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People walk past a satirical drawing of Statue of Liberty after new anti-U.S. murals on the walls of former U.S. embassy unveiled in a ceremony in Tehran, Iran, Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019. Anti-U.S. works of graphics is the main theme of the wall murals painted by a team of artists ahead of the 40th anniversary of the takeover of the U.S. diplomatic post by revolutionary students.

AP Photo/Vahid Salemi

Analysis & Opinions - Brookings Institution

To Talk or Not to Talk to Trump: A Question that Divides Iran

| Nov. 19, 2019

Earlier this month, Iran further expanded its nuclear enrichment program, taking another step away from the nuclear accord it had signed with world powers in July 2015. Since President Trump withdrew the U.S. from the accord, on May 2018, and re-imposed U.S. sanctions, Iran’s economy has lost nearly 10 percent of its output. Although the economy appears to have weathered the initial storm, time is not on Iran’s side and its leaders see the gradual resumption of enrichment as a way to end the current stalemate without caving to U.S. demands.

A traditional Iranian bazaar in the city of Kashan

Wikicommons

Analysis & Opinions - The Hill

Can Iran Weather the Trump Storm?

| May 03, 2019

In the past 10 years, oil exports have averaged about $67 billion in Iran. Last year, they dropped by two-thirds, and they are expected to drop below $30 billion this year.  There are reasons to believe that, with appropriate policies, the country can live with this level of oil exports, albeit at a reduced standard of living, and even do itself some good in the long run by reducing its dependence on oil.

Iran has been there before. In 2012, when President Obama ratcheted up U.S. sanctions against Iran, oil exports dropped by 27.5 percent, and GDP fell by 6.2 percent. In 2015, sanctions and the collapse of oil prices further reduced oil exports to $32 billion, a decade-long low, and GDP declined by 1.6 percent. If Iran’s leadership is to successfully resist U.S. demands, it must do more than find ways to evade sanctions. A lot depends on its ability to adopt a plan that reduces the economy’s dependence on oil, while distributing the burden of restructuring equitably across social groups.

Iranian president Hassan Rouhani

Wikicommons

Analysis & Opinions

The Unimportance Of New Oil Sanctions

| Apr. 25, 2019

For the Islamic Republic, resistance to Washington has become a cultural norm, and it considers independence (esteghlal) as the main achievement of the 1979 revolution.  According to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Iran would have to meet 12 conditions before the United States will renegotiate the nuclear deal and consider removing its sanctions. These conditions, which are nothing short of surrender on Iran’s part, are either set to force Iran out of the nuclear deal and therefore trigger the return of UN sanctions, or they are a thinly veiled call for regime change.

Grand Bazaar, Tehran, Iran

Wikicommons

Analysis & Opinions - The Brookings Institution

Iran’s Economy 40 Years after the Islamic Revolution

| Mar. 14, 2019

Unlike the socialist revolutions of the last century, the Islamic Revolution of Iran did not identify itself with the working class or the peasantry, and did not bring a well-defined economic strategy to reorganize the economy. Apart from eliminating the interest rate from the banking system, which was achieved in name only, the revolution put forward few specific economic policies that could be called an Islamic economic development strategy. To be sure, its populist and pro-poor rhetoric was quite distinct from the Pahlavi regime it replaced, but its actual policies could be found in the toolboxes of most developing countries and international organizations.

Iran demonstrations 22 Bahman Iranian Revolution

Tasnim

Analysis & Opinions - Project Syndicate

The Islamic Revolution at 40

| Feb. 12, 2019

US President Donald Trump’s administration seems to hope that, with a nudge from sanctions, ordinary Iranians will rise up and overthrow the Islamic Republic. But the economic data do not support the view that the Iranian public has been driven into abject poverty since 1979, let alone that it is on the brink of revolting.

Tehran Bazaar

Wikicommons

Analysis & Opinions - Brookings Institution

Iran’s economic reforms in retreat

| Dec. 04, 2018

If the intended aim of the new round of U.S. sanctions were to change Iran’s behavior, it already has. Just not the behavior the Trump team had in mind—Iran abandoning its pursuit of pro-market economic reforms. President Hassan Rouhani, who was elected twice, in 2013 and 2017, on a platform of liberal economic reforms, has piece by piece put aside his reform agenda. Because of the economic havoc wreaked by the re-imposition of U.S. sanctions, he finds himself in the odd position of overseeing price controls, punishing commodity hoarders, subsidizing imports of a variety of goods, including mobile phones, and has lost the most liberal members of his economic team

Iranian Currency Exchange

Tasnim News

Analysis & Opinions

Iran Sanctions: How Deep Will They Bite?

| Nov. 12, 2018

In Iran, officials blame the sanctions for the economic crisis, while in the United States, officials blame the Iranian government. There is no denying that Iran’s economy has serious problems that have nothing to do with sanctions, but there is no doubt that the current crisis is the result of the sanctions. The same economy was able to expand by 18 percent in the two years that sanctions were partially lifted as a result of the 2015 nuclear deal. However, regime-change advocates in the United States who hope that sanctions will precipitate economic collapse will be disappointed. Economies do not collapse—they shrink. How far Iran’s economy will shrink and how Iran’s leaders and its people respond to the contraction are the real questions. Will the economy bottom out in 2019 or continue to slide for several more years? 

Iran Tehran Bazaar

Wikicommons

Analysis & Opinions - Foreign Affairs

Yes, Iran’s Economy Is Suffering—But It’s Not All About the U.S.

| Sep. 25, 2018

Although U.S. President Donald Trump has hurt the Iranian economy, the unexpected depth of the rial’s decline owes less to U.S. policy than to poor decision-making in Tehran and structural weaknesses in Iran’s economy. A proper understanding of the factors that deepened the crisis suggests that the country’s acute hardships may ease or disappear as Iran adjusts to the new situation. Iran’s foreign exchange market needs to be understood on its own terms in order to avoid the common mistake of equating the fall of the rial in the free market with economic collapse, rising poverty, and increasing protests that can weaken the regime.