My research on education and nationalism suggests that threats by Iran’s leadership to resume enrichment are not the actions of a totalitarian state lumbering toward war but instead reflect the demands of an Iranian public determined to assert their country’s sovereign rights, even at the cost of supporting an otherwise unpopular government.
The unintended consequences of the U.S. pulling out of the JCPOA
In a major speech delivered to the Heritage Foundation last month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo closed the door on the JCPOA, with a list of 12 conditions for lifting sanctions. All were nonstarters for an Iranian government whose legitimacy is inextricably tied to defiance of the “imperial west” and defense of Iranian sovereignty.
Securing the nuclear deal was an important milestone for Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Elected in large part as a corrective to the chaos of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s presidency, Rouhani consolidated a domestic coalition organized around normalizing, even secularizing, Iran’s political scene and restoring its international standing. The U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA has only strengthened the hand of Rouhani’s hard-line rivals, anti-democratic actors who happen to agree with the American president that the agreement was “the worst deal ever.” For them, conflict with the United States and Europe presents a welcome opportunity to renew the country’s revolutionary spirit, lately lacking.
Their revival is matched by growing evidence that Trump’s actions have worsened the attitudes of ordinary Iranians toward the United States. April polling recorded an upsurge of public support for retaliation in response to U.S. violations of the JCPOA, a sentiment that most likely has increased after the U.S. withdrawal. Pushed against the wall, Iranians across the ideological spectrum appear to be rallying around their flag, if not the banner of political Islam.
Iran Briefing | News Press Focus on Human Rights Violation by IRGC, Iran Human Rights
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