Monday, November 28, 2011

RAND Forecasting the Future of Iran
Political Issues
• President Ahmadinejad will remain influential in Iran and will see only a slight reduction in power prior until his second Presidential term ends naturally in 2013.
• Iran’s next Supreme Leader is likely to be only slightly more moderate than Supreme Leader Khamenei. Ayatollahs Rafsanjani and Shahroudi are currently the stongest candidates, with Shahroudi being favored over Rafsanjani.
• The current system of velayat‐e faqih appears stable, and further conservative shifts in the system as seen in the aftermath of the 2009 presidential election are unlikely.

Economic and Civil Society Issues
• There is substantial pressure for economic reform in Iran, which has only been partially met by the reforms introduced in January 2011 (which occurred after data collection for this study ended).
• The IRGC’s influence appears unlikely to grow significantly in the next few years, and may even diminish.
• The influence of Iran’s bonyads will likely hold constant or grow slightly in the coming years.
• Recent setbacks experienced by the women’s movement in Iran are likely to be short‐lived and completely reversed within the next few years.

Foreign Policy and National Security Issues
• US‐Iran relations will continue to remain primarily informal and halting.
• Iran will not submit to full IAEA compliance, but is unlikely to restart its nuclear weapons program unless there are significant changes to Iran’s internal calculus.
• Iran will develop a strategic relationship with Iraq that will not be destabilizing to or compromise the new Iraq government. Domestic and international pressure will prevent the nations from developing the closer alliance sought by Iran’s leaders.
• In Afghanistan, Iran’s relations will be less influential than in Iraq, and will be focused on stability and economic opportunities.
• Iran’s relations towards Israel are unlikely to change. Iran will continue its calculated rhetoric, antagonizing Israel and supporting the Palestinians while avoiding direct confrontation.

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