November 25, 2013


Iran's future is now (Trita Parsi NOVEMBER 25, 2013, Reuters)

Will Iran be defined by the confrontational and bombastic approach of its former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the conservatives around him? Or will it be defined by the more open and moderate approach of its current President Hassan Rouhani and his energetic and respected Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif.

A lot is at stake. A comprehensive nuclear agreement that provides the Iranian economy with much-needed relief, retains enrichment on Iranian soil and upholds Iran's sense of dignity will significantly strengthen Rouhani's team and force the conservatives to lose even more political ground. Rouhani will have demonstrated to Iranians, for the first time in a long time, that moderation can pay off.

The crowd cheered as Zarif arrived at the Tehran airport after the negotiations in Geneva. The slogans they chanted revealed Iran's  new political winds.

They praised the leader of the Green Movement, Mir-Hossein Mousavi, as well as former moderate Presidents Mohammad Khatami and Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. The crowd also called for the release of all political prisoners, placing opponents of diplomacy in the same camp, "Kayhan [Iran's main conservative paper], Israel, we offer our condolences," they said. [...]

An Iran that is defined by the win-win paradigm of Zarif and guided by Rouhani's moderation could be a game-changer in the Middle East.

The domestic political situation may open and revive the Iranian civil society - long a key driver of political reform and democratization. This educated demographic had thrived under the Khatami presidency but been crushed by Ahmadinejad.

While there are still no signs of systemic change in Iran's human rights record, the public is pressing Rouhani to address this critical issue. The  pressure will likely increase now that the nuclear issue is being dealt with. The chants at the airport calling for the release of all political prisoners were a stark reminder.

Posted by at November 25, 2013 3:25 PM

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