Belfer Iran Brief—Transfer of power in Iraq and other news

Belfer Iran BriefIran 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

Highlights

  • 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

  • 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)
    Haider al-Abadi
    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)

US-Iran relations

  • 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)

Israel

  • 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.