Reports are swirling that Russia is finally delivering an advanced S-300 air defense system to Iran, although they may be premature again. The implications of that and the other items on Iran’s military shopping list need our attention fast.
An Iranian military hardware spree can quickly fuel a Middle East arms race, drive U.S. allies to seek more advanced weapons, and, in the case of Israel, spur development of their own.
Soldiers from Iran’s conventional military service, the Artesh, are fighting and dying in Syria. At least three members of the Artesh Special Forces were reported killed on April 11, marking the first time the Artesh has sustained casualties abroad since the Iran-Iraq War. The decision to deploy Artesh forces underscores Tehran’s expanding support to Damascus, discrediting reports that Iran might be pulling forces out of the conflict.
Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Commander General Mohammad Ali Jafari delivered a stern warning to President Hassan Rouhani on April 5: Stop opening up to the West. Rouhani has used his success in obtaining the nuclear deal to push forward a program of economic reform and easing of tensions with the West. Jafari declared that these policies are a dangerous departure from the Islamic Republic’s revolutionary values of economic independence and diplomatic isolation from the West.
Just a little over a month ago, Secretary of State John Kerry told Congress that Iran, one of the major backers of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s regime, was moving its troops out of that country. Unfortunately, it isn’t so.
The Justice Department’s indictment of seven Iranian hackers for a “coordinated cyber assault” against 46 major financial institutions and a New York dam on March 24 was a good symbolic gesture, even though there is no measurable chance that any real action against the Iranian attackers will result. Many of the details in the indictment are not particularly surprising, however. The Islamic Republic has conducted an extensive, aggressive, and well-documented cyber campaign targeting U.S.
Iran's Critical Elections: The Basics
AEI’s Critical Threats Project has been tracking election developments closely in Iran. This page will be continually updated with analyses of the results and their significance as the elections progress.
The composition of the Assembly of Experts, the political body charged with selecting Iran’s next supreme leader, is already tilting away from the moderates. Iranians will go to the polls on February 26 to elect 88 men to the Assembly of Experts from a predetermined list of candidates. A semifinal version of that list has been released.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s allies are losing one election even before any votes have been cast. Reformists and pragmatists generally aligned with Rouhani have been hoping to gain a solid bloc of supporters in the Assembly of Experts, the clerical body that will likely select the next supreme leader in the course of its eight-year term.