With the holidays just around the corner, the countdown to 2015 has already commenced, and news outlets have already begun to look back on the nuclear developments of 2014 and sum up a year of, well, extensions, extensions and yet more extensions (and a few high-profile arrests and executions to boot, though these didn’t get much of a mention).
First of the crop was Al Jazeera, which highlighted “progress and setbacks” in its rather prosaic report on Iran’s year in review. Between IAEA inspections, sanctions relief and deferred deadlines, culminating in the second failure to strike a nuclear deal on November 24, we did our best to contain our suspense as Al Jazeera described the stumbling blocks still remaining between Iran and the P5+1 – as well as between Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and his hardline opponents. The conclusion? The gaps “remain significantly wide,” and things aren’t getting any easier for Rouhani back home.
Bloomberg’s overview, on the other hand, focused on the financial side of things, pointing out that the five-year rally in Iranian stocks has come to an end as “optimism fades that Rouhani can resolve an international standoff over the Islamic republic’s nuclear program” – with the lack of rapprochement and continued extensions taking their toll on the market after months of reports that it was heating up.
Meanwhile, a forecast on Energy Voice suggested that major oil-producing economies, Iran among them, would face “uncertainty,” and possibly “serious financial challenges,” in 2015 as oil prices continue to plunge, a reality Tehran has blamed on a “political conspiracy.”
So with the utopian expectations of a flourishing “post-sanctions” Iranian market slowly dissipating, and with foreign investors no longer clamouring for a share of a predicted Iranian “gold rush” with as much urgency, what will 2015 look like for Iran, which seems to have its rials in all the “right” places, as the negotiations drag on?