Insider news & Analysis in Iran

On Wednesday, the New York Times published an editorial by Thomas Friedman in which he highlighted the growing “obsession” with Iranian power-projection among regional adversaries and the United States, as well as other states with active interests in the Middle East. A number of other recent articles have similarly emphasized that there is growing international cooperation against Iran’s imperialism.

On Tuesday, a day after former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh was killed in an attack on his vehicle outside the capital of Sanaa, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps publicly celebrated his death, suggesting that an international conspiracy against Iran-backed forced had been “nipped in the bud” as a result. General Mohammad Ali Jafari specifically pointed his finger at Saudi Arabia, which is at the head of a coalition of Arab states fighting against Houthi rebels in Yemen and, by extension, against Iranian influence in the region. According to the Associated Press, Jafari accused the Saudis of operating on behalf of the United States and Israel in this respect, adding that all three have an “important role in creating insecurity”.

On Thursday, Al Jazeera reported upon Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s latest contribution to an ongoing war of words between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The remarks were arguably indicative of continued alignment between the supposedly moderate Rouhani administration and the avowedly hardline regime elements associated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

In recent days, Iranian policymakers have seemed to put forward multiple different strategies, expressed in widely varying tones, as part of the effort to safeguard the integrity of the country’s missile program. Although the United Nations Security Council resolution governing the 2015 Iran nuclear deal call upon the Islamic Republic to avoid work on ballistic missiles or other weapons that are capable of carrying nuclear warheads, at least a dozen such missiles have been tested since nuclear negotiations were concluded. The actual tests have been carried out by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, but those activities have also been vigorously defended by representatives of both factions of Iranian politics.

A report published on Monday by UPI indicated that an agreement among the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and some non-OPEC oil exporters was likely to be extended for an additional year after having partial success in reducing global oil output as part of a bid to control prices that had sharply declined in 2015. The agreement identified 50 dollars per barrel as the minimum allowable price, and the UPI report notes that Monday’s price for the standard Brent crude oil was 62 dollars per barrel. This is, however, still considerably less than 2010-2014 prices.

In October, Iraqi forces supported by local Iranian proxies and operatives of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force stormed the city of Kirkuk and the surrounding area in order to retake it from Iraqi Kurds, who had driven Islamic State militants out of the region during the multilateral conflict against the self-proclaimed Sunni caliphate.

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