IRAN: President Rouhani’s Public ‘Charm Offensive’

ELODIE INTROIA WRITES –  Whether or not the Movement succeeded, it looks like the climate is finally turning green in Iran. According to Thomas Erdbrink of The New York Times, the phone call between President Obama and Hassan Rouhani established the first official diplomatic relation between the US and Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

While it is too soon to say that Iran is coming out of its 34 year hermetic cocoon, there is now hope. Maybe it’s for his “charm offensive,” but the US intelligence seems to be a fan of the Persian State’s new lead figure. The love affair is known to have started back in 1986, when under President Reagan the Security Council staff met with Rouhani to negotiate the release of American hostages. The moderate Rouhani was said to be “one of us.” Almost 30 years later, the US seems to have a lot vested in taking this relationship to the next level.

The humane side of Hassan Rouhani has also surfaced. Last week, he released 11 political prisoners including Nasrin Sotoudeh, a lawyer and human rights activist, who was sentenced to 11 years in prison. Rumor has it, that upon his visit to the United Nations, Rouhani did not want to have to face a drilling interrogation about the many political detainees his country has accumulated over the years of oppression. On the other hand, it also indicates that he is a more rational leader than his predecessor. And he knows what needs to be done to settle the mood to undergo further diplomatic relations.

As far as Israel is concerned though, the hatchet is not quite buried yet! The Israeli government warns us that this may just be diplomatic schmoozing. In Iran the centrifuge is still spinning, and Netanyahu fears that this “offensive” may be part of a more diabolic plan “to move ahead with the nuclear program”.

For the first time in over 30 years, Iran has a leader that the US can see itself negotiating with and establishing diplomatic ties. This may positively impact Iranians that have for years been suffering from harsh economic sanctions. So far, Rouhani has proven to be a more centrist leader than his predecessor, and truly committed to his people. But from a political standpoint, it appears that he is able to navigate the diplomatic sphere and — worst case scenario — may simply be doing what needs to be done to achieve a nuclear enrichment program.

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