Iran Insight

  • Iran’s Renewable Energy Outlook Dims after US Withdrawal from the Nuclear Deal

    Countries across the world are planning to increase the share of renewables in their national energy baskets, particularly for electricity generation. Iran, as a major oil producer, has only recently begun to stress the role of renewables with the coming into force of its Fourth Development Plan (2004-2009).

    Iran has high potential for progress in renewables. In many parts of Iran, sun radiation has the power to generate four kilowatt hours of electricity per square meter. This exceeds the average for the European Union, where sun radiation can generate only 2.4 kilowatt hours per square meter.

    Read More
  • Iran’s Renewable Energy Outlook Dims after US Withdrawal from the Nuclear Deal

    Countries across the world are planning to increase the share of renewables in their national energy baskets, particularly for electricity generation. Iran, as a major oil producer, has only recently begun to stress the role of renewables with the coming into force of its Fourth Development Plan (2004-2009).

    Iran has high potential for progress in renewables. In many parts of Iran, sun radiation has the power to generate four kilowatt hours of electricity per square meter. This exceeds the average for the European Union, where sun radiation can generate only 2.4 kilowatt hours per square meter.

    The Ministry of Energy has cited the importance of protecting the environment and the lack of need for new transmission and distribution lines, as well as job creation, as reasons to promote the construction of solar power plants in Arak, Isfahan and Hamedan.  So far, these plants account for a capacity of just under 10 megawatts. By simplifying the...

    Read More
  • Filmmakers Explore Changing Mores of Iranian Women

    Films are a window through which one can glimpse cultural, social and political dynamics in societies and gain a better understanding of underlying cultural traits, traditions, beliefs and aspirations. Several recent films provide such insights about the changing mores of women in Iran.

    Tahmineh Milani, a feminist Iranian filmmaker, has been addressing women’s issues rooted in religious, traditional and cultural practices for the past two decades. She has challenged patriarchal traditions in films such as “Two Women,” “Hidden Half” and “Fifth Reaction.”

    Read More
  • Iran’s Hijab Protests Are a Middle Class Phenomenon

    The day before widespread protests broke out in Iran last December, Vida Movahed, 31, stood on a utility box in Tehran, took off her white headscarf and waved it before a crowd.

    In the weeks since then, dozens of other women have done the same, earning the nickname the “Women of Enghelab [Revolution] Street.” Their acts of disobedience against compulsory veiling in the Islamic Republic have been conflated with the economic protests that convulsed Iran for several weeks and that continue sporadically. But the economic demonstrations were largely by young men in provincial cities and towns; the hijab protests, mostly confined to Tehran, should be seen as a parallel movement and not an extension of the economic protests.

    Read More
  • The Iran Deal Without America

    In the aftermath of the US announcement that it was quitting the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the other signatories are struggling to convince Iran to remain within the agreement.

    European officials have been particularly outspoken, reflecting anger at a potentially fatal blow to a signature diplomatic achievement that touches their core security concerns. Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, addressed the press before the start of a European Union summit in Sofia, Bulgaria, by saying, “We are witnessing today a new phenomenon: the capricious assertiveness of the American administration…. [President Donald Trump] has made us realize that if you need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of your arm.” 

    Read More
  • Iran’s Salafi Jihadis

    Last year’s attacks in Tehran by Islamic State recruits reflect Shia Iran’s ambiguous, inconsistent and at times contradictory relationship with Sunni Salafists.

    While tough on extremist groups threatening its sovereignty or military presence in Syria, the Iranian government has often turned a blind eye to such groups to allow them to fight US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and to undercut secular nationalist Iranian Kurds.

    The United States and other Western nations, as well as Israel, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, have often used jihadis to counter nationalist and leftist insurgencies, overthrow adversarial governments or oust foreign occupiers. Unlike these other countries, there is no evidence that Iran has actually financed, armed, or trained Salafi jihadis.

    Read More
  • The Dangerous Consequences of US Withdrawal from the Iran Nuclear Deal

    European leaders have vowed to try to salvage the Iran nuclear deal if US President Donald J. Trump carries out his threat to withdraw later this week. But unlike the Paris climate accord and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) would have great difficulty surviving without US participation.

    The United States’ European and Asian allies would strenuously complain and seek ways to protect oil imports and other trade and investment with Iran if Trump refuses to renew sanctions waivers by May 12. But many companies would be unlikely to risk the hefty fines that violating US sanctions could entail. Already, major multinational firms are putting Iran plans on hold.

    Read More
  • A Way Forward for the Iran Deal

    As the May 12 deadline approaches for President Donald Trump to renew sanctions waivers in compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), multiple European leaders, as well as the Chinese and Russians, are working to keep the agreement in place. President Emanuel Macron’s three-day State visit to Washington on April 23 was for the same reason.

    Macron presented a four-point plan to Trump during their meeting at the White House, to address Iran’s nuclear program in the short and long term, the development of ballistic missiles, and the Islamic Republic’s regional presence.

    Read More
  • Sunnis in Iran: An Alternate View


    In her issue brief for the Atlantic Council, “Iran’s Sunnis Resist Extremism, but for How Long?” Scheherezade Faramarzi discusses the current situation of Sunnis in Iran. While Faramarzi’s work is valuable given her fieldwork in Iran, in the view of this author, her piece contains errors and misleading information.

    I agree with Faramazi that the Islamic Republic of Iran has failed to properly integrate its Sunni population into the political system by depriving them of higher political positions such as cabinet ministries. However, I disagree with her presentation about the number of Sunnis in Iran, where they are concentrated and their socio-economic status in comparison to the majority Shia population.

    According to Faramazi,“Some fifteen million of Iran’s eighty million people are Sunni Muslims, the country’s largest religious minority.” She suggests that according to Sunni leaders...

    Read More
  • Inefficient Agriculture is Killing Iran

    In January I wrote a piece for this blog after widespread protests in Iran and outlined actions that should be taken by the government to enhance the lives of Iranians. In that piece I talked about the water crisis in Iran very briefly and was told by a reader on Twitter that the water section needed more attention. This piece is my response.

    Iran has been facing a crisis regarding water for many years and it’s far more existential than the nuclear program or the fate of the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad. Almost every day in Iran, there are protests by farmers regarding water shortages and the diversion of this precious resource from one area to the other. The effects of a warming climate and lower precipitation over the years have...

    Read More