Fahed Khitan

A New Iran?

تم نشره في Mon 29 February / Feb 2016. 12:00 AM

Official semi-final polls for the legislative elections in Iran show that reformist supporters of President Hasan Rouhani have achieved a great victory over the conservatives, which gives them —for the first time in years, a comforting majority in parliament.

The reformists’ win is but an interpolation of their diplomatic victory in the discourse of the nuclear agreement with the west; and an even wider allocation of trust and delegation by the people to Rouhani in order to follow through with normalising relationships with the west and extract Iran out of long-lasting isolation; as well as a reward for what he has done for the Iranian people in this regard.

Electoral results in Tehran indicate that the internal political and economic powers, comprised of the middle class, will not allow the conservatives to hinder plans to open up to the west and vitalise the Iranian economy that has been burdened by embargo for years.

As a result, the Iranians chose to reconcile with the world; which was obvious by the scale of support the nuclear agreement with the west harnessed, and was undoubtedly confirmed in these elections.

The conservatives have ruled Iran through fear and hostility to the outside word. More so, they were successful in aggregating majority support through their ideological and revolutionary tones and speeches; discourses that brought Iranians nothing but economic sanctions and evolutionary lag compared to civilised advancements worldwide. Reformists needed a decade to rectify the situation and redirect the Country towards globalism again.

Indeed, Rouhani stands as an inspiration to reformists after years of recurrent hindrances and failures. And the nuclear agreement was a major turning point in the historic path of Iranian politics from the era of the Islamic Revolution.

Soon, economy will drive change in Iran, and on all levels. But given the size and influence that Iran occupies and holds, change will not be overnight. The country will need some years for the transition to take Iran from the era of seclusion to the age of openness. Accordingly, the percussions of this change —regionally, will be slow and rather distant.

Consequentially, it is unlikely that Iran’s relations with neighbouring countries will get better soon after reformists won the elections. And it is also unexpected that Iran will let go of their interests in the region and disengage from the situations and crises of the area in the near future.

Iran will retain their main influence in Iraq, as well as their primary motoring agency in the Syrian crises. Iran will never forfeit Hizbollah, and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard will not risk stepping down in the Arab Gulf and Yemen.

It is however, certainly, an Iranian approach to the region will mature slowly. Reformists see their relationship with the Gulf in a different light from that of the Conservatives. Their scores in Syria are relatively different from those of the fundamentalists. And economic naturalisation with the west, with all the benefits entailed, will play magic on Iranian politics. The discourses of interests and utility will reign in the stead of ideology. Boards and panels advertising American products will replace “Death to America” banners. Market culture will steal the spotlight from slogans of revolution.

Arab states have to think and visualise a new Iran in a decade, and should take it into consideration when strategising and building their policies towards the region.

When reformists had the power to make decisions in Tehran, no Arab country lent a helping hand. Will we let yet another chance slip through just like that?

Iran is steadfast on the path of irreversible naturalisation and openness; Rouhani is not merely a passing president, but represents a new phase the world is welcoming with arms wide open. We are not yet in isolation from the rest of the world, unless we chose the same dark place Iran was.

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