January 17, 2016

FROM A TRICKLE TO A STREAM:

Deciphering Iran's Prisoner Swap and Broader Communication (HALEH ESFANDIARI, 1/17/16, WSJ)

The release of the Americans could not have happened without participation of Iranian intelligence officials, who have long held that dual nationals and Iranian intellectuals and activists are acting on behalf of the U.S. government as part of an effort to destabilize the regime in Tehran. It's too early to tell how deep a shift in thinking this represents.

The prisoner exchange appears to be another sign that President Hassan Rouhani's more moderate approach to foreign policy is meeting with some success. Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, publicly barred negotiations with the U.S. on any topic but the nuclear issue. Clearly, however, he is willing to give Mr. Rouhani some room to maneuver in foreign relations. The challenge for Mr. Rouhani now is to secure the supreme leader's backing for more moderate policies at home, particularly the release of the many writers, artists, female activists, and intellectuals unfairly festering in Iranian prisons.

Posted by at January 17, 2016 11:18 AM

  

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