October 14, 2020

The fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan comes at a particularly bad time for Iran. At home, it faces an extremely difficult economic situation thanks to U.S. sanctions. Abroad, it is involved in multiple unfinished geopolitical adventures in the Arab world—from Iraq to Syria and beyond—in which it has invested considerably in recent years.

September 14, 2020

Following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Tehran Stock Exchange (TSE) took a different path than the rest of the financial world. As markets around the globe plunged, the TSE soared to new heights. In the first four months of the Iranian fiscal year (March 20-July 21), the value of trades increased by 625 percent as compared with the corresponding period a year earlier, and the market hit a record high in early August. In this bull market, even loss-making companies among the roughly 1,000 firms registered on the exchange saw their share prices rise. The TSE lists 500,000 active traders and a total of 12 million registered to buy and sell stocks — equal to around one-seventh of Iran’s 82 million people.

March 31, 2020

Covid-19 is undoubtedly the biggest health crisis in our lifetime. Pundits around the world, but also a long list of policymakers from Washington to Abu Dhabi to Beijing, wonder about the long-term implications of this deadly pandemic. While there is plenty of speculation about how this crisis might re-balance global power dynamics, other foreign policy implications are more immediately tangible.

May 06, 2020

Iran’s once promising reformist movement is in a death spiral. It is not because the idea of reform has lost its appeal. On the contrary, the average Iranian today is as eager to see political change as ever. But they have no reason to believe gradual reform is possible. This pessimism is not only grounded in the reform movement’s long track record of failing to make a difference, but it is also exacerbated by the current diabolical condition of the movement’s leadership. 

March 17, 2020

The outbreak of a Russian-Saudi oil price war earlier this month might offer some comfort to Iran, a country which has in recent years become unnerved by the increasingly close ties between Moscow and Riyadh. However, it is premature to see an Iranian geopolitical win emerging from the Russian-Saudi spat, and history should give Tehran plenty of reservations about Moscow’s ability to deliver on its economic promises to Iran. 

January 31, 2020

Iran and the U.S. were on a collision course as soon as President Donald Trump arrived at the White House in January 2017. The U.S. pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal in May 2018 and re-imposed crippling sanctions on Tehran. The Iranians, desperate to regain some leverage and break the back of the sanction regime, countered from May 2019 on with a series of actions, including hit-and-run attacks on vessels in and around the Persian Gulf, shooting down a U.S. drone in June, and daring and unprecedented missile attacks... 

In an Oct. 2 speech to the top commanders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, asked them to be ready for “big events.” In characteristically vague language, Khamenei was issuing a warning to his domestic opponents, President Hassan Rouhani, and the country’s foreign foes. His choice of speaking to the IRGC bosses was anything but coincidental.

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