Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Nuclear Deal has Emboldened Iranian Hardliners — and that Shouldn't be a Surprise

The Iran nuclear deal, the optimism went, could help open up the country to the West. It could soften the influence of hardliners in the country. And it could start to open Iran's doors to outside businesses, including from the US.
But in the months since the nuclear deal was signed in July, that optimism seems to be unfounded — and experts say that was predictable.
Reports that Iran has become more aggressive in its anti-Western rhetoric and policies have raised questions about why the deal appears to have had little effect on moderating hardliners and improving US-Iranian relations.
"Death to America" remains the favored slogan of Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei — who accepted the terms of the deal only conditionally and continues to deny it will lead to any rapprochement with the US — and of anti-America billboards popping up around Tehran.
Journalists, activists, and prominent Iranian-Americans continue to be arrested at an alarming rate. Iranian security forces boast of the developments being made to the country's defense program — one month after testing a new precision-guided ballistic missile capable of striking Israel.
“This is the beginning of Rouhani’s end," Mehdi Khalaji, an Iran expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told The Wall Street Journal on Thursday of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. "What we’ll now see, inside and outside the country, is an Iran that will pursue a more adversarial policy while the nice, smiling face of Iran is going to fade."
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