What to Read on Iran This Week: Diplomacy, Tourism, and Cinema

Mehrun Etebari
Mehrun Etebari Senior Research Assistant

July 19, 2013

The question of American policy toward the Iranian nuclear program generated several interesting pieces this week.  In the National Interest, Paul Pillar urged a fact-based approach, examining the “Wheel of Alarm” spun by those who hype the threat posed by Tehran.  Meanwhile, William Luers, Thomas R. Pickering, and Jim Walsh continue their recent work on the issue in a piece in the New York Review of Books that argues that the election of Hassan Rouhani and continued instability in Syria that threatens Iranian interests make the time right to strike a deal.  In the Christian Science Monitor, Ali Vaez of International Crisis Group also urges new initiative by Washington to reach a diplomatic agreement in the wake of Rouhani’s victory, while Geoff Dyer tells Obama not to miss a historic opportunity in the Financial Times.  In the National Interest, Geoffrey Kemp and John Allen Gay argue that even if an agreement is unreachable, going to war with Iran would be immensely costly with no guarantee of stopping Iran’s nuclear program.

Jason Rezaian of the Washington Post takes us to Kish Island, the tourist resort off the southern coast of Iran in the Persian Gulf, to examine the prospects – championed by Rouhani – of revitalizing Iran’s tourism industry.  It comes with a companion slideshow providing a glimpse of the island’s attractions built before and after the Islamic Revolution.

The controversies inherent in Iranian cinema were also on full display this week. The Guardian posted a video interview with noted Iranian director Mohsen Makhmalbaf, a vocal supporter of the Green Movement (and prior to that, an anti-Shah activist in revolutionary Iran), about the reactions to his recent visit to Israel for the Jerusalem Film Festival, where he screened his most recent film.  Meanwhile, advocacy group Arseh Sevom lamented the shutdown of the building that housed Iran’s independent House of Cinema organization, a move that has drawn protests from established directors like Oscar-winner Asghar Farhadi.