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Iran Democracy Monitor - No.165

Edited by Ilan Berman and Golzar Meamar
May 26, 2016

Iran may now be in the process of shrugging off international sanctions, but serious structural reforms are necessary to make the country's economy stable once again. That's the assessment of the International Monetary Fund, whose first deputy managing director, David Lipton, recently paid a visit to Tehran in one of the organization's first forays into the Islamic Republic since the 1979 revolution. Iran, the IMF counseled, needs to undergo internal structural reforms in order to prevent money laundering and to stop terrorism financing - steps that will facilitate Iran's reintegration into the global economy, as well as ease investor jitters about doing business there. Currently, Lipton and his colleagues noted, foreign investors remain hesitant to do business with Iran for in fear that they might inadvertently trade with groups like the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, which remains under U.S. sanctions. (
Financial Times, May 17, 2016) 

Ahead of a scheduled meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in June, Iran has announced that it has no intention of freezing either its oil production or exports - both of which have been steadily rising as the Islamic Republic seeks to raise crude revenue to pre-sanctions levels. As part of this effort, Iran plans to have oil exports reach 2.2 million barrels daily over the summer, Iran's Deputy Oil Minister, Rokneddin Javadi, has stated. This makes a compromise with OPEC leader Saudi Arabia nearly impossible, since the latter has been pressuring member states to shore up world energy prices by freezing output. (
Reuters, May 22, 2016) 


Long stifled by international sanctions, ties between Iran and India are now expanding rapidly. A two-day state visit to Iran by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has yielded a dozen new pacts on trade, telecommunications and transportation. Key among them is an agreement for India to build and then operate Iran's port of Chabahar - a strategic facility that would give India far greater access to Central Asia and Afghanistan, something that has previously been limited by regional rival Pakistan. (
Voice of America, May 23, 2016) 


India is not the only Asian nation where the Islamic Republic is assuming a higher profile. Tehran is now actively courting a number of other countries in South and Central Asia as well. Recent days have seen the Iranian government play host to high profile statesmen from countries such as Afghanistan and Turkmenistan, who have visited Tehran to boost bilateral relations on everything from trade to security cooperation. Iranian officials, meanwhile, are contemplating still more investment in Eurasia. Iran's Railway authority is now said to be negotiating with its counterparts in Azerbaijan and Russia, as well as soliciting private investment, for the creation of a North-South railway project known as the "Rasht-Astara," which Iranian officials see as a key prong of Iran's investment and economic strategy in the "post-Soviet space." (Tehran 
Fars, May 7, 2016; Iran Daily, May 7, 2016; Baku APA, May 24, 2016) 


Iran is inching closer to full membership in Eurasia's premier security bloc. Ahead of the annual summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Tashkent, Uzbekistan in late May, Russia has signaled its intention to lobby on behalf of the Islamic Republic's full membership in the security grouping. According to Bakhtier Khakimov, Russia's Special Presidential Envoy to the SCO, "there is a common understanding that Iran is a real candidate for joining SCO as an official full-fledged member. We do not see any obstacles, taking into account the fact that sanctions are being lifted." (Tehran 
Tasnim, May 24, 2016)

Related Categories: Middle East; Russia; Terrorism; Radical Islam; Iran Freedom Initiative; Iran

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