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Overview: Iran Analysis Weekly Report May 22, 2016

22 May, 2016

Vistar Business Monitor

Iranian Parliament passed legislation calling upon the Rouhani administration to seek compensation from the U.S. “for its hostile actions against Iran.”

Lawmakers approved a bill requiring the government to claim compensation from the U.S. for actions such as its involvement in the 1953 coup against Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh. The legislation was proposed in response to the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling permitting victims of terrorist attacks attributed to Iran to collect $2 billion in Iranian frozen assets. The Guardian Council must still approve the legislation before it becomes law.

Members of the reformist-moderate “List of Hope” faction elected senior reformist politician Mohammad Reza Aref as their head in the upcoming Parliament. This faction will be mostly composed of lawmakers who were endorsed by the reformist-moderate “List of Hope” in the parliamentary elections. A majority of independents are also reportedly “leaning” toward joining the Hope parliamentary faction, however, which likely will be the largest faction in parliament.

Incoming parliamentarian Mohammad Reza Aref confirmed that he will run for parliament speaker against current speaker Ali Larijani. Aref told reporters that he will “certainly” run for parliament speaker. Aref also urged parliamentarians who were endorsed by the list to join the faction in Parliament. Although candidates who ran under the List of Hope won a plurality of seats in the elections, it is still unclear how many lawmakers will join the faction. During the Hope faction’s first meeting, only 105 parliamentarians were present, far below the estimates that between 120 and 160 parliamentarians would join the faction. Aref dismissed concerns that this figure was somehow indicative of the faction’s weakness, stating, “One should not judge the strength of this faction on the first day.” Meanwhile, a reported 131 parliamentarians attended the first meeting of the rival principlist coalition.

The Guardian Council annulled votes in an electoral district in the southern province of Hormozgan due to unspecified “violations.” The Guardian Council also announced that there will be a “review” of the results in Ahar, East Azerbaijan province and a recount of votes in Tabriz, also in East Azerbaijan province. A Guardian Council member stated that the results of the review in Ahar will be announced before the first session of the new Parliament on May 27, but he added that Tabriz’s votes may not be recounted in time due to “the number of voting boxes.” The Guardian Council, a largely unelected 12-member body constitutionally charged with overseeing Iran’s elections, must confirm the results of the April 29 runoff parliamentary elections in each district before they are official. It is rare for the Guardian Council to refuse to confirm election results, particularly by annulling them.

Expediency Discernment Council Chairman Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani claimed that he is not “currently” planning on running in the internal election on May 24 to chair the Assembly of Experts. Rafsanjani had previously chaired the Assembly of Experts, and it is widely speculated that he will run in the upcoming election. Combatant Clergy Association member Hojjat ol Eslam Hossein Ebrahimi claimed that the race for the Assembly of Experts chairmanship will therefore be between Interim Tehran Friday Prayer Leader Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Movahedi Kermani and Guardian Council member Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi. The current Assembly of Experts chairman, Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, was not re-elected to the Assembly.

On the economic note, Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) David Lipton met with Central Bank of Iran (CBI) Governor Valiollah Seif on May 16 in Tehran. Lipton highlighted opportunities for the IMF to assist Iran with fighting money-laundering and curbing the routes of financial assistance for terrorism. Lipton was once a former special assistant to US President Barack Obama.

David Lipton emphasized that Iran needs to fix its own banking system if it wants to attract foreign investments. Iran must implement macroeconomic and structural reforms and combat money laundering and terrorist-financing if it is to reintegrate into the global economy, the International Monetary Fund said.

The Guardian Council approved amendments to the budget for the Iranian calendar year 1395 (March 20, 2016 - March 20, 2017). The Guardian Council had previously returned the budget to the Parliament twice with objections.

The Statistical Center of Iran announced that Iran’s non-oil economy grew by only 0.9 percent and total real GDP grew by 1 percent during the last Persian year (March 2015-March 2016). The Statistical Center added that the country’s industrial growth during the past Persian year declined by 2.2 percent. Iran’s non-oil economy had grown by nearly 2.8 percent during the previous Persian year.

On the international relations note, the Iranian foreign minister once again met with his American counterpart last week, a phenomenon that would have been strange a few years ago. The meeting was held on the sidelines of a Syria summit in Vienna. The two ministers discussed how to effectively implement the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, with a focus on banking problems the Iranian side has been facing.

Table of Contents
News Highlights   
   Politics and International Affairs   
   Trade and Agreements   
Economic Affairs   
   The Rocky Road for Iranian Start-Ups   
   What Major Problem Is the Economy Facing Now?   
     Reasons behind High Inflation in the Past Four Decades   
     Iran’s Economy: A Welfare State or a Workfare State?   
   This Year’s Budget Law Is Not Expected to Stimulate Demand   
   Term-Deposit Rate Ceiling May be Decreased to 15%   
   Macro-economic Data   
   Oil and Gas   
     Weekly Review   
     Iran Is Gradually Getting Back Its Oil Market Share   
Domestic Affairs   
   Iran’s Guardian Council Expands Its Authority Arbitrarily   
   Key Political and Economic Calendar   
International Affairs   
   U.S. – Iran Negotiations over Sensitive Issues   
   Primary U.S. Sanctions Puzzling the Nuclear Deal with Iran   
   Iranian Lawmakers Move to Approving a Lawsuit against the U.S. in The Hague   
Laws, Regulations and Policy Updates   
Financial Markets   
   Tehran Stock Exchange   
   Foreign Exchange Market

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