Iran helped to choose the new Prime Minister of Iraq, the Iranian economy shrank last year, and more in this week’s edition of the Belfer Iran Brief, covering August 9-15.
By Sam Ratner
- New Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi was reportedly chosen at a meeting in Tehran between members of his Dawa Party and the Iranian government, with the support of Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.
- According to Iran’s central bank, the Iranian economy shrank 1.9% between March 2013 and March 2014.
- Iran’s oil minister categorically denied reports that Iran and Russia have concluded an oil-for-goods deal.
Diplomacy and nuclear issue
- Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei described direct negotiations between Iran and the U.S. as “fruitless,” but declined to ban Iranian diplomats from engaging in bilateral discussions of nuclear issues. (AP, 8/13/14)
- IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano will travel to Tehran this weekend for meetings related to the agency’s investigation of Iran’s past nuclear activities. (Reuters, 8/15/14)
Sanctions and Iran’s economy
- A passenger plane, built in Iran based on an Ukranian design, crashed in Tehran, killing 39. (AP, 8/10/14) Note: Sanctions on the aviation sector have left the Iranian airliners with a weak safety record.
- According to Iran’s central bank, the Iranian economy shrank 1.9% between March 2013 and March 2014. (Tehran Times, 8/13/14)
December 12, 2003 - Then Iraqi Minister of Communication Haider al-Abadi speaks in Geneva. al-Abadi was named Prime Minister of Iraq this week. (JEAN-PHILIPPE KSIAZEK/AFP/Getty Images)
- Iran imported over 34,000 cars between March 21 and July 22, a 138% increase over the same period last year. (Tehran Times, 8/13/14) Note: Sanctions on Iran’s automotive industry are suspended under the terms of the Joint Plan of Action.
- Iran’s oil minister categorically denied reports that Iran and Russia have concluded an oil-for-goods deal. (Fars, 8/12/14)
Iranian domestic politics
- Iranian Majlis passed a bill that would ban permanent forms of contraception. (Reuters, 8/11/14) Note: The bill is part of an effort to increase Iran’s birth rate, which has fallen to 1.6 children per woman.
- President Hassan Rouhani lashed out at domestic opponents of nuclear negotiations, calling them “cowards.” (Reuters, 8/11/14) Note: Rouhani later clarified that he was referring not to critics but to “saboteurs” of government policy, in an apparent effort to soften his remarks. (Tehran Times, 8/13/14)
- Iran’s oil minister charged that members of the Ahmedinejad administration funneled $2.7 billion of oil revenue to Babak Zanjani, a political ally. (Al-Monitor, 8/14/14)
- In an interview, former Secretary of State and likely future presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said that “there is no such thing as a right to enrich” and that demanding zero Iranian enrichment capability in negotiations is a “not unrealistic position.” (The Atlantic, 8/10/14)
Geopolitics and Iran
- The secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council issued a public statement of support for new Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. (Reuters, 8/12/14)
- al-Abadi was reportedly chosen at a meeting in Tehran between members of his Dawa Party and the Iranian government, with the support of Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. (Al-Monitor, 8/14/14)
- No significant developments.
“Red lines,” “points of no return,” and military strikes
- No significant developments.
Uncertain or dubious claims
- No significant claims
Sam Ratner is the project coordinator for Iran Matters. He tweets at @samratner.