Saturday, 16 November, 2019

Is Iran on its way off the ‘Axis of Evil’ list?

By: Ned Resnikoff

Is Iran on its way off the ‘Axis of Evil’ list? By all accounts, the nation’s relationship with the United States – long strained by the Iranian nuclear weapons program, not to mention the legacy of America’s support for the brutal Iranian dictator Muhammad Reza Shah Pahlavi – are beginning to thaw. A change of leadership in both nations may have something to do with it: President Obama has signaled his openness to negotiating with the Iranian regime, and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has toned down the anti-American rhetoric of former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Cementing the impression of a new day in U.S.-Iranian relations, presidents Obama and Rouhani spoke directly over the phone to one another just last year. It was a small gesture, but a meaningful one: It was the first time that the president of Iran and the president of the United States have had a direct conversation since the 1979 revolution that toppled the Shah.

Although the Islamic Republic of Iran is a quasi-theocracy with limited civil or political rights, it has never exactly been a monolithic evil empire. President Rouhani was democratically elected, though the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khameni, was not. And then there’s the powerful Revolutionary Guard Corps: Although the IRGC mostly stands behind the Supreme Leader, it’s not a monolith, and the top brass has its own complicated interests and motives.

But Iran, like any country, is first and foremost a land of civilians. Every day, millions of people within the country’s borders clean their households, take care of their children, go to work, watch television, do the groceries, and perform the countless other mundane and extraordinary tasks which make up a life. That side of the country – unique in the particulars, but otherwise universal – is not one that Americans usually get to see.


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