New Articles

Rand Report on Iran Election

June 4, 2013
            In a new Rand report, Alireza Nader examines the implications of the election, including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's objectives, the regime's electoral strategy, the competing factions and personalities, and the potential implications for the United States, especially…

US Sanctions Iran Currency

June 3, 2013
      On June 3, the United States imposed sanctions for the first time on Iran’s currency, the rial. Foreign financial institutions may now face penalties if they “knowingly conduct or facilitate significant transactions” involving the rial― which has already lost half its value since January 2012…

Part I: Iran-Syria Religious Ties

June 3, 2013
Mehdi Khalaji            Iran and Syria are unlikely bedfellows. Iran has been an Islamic republic—and the world’s only modern theocracy—since the 1979 revolution. Syria has been a rigidly secular and socialist country since Hafez Assad took over in 1970. Ethnically, Iran is predominantly Persian,…

Part II: Shiite Holy Sites in Syria

June 3, 2013
Garrett Nada            Syria is home to some 50 sites holy to Shiites. Some have been badly damaged in the fighting between Syrian government forces and rebels since 2011. At least one shrine has been reportedly desecrated by Sunni extremists. Several top Iranian officials have condemned attacks…

Report: Sanctions Empower Regime

June 3, 2013
            Sanctions have had  the unintended consequence of empowering the Iranian regime, according to a new report by the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. Sanctions have signaled international opposition to Iran’s proliferation activities. But Iran has continued to defy demands by…

US Charges Iran More Active Worldwide

June 3, 2013
            On May 31, two senior U.S. officials detailed Iran’s growing role in extremist activities worldwide. Tehran was directly or indirectly involved in the planning of attacks in Europe, Southeast Asia and Africa in 2012, said the officials. The following are excerpts from the background…

The Supreme Leader’s Revenge

May 30, 2013
Alireza Nader            Iranian politics are personal. Indeed, the theocrats are decidedly earthly in their rivalries. But the 2013 election is particularly telling. It may be settling a score dating back a quarter century between the revolution’s two most enduring politicos—Supreme Leader…

Khomeini’s Rebel Grandchildren

May 29, 2013
By Helia Ighani and Garrett Nada            On the eve of a pivotal election, Iran’s theocratic regime faces one of its most striking challenges from the grandchildren of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the revolutionary leader who mobilized millions to end more than 2,500 years of dynastic rule.…

Latest on the Race: How to Follow Candidates

May 28, 2013
            By late May 2013, all eight presidential candidates had set up campaign websites or social media websites. Some of their campaigns even appeared to have made Twitter and Facebook accounts, both of which are blocked in Iran. The candidates’ supporters have also launched dozens of…

Kerry Chastises Iran on Election

May 24, 2013
            On May 24, Secretary of State John Kerry criticized Iran for limiting candidates allowed to run for president. He also expressed concern about "troubling signs" that the regime is slowing internet access and the free flow of information during the campaign. The secretary also said “the…

US Targets Iran Oil, Sanctions Evaders

May 24, 2013
            On May 31, the United States targeted Iranian petrochemical companies for the first time. It also imposed sanctions on five foreign companies helping Iran evade sanctions on its oil and air industries. The Treasury and the State Department targeted Ferland Company Limited, a Cyprus and…

US Report on Iran's Support of Extremism

May 24, 2013
            Iran significantly increased its sponsorship of terrorism in 2012, according to a new report by the State Department. It claims that attacks in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, South Asia and the Far East were linked to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force or Iran’s ally in…

US Lifts Sanctions

May 24, 2013
            On May 30, the United States authorized the export of cell phones, computers and internet equipment to Iran. The export of such consumer electronics and communications tools had been banned since 1992. “As the Iranian government attempts to silence its people by cutting off their…

Latest on the Race: Khomeini Daughter Defends Rafsanjani

May 23, 2013
      The daughter of late revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini has urged the supreme leader to allow Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani to run for president. The Guardian Council ― the powerful body charged with vetting candidates ― has blocked the former president from running. “Please…

Latest on the Race: Candidates Approved

May 21, 2013
            The Guardian Council has approved eight out of 686 candidates to run in Iran’s June 14 presidential election. The unelected body of 12 clerics and scholars rejected two individuals who might have been key contenders ― former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei…

Latest on the Race: Reactions to Candidate List

May 21, 2013
      The Guardian Council has blocked two prominent figures from running in the June 14 presidential election. Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a two-term former president, and Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, former chief of staff to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, were both left off the list of eight…

US Sanctions Nuclear and Missile Programs

May 21, 2013
            On May 23, the U.S. Treasury sanctioned 20 individuals and entities for involvement in Iran’s nuclear and missile proliferation networks. They were responsible for moving supplies and providing services to clandestine programs. “As long as Iran continues to pursue a nuclear and…

Latest on the Race: Rafsanjani Redux?

May 20, 2013
By Robin Wright and Garrett Nada            Among the 680-plus candidates who registered to run for president of Iran, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani stands alone as the most experienced and savviest politico — by far. He has almost done it all.      He was speaker of parliament for nine terms in the…

Latest on the Race: Rafsanjani on the Issues

May 20, 2013
      Former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has been a pivotal player in Iranian politics since the 1979 Islamic revolution. His views have often adapted to the times, issue or public sentiment. But he has often argued that “moderation” and national unity could help Iran overcome domestic…

Iran Denies Military Presence in Syria

May 20, 2013
            “Iranian forces have never been, and are not present in Syria,” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Araghchi said on May 23. “The real enemies of Syria make such claims.” His statement came one day after foreign ministers from the United States, Britain, Egypt, France, Germany, Italy,…

U.N. Report: Iran Expanding Nuclear Program

May 20, 2013
            Iran has increased its capacity to enrich uranium by installing hundreds of new centrifuges, according to a new report by the U.N. nuclear watchdog. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has confirmed the installation of almost 700 IR-2 centrifuges at the Natanz nuclear facility…

U.S. Report on Iran Religious Freedom Abuses

May 20, 2013
            Iran’s government reportedly imprisoned, harassed and discriminated against more people for their religious beliefs in 2012 than in the past, according to a new report by the U.S. State Department. It notes an increase in reports of the government charging religious and ethnic…

U.N.-Iran Nuclear Talks Fail

May 16, 2013
            Talks between Iran and the U.N. nuclear watchdog failed to produce an agreement on May 15. The two sides met in Vienna, Austria for the 10th round of talks since late 2011. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has been trying to reopen an inquiry into possible military…

Iran Opposes U.N. Resolution on Syria

May 16, 2013
            On May 15, the U.N. General Assembly approved a non-binding resolution calling for a political transition in Syria. The Qatari-drafted measure passed with 107 countries voting in favor and 59 abstaining. Iran and 11 other countries voted against it, including China and Russia. The…

Latest on the Race: Jalili, Ideologue on Twitter

May 15, 2013
Garrett Nada             Saeed Jalili has never held elective office, yet he may have an important edge in the presidential race because of his close ties with Iran’s supreme leader. He is an insider’s insider. At the same time, Jalili is not a charismatic figure. He unsuccessfully ran for…

Latest on the Race: Jalili on the Issues

May 15, 2013
      Chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili is a major conservative candidate for Iran’s presidency. The secretary of the Supreme National Security Council seems to share the supreme leader’s hardline outlook on all key issues. The following are excerpts from various interviews, public remarks and…

Top US Officials on Sanctions Impact

May 15, 2013
            On May 15, two top officials in the Obama administration claimed U.S. sanctions are having a growing impact on the Iranian economy, the regime’s political calculations and Tehran’s foreign policy. The following are excerpts from the testimony of Under Secretary of the Treasury David S.…

Latest on the Race: Heir Apparent Esfandiar Mashaei

May 13, 2013
Kourosh Rahimkhani       Although never elected to office, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei has become a major political figure as chief of staff to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He is also one of Iran’s most controversial politicians. Ahmadinejad appointed him vice-president in 2009, but the political…

Latest on the Race: Mashaei on the Issues

May 13, 2013
      Presidential Chief of Staff Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei is the most controversial of the 686 candidates who have registered to run for president. He shares President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s populist and nationalist outlook on all key issues. The following are excerpts from various interviews and…

Sport I:Iran and US Wrestle--in a different way

May 13, 2013
Garrett Nada           Iran and the United States have at least one urgent interest in common: Their wrestling federations have teamed up to salvage wrestling for the 2020 Olympics after the Olympic Committee recommended dropping the sport in February 2013. The Iranian and American teams were…