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They may not be popular, but clerics dominate contemporary Iran, its politics and economy to an extent that most Iranians might have thought inconceivable in the years immediately after the 1979 revolution. The latest series of GSN profiles focuses on senior clerics who occupy key positions across Iran’s political system – all of them closely tied to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and committed to the Islamic republic’s long-term survival.

Iran
Free

The latest series of GSN profiles show how Iran’s clerics – and especially those close to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei – have a grip over the economy that has got ever tighter over the past three decades. There is no prospect of that changing at the parliamentary and Assembly of Experts elections on 1 March.

Iran
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The IRGC Navy has launched long-range ballistic missiles from one of its ships for the first time, as it continues to flex its muscle in the face of heightened tensions with the United States, but an Iranian spy ship that was thought to have been working closely with Yemen’s Houthis appears to have been sidelined after a US cyberattack.

Iran
Issue 1185 - 20 February 2024

US seizes former Iranian cargo plane

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A cargo aircraft that once belonged to Iran’s Mahan Air has been flown to Florida, two years after being impounded in Buenos Aires following a US court ruling.

Iran
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The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC)’s influence over Iranian politics and business has become an integral element of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s domination and the organisation may well provide a successor to the supreme leader. A new series of GSN profiles shows the extent that military and political leaders with an IRGC background occupy influential posts across the Islamic Republic.

Iran
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The impact of four-month-old Gaza conflict between Hamas and Israel is steadily spreading around the region, bringing fresh instability to Iraq where the US and Iran-backed militia are engaging in an escalating series of strikes and counter-strikes. While Qatar and Egypt continue to push on the diplomatic front, the risk of wider confrontation breaking out is rising.

Iran | Iraq | Qatar
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Despite international criticism of its nuclear power programme – which critics allege is a cover for developing atomic weapons – the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran is pushing ahead with plans to develop 20GW of nuclear generating capacity by 2041.

Iran
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Iran launched missiles and drones at targets in Iraq, Syria and Pakistan in mid-January, claiming it was striking back at terrorist groups and Israel-linked sites, in a tough approach that has been accompanied by a domestic clampdown on moderate politicians ahead of elections in March. This suggests the regime continues to feel vulnerable to opposition at home, while speculation builds around the eventual succession to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who is the subject of the first of a series of GSN profiles.

Iran
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Efforts to bring the Gaza conflict to an end continue, with little apparent prospect of short-term success. Arab states are pushing for Israel to end its bombardment but there is just as much focus on trying to ensure the war doesn’t escalate into a regional conflagration. A key challenge is the Houthis’ campaign against commercial shipping in the Red Sea, which Washington and allies are struggling to counter despite a major attack on targets in Yemen on 12 January.

Iran | Saudi Arabia | Bahrain | Yemen | Oman | United Arab Emirates (UAE) | Israel | Palestine
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Kerman blast: Around 100 people were killed and nearly 300 injured in two explosions at a cemetery in the southern city of Kerman on 3 January, at an event marking the fourth anniversary of IRGC Quds force leader Qasem Soleimani’s death in a United States drone strike.

Iran
Issue 1183 - 08 January 2024

Iran names new ambassador to Oman

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Iran has a new ambassador to Oman, one of the Islamic Republic’s most strategically – important neighbours.

Iran | Oman
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Tehran has released Spanish football fan Santiago Sanchez after 15 months in custody, but at least ten other Europeans are thought to be held in Iran, including Swedish national Johan Floderus. Critics accuse Tehran of using them as leverage to secure the release of Iranian officials convicted in Europe.

Iran
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Islamic Republic of Iran Armed Forces chief of staff Major General Mohammad Bagheri held a phone call with Saudi  defence minister Prince Khalid Bin Salman on 30 November, which Iranian media described as the first step towards developing bilateral defence ties.

Iran
Issue 1182 - 11 December 2023

Iranian Navy reinforces in the Caspian Sea

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The Islamic Republic of Iran Navy (Nedaja)’s newest vessel, the frigate Deylaman, officially joined its Caspian Sea fleet in late November. The ship is the seventh Moudge-class vessel, a design of light frigate based on the British-built Vosper Thorneycroft Mk5 Alvand.

Iran
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Saudi Arabia is leading a fresh effort from the Gulf to assert its regional influence in an attempt to bring the Gaza war to an end, there has been no indication that Israel would consider reducing the intensity of its relentless bombing campaign as it seeks vengeance for the brutal Hamas assault of 7 October.

Iran | Saudi Arabia | Jordan | Bahrain | Yemen | United Arab Emirates (UAE) | Israel | Palestine | Iraq