Iran. Most of the international sanctions against Iran
were lifted in January after the UN nuclear agency IAEA
confirmed that the country fulfilled its commitments under
the agreement reached in 2015 on the country's nuclear
program. The deal would diminish Iran's ability to acquire
nuclear weapons, something Tehran has always said it has no
plans for. Now the country was once again able to sell oil
on the world market and gained access to about $ 100 billion
which has been frozen in foreign accounts.
However, the United States retained some sanctions
related, among other things, to Iran's support for
terrorism, and introduced new ones after an Iranian robot
test in the fall of 2015. This resulted in complaints from
Tehran during the year that the promised benefits of the
agreement failed when potential trading partners did not
dare bet in Iran for fear of breaking US sanctions. Despite
the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reporting in October,
Iran's economy recovered rapidly and oil exports were almost
back to pre-sanctions levels. Then, however, the
presidential election in the United States raised concerns
when controversial winner Donald Trump said the nuclear deal
could be torn down.
Ahead of the parliamentary and Expert Assembly elections
in February, the Conservative Guardian Council rejected
several thousand openly reform-minded candidates who signed
up. It was criticized by, among others, President Hassan
Rohani and by Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, President 1989-97.
The criticism contributed to the re-evaluation of nearly
1,500 candidates a few weeks before the election and was now
countryaah, the election was a great success for reformists and
moderate candidates, while the Conservative camp suffered a
defeat. This was true in Parliament, in May, and in the
Expert Assembly, where reform-friendly candidates won a
majority of the 88 seats. The composition of the expert
assembly was particularly important as the members are
elected for eight years and have the task of appointing the
new highest leader in the country after Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who was 76 years old and sickly.
Rohani cited the election result as confirmation that his
policies that led to reduced international isolation for
Iran were successful.
At the beginning of the year, Iran ended up in a
diplomatic conflict with Sunni Muslims after a Shiite leader
was executed in Saudi Arabia. The execution led to
protesters in Tehran storming the Saudi embassy and setting
it on fire. Ayatolla Khamenei warned of divine revenge.
Saudi Arabia responded by breaking diplomatic relations, and
several Sunni Muslim countries, mainly on the Arabian
Peninsula, followed and broke or severed relations. The Arab
League condemned Iran in a special summons.
The conflict with the arch-rival Saudi Arabia also
intensified with the aftermath of the congestion disaster at
the annual pilgrimage, hajj, 2015. After the countries
failed to agree on arrangements for Iranian participation in
this year's pilgrimage, Iran decided on boycott. In
September, Khamenei called the Saudi royal house "vicious"
and questioned its role as administrator of Islam's holy
places of Mecca and Medina. The Saudi Grand Mufti countered
by claiming that Iranians are not real Muslims.
Saudi Arabia continued to fight on the government's side
in Yemen, while Iran continued to deny its support for the
Shiite Muslim rebels there. The United States claimed during
the year that several arms deliveries from Iran were halted
to the rebels.