Analysis

In this section, IranTracker goes beyond the information provided in other areas of the site to present a selection of in-depth, analytical pieces that examine the most relevant issues about the Islamic Republic to present a clearer picture of what is Iran, how it works, and where it is going.

In this section

What Does Mohsen Rezaei's Return to the IRGC Signify for the Regime?

Former Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Commander Major General Mohsen Rezaei appears to have officially returned to active duty. His return to uniform likely signifies the end of his political activities, but it is less clear what else it signifies.

Imam Hossein University: Cyberattacks and IT Systems
By Frederick W. Kagan, April 28, 2015

Pistachio Harvest is a collaborative project between Norse Corporation and the Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute to describe Iran's footprint in cyberspace and identify important trends in Iranian cyberattacks. As part of this project, the Norse Intelligence Network has exposed cyberattacks and IT systems linked to Imam Hossein University. 

Bank Sepah: Cyberattacks, IT Systems, and Components
By Frederick W. Kagan, April 28, 2015

Pistachio Harvest is a collaborative project between Norse Corporation and the Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute to describe Iran's footprint in cyberspace and identify important trends in Iranian cyberattacks. As part of this project, the Norse Intelligence Network has exposed cyberattacks and IT systems linked to Bank Sepah. 

Iran Tracker Blog: Iran is Afraid of 2017. We Shouldn't Be
By J. Matthew McInnis, April 21, 2015

Last week’s approval by the US Senate Foreign Relation Committee of the Corker-Menendez bill to review any nuclear agreement with Iran did not bother Tehran much. Iran’s leaders understood the bill would have minimal impact on reaching a final deal and reacted accordingly. 

The Growing Cyberthreat from Iran: The Initial Report of Project Pistachio Harvest

Iran is emerging as a significant cyberthreat to the US and its allies. The size and sophistication of the nation’s hacking capabilities have grown markedly over the last few years, and Iran has already penetrated well-defended networks in the US and Saudi Arabia and seized and destroyed sensitive data. 

Iran Tracker Blog: What Does Iran Really Want in Yemen?
By J. Matthew McInnis, April 14, 2015

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and other senior leaders loudly condemned Riyadh’s ongoing Operation Decisive Storm against the al Houthi rebels last week, and the shape of Iran’s counter-narrative is now emerging. Today Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif announced a peace plan calling for a ceasefire and dialogue. But what does Iran really want?

Iran Tracker Blog: IRGC Exercises in the Strait, Rouhani in Qom
By Mehrdad Moarefian, Tara Beeny, March 4, 2015

Iran’s Great Prophet 9 military exercises were held February 25-27 throughout the Persian Gulf and showcased the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC)’s latest weapons and capabilities. 

Iran Tracker Blog: Iran Likes the Looks of This Emerging Nuclear Deal
By J. Matthew McInnis, February 26, 2015

 

Iran shows no signs of giving in to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) demands to disclose its alleged nuclear weapons research activities. 

Testimony: Beyond Nuclear: The Increasing Threat from Iran
By Frederick W. Kagan, February 11, 2015

The protracted negotiations about Iran’s nuclear program have distracted attention from other aspects of the threat Iran poses to the security of the United States and its allies in the region and around the world. The global Iranian threat—independent of the status of its nuclear program—is greater today than it has ever been.

Iran Tracker Blog: Fajr Launch Highlights Missile Component of Iran Nuclear Negotiations
By J. Matthew McInnis, February 10, 2015

The effect of Iran’s Fajr satellite launch last week on the talks is uncertain, but it should bring Tehran’s ballistic missile program and its potential capability to deliver a nuclear payload back on the agenda for the P5+1 negotiators. 

Iran Tracker Blog: Are Iran and Hezbollah on the same page?
By J. Matthew McInnis, February 3, 2015

Lebanese Hezbollah does not want to escalate its confrontation with Israel while the group focuses on its main fight in Syria. The bigger question may be whether Iran does.

Iran Tracker Blog: Iran Commends Hezbollah Attack That Killed Two Israeli Soldiers
By J. Matthew McInnis, January 29, 2015

Iran and Lebanese Hezbollah’s desire for additional retaliation against Israel for the airstrike that killed IRGC Quds Force Brigadier General Mohammad Ali Allah Dadi and several Lebanese Hezbollah senior officers puts Hezbollah in a difficult position. 

Iran Tracker Blog
By The Editors, January 28, 2015

This blog series analyzes the most important Iran news events of the past week and provides an outlook of the regime's strategic calculus. 

Iran Tracker Blog: Killing of Another Senior Iranian General in Syria May Generate New Conflict with Israel
By J. Matthew McInnis, January 21, 2015

IRGC Brigadier General Mohammad Ali Allah Dadi’s death, along with that of several Lebanese Hezbollah officers, following an alleged Israeli gunship strike on January 18 in Syria will test Iran and Lebanon’s willingness to escalate their current confrontation with Tel Aviv. 

Iran Tracker Blog: Possible Changes in Iranian Foreign Policy
By J. Matthew McInnis, January 14, 2015

President Rouhani and Supreme Leader Khamenei’s recent rhetoric portrays an Iranian regime weighing significant shifts in its foreign and economic policies, including its negotiating position at the nuclear talks.

Iran Tracker Blog: Rouhani Possibly Signalling New Tactics in Nuclear Negotiations
By J. Matthew McInnis, January 8, 2015

President Rouhani's proposal for a referendum on the nuclear negotiations during a January 4 speech is unlikely to succeed, despite the majority of Iranians supporting the approach. 

Iran Tracker Blog: Iran Accelerates Military Enhancement
By J. Matthew McInnis, December 23, 2014

Tehran announced a major multi-service military exercise in late December focused on defending against an attack from the Gulf of Oman. The expansive propaganda around the exercise corresponds with efforts to promote Iran’s military strength following the extension of the nuclear negotiations on November 24. 

Iran Tracker Blog: Iran Doubts Obama's Ability to Deliver a Deal but Reaffirms Commitment to Getting Sanctions Lifted
By J. Matthew McInnis, December 16, 2014

The Iranian regime expressed doubts that President Obama can deliver on any deal he commits to, but remains committed to negotiations narrowly restricted to the nuclear program and lifting of sanctions. The regime continued efforts to ensure its stability in advance of possible public discontent should sanctions remain in place.

Iran Tracker Blog: Situation Report Week of December 8, 2014
By J. Matthew McInnis, December 9, 2014

This blog series analyzes the most important Iran news events of the past week and provides an outlook of the regime's strategic calculus. 

Iran's Economy of Resistance: Implications for Future Sanctions
By Amir Toumaj, November 17, 2014

Economic sanctions have not changed Iran’s nuclear policy, although they have pressured Tehran to engage in negotiations.The Resistance Economy doctrine is intended to make the Iranian economy resistant to all external economic shocks in the long term, including Western sanctions and global financial crises. 

Iran Situation Report
By The Editors, October 21, 2014

The Critical Threats Project has been tracking activities and announcements in Iran, with a focus on political, military, economic, and nuclear developments, as well as Iran's response to regional crises.

He's Just Not That Into Us: The Supreme Leader's Resistance Strategy Expands
By Mehrdad Moarefian, September 2, 2014

Recent events in Iraq, Syria, and Gaza are increasing Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s determination to expand the anti-American and anti-Israeli strategy he calls “resistance.”  The tide of that resistance strategy will increase hostility and tension over the coming months, regardless of US policy.

Iranian Response to Regional Crisis: July 23 - August 7, 2014

A look at Iran's regional activity from July 23 to August 7, 2014.

Iranian Response to Iraq Crisis: June 13 - July 23, 2014

Between June 13 and July 23, 2014, deployed IRGC forces and advisers, led by Quds Force Commander Qassem Suleimani continued their efforts to shore up ISF, protect Shi’a shrines, and coordinate activities throughout central Iraq against IS. 

Iran Situation Report
By Mehrdad Moarefian, Marie Donovan, October 23, 2014

This daily publication provides an update on activities in Iran, especially in reference to the Iraq crisis.

Iraq Through the Eyes of Iran's IRGC
By Mehrdad Moarefian, July 7, 2014

The feasibility of cooperation with Iran in Iraq depends in part on how the IRGC sees the problem.  This post is the first in a series that will look at the Iraq crisis from the perspective of the IRGC.

The IRGC Command Network: Formal Structures and Informal Influence
By Will Fulton, July 18, 2013

This report examines the formal structures that comprise the IRGC’s senior leadership and the informal influence networks that dominate these structures in order to identify and describe the networks that actually control Iran’s most powerful organization.

Iranian Strategy in Syria

Iran has conducted an extensive, expensive, and integrated effort to keep President Bashar al Assad in power as long as possible while setting conditions to retain its ability to use Syrian territory and assets to pursue its regional interests should Assad fall.

IRGC Messaging: Insight into a Revolutionary Regime
By Will Fulton, May 20, 2013

This assessment examines messaging from senior IRGC officials on issues of critical importance to U.S. national security, including: IRGC response to an attack on Iranian territory; Iran’s involvement in Syria, and; Iran’s nuclear program.

Testimony: Iran’s Global Force Projection Network: IRGC Quds Force and Lebanese Hezbollah
By Will Fulton, March 20, 2013

The Islamic Republic of Iran is first and foremost concerned with regime preservation, and its strategic calculus and behavior are deeply influenced by this concern. It is therefore essential that Iran’s global terror campaign is considered within this context.

The Assassination of Iranian Quds Force General Hassan Shateri in Syria
By Will Fulton, February 28, 2013

On February 13, 2013, IRGC Quds Force Brigadier General Hassan Shateri was assassinated in Syria. His death is a serious blow to the Quds Force, and his very presence in northern Syria shows the depth of Iran’s involvement in that conflict.

IRGC Shows Its (True) Hand in Syria
By Will Fulton, January 14, 2013

Iran has been deploying training teams to Syria, drawn from some of its elite regular combat formations, similar in some respects to the advisory units the U.S. has sent to help train Iraqi and Afghan forces.

Iranian Regime Exerts Pressure on Green Movement
By Will Fulton, January 9, 2013

As Iran's presidential election draws near, it appears there is an effort underway to rekindle a national debate about the regime’s legitimacy, prompting a series of harsh reactions from regime officials.

IRGC Rank Insignia Guide
By Will Fulton, October 31, 2012

Understanding the IRGC's formal rank system is an important component of understanding the Iranian regime's power structure and its key players. This slide deck explains the rank structure of the IRGC and the relative degree of formal military authority granted to guardsmen at each rank.

IRGC Command Network: Formal Structures and Informal Influence
By Will Fulton, October 10, 2012

Understanding the IRGC is essential to understanding Iran. Whether it is Iran’s nuclear program, conflict in Syria, international terrorism, or domestic security, the IRGC is a key decision maker. This video and accompanying slide deck assess the IRGC Command Network, its structure, and cohesion.

Iranian Influence in the Levant, Egypt, Iraq, and Afghanistan

Since 2008, the Islamic Republic of Iran has continued to pursue a coordinated soft-power strategy throughout its sphere of influence, using political, economic, and military tools to promote its agenda, although not always with success.

Khamenei's Team of Rivals: Iranian Decision-Making, June-July 2014
By Frederick W. Kagan, July 29, 2014

American strategies that rely on severe tensions within Iran’s senior leadership or that imagine that Rouhani is somehow seriously at odds with the Supreme Leader and the IRGC on foreign, defense, or nuclear policy are likely to fail.  We must reckon, at least for now, with an Iran firmly under the control of the Supreme Leader whose commanders and president are pulling in the same direction—a direction inimical to U.S. interests in the region and the world.

Iran Tracker Blog: Nuclear Framework Agreement Has Iran Smiling
By J. Matthew McInnis, April 7, 2015

It has been congratulations all around in Tehran since Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif returned home with a framework for a comprehensive nuclear agreement with the P5+1.

Iran Tracker Blog: A Partial Nuke Deal Would Salvage a Horrible Week for Iranian Foreign Policy
By J. Matthew McInnis, March 31, 2015

A likely partial agreement and extension of the nuclear talks comes as no surprise. Iran recognized the March 31 deadline for a political agreement did not really matter and behaved accordingly

Iran Tracker Blog: Don't Hold Your Breath for a Moderate Post-Khameini Iran
By J. Matthew McInnis, March 11, 2015

Those hoping that successful nuclear negotiations will be a harbinger of a less confrontational or even cooperative Iran received a rude awaking March 10.

Iran Tracker Blog: Why Phased Sanction Relief is So Hard For Iran to Swallow
By J. Matthew McInnis, March 25, 2015

Last week there was widespread optimism that a deal on Iran’s nuclear program was close. Now a less enthusiastic tone has emerged, especially from Western negotiators, and a key problem appears to be how much and how fast sanctions relief will come.