February 6 2014
photo by Reuters/Ruben Sprich
This commentary appeared on Lobe Log on February 6, 2014.
Hassan Rouhani's June 2013 election to Iran's presidency raised the hopes of millions of Iranians suffering from the calamitous policies of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Rouhani has accordingly done much to fan the flames of optimism in Iran. He has promised to decrease Iran's isolation, improve its economy, and make the country a happier place for its people. His Feb. 5 television interview, billed as a live “discussion” with the Iranian people, was meant to showcase his government's accomplishments in front of the nation. The broadcast was initially blocked by the head of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), but eventually aired after a puzzling delay.
Rouhani mentioned the delay four times during his interview, stating bitterly that he would not discuss the reasons for it. The interview demonstrated a fundamental reality: Rouhani, while so far effective in Iran's nuclear negotiations, has an uphill battle at home. While the Iranian conservative establishment is likely to support his nuclear policy for now, it is unlikely to concede him the full economic and political agenda he seeks. Not without a fight, anyhow.