Iran part five, Iran as it is today
- Iran became an Islamic state in 1979 and spread its influence in the Middle East by supporting extremism conducive to its regional ambitions. In May 2018, the Trump administration withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal negotiated by six world powers and Iran. The rationale put forward by the US administration was that the deal had not been sufficiently implemented by Iran with regard to its nuclear program or addressed its missile program, which represents the biggest challenge. In addition to human rights violations and support for terrorism, the factor that contributed to this decision was also the extremist friendly relations between the administration Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Washington reimposed sanctions as part of its “maximum pressure” campaign to change Tehran’s behaviour. In January 2020, Iran recalculated its strategy after an American strike killed the commander of the Quds Force, Qassem Soleimani, who is considered the most prominent figure in conflict management in Iran’s strategies in Iraq and Syria.
- In 2021, the new US administration led by President Biden launched a new diplomatic initiative to bring both Tehran and Washington into full compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal. The indirect talks began in the last months of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s term and have continued under current President Ebrahim Raisi, He is a hardline cleric who took office in August 2021 but negotiations reached an impasse by the end of 2022.
- In September 2022, strong discontent with the clerics’ strict policies, continued economic deprivation and human rights abuses, erupted across Iran. The pretext was the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish girl who was detained for indecent dress. The demonstrations quickly developed into one of the largest in recent years, which explicitly called for the overthrow of the Supreme Leader and the end of the Islamic Republic. Similar protests were organized in support of the Iranian mass movement in various capitals of the Western world. Iranian security forces responded with fierce force towards suppressing these protests.
- On March 9, in a major diplomatic overture, Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed to restore relations and reopen embassies after seven years of severing relations. The agreement came after Chinese-brokered talks in Beijing. Riyadh severed ties with Tehran after Iranian protesters attacked the Saudi diplomatic mission in Iran in 2016 following the Saudi execution of Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr. The deal is likely to have wide implications for the Iran nuclear deal and the civil war in Yemen, where the two sides are locked in a proxy war. The deal finalized in China also reflects Saudi Arabia’s new tendency to conduct a foreign policy independent of the West. In fact, surprisingly, talks between Saudi Arabia and Iran regarding potential reconciliation have been going on for years, mainly in Iraq. The resumption of relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia bodes well for Muslim nations and could herald peace in troubled regions as both sides are engaged in proxy wars. However, the deal could have implications for US-led efforts to isolate Iran economically through sanctions. The deal will also cause anxiety among many Israeli politicians who have sought global isolation for their arch-rival, Iran