The International Institute for Iranian Studies (Rasanah) issued its monthly Iran Case File (ICF) for September 2020, which provides readers in general and researchers in particular with an in-depth insight and comprehensive review of Iran’s affairs and relations at variant levels. The file is divided into three main parts: Internal Affairs, Arab Affairs and International Affairs.
The Ideological File sheds lights on how Hossein Shariatmadari, the editor-in-chief of Kayhan newspaper, who is close to Khamenei, lashed out at Sistani, crossing the boundaries of decency and respectability when speaking about clerics. The Political File highlights Rouhani’s contradictory remarks; he had earlier announced that Iran had defeated the US maximum pressure strategy, and that Iran manipulated this strategy to isolate the United States from the international community, but is now stating that the United States bears overall responsibility for the economic collapse which Iran is experiencing now. The Economic File discusses the ramifications of enforcing the snapback sanctions for Iran’s economy. This is analyzed by reviewing the indicators of Iranian trade with Tehran’s economic partners before and after the US pullout from the nuclear deal and the potential prospects after the snapback’s enforcement. The Military File reviews the challenge posed by the Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict and the impact of enforcing the snapback mechanism on Iran’s military activities and the possibility of Iran’s friends refusing to supply it with weapons for fear of US sanctions.
As for Arab affairs, Iran is attempting to push back against its declining presence across several arenas of influence. In Syria, where Israeli strikes against Iranian militias are still ongoing, Iran has redeployed its forces, as mentioned by Iranian sources, keeping them away from the range of Israeli strikes. At the same time, Iran withdrew from territories under Russia’s sphere of influence, as the Russians clearly want to marginalize the Iranian role in Syria and push the Iranian-backed militias to areas of lesser importance and to expel these militias from the disputed areas with Israel. In Yemen, Iran decided that it should use its support to the Houthi militia as a lever in the midst of US escalation following the implementation of the snapback mechanism. In a new development, Iran has publicly acknowledged what it has been secretly doing for a long time. In a shocking statement, Iran announced that it will put missile and drone technology at the disposal of the Houthi militia.
At the international level, which represents the crux of the Iranian crisis and is the principal arena in which the crisis is unfolding, the report discusses Iranian-US relations in light of the US presidential elections. Iran has intensified its threats and hinted that it would turn its back on all the provisions of the nuclear deal if the United States implements the UN sanctions and exerts pressure on other countries to comply with these sanctions.
Iranian-European relations seemed to be warmer given the European pro-Iran position in the Security Council in relation to the vote on the draft resolution to extend the arms embargo on Iran. However, human rights violations have undermined the relationship between the two sides leading to heightened tensions following Iran’s execution of wrestling champion Navid Afkari on accusations of killing two security guards during the protests which broke out in 2018. European countries called for a moratorium on the death sentence and a retrial.