July 14, 2015


On streets of Tehran, Iranians celebrate a long-sought opening to the world (Scott Peterson, Staff writer JULY 14, 2015, CS Monitor)

The celebrations provided a snapshot of relief and high expectations, and of a population that voted for President Hassan Rouhani, who pledged to create a "government of hope" after eight years of hard-line rule under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that was marred by mass street protests in 2009.

In Vanak Square, watched by alert policemen, the crowd also chanted in favor of Mr. Rouhani fulfilling another election promise: to lift the house arrest of two former presidential candidates who led those Green Movement protests. [...]
"It's a really big day because it gives us hope for the future, which is something we have been losing a lot," says Amir Tehrani, a young English teacher, adding that all his students planned to hit the streets.

"But I'm not sure; it will take time. The financial pressure the last four or five years was so high," says Mr. Tehrani. "This [nuclear deal] is the thing I really counted on, to make pressure lighter, at least."

Diplomats in Vienna spoke of a "historic" nuclear deal that would strictly contain Iran's nuclear program in exchange for lifting sanctions, and savored the results of more than three years of intensive negotiations that have forestalled the chance of war.

But for many Iranians glued to their television sets - at home, in shops, and in electronics stores selling big screens - the result was a collective sigh of relief.

"The button has been pressed, we are beginning anew," said Narjes Sedaghatfar, a math teacher who voted for Rouhani but has kept expectations in check until now. Sanctions have meant as much as a 30 to 40 percent drop in the quality of life for many Iranians, she reckons, because of high prices. [...]

[U]ntil this deal proved that both Iran and the US ­- and the five other world powers negotiating with Iran - could overcome mutual mistrust, at least on the nuclear file, many were reluctant to count on change.

"We are very happy about it, and I hope the US Congress agrees with this agreement, and we have closer US-Iran relations," says Mohsen, an older physician wearing short sleeves and a plaid tie - an uncommon pro-West statement in the Islamic Republic - while riding the bus home from his ears, nose, and throat practice.

"We are wishing for better relations with the US for many years, but unfortunately hard-liners did not let it happen," says Mohsen, a dual-citizen Iranian-American who trained in Rochester, Minn., and gave only his first name.

"It depends mostly on the extremists and [supreme leader] Ayatollah Ali Khamenei," he says. "If he agrees on this matter, as he did in the nuclear talks, everything would be much better. Most Iranians would love to visit the US."

Posted by at July 14, 2015 5:36 PM

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