Iraq's Top Cleric Joins Game of Thrones

◢ Ostensibly, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s visit to Iraq was meant to deepen economic ties between the two neighbors, historically divided by political and sectarian enmities as much as they are connected by geography. Only one Iraqi leader could have kept Rouhani at arm’s length: Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, But he didn’t. The audience he gave the Iranian president says as much about Sistani’s own political adventurism as it does about Iraq’s subservience to Iran.

Facing a Damaging Ban, Iran’s Crypto Community Seeks Policy Breakthrough

◢ A new draft framework put forward by the Central Bank of Iran proposes a ban on the use of global cryptocurrencies for payments within the country, disappointing members of Iran’s burgeoning “crypto” community. The central bank has given the community one month to offer feedback on the proposed rules and now members are hard at work trying to reach a consensus to solve a thorny problem of monetary policy.

The United States and Iran are in a Quantum War

◢ It took just under an hour for staff at Israel’s Government Press Office to delete a tweet that suggested that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had finally decided to wage war on Iran. The conflict Iran faces today is neither a hot war nor a cold war. It is a quantum war—a superimposition of two states of conflict. Put another way, depending on when you observe the facts, Iran is both at war and it is not.

Iran's Government Falling into a Debt Trap of Its Own Making

◢ President Rouhani’s budget proposal for the upcoming Iranian year will see the government run a deficit amounting to about 10 percent of GDP or 60 percent of the state’s general budget, excluding oil revenues and withdrawals from the National Development Fund. Rather than increase tax collection to ease budget gaps, the Rouhani administration plans to tap Iran’s nascent debt markets to cover its public spending requirements.

Poll Shows Iranian Attitudes Towards Europe Becoming More Negative

◢ A new survey conducted by research firm IranPoll offers the first insights into Iranian public sentiment following the reimposition of US secondary sanctions on Iran. The new wave of polling helps confirm recent reporting from Iran that support for the JCPOA has fallen, with just 51 percent of respondents approving of the deal down from 55 percent in January 2018. For European policymakers, the new polling should offer a stark warning it must refocus its political and economic efforts to save the nuclear deal.

Trading With Iran Via the Special Purpose Vehicle: How It Can Work

◢ Following weeks of speculation, France, the United Kingdom, and Germany (the E3) have formally registered a special purpose vehicle (SPV) to help facilitate trade with Iran – trade that the return of US sanctions has significantly hampered. Companies in Europe and Iran are eager to know if the system can be of practical use. The assessment below lays out INSTEX’s likely structure.

As Sanctions Impede Business, Where Next for Iran-Italy Relations?

◢ Despite strong relations, President Trump’s withdrawal from the JCPOA and his reimposition of economic sanctions has introduced significant challenges for Italian enterprises active in Iran. As with other European companies, Italian firms are unwilling to jeopardize their presence in the US market for the sake of opportunities in Iran. Yet, Italy and Europe have every interest to see that Iran continues to be an important trading partner and a supplier of energy.

Why The Iran Nuclear Deal Still Matters for Europe

◢ The JCPOA continues to hang together—but only just. There are growing indications of signatory states’ fatigue and frustration in attempting to prevent the collapse of the JCPOA, following the US withdrawal from it last May. In this climate, it is important for the deal’s stakeholders to remember why it remains valuable

The Economic War Iran Faces is Bigger Than it Thinks

◢ On the third anniversary of the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and the fortieth anniversary of the Islamic Republic, the era of hope ushered in by the election of Hassan Rouhani and the implementation of the nuclear deal seems a lifetime ago. Iran remains in compliance with the agreement, but begrudgingly. Europe looks impotent in the face of U.S. sanctions. But Iran’s economic war isn't just a fight against sanctions. Iran is the frontline of an intensifying economic war between the US, Europe, China, and Russia.

Iran Oil Exports: 8 Waivers and the OPEC Meeting

◢ Iran’s oil exports are likely to remain limited in 2019, with significant negative impact on Iran’s economy. Last month, the Trump administration reimposed sanctions on Iran’s energy sector as part of its ‘maximum pressure’ campaign against. But it nevertheless sought to prevent an unhelpful spike in oil prices ahead of the midterm elections. As a result the United States issued eight waivers to importers of Iranian oil:.

Iran Budget Under Scrutiny As Oil Revenues Fall

◢ Next week, President Hassan Rouhani will submit a budget proposal for the forthcoming Persian year (covering March 2019-2020). Currently, the Rouhani administration has few options as it seeks to avoid a budget deficit. Yet the political tradeoffs required when devising a budget under sanctions may prove more difficult to manage than the economic challenges.

Californian Farmers Waged 'War' on Iranian Pistachios and Won

◢ A forthcoming documentary by journalist Yasha Levine and filmmaker Roman Wernham explores the fiercely political and highly lucrative world of pistachio farming in California. Their reporting focuses on Stewart and Lynda Resnick, a billionaire couple who stumbled into pistachio farming fifty years ago as a safe haven from high inflation and taxes, only to become power-brokers on issues ranging from Californian water supplies to US sanctions on Iran.

For Iranian Passengers, Old Planes and Few Parts Make Air Travel 5.5 More Times Deadly

◢ Statistically speaking, air travel in Iran is still safe. This is in large part due to the efforts of Iranian pilots and maintenance crews to keep aircraft operable despite limited resources. But even if the overall risk of an accident remains statistically low, the risk still far exceeds expected levels. Looking to an “exposure based” measure, flying in Iran is on average 5.5 times more deadly than flying in the rest of the world.