Khameini supporters outside the former U.S. embassy in Tehran, Iran, November 2019
Wana News Agency / Reuters

A year ago this week, the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump kicked off what it called a “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran. The United States had withdrawn from the Iran nuclear deal in May 2018. In November, it reimposed a raft of economic sanctions squeezing Iranian oil exports and curtailing the country’s access to the international financial system. Some analysts predicted that Iran’s friends in Europe and Asia would defy the United States to lend Iran economic help. Others reckoned that the sanctions would send Iran’s economy into a “death spiral,” leaving Tehran the choice to either surrender or collapse. Neither of these predictions came to pass.

Rather, Iran now enters its second year under maximum pressure strikingly confident in its economic stability and regional position. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and other hard-liners are therefore likely to continue on their current course: Iran will go on

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  • HENRY ROME is an Analyst at Eurasia Group, a global political risk research and consulting firm.
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