Future of Iran Leadership

There have been speculation that Ayatollah’s health has been getting worse

The power of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has been extremely overwhelming. He has a final say on all matters in Iran, including sensitive and ongoing negotiations with the world’s powers over a deal limiting his country’s access to nuclear technology. However there has been speculation that his health condition is worsening and in fact that his death was imminent. The state television in Iran however disproved this speculation and released a report that he is healthy and publicly addressing environmental activists in his Tehran home. Still, the supreme leader’s continued viability is a key question over the fragile region. The community would see the future of leadership after the meeting of the 88 elected theologians that nominally supervises the Iranian leader’s activities. The Assembly of Experts will meet to elect a new chairman to replace Ayatollah Mohammad Reza Mahdavi Kani, who died last year. The newly chosen chairman could very likely play a large role in electing a supreme leader for only the second time – the first since Khamenei was chosen to replace Ayatollah Ruhollah Kohmeini when the charismatic revolutionary figure died in 1989.

Majority of members of the assembly are old and clerics

The members of the assembly are not really diverse in terms of age and that they are all clerics. However differences in opinion is not absent the training of this clerics are still similar. Experts are expecting that Khamenei’s successor would be “pragmatic” and a “more centrist-moderate type.” . Khamenei oversaw a violent crackdown on dissenters that left more than two dozen dead after disputed political elections in 2009​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​. Protesters openly defied the regime, which has shouldered years of crippling economic sanctions that keep the country internationally isolated and prevent it from moving vast amounts of oil to market. Currently, the supreme leader is the country’s most authoritative cleric and he has the ability to issue religious edicts, or fatwas. He also has constitutional authority over nearly all aspects of Iranian society. He controls the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government as well as the military (both the regular armed forces and the Revolutionary Guard) and the state-run media. He’s the most powerful individual in the country and all major decisions require his approval.

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Russia-Iran Cooperation

Russia and Iran had signed a military cooperation program

 

When the Russian-Iranian Military Cooperation Agreement was signed last January 20, it has led to a speculation that the two states are working to secure Iran from any future military intervention to stop its nuclear program whilst securing and economically hard-pressed Russia a lucrative market for its arms exports. The Cooperation Agreement includes expanded cooperation against terrorism, exchanges of military personnel for training purposes, and an understanding enabling each country’s navy to use the other’s ports more frequently. Further details are set to be agreed during a later visit by Vladimir Putin to Tehran.This agreement is the latest in a recent flurry of Russo-Iranian bilateral accords, including a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the principles of trade and economic relations (signed on August 5, 2014) and a Joint Trade Commission meeting (September 7-11, 2014) at which both sides committed to increasing bilateral trade tenfold. This last factor is particularly important in supporting Russia’s efforts to diversify its imports in the face of Western sanctions. Finally, in November 2014 Russia and Iran signed an agreement regarding Russian participation in the construction of up to eight new nuclear power units throughout Iran.

P5+1 negotiations

Russia and Iran also have a number of shared geopolitical interests in the greater Middle East, including combating Sunni extremism in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, and maintaining a stable governance regime in the Caspian Sea that excludes Western actors. It is also strategic for Russia as Iran enters again the relatively successful P5+1 negotiations. As Iran re-enters the energy market as a full participant, this could greatly benefit Russia. To regain market share lost during the decades long sanctions regime Iran will need to dramatically increase production and begin aggressively sourcing new markets, all at a time of already rock-bottom oil prices. This is not an idle concern, Iran holds the world’s fourth-largest proven oil reserves and the world’s second-largest natural gas reserves.

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Pressure on Rouhani

President Hassan Rouhani has always been firm on his case with regards to Iran’s Nuclear Program. Throughout the long negotiations, President Rouhani has faced the criticism from hard-liners at home and said that the removal of nuclear program will bring peace and prosperity. He would be under pressure in trying to convince the Iranians, both moderates and hard-liners about the nuclear deal. The political stakes are high for the moderate president as talks enter their homestretch toward a June deadline. If he was able to convince Iranians, Iran would not be given withering sanctions that could potentially harm their economy. This would be a difficult time for Iran for the OPEC producer is also trying to ride out a severe slump in oil prices. The sealing of deal could improve the economy. The improvement could translate into a broader boost in domestic support for Rouhani and strengthen the moderate camp gain in parliamentary elections next year. The moderates would want to avoid a confrontational relationship with the West in order to gain more freedoms at home, including greater freedom of expression and easing of social restrictions.

 

The failure to seal the deal would only bolster the hard-line opponents of Rouhani who are against the entire agenda.”Rouhani was elected on, promoted and supported the idea that he would help the Iranian economy recover. The nuclear agreement is tied to the economy because of the reached interim deal with United States and other world powers with regards to sanctions. In the deal agreed upon last November 2013, it includes a sanction relief in exchange for Tehran freezing its nuclear program. The deal has been extended until the end of June this yearm though negotiators would want to meet the deadline by the end of the next month. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif sounded a hopeful tone earlier this week, saying a further extension of the talks wouldn’t be in anyone’s interest. President Barack Obama seems to agree, saying Monday that “we’re at a point where they need to make a decision.”

 

 

Saving the conservative political party

Ali Larjani is the main speaker of conservative party
Ali Larjani is the main speaker of conservative party

The conservative political party in Iran has not been united for the past couple of years. This may be due to the death of Ayatollah Mohammad Reza Mahdavi Kani and Habibollah Asgar Oladi who were important leaders in the conservative party. These two figures acted as the negotiator among the various factions of conservative party. Today the conservative party has been far from united than before. This made Ali Larijani contemplate on trying to build a broad party which he hopes could resolve the problem among conservatives. He wants to form a party wherein he could maintain his position as the leader of the conservative party at the same time preventing extreme factions from taking over the party. 

Conservative Party has been unstable for years now
Conservative Party has been unstable for years now

Ali Ardashir Amoli Larijani has been a famous fixture in the political system of Iran. He is the son-in-law of the late Ayatollah Morteza Motahari who was one of the main founders of the Islamic Republic of Iran. He has experience as the deputy chief of staff at the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and even became a minister of culture during 1994. He was appointed by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to become the chief of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting. He eventually became the lead candidate of the conservatives in the 2005 presidential elections. Unfortunately he was not been able to win despite the help of famous politicians such as Ali Akbar Nategh Nouri. He was beaten by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who is a hard-line politician and Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi. Larjani however still continued to be a fixture in the political scene. He became the secretary of the Supreme National Security Council and even became the chief negotiator of Iran’s nuclear case and negotiations. He is a known critic of Hassan Rouhani who was a former negotiator for the nuclear case. He eventually got dismissed on being a negotiator due to disputes with Ahmadinejad on how to deal with the situation. In the upcoming parliamentary elections, he plans to bring back the form of the conservative party and ensure the victory over their side. 

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Progress of Iran nuclear deal

John Kerry negotiating with Iran Foreign Minister Javaad
John Kerry negotiating with Iran Foreign Minister Javaad

The Iran nuclear deal is still elusive after the two days of talks in Oman. These talks were between the Secretary of State John Kerry Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton. Only 13 days is allotted for the negotiators to reach an agreement due to the U.S. midterm election that caused to raise new hindrances with compromising. According to the Iranian officials who follow the negotiations carefully, even though with Tehran’s decision of dismissing President Barack Obama’s argument, the timetable for and extent of sanctions relief has been the main point in the talks. Iran is in favour of the early removal of U. N. Security Council penalties. These penalties are about the economic punishment to the Islamic Republic that started from 2006. Iran’s priority of lifting U.N. is due to their will to escapes their outcast status. The nuclear file of Iran should be returned to the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna. Iran seeks to be treated like the other signatories of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Nuclear power plant in Southern Iran
Nuclear power plant in Southern Iran

Ali vaez states that ““As you know, everything is interconnected”. The goal of a political win on sanctions relief is what Iran wants, even if they have to go below their operating “Uranium enrichment” capacity. A central point in the many talks held is that Moscow agrees to take stockpiles of Iranian low enriched uranium in order to turn it into fuel rods in hope to build their civilian reactors. With Russia exporting the low enriched uranium, Iranians would retain more than 10,000 uranium enrichment centrifuges they have in their operation. Officials from both Iran and the US make it a point that they at least reach the general parameters of the agreement by November 24 which is the anniversary of the interim nuclear accord. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S. C. who is expected to become the chairman of the Foreign Operations Subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee said any bad deal regarding the Iranian nuclear agreement should be dealt with accordingly. A bill that would subject any Iranian nuclear agreement to congressional review is expected to be delivered by Graham.

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Improvement of economy in Iran

Hassan Rouhani's election improved Iran's economy
Hassan Rouhani’s election improved Iran’s economy

Iranian president Hassan Rouhani has managed to get the country out of economic recession and even further boosted the economy of Iran. The country experienced an economic growth of 4.6% in the first quarter of Iran’s calendar year. Rouhani is determined to decrease economic inflation. In fact he was already successful in decreasing it from 40 to 21% but still aims to further reduce it. Iran’s Economy Minister,Ali Tayebnia, forecasted that it will decrease to 15% by 2015.

Jameh Mosque in Isfahan
Jameh Mosque in Isfahan

It has experienced growth in different sectors. In fact Iran was able to manufacture 71% more cars in the first four months of Iran’s current calendar year. The lifting of the sanctions imposed to Iran’s automotive sector contributed to its growth. Iran also saw a significant improvement in its tourism industry. There has been a 35% increase in the number of foreign tourists visiting the country. Masoud Soltanifar, tourism official, said that about 4.5 million tourists brought in $6 billion of revenue for the country. He linked the increase to the efforts of President Hassan Rouhani of improving the image of the country. Rouhani loosen up visa polices imposed to all countries thus attracting more tourists visiting Iran. Rouhani has in fact ordered embassies around the world to immediately issue visas for group tours with a shorter lead time of one week. Most of the tourists spend about $1500 each in Iran. The country has attracted tourists from Europe due to its easier visa application. This led to the 200% growth in the number of tourists coming from Europe. The government aims to host 20 million tourists a year by 2025 with an annual income of $30 billion. Iran’s oil industry also experienced improvement in its revenue with a 6.1% growth. The lifting of sanctions against the oil and automotive industry allowed for the sudden surge of the economy. The improvement of economy of Iran could be credited to the different people brought in after his elections.

 

 

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Iran Elections

On a national level, Iran elects various leaders to ensure the betterment of the country. This includes a head of state and head of government or the president, a legislature, and an assembly of experts. The elections are held every four years, with the elected president given a four year term by the people.

The latest election was held last year, 2013. The year 2013 marked the 2013 Presidential Elections of Iran, particularly last June 14. Then President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was succeeded by 2013 elected president Hassan Rouhani.

The Government of Iran
The Government of Iran

Hassan Rouhani got majority of the votes. Out of the fifty million plus total eligible voters and thirty seven million who voted, Rouhani got 18 million. This is already fifty percent of the thirty seven million who voted. His closest rival was Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf from the Society of Engineers, with sixteen percent votes. Other competitors include Saeeed Jalili, Mohsen Rezaeee, Ali Akbar Velayati, and Mohammad Gharazzi. The elections were considered peaceful, with a turnout of 72.70 percent.

Before the 2013 presidential election, the 2012 parliamentary election was held. This election was seen as essentially a contest between conservative hardline factions as many of the reformist leaders were under house arrest in particular the two main opposition leaders. Mirhossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi, who ran for president in 2009. The reformist parties boycotted the elections although independents and women candidates did run. A turnout of sixty four percent was experienced, higher than the fifty seven percent in the 2008 elections.

The result saw the conservatives now with 63.5% of seats in the Majlis (parliament). The Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was seen as tightened his grip on Iran’s faction-ridden political climate at the expense of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The next parliamentary election will be held in the year 2016. As early as this year, a lot of advertising has been seen by the public. This is well condemned by the people stating that politicians should first focus on the state of the country and not their succeeding term.

The Iranian Government
The Iranian Government

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