Iran’s short campaign period, only three weeks long, was nevertheless intense and colorful. Presidential candidates usually traverse Iran’s 31 provinces and hold mass rallies with thousands of attendees. But in 2021, the seven candidates running for president had to modify their campaign tactics to adapt to COVID-19 restrictions. Iran was an early epicenter of the pandemic and, as of June 16, only one percent of the population had been fully vaccinated.
In nationally televised debates, the seven candidates vying to win Iran’s presidential election offered limited insight on how they would address critical economic, diplomatic and social challenges.
Military: Gen. Mohammad Hosseinzadeh Hejazi, the deputy commander of the Qods Force, died of heart disease, the Revolutionary Guards announced.
Sanctions: The European Union sanctioned eight Iranian security officials involved in a deadly crackdown on protesters in November 2019. The travel bans and asset freezes were the first E.U. human rights sanctions on Iran since 2013.
President Joe Biden and President Hassan Rouhani
On April 6, the European Union convened indirect talks between Iran and the United States in Vienna. The goal was to create two separate roadmaps to bring Iran and the United States back into compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Tehran would need two to three months to reverse its breaches of the nuclear deal, Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said on April 2.
Afghanistan: Iran's special envoy for Afghanistan spoke with the U.N. Secretary General's office about the Afghan peace process. "The two sides reviewed various aspects of Afghanistan developments, and highlighted the necessity of mitigating the pains of Afghan people and accelerating the achievement of peace and sustainable stability through diplomatic and political solutions," the Iranian Foreign Ministry said.
Virtually every aspect of Iran’s economy has been impacted by the global pandemic. In the year since the first case of COVID-19 in February 2020, Iran’s economy has faced new challenges exacerbated by longstanding problems, including years of punitive U.S. sanctions. The main consequences have been:
On March 20, President Joe Biden and top officials wished a happy Nowruz, the Persian New Year, to Iran and other countries celebrating the ancient holiday around the world. Biden, unlike his predecessors, Barack Obama and Donald Trump, did not use the occasion to comment on the state of U.S.-Iran relations or criticize the Islamic Republic’s government.
Iran’s economy has gyrated, often coinciding with the success or failure of international diplomacy. The fluctuations have been reflected in all basic data points, including the value of its rial currency, oil exports, gross domestic product (GDP) and inflation. U.S. sanctions have added to the toll, especially by curtailing Iran’s ability to export oil and cutting Tehran’s connections to the international financial system. The gyration in Iran’s economy reflects gyrations in U.S. policy.