Iran's Political, Demographic, and Economic Vulnerabilities

Iran's Political, Demographic, and Economic Vulnerabilities


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Iran's Political, Demographic, and Economic Vulnerabilities by Keith Crane, Rollie Lal, Jeffrey Martini

Iran is one of the most important U.S. foreign policy concerns but is extraordinarily difficult to engage. The authors assess current political, ethnic, demographic, and economic trends and vulnerabilities in Iran, then offer recommendations on U.S. policies that might foster the trends beneficial to U.S. interests. However, if these trends do take root in Iran, seeing them come to fruition will take time and, therefore, patience.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780833043047
Publisher: Rand Publishing
Publication date: 09/15/2008
Pages: 158
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Keith Crane (PhD, Economics, Indiana University) is a senior economist at RAND. Areas of expertise include Economics of Transition and Economic Forecasting, Transportation Economics, and Defense Economics.

Rollie Lal (PhD, International Relations, School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University) is an associate political scientist at RAND. Areas of expertise include East Asia and the Pacific, India and Pakistan.

Table of Contents

Preface     iii
Figures     ix
Tables     xi
Summary     xiii
Acknowledgments     xxiii
Glossary     xxv
Introduction     1
The Problem     1
Purpose     2
Organization     3
Research Approach     4
Domestic Politics     7
The Historical and Religious Basis of Iran's Political System     7
Major Political Actors     10
The Supreme Leader     10
Assembly of Experts     11
Guardian Council     11
Expediency Council     12
The Judiciary     12
The President     12
Majlis     13
Military     13
The Supreme National Security Council     14
Informal Decisionmaking     15
Bonyads: Influential Power Brokers     16
Security Interests     18
Iranian Factions     20
Other Political Actors     25
Against Velayat-e-Faqih     25
Clerics     25
Mojahedin-e-Khalq     26
Religious Intellectuals     28
Iranian PoliticalParticipation and the Public     29
Politics and Legitimacy in Iran     32
The Political Outlook     34
The Challenge of Ethnicity and Identity Politics     37
The Ethnic and Religious Composition of Iran     38
Past Iranian Ethnic Policies     41
Present Challenges     51
Irredentism and Ethnonationalism     51
Iran's Minorities and Political Reform     54
Foreign Intervention and Iranian Nationalism     56
Demographic Change     59
Population and Rate of Growth     59
Urbanization     62
Economic Development and Vulnerabilities     67
Energy and the Iranian Economy     67
Reserves and Output of Oil and Natural Gas     67
The Role of Energy in Gross Domestic Product, Exports, and the Budget     72
Nuclear Power     78
Key Economic Actors and Their Interests     79
State-Owned Companies     79
The Bonyads     81
The Private Sector: Bazaaris, Industrialists, and Small Business     82
Economic Growth     83
Economic Policies     86
Policies on Trade, Exchange Rates, Foreign Debt, and Foreign Direct Investment      86
Tax, Regulatory, and Subsidy Policies     88
Monetary, Fiscal, and Financial-Sector Policies     91
Economic Policy Under Ahmadinejad     93
Economic Policy Vulnerabilities     95
The Iranian Labor Market     95
Supply     95
Demand     98
Unemployment     99
Poverty, Incomes, and Income Distribution     100
Prospects     101
The Outlook for Energy and Implications for the Iranian Economy     101
The Outlook for Growth in the Rest of the Economy     102
Iranian Vulnerabilities and Implications for U.S. Policies     105
Vulnerabilities     105
Likely Domestic Consequences of U.S. Military Actions Against Iran     107
Attacking Iranian Nuclear Installations     107
U.S. Military Responses to Iranian Involvement in Iraq     108
Blockade of Iranian Oil Exports     109
U.S. Policy Options for Influencing Iran     110
Policies for Engaging with Iranian Society     112
Policies for Weakening the Iranian Government's Ability to Clamp Down     114
Policies for Penalizing the Iranian Government or Its Officials for Pursuing Policies that Harm the United States     118
Concluding Remarks      120
References     121

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