Iran is a country of many contradictions. You have have heard that before. Unrelated men and women aren't allowed to mingle freely, yet they find a way to do so. Women are required to cover their hair, but many cover it in a way that becomes a fashion statement. There are many others. Here's another contradiction: Iranian officials — including the President Hassan Rouhani and foreign minister Javad Zarif — are frequent users of social media. Yet Iranian citizens are officially banned from signing up.
In a room in which journalists were outnumbered by security agents and paramilitary fighters, the tall Iranian commander stood and issued his judgment. “Our ideology will not be undermined by some negotiations,” Mohammad Reza Naqdi, the hard-line head of the paramilitary Basij force, told the selected group of reporters in a gathering days before Iran signed an interim nuclear agreement with the United States and other world powers.
The interim deal concluded on November 24th between six world powers and Iran is much better than its many critics allow. In return for six months of “limited, temporary…and reversible” relief from some international sanctions, Iran has said it will not just freeze its progress towards a possible nuclear bomb, but actually take a few steps back. This, too, is limited, temporary and reversible; nothing is being decommissioned, and six months is a short time.
One hundred days into his first term as Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani offered an upbeat progress report to the country Tuesday, two days after a nuclear deal with world powers gave his young administration a much-needed boost. “We pride ourselves on being accountable to our people,” Rouhani said at the start of a live television question-and-answer session in which he outlined his administration’s handling of Iran’s domestic and foreign affairs since taking power in August.
Back in June, Iran’s presidential elections had a surprise winner: reformer Hassan Rouhani. Western-educated, Rouhani took to Twitter to express his more favorable views of the U.S. He even suggested he was open to a new approach on the nuclear issue. Rouhani’s attitude (and his openness about it on public forums like Twitter) eased US-Iran relations.
There were high expectations after President Obama and Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, talked on the phone in late September. Those hoping for a diplomatic resolution to the nuclear standoff were excited that a breakthrough was imminent; meanwhile, some American allies, like Israel and Saudi Arabia, expressed deep skepticism over a potential American rapprochement with Iran.
On Monday, over 10,000 Iranians protested outside the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. World News reports the disruption occurred due to the anniversary of the 1979 seizure of the building, which permanently severed ties with the country and the U.S. Fifty-two hostages were taken captive in Iranian hostage crisis that lasted 444 days.
Soft on the outside, hard on the inside. That may be the best way to describe the often startling contrast between Iran's current foreign and domestic policies. Since taking office in August, President Hassan Rohani has won widespread praise for showing greater flexibility in nuclear talks with the international community.