Iran, diplomacy celebrates a return to normality

Grazie alla diplomazia, la vita continua a scorrere tranquilla a Teheran. E ora l’Iran è pronto a unirsi nella lotta contro lo Stato Islamico.

On 4 November 1979 a group of Iranian students stormed the United States’ embassy in the country’s capital, Tehran. It was a reaction to Washington’s decision of granting political asylum to the Shah Reza Pahlevi, who fled the country after the Islamic Revolution stemmed from a referendum held in March 1979. The revolution, led by the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, made Iran (a monarchy until then) an Islamic republic.

A historic change that led the US to revise its strategy in the Middle East, having lost its historical alley of the Arab region – primarily for oil imports. Washington then started to find ad hoc alleys to oppose Islamisation – thus, loss of control – of the region. As happened for Cuba, each American electoral campaign of the past 30 years had Iran among its targets.


The democracy that the US didn’t like

During the eight-year war with Iraq (1980-1988), the United States supported and financed the regime of Saddam Hussein and, alongside the European Union, the United Nations decision of imposing economic and commercial sanctions to stop the alleged nuclear plan carried out by President Mahmud Ahmadinejad (in power from 2005 to 2013). An episode that went down in history was the letter he sent to George W. Bush in 2006, in order to try to avoid the strictest sanctions that brought Iran’s economy on its knees. In the letter, the “tyrant”Ahmadinejad asked to the “despot” Bush: “Why is it that any technological and scientific achievement reached in the Middle East region is translated into and portrayed as a threat to the Zionist regime?”, i.e. to Israel.


Daily life in Iran

However, this chronicle clashes with another side of Iran, a reality of a country that, in fact and in the pictures published, is and has been more democratic than imagined, more than other actors of the region, such as Saudi Arabia. Iran is no longer governed by Ahmadinejad, and this is because the country held free elections that led to a more moderate president. The current president, Rouhani, contributed to lead the country out of sanctions – as announced on 17 January by the EU Foreign Policy Chief, Federica Mogherini – and to get back on track.  The revived Iran can be a crucial actor of the region again and contribute to combat the Islamic State’s terrorism. Iran is an example of extraordinary success for international diplomacy, often criticised for its Biblical times, whose result are immeasurable in terms of lives and money saved, compared to what would have happened if the country had used weapons to achieve the same objective.

So, hurrah for democracy and diplomacy, two institutions that are undergoing brutal direct and indirect attacks but that succeeded in knocking down years of injustice, violence (physical or moral) and arrogance. Welcome back, Iran.

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