Monday, July 1, 2013

Iran Needs a Shift in Strategy

The latest Pew Global poll shows Iran is one of the least respected nations in the world. With few exceptions, international publics, including Iran’s neighbors, believe the nation is a pariah state. The vast majority of people in 31 nations surveyed said:
  • They have generally unfavorable views of Iran – 59%
  • They believe government doesn’t respect its citizens’ freedoms – 61%
  • They oppose Tehran’s nuclear ambition
Although President-elect Hassan Rouhani, deemed a moderate, may reflect little more than a public relations shift given the structured choices Iranian citizens have in their presidential field and the final authority of the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the country is greatly in need of a leader who can overhaul its image.

The image is a product of not only the intransigence of the religious and other leadership to engage in serious nuclear negotiations, but to the country’s association with terrorist activities and the near comedic diplomatic strategy of former President Ahmadinejad with his confrontational speeches and overtures to leaders, like Hugo Chavez.

The belligerent and ineffectual foreign policy is responsible for an economy strangled with sanctions. Even the limited campaigning allowed, which included two debates, highlighted the general dissatisfaction with the state of affairs. Improving relations with the world, ending sanctions, controlling inflation and getting the economy moving were repeated by most of the candidates.

The election result appears to confirm a substantial body of opinion in favor of a lighter touch. If Rouhani represents a real change, can he get some room to operate?

See The Buzz: Lead from rear – lose control

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