November 4, 2014 marks the 35th anniversary of the Hostage Crisis in Iran, a crisis with far reaching consequences for Iran when a group of revolutionary students climbed the walls of the American Embassy to express their objection to the United States granting a medical visa to the Shah of Iran. Instead of a short revolutionary takeover, the Iranian government of Ayatollah Khomeini endorsed the action, surprising the students who had initiated the takeover. This made the takeover into a political occupation that lasted 444 days. Iran lost a lot, its assets were frozen in the U.S., Saddam Hussein saw an opportunity in September 1980 to invade Iran and start an eight war war that cost hundred of thousands of deaths, and since November 1979, Iran has not been able to shake its negative public image.
But as this Special Report by the Economist points out, “after decades of messianic fervour, Iran is becoming a more mature and modern country.” The Rouhani government is determined to end the pariah status of the Islamic Republic because he knows the young Iranian society today is anything but revolutionary today. They want their country to join the international community, stop internal repression of student movements and journalists, and eliminate the painful sanctions that continue to hurt the middle class and the poor.
As Iran and the West move toward signing a historical nuclear agreement that will lead to lifting of some sanctions on Iran, Western companies like Apple are already negotiating with Iran for a slice of Iran’s consumer market. “According to people familiar with the matter, senior Apple executives are courting prospective Iranian distributors at the company’s headquarters in London, paving the way for an official reseller network in the Middle East country, reports The Wall Street Journal.“
The declining oil prices is having a huge impact on Iranian economy and Rouhani’s government’s attempt to get sanctions lifted. According this this report, “the decline in crude prices and a looming Nov. 24 deadline for a nuclear accord with the U.S. and other world powers are raising pressure on Rouhani, elected last year on a platform to end Iran’s isolation and revive the economy. Brent fell today as much as 32 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $86.80 a barrel and traded at $86.90 at 7:04 a.m. on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange.”
Any first time visitor to Tehran will notice how much the city has been changed not only in physical / environmental sense, but the increasing divide one sees between the rich and poor classes of Iranians. As Behrouz Mina poignantly brings to our attention in his perceptive article Rich Kids of the Revolution, one does not need the Instagram of Rich Kids of Tehran to remind residents how “conspicuous consumption and over the top luxury have become hallmarks of Iranian society in the fourth decade of the Islamic Revolution, a revolution that started by promising justice and free bread for all….“The class divide in Iran is a direct result of state monopolies,” Javad, a professor at Tehran University, tells IranWire. He believes that contrary to popular belief, the roots of a phenomenon like Tehran Rich Kids is found in the feverish day of the revolution. “Nationalizing the Iranian economy in the early days of the revolution had no other result other than creating numerous economic monopolies for the revolutionaries and their dependents.”
As expected, Iranian officials have reacted to the news about the Instagram account of “Rich Kids of Tehran,” blocking it inside Iran. But as it has been demonstrated repeatedly, this will not be a final solution. Young Iranians have an incredible ability to bypass internet control in Iran.
“If the positive trajectory of the relationship that followed Rouhani’s replacement last year of the Holocaust-denying Mahmoud Ahmadinejad continues, some of the credit will go to a soft-spoken former US ambassador to Czechoslovakia and Venezuela, William Luers.”
The latest U.S. intelligence report for Iraq points to an interesting geopolitical development between Iran and the United States in Iraq. According to reports, “the elite Iranian forces backing Shia militias have been ordered not to attack the Americans.” One official familiar with the situation in Iraq told reporters that “They [ Iranians ] are not going after Americans…They want the nuclear talks to succeed and an incident between our guys and their guys would not be good for those talks.” Iranian special forces were on the ground fighting ISIS before the United States and its allies launched their bombing campaign. Iran cannot afford to see Iraq fall to ISIS terrorists. Intervening in Iraq was not a choice, but a necessity for Iran.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has not shied away from taking on the hardliners in Iran. In the latest factional fight, his minister of Communications firmly rejected the Judiciary’s demand that the government close down mobile messaging services of WhatsApp, Viber and Tango. “Our technical studies indicate that the number of social networks such as WhatsApp, Viber and Tango is so numerous that shutting them down is not the solution,” said Communications Minister Mahmoud Vaezi. Earlier, Hassan Rouhani received a tweet from Twitter’s co-founder, Jack Dorsey, that “he will work to make sure Iranians have access to information globally in what appears to be a reference to reducing online censorship.”