This week, as we look ahead to Rouhani’s inauguration this Sunday, many have tried to lay out the challenges that face the new president and will shape his agenda. In the Atlantic, Robin Wright argued that while he faces plenty of fires to put out, the top priority is the economy, which is “an almost existential challenge.” Similarly, in Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Golnaz Esfandiari interviewed several experts to lay out the challenges that will be facing the new president, who will undoubtedly have only a short honeymoon before he must deliver. Looking at the new president from a different perspective, the BBC today published a video report examining the new president’s time studying at Glasgow Caledonian University, including interesting images of Rouhani receiving his doctorate in Scotland.
It’s also a time to look back on the eight years of the Ahmadinejad presidency. Scott Peterson of the Christian Science Monitor has taken a look at the “downward spiral” that marked his two terms and, as he notes, prompted MP Ahmad Tavakoli to say with derision, “Ahmadinejad is the third millennium’s wonder and will never be repeated.” In the Financial Times, Monavar Khalaj looked at what’s next for Ahmadinejad as he leaves office far less popular than when he took it, citing his announced plans to found a university as well as a desire among some Iranians to see him stand trial.
On the ever-present nuclear issue, there was another piece, this time in Reuters, by William Luers, Jessica Tuchman Mathews, and Thomas Pickering, continuing their analyses of the prospects for nuclear diplomacy and arguing that there has been an implicit green-light given to Rouhani to negotiate by the Supreme Leader, but that pitfalls remain. In the New York Times, Former French ambassador to Iran François Nicoullaud recounted his experiences, which he said indicated that Rouhani had played a major role in preventing weaponization of the Iranian nuclear program. Of particular interest to the francophones in the audience, Académie de Géopolitique de Paris publisheda new issue of its journal Géostratigiques devoted to examining the efficacy of sanctions in countering proliferation, with a focus on Iran. Among other pieces,Iran economy expert Thierry Coville examined and questioned the legal basis for the complete list of European sanctions against Iran.
Following up on an issue we’ve covered in this space before, the Los Angeles Times ran a piece by Ramin Mostaghim and Alexandra Sandels examining the controversial closure of the independent House of Cinema and efforts to revive the film organization. And finally, staying with the arts but stepping away from politics, Columbia professor Hamid Dabashi published a fascinating look at the role of language and translation in great works of philosophy in Iran, the Middle East, and the world in the New York Times.
Iranian security forces are beginning to close the space for both activism and analytical inquiry.
The most relevant aspect of OPEC now is where it has reached beyond its organisation, which is Russia, and whether that can be sustained or formalised.
Everything old is new again. The George W. Bush administration tried something very similar under the rubric of the "GCC-plus-two," the two being Egypt and Jordan...these kinds of efforts to coalesce the broader Middle East around the common threat of Iran ultimately do not succeed, mostly because of the divergent interests and threat perceptions of each government, as well as the historical frictions between major Arab states, such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar.