With each side seemingly determined to push the other up to, but not beyond poorly defined red lines, an increasingly volatile situation is developing. Given the poor state of diplomatic relations between the US and Iran and an inability of the two nations to communicate at the military to military level beyond the most basic tactical contacts, the opportunity for even a minor miscalculation to develop into a much more serious strategic incident remains disturbingly high.
If an official of the Islamic Republic is caught in a scandal, he or she is likely to be removed or forced to resign. Still, Iranians have become used to financial corruption. But the case of former Tehran mayor and education minister Mohammad Ali Najafi—who has confessed to shooting to death his second wife—has profoundly shocked the nation, touched off a debate about polygamy and domestic violence and become enmeshed in Iran’s bitter factional politics.
A system for verifying the vote and to prevent cheating on June 12, 2009, developed by lead opposition candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi’s campaign, was sabotaged by the unexpected shutting down of the text-messaging system throughout the country.
However, Prime Minister Abe has met Iranian President Hassan Rouhani seven times already, not only in New York on the sideline of the UN General Assembly every year since 2013, but also at the sixtieth annual Asia-Africa Conference in Indonesia during 2015. The Tehran visit will be the eighth meeting between Abe and Rouhani. It will be the first visit by a Japanese prime minister since 1978. (However, it will be Abe’s second visit to Iran since he accompanied his father, then Foreign Minister Shintaro Abe, in 1983.)
Iran, these opponents argue, remains a theologically driven hegemon out to subvert Arab states and turn them into states too weak to threaten Tehran. Thus they reject recent proposals by Iran for a “non-aggression pact” as unrealistic and propagandistic.
When INSTEX was announced on January 31, Per Fischer, the former head of financial institutions at Commerzbank, was appointed as its president. The INSTEX supervisory board includes Simon McDonald, the UK Permanent Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs; Miguel Berger, head of the Economic Department at the German Foreign Office; and Maurice Gourdault-Montagne, Secretary-General of the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs. These are seasoned senior diplomats. There is, however, a noticeable absence of senior officials from the UK Treasury, Germany’s Federal Ministry of Finance, France’s Ministry of the Economy and Finance or central bank officials from Britain, France and Germany—the so-called E3.
Working in tandem with parliament, the administration of President Hassan Rouhani aims to finally instill much-needed reforms in the ailing Iranian banking system.
They could be any ordinary couple, but the husband’s last name gives it away. Ahmad Khomeini is a great-grandson of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic.
Medicine is supposed to be exempt from the sanctions. Yet Europeans companies and banks have refused to participate in financial transactions involving pharmaceuticals out of fear of US secondary sanctions.
The US has nominally exempted humanitarian goods from its economic sanctions. However, limitations on trade, the unwillingness of financial institutions to process transactions related to Iran, as well as the Iranian government’s misguided policies, have resulted in staggering prices and shortages of medicine. Compounded together, these issues have made medicine less affordable and accessible to many Iranians who are already experiencing other impacts of sanctions such as unemployment.