, 2017. This cannot be separated from Iranian efforts to handle the fallout of the new US sanctions, as well as the implications of Imran Khan’s rise to power in Islamabad.
  • Topic: Sanctions, Conflict, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, China, Iran, South Asia, Turkey, Middle East, India, Asia
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Although most of the parties concerned with developments in the Syrian conflict do not expect the Quartet Summit held today in Istanbul -with the participation of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Russian president Vladimir Putin, French president Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel- to make a breakthrough in the efforts to reach a political settlement of the crisis, this in its entirety does not diminish the anxiety of Iran, which is the most prominent absent at that summit.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Syrian War, Negotiation
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Iran, Eurasia, Turkey, Middle East, France, Germany, Syria
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The European Union seeks to continue its economic relations with Iran under the nuclear deal, despite the US withdrawal from the deal on May 8 and the imposition of new economic sanctions against Iran. Accordingly, the EU has adopted, over the past months, countermeasures to protect its economic interests with Iran and to sidestep US sanctions. The most important of these measures is introducing the “Special Purpose Vehicle” and reviving the “Blocking Statute”, as well as allowing the European Investment Bank (EIB) to work in the Iranian market. However, these mechanisms seem to have little impact due to the reluctance of the European companies and institutions themselves to continue to deal with Iran for fear of US sanctions.
  • Topic: Nuclear Weapons, Treaties and Agreements, Sanctions, European Union, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Russia seems to be gearing for fresh efforts to reach new political arrangements in Syria, after the balance of power has shifted in favor of the Syrian regime. During a speech at the Valdai International Discussion Club at Sochi resort on October 18, 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that his country achieved its goals in Syria. He noted that the Russian military intervention was aimed at fighting terrorism and preventing the fragmentation of Syrian territory, invoking the case of Somalia as a model that Russia prevented its recurrence in Syria, adding that the next stage will be devoted to settlement in the United Nations. However, this does not negate the fact that such efforts may encounter many challenges, over the key outstanding issues, foremost among is the position of the Syrian regime itself.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, Politics, United Nations, Vladimir Putin
  • Political Geography: Russia, Iran, Eurasia, Turkey, Middle East, Syria
  • Publication Date: 11-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: With the second batch of US sanctions on Iran, coming into effect today, the government of President Hassan Rouhani is taking preemptive measures to strengthen its ability to confront sanctions. It seeks to exploit the sanctions to endorse its candidates for the four ministerial portfolios whose ministers were dismissed in the past months, following a no-confidence vote in the Consultative Assembly.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government, Sanctions, Donald Trump, Hassan Rouhani
  • Political Geography: Europe, Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 11-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The prospect of Iran replicating the Lebanese Hezbollah model in other countries can no longer be ruled out, amid the pressure of the new sanctions imposed on Tehran in the wake of the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal on May 8, 2018. One of the objectives that Tehran may seek to achieve through such move is to exploit its regional influence to reduce the US pressure and, perhaps at a later stage, bolster its negotiating position versus Washington in any potential new negotiations. However, there are other objectives that Iran may try to achieve, if it decides to press ahead with this option, such as creating loyal military arms in Afghanistan. Hence, Iran will be able to possess instruments to influence the government decisions in the stage leading up to a settlement of the Afghan crisis, as well as enhance its prospects of participating in the efforts to reach such a settlement.
  • Topic: Non State Actors, Geopolitics, Hezbollah, Militias
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iran, South Asia, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 09-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The attack in the city of Ahvaz which targeted the military parade organized by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) and the Iranian army on September 22, 2018, on the occasion of the so-called “Sacred Defense Week”, indicates that Iran is set to experience tough times on more than one front. This is the case given the fact that the attack coincides with the continued internal protests over deteriorating living conditions, due to the government’s failure to contain the various economic woes, and the growing pressure of the US sanctions, as the strongest batch, on November 4, looms large on the horizon.
  • Topic: Military Affairs, Violence, Donald Trump, Hassan Rouhani, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC)
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Gulf Cooperation Council, Gulf Nations
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The raging controversy in Iran over the identity of the group that carried out the attack on the military parade in the city of Ahvaz on September 22, 2018, has not abated. Although many Iranians continue to believe that one of the Arab armed groups in Ahvaz is responsible for that operation, others have begun to promote the notion that ISIS was behind this attack, the second of its kind after the first twin attack on the shrine of Khomeini and the administrative building of the Islamic Consultative Assembly (Parliament), on June 7, 2017, for which ISIS claimed responsibility.
  • Topic: Terrorism, Violent Extremism, Islamic State, Hassan Rouhani
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Several Middle Eastern countries, such as Turkey and Iran, have been recently shifting into international currencies or local currencies, instead of the US dollar, in their foreign trade. This shift comes amid the US economic sanctions on Iran in tandem with its souring relations with Turkey. What is striking in this regard is that there is an international acceptance of other currencies, especially the Chinese yuan, with the pricing of some oil contracts in the same currency. This move seems to have a particular political significance, namely rejecting the impact of the US dollar on the trade of these countries rather than its economic feasibility, amid the sharp fluctuations in the local currencies of Iran, Turkey, and India in the past period.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Currency, Trade Policy
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Iran, Eurasia, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Iran is keen to maintain good relations with the European countries at the current stage because they can help it cope with US pressures. These relations gained added importance after the withdrawal of the US from the nuclear deal and the re-imposition of sanctions on Tehran. However, Iran has not changed some elements of its foreign policy, which continually widens the differences between it and European states and may eventually undercut its ability to contain the repercussions of the US sanctions, with the approaching date of the toughest batch of sanctions, set to start on November 5.
  • Topic: International Relations, Treaties and Agreements, Sanctions, European Union, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: Europe, Iran, Middle East, France, Syria
  • Publication Date: 08-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Turkey and Iran appear to be bent on upgrading political and security coordination over regional developments of common and special interest. This was evidenced by Iranian Chief of Staff General Muhammad Bagheri’s three-day vis- it to Turkey on August 15, 2017. This visit indicates that a “convergence of necessity” is headlining relations between the two regional powers despite a number of pending issues between them.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security
  • Political Geography: Iran, Turkey
  • Publication Date: 08-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The Islamic Resistance Movement (more commonly known as Hamas) has recently intensified its efforts to enhance its relations with Iran, especially after President Hassan Rouhani was elected for a second term. It also seeks to invest favorable official attitudes inside Iran where most main- stream political parties are urging for what they believe is necessary support to some organizations operating across the region, including the occupied Palestinian Territories, and resume full- fledged relations with Hamas.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 11-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: On October 25, 2017, US Congress passed new sanctions against Lebanon’s Hezbollah to curb its political, economic and military activities as well as foreign relations. The three bills unanimously approved by the House of Representatives impose comprehensive sanctions against the Iran-backed terrorist group’s role after it has grown over the past years across the Middle East. In Syria, Iraq and Yemen in particular, Hezbollah stoked and took advantage of armed conflicts with one set goal in mind: achieving Iran’s policies.
  • Topic: International Security, Sanctions
  • Political Geography: Iran, Lebanon
  • Publication Date: 11-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani recently signaled that Tehran will not change its position on the 2015 landmark nuclear deal or its role in the Middle East. During an October 29, 2017 session of the Consultative Assembly (the parliament), he emphasized that Iran will not hesitate to build, produce and store any weapon of any kind it needs to defend itself. He add- ed that Iran IS building missiles, and will continue to do so because this does not contradict international law and is not in conflict with the July 2015 UN Security Council’s Resolution 2231, which calls on Iran to suspend, for eight years, all specific research and development activities related to missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, International Security
  • Political Geography: Iran
  • Publication Date: 11-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Russia recently conducted military strikes on several fronts in Deir Ezzor province in eastern Syria, especially to the south in the border town of Boukamal. These strikes were conducted to retake ISIS’ last strong- holds in Syria after the liberation of Raqqa, the group’s de facto capital, in mid-October by the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a Kurdish-led militia. The militia, backed the US-led coalition, controls the east side of the Euphrates river in Deir Ezzor and now is in a frantic race with al-Assad’s forces to recapture Boukamal, where Russia’s use of air and naval re- power aims to settle the battle and consolidate its presence ahead of the coming political milestones in Syria.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Russia, Iran
  • Publication Date: 11-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is under pressure from his political rivals, and the conservative fundamentalists in particular. His critics accused him of corruption and mismanagement and now call for his removal from the Expediency Discernment Council that, as per the constitution, sets the state’s higher policies and advises the Supreme Leader in disputes over legislation between the parliament and the Guardian Council of the Constitution. The Expediency Discern- ment Council is also charged with supervising parliament a airs and qualifying candidates for elections. .
  • Topic: International Security
  • Political Geography: Iran
  • Publication Date: 11-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The nuclear deal, reached in mid-July 2015, has contributed towards improving relations between Iran and the world powers, especially after some of them signed new economic deals with Tehran. However, this has not driven Iran to change its policy on pending issues regarding dual citizens and foreigners recently detained over charges of spying or attempting to topple the regime.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Iran
  • Publication Date: 11-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Iran appears to be trying to repeat its experience of establishing paramilitary militias, which started after the fall of Reza Shah Pahlavi’s regime in 1979. Yet, this time it is in neighboring countries. On Novem- ber 7 in Tehran, Commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, urged the visiting Pakistani Chief of Army Staff , General Qamar Javed Bajwa to establish a Pakistani version of the Iranian Basij militia to back the regular army. He even said Iran was ready to o er its experience to the neighboring Pakistan, and showed o his country’s experience in Syria and Iraq. He further claimed that their previous experiences succeeded in achieving their goals. However, his assertion is not consistent with the realities on the ground, because Iranian-led militias have exacerbated regional crises and blocked efforts to reach settlements.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Iran