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Crisis Group's Interactive Iran-U.S. Trigger List
Crisis Group's Interactive Iran-U.S. Trigger List

Crisis Group's Interactive Iran-U.S. Trigger List

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CrisisWatch Iran

Deteriorated Situation

Iran-U.S. tensions soared early Jan as U.S.’s killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani provoked Iran to strike U.S. military installations in Iraq, and in response to Iran’s further breach of nuclear deal, three European states triggered dispute resolution mechanism, which could potentially lead to deal’s collapse. In Iraq, U.S. drone strike at Baghdad airport 3 Jan killed Major General Soleimani, leader of Iran’s Quds Force, expeditionary wing of Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC); strike also killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, commander of Iran-backed Iraqi militia Kataib Hizbollah. Iranian missile strikes 7 Jan hit U.S. bases at Ain al-Assad and Erbil in Iraq but killed no personnel; Pentagon said 64 U.S. soldiers injured. Iran 5 Jan for fifth time breached Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) by announcing it would no longer observe deal’s limits on number of centrifuges Iran may operate. In response, UK, France and Germany 14 Jan activated deal’s dispute resolution mechanism, which could eventually result in restoration of pre-JCPOA EU and UN sanctions on Iran. U.S. 30 Jan extended by 60 days four waivers for Iran civil nuclear cooperation projects and sanctioned Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) and its head. U.S. 10 Jan imposed further sanctions on Iran’s heavy industries and blacklisted over two dozen firms and ships linked to its metals trade; U.S. 17 Jan imposed sanctions against IRGC general for human rights violations during violent suppression of Nov 2019 protests. Hundreds of thousands joined Soleimani’s funeral procession in provincial capital Kerman 8 Jan, stampede left 56 dead. Anti-govt protests re-erupted nationwide when IRGC, after initial attempts to cover up its involvement, 11 Jan admitted that it had unintentionally shot down Ukrainian airliner near capital Tehran 8 Jan, killing all 176 civilian passengers. Authorities 12 Jan used live ammunition to disperse protesters in Tehran. Guardian Council 12 Jan published initial list of approved candidates for 21 Feb parliamentary elections; council approved 5,000 of 14,000 would-be candidates.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

15 Jan 2020
The [Iranian] government sees itself under siege from all sides right now and is not going to allow any protest to snowball into a nationwide movement. Reuters

Ali Vaez

Project Director, Iran
12 Jan 2020
The game will return to Iran’s comfort zone: indirect attacks against the United States and its allies in ways that would allow plausible deniability and minimal risks of reprisal. New York Times

Ali Vaez

Project Director, Iran
9 Jan 2020
There is no way that... Rouhani would meet with [Trump] who ordered Soleimani’s assassination. And without the pageantry of a summit, Trump seems uninterested in dealing with Tehran. The Independent

Ali Vaez

Project Director, Iran
6 Jan 2020
The outpouring of grief for Qassim Suleimani is the country’s first act of retaliation. New York Times

Azadeh Moaveni

Project Director, Gender
4 Jan 2020
[The assassination of Iranian General Suleimani] is precisely the sort of deus ex machina the organization [ISIS] needed, to give it room to operate and to allow it to break out of its current marginality. New York Times

Sam Heller

Senior Analyst, Non-state Armed Groups
3 Jan 2020
Netanyahu fears this incident lacks a broader U.S. strategy and would either merely escalate dynamics without restraining Iran’s nuclear program and regional activities. Time

Ofer Zalzberg

Senior Analyst, Arab-Israeli Conflict

Latest Updates

Iran Sanctions under the Trump Administration

Since 1979, Iran has been subjected to a steady stream of sanctions. Under the Trump administration, their depth and breadth have dramatically increased in the U.S. campaign of "maximum pressure". This interactive infographic illustrates all the major unilateral U.S. sanctions imposed on Iran since 2017 by year, type and location.

Learning the Right Lessons from Protests in Iran

November’s protests show that the Islamic Republic is not as secure as it thinks. But neither, as their swift suppression demonstrates, is it as vulnerable as its foes hope. Iran should halt crackdowns and start serious reform, and Tehran and Washington should de-escalate tensions.

U.S. Maximum Pressure Meets Iranian Maximum Pressure

Eighteen months after Washington quit the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, Tehran is proceeding with staggered steps away from its own compliance. The deal is unravelling against the backdrop of high regional tensions. A de-escalation along the lines developed by France provides an off-ramp.

Video - The U.S. and Iran: Maximum Pressure, Maximum Peril

Crisis Group's hand-illustrated video draws out the story of rising tensions between Iran and the U.S. 

Iran Briefing Note #15

Iran Briefing Notes, of which this is the last of a series of 15 that began on 20 June 2019, highlight and provide context for major events featured on International Crisis Group’s Iran-U.S. Trigger List. This infographic resource tracks key flashpoints between Iran, the U.S. and their respective allies in the Middle East. 

Our People

Ali Vaez

Project Director, Iran

Naysan Rafati

Analyst, Iran