Elmira Jafari is a guest producer with CCTV America in Washington, D.C. She occasionally blogs opinions and observations about Iran and Iranian culture.
U.S. President Barack Obama is now one step closer to a major foreign policy victory, arguably one of his lasting legacies.
Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland became the crucial 34th vote Wednesday morning, pledging to support the Iran deal when it comes before Congress. With her support, Obama now has enough votes to uphold a veto of any congressional resolution disapproving the agreement.
Much has been discussed about the deal’s economic implications, but it’s also worth taking a deeper look at the social complexities.
The July 14th Iran nuclear deal with world powers was the light at the end of the tunnel for many. Among them, the business leaders and foreign investors who have been tapping their fingers impatiently to see a sanctions-free Iran open for business again with the West.
With sanctions lifted, Iran’s start-up tech companies will be able to work more freely using the international banking system. Iran’s automobile industry (its second largest industry after oil) is expected to rev up into full gear once again.
But business and politics aside, this deal (intentionally or not) has brought about major social achievements. An unprecedented unity has developed between Iranians and non-Iranians inside and outside of the country and the meaning of change has shifted for Iran’s younger generation.
Shortly after the deal was announced, thousands of Iranians took the streets of the country celebrating its promise of peace and hope, in a display of unity not witnessed for a very long time, a unity that was collecting dust for years under the oppression of sanctions and a cash-starved economy.
Iranian human rights and pro-democracy activists, including human rights lawyer and Noble Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi, came out to support the Iran deal and urge the rest of the world to do the same.
Prominent Iranian-Americans, including CEOs, artists and scientists wrote an open letter to the people of the United States asking them to embrace this unique opportunity for Americans and Iranians to connect. They asked for their support in making history. LINK: http://www.supportpeace.org/
Support Iran Deal is a global social media campaign that quickly grew to include hundreds of volunteers in more than 100 cities all over the world. Its mission: to promote peace and prevent another war in the Middle East. On August 15th, the movement staged its Global Day of Peace for Iran, with rallies by thousands of Iran deal supporters in cities across the world in Asia, Europe and North America.
“We want to see a bloodless change,” said Negar Mortazavi, one of the U.S.-based event organizers. During a recent phone conversation, she was enthusiastic and hopeful.
“We want to see stability in the country and change for a better future,” she said simply.
Amir believes the same. He is a 32-year-old working in Tehran’s real-estate industry who prefers not to disclose his last name.
“Yes, we want change,” Amir told me when we last talked by phone, “but we don’t want to die for it. We don’t want to see a drop of blood shed. We don’t want war. We want reform. We want our problems to be answered.”
The ideology and meaning of change has been shifting in the country and as a result, a gap between the younger and older generations about the approach to change is being generated. It’s a gap that many believe is rather positive.
“We now have learned how to confront our problems. It’s not by regime change, it’s by reform and democracy and I think President Rouhani’s administration is trying to do that,” Amir says.
For the past three decades, Iranians have been divided on how to answer the social and economic upheavals of the country. Many of those who left Iran have kept an auto-pilot mentality, fixated on long-held beliefs that most often involve regime change.
But there’s a different tone resonating from the reality on the ground today. According to Amir, only those who live in Iran can really tackle the country’s day-to-day troubles.
“I live here,” he told me, “I know what my problems are and I will try to solve them. I sometimes laugh at people who live outside of the country and try to suggest different solutions to me. I tell them you have not been back in 10 or 15 years. What do you know?”
One thing that both generations can agree on is hope for a better future. For many, reaching this nuclear deal is not about politics, but the people. For others, it’s seeing Iran rise to its economic potential and engaging again with the Western world.
What is true in any case is that Iran wants to lose its standing as a pariah state and reclaim its place alongside the world’s society of nations, and this deal has opened up that opportunity.