Farhad Rezaei

The Implications of a Military Figure as President of Iran

In 2021, Iran will be preparing for a presidential election even as it faces an unprecedented economic crisis. Some conservatives argue that a military figure could turn the country around by virtue of his “jihadist spirit” and “military charisma.” While the allure of such a person as president is attractive to some in Tehran, structural impediments remain. The power of the Office of the Supreme Leader will prove a formidable obstacle in the path of any military figure who hopes to ascend to the presidency in the near term.

The Iran-China 25-Year Plan: A Preliminary Assessment

The newly announced Iran-China 25 Year Comprehensive Partnership is unprecedented in its scope. It contains a “mystery clause” that gives China control over how Iran spends its resources, which could ultimately amount to Iran’s selling its sovereignty to Beijing. The close military collaboration between the countries also has major implications for the decades-long US domination of the Gulf and large stretches of the Indian Ocean.

Iran’s Anti-Israel Bill: Desperation Masquerading as Legislation

Iran’s new anti-Israel legislation has banned all contact with the “Zionist enemy,” however indirect, even going so far as to criminalize the use of electronics that contain components manufactured by companies with branches in Israel. The law has also mandated the creation of a “virtual embassy” in Jerusalem to protect the Palestinians’ interests. For all its hardline posturing, the law reflects chaos within the regime.

Iran’s Ballistic Missile Program: New Developments

Iran’s rapid development of missile expertise has raised concerns in Washington and among its allies about Tehran’s intentions. Despite international censure, the Revolutionary Guards have been able to develop the largest and most diverse ballistic missile arsenal in the region. Tehran is determined to develop and acquire ever more advanced and accurate ballistic missiles – but its efforts to achieve that goal are hampered by American and Israeli determination to subvert it.

Iran and the Taliban: A Tactical Alliance?

Iran and the Taliban have long had their ups and downs. In 1998, the two sides nearly came to a direct clash when Taliban forces killed Iranian diplomats, though the incident ended without a major conflict. However, the 2001 US invasion of Afghanistan, the fear of a resurgent ISIS in Afghanistan, and water issues have prompted Tehran to ramp up its engagement with the Taliban. This tactical alliance will enable Iran to further expand its influence in Afghanistan.

Debate in Tehran: Stay in the JCPOA or Leave It?

A heated debate is underway in Tehran over whether or not to remain in the JCPOA following the US withdrawal. President Rouhani believes the cost of leaving is too high, but hardline Iranian conservatives – who never wanted the deal to begin with – want out. It remains to be seen what Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei will decide.