March 24, 2015

THE ECONOMY MATTERS, NUKES DON'T:

Iran's Hard-Liners Show Restraint on Nuclear Talks With U.S. (THOMAS ERDBRINK, MARCH 23, 2015, NY Times)

[A]s the United States and Iran prepare to restart nuclear talks this week, the hard-liners have been keeping a low profile.

"They have been remarkably quiet," said Nader Karimi Joni, a former member of the Revolutionary Guards and the Basij, a volunteer paramilitary group.

Their silence is a result of state policies intended by Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to seriously try to find a solution through negotiations. Ayatollah Khamenei has largely supported the nuclear talks and the Iranian negotiators, whom he has called "good and caring people, who work for the country."

The restraint by the hard-liners also reflects a general satisfaction, analysts say, with the direction of the talks and the successes Iran is enjoying, extending and deepening its influence in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen.

Billboards in Tehran once depicting United States negotiators as commandos and devils have been replaced by slogans supporting the international outreach of the government of President Hassan Rouhani, a moderate who won office promising to complete the nuclear deal and end crippling economic sanctions.

Two weeks ago, the Committee to Protect Iranian Interests, the main group opposing the talks, was again out on the streets, but this time protesting the government's economic policies.

"We are having in-house debates over our strategies," said the group's spokesman, Alireza Mataji, refusing to explain why he and his supporters were no longer publicly opposing a deal.

Those debates are more likely a simple buckling under to orders from above, Mr. Joni said. "Those critical of a deal have been told to keep quiet, to prevent giving the other side the option to blame Iran," said Mr. Joni, who is now a journalist.

Posted by at March 24, 2015 3:55 PM
  

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