Panel 4E

The Politics of Iran in the Middle East: Domestic affairs and foreign policy

 9.00 – 11.00
Chair: Pejman Abdolmohammadi, London School of Economics – Middle East Centre

The Pro-System Factions in Iranian Politics

Pejman Abdolmohammadi, London School of Economics – Middle East Centre

In the newly-established Islamic Republic, after an initial phase characterised by a one-party system, there was the emergence of several pro-system groups, with slightly different political positions. Currently these factions are still competing for power and they can be divided into three main groups: the reformists, the pragmatists and the conservatives. These coalitions are heterogeneous and structured into several subgroups, with different leaders and political positions. Despite their differences, they can all be considered pro-system groups and they do not put into question neither the institutional framework of the Islamic Republic, nor the role of Shiite Islam as the guiding principle of State, laws and moral conduct. The Islamic Republic of Iran is peculiar hybrid regime. There is an interesting intre-elite conflict and political struggle within the system which is relevant and requires an in depth anaysis. This paper wants to examine the internal pro-system political factions highlighting their structures, main political goals, ideological affiliations and main foreing policy guidelines. I twill contribute to  have mapping on the Islamic Republic main domestic factions and their influence over the foreing policy.

Iran and the Global Economy: Political Challenges and Opportunities

Evaleila Pesaran, Cambridge University

It is believed by many – including IMF First Deputy Managing Director David Lipton, speaking on a visit to the Iranian Central Bank in May of last year – that deeper integration into the global economy, made possible by the nuclear deal, will be a panacea for Iran’s economic woes. Improved diplomatic ties will foster improved business ties, which in turn will improve the quality of life for the Iranian people. However, not only can it be argued that integration into the global economy does not necessarily and always solve the economic and social problems of a population, but also it remains unlikely that the Iranian economy will actually rebound to a significant extent in the short- to medium-term following the May 2017 presidential election. In this presentation, I will explore the challenges and opportunities facing Iranian policy makers following the presidential elections in both the United States (2016) and Iran (2017).

The Revolutionary Guards’ Business Role and Challenges to Iran’s Economy

Hesam Forozan, Durham University

The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC )is a multi-layered entity that has acquired a considerable presence in Iran’s economy. Despite IRGC’s significance for the post-sanction Iranian economy, this subject has not been sufficiently dealt with by the academic literature on Iran. This paper provides an insight into the evolving nature of the IRGC’s economic role and the consequences of this development for Iran’s political economy. By placing the IRGC in the context of an ongoing state- society relations in general, and civil-military relations in particular, this paper examines the interplay between IRGC’s role as a socio-economic and security player and the state’s capacity as an implementer of economic policies. Following this framework, this paper examines the IRGC’s steady growth and its economic expansion under Ahmadinejad’s presidency. The paper anticipates to do this by looking at the course of the IRGC’s engagement with elite factionalism and fragmented policies of the state, as well as examining the IRGC’s encounter with various social forces (through co-option and repression). Next, the paper discusses the recent implications of the IRGC’s economic power on the policy-making agenda of President Hassan Rouhani. It will be argued that the IRGC’s growth in Iran’s economy is the product of the state’s reliance on the IRGC’s security and socio-economic functions and the organisation’s burgeoning economic interests. These Interests have come to the fore in the course of the IRGC’s contact with the state’s constituencies and apparatus. This development, while providing the state with substantial presence in society, has paradoxically undermined its capacity to engender a meaningful agenda to deal with the structural economic challenges that Iran faces

Women’s Subjective Field in Post-Revolutionary Iran Influenced By the Dynamics of Islamisation and Globalised Capitalism

Nafiseh Taghavi, University of Salford

This article will discuss and investigate the various kinds of motivations and desires which make room for distinctive forms of subjectivities in Iranian women. The overall framework underpinning this article is the idea that women’s position in the Muslim world is best understood in the context of the opposing but interdependent forces of capitalist Globalisation (often referred to as modernisation) and Islamisation. An important task in this study is therefore finding out and categorization the desires, convictions and driving forces in women that lead to different levels of subordination or emancipation while avoiding the common dichotomies in studies of Muslim women ( traditional vs. modern, religious vs. secular). To do so, 20 women (10 women’s rights activists and 10 ordinary women) from different religious and political views, age range and social class in Iran were interviewed. The results of the analysis of the women’s subjective field, is built upon Jacques Ranciere’s views on emancipation and Alain Badiou’s analysis on subjectivities in the contemporary world structure. The study confirms the existence of three main subjectivities in Iranian women: Conservative Islamic subjectivity: a strong religious tendency along with one’s quest for power, Middle-class subjectivity: a desire to live according to western models in a way that the values, ideas, methods etc. that come from the West appear to be better, more reliable and more valuable, Emancipatory Subjectivity: the aspiration to look beyond the boundaries set by Islamism, Capitalism and nationalism and participation in procedures that lead to a higher equality for women.