Complex political currents in Iran

What is going on these days in Iran?

It is difficult, from outside the country, to gain a clear picture of the relative positions of various groups inside and outside of the the establishment and the government which are contending for influence and power.

For an excellent description of the general situation, see

Borzou Daragahi and Ramin Mostaghim, “Iran is far from united behind Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Los Angeles Times, September 23, 2010.

The article contains an intriguing reference to Khamenei’s health, noting, “Khamenei, 71, who has tried to halt the squabbling factions from public disagreements, apparently has health problems and will eventually pass away.”

Recent developments include the imposition of U.N. sanctions, and additional unilateral sanctions imposed by the U.S. the Eurpean Union, and other countries. The aggressive implementation of the sanctions is beginning to seriously inconvenience Iran. For example, recent reports indicate Iran is having difficulty refueling its civilian airliners on trips to Europe.

The response of Iran’s neighbors to Iran’s nuclear ambitions is reflected in a new $60 billion arms deal between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia.

There are reports that Iran may be ready to resume negotiations with the Group of Five Plus One (the U.S., the U.K., France, China, Russia, and Germany) over resolution of the uranium enrichment issue and other proliferation concerns.

Iran recently attended a conference in Rome on the future of Aghanistan, with U.S. approval, and is also exercising influence over negotiations and political developments in Iraq related to attempts by Prime Minister Maiki to form a new government, some seven months after the elections for a new parliament were held.

It is a complicated mosaic, and one which requires our continued and close attention.

The Trenchant Observer

Comments are invited.

About the Author

James Rowles
"The Trenchant Observer" is edited and published by James Rowles (aka "The Observer"), an author and international lawyer who has taught International Law, Human Rights, and Comparative Law at major U.S. universities, including Harvard, Brandeis, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Kansas. Dr. Rowles is a former staff attorney at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States OAS), in Wasington, D.C., , where he was in charge of Brazil, Haiti, Mexico and the United States, and also worked on complaints from and reports on other countries including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. As an international development expert, he has worked on Rule of Law, Human Rights, and Judicial Reform in a number of countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and the Russian Federation. In the private sector, Dr. Rowles has worked as an international attorney for a leading national law firm and major global companies, on joint ventures and other matters in a number of countries in Europe (including Russia and the Ukraine), throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and in Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Japan. The Trenchant Observer blog provides an unfiltered international perspective for news and opinion on current events, in their historical context, drawing on a daily review of leading German, French, Spanish and English newspapers as well as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and other American newspapers, and on sources in other countries relevant to issues being analyzed. Dr. Rowles speaks fluent English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, and also knows other languages. He holds an S.J.D. or Doctor of Juridical Science in International Law from Harvard University, and a Doctor of Law (J.D.) and a Master of the Science of Law (J.S.M.=LL.M.), from Stanford University. As an undergraduate, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree, also from Stanford, where he graduated “With Great Distinction” (summa cum laude) and received the James Birdsall Weter Prize for the best Senior Honors Thesis in History. In addition to having taught as a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, Dr. Rowles has been a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University's Center for International Affairs (CFIA). His fellowships include a Stanford Postdoctoral Fellowship in Law and Development, the Rómulo Gallegos Fellowship in International Human Rights awarded by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and a Harvard MacArthur Fellowship in International Peace and Security. Beyond his articles in The Trenchant Observer, he is the author of two books and numerous scholarly articles on subjects of international and comparative law. Currently he is working on a manuscript drawing on some the best articles that have appeared in the blog.