Iran / by Alistair Galloway

Saudi Arabia’s mass execution of 47 people including Siite Cleric Sheikh Nimr Al-Nimr led to an attack on the Saudi embassy in Tehran and strained ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Two United States (US) Navy ships were detained for straying into Iranian waters but released the following day. On 16 January the European Union (EU) and the US lifted sanctions on Iran and the US and Iran conducted a prisoner swap the same day. President Rouhani took a trip to Europe to improve relations with Italy and France as well as to discuss trade and investment deals. Following the close of the nuclear deal the US imposed new sanctions on 11 companies and individuals who helped with Iran’s ballistic missile program. There was discussion of reintroducing direct flights between Europe and Iran with KLM and Airfrance. Mass disqualification of candidates for Iran’s upcoming Parliamentary election created outrage as the majority of Reformer candidates were disqualified. The lifting of sanctions on Iran is expected to lead to an influx of billions of dollars into the Iranian economy. Iran increased its oil output after the lifting of sanctions and it is unclear what lasting affect (if any) this change will have on the oil market. Chinese President Xi Jingping visited Iran to discuss increased trade. Rouhani made trade deals with Italy and France during his Europe trip, and bought 114 Airbus planes.