ASG Analysis: Implications of COVID-19 for Iran and Region   [open pdf - 0B]

From the Key Takeaways: "[1] Iran faces an escalating public health crisis as the number of COVID-19 [coronavirus disease] cases continues to grow, senior government officials fall ill, and hospitals struggle to cope. After initially downplaying the extent of the outbreak, the Iranian government has taken increasingly aggressive steps to control the spread of the virus, but the outbreak does not appear to be slowing down. [2] The COVID-19 outbreak comes at a moment of economic and political uncertainty for Iran. [...] [3] In this context of economic and political instability, the outbreak presents a daunting test for Iranian leadership. Coupled with the collapse of global oil prices, the outbreak will likely deepen Iran's economic crisis, erode confidence in the government, and--especially in the event that the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei falls ill with the virus--threaten the regime's grip on power. [4] The worsening outbreak inside Iran also poses risks for regional geopolitics and stability. Faced with an increasingly grim economic and political outlook, the regime may have an incentive to take a more aggressive posture regionally--including potentially accelerating its pursuit of a nuclear weapon--which would raise the risk of confrontation with the U.S. [5] At the end of this piece, we explore three near-term scenarios for the impact of Iran's COVID-19 outbreak both on Iran and the region at large."

Albright Stonebridge Group
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