Nuclear Talks and Lack of Public Diplomacy
The editorial of Mardomsalari underscores the failure of Iran’s nuclear negotiating team in informing the Iranian people about the talks, thus losing public trust.
Iran’s response to the United States was not well received, just as the United States’ response did not make Iran happy. Iran and the United States are still negotiating indirectly, while opportunities for reviving the nuclear deal (JCPOA) are being lost.
The minimum losses incurred by Iran each day because of the delay in reviving the JCPOA is approximately $200 million due to not exporting oil. This revenue could be used in resolving the country’s financial issues, particularly in completing half-finished projects and allocating budgets to other fields like the issue of pensions. But these opportunities are missed because of holding indirect talks and not negotiating with the United States directly.
Meanwhile, Iranian officials are trying to convince people that the delay in reviving the JCPOA is to be blamed on the Western sides. But they have not been successful in this regard, because since the beginning of the talks, Iranian officials have not been properly informing people about the talks.
Furthermore, in the previous Iranian government, former Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his experienced team held talks with international media outlets, trying to defend Iran’s rights in the negotiations. But this government’s inexperienced team, headed by Ali Bagheri Kani, have decided to remain firmly silent, while moving the talks forward very slowly and not informing the public persuasively. It is as if people should not be informed about what is going on.
Obviously, it is not expected that all the details of the nuclear talks should be publicized, but the expectation is to have better public diplomacy in informing the people so that the negotiators can enjoy public support in the ongoing talks.
Necessity of Prioritizing Issues in the Country
The editorial of Arman Melli urges that the government must prioritize the issues that exist within the country, allocating the public budget to those problems that more urgently need to be addressed.
The recent remarks of Ebrahim Raisi in his press conference regarding improvements in the economy drew widespread reaction. What Raisi said was true and accurate and we do not doubt his remarks. But despite the correctness of the issues raised, there is this feeling that the path the country has taken will not lead to resolving all the issues.
That is because if the country’s current infrastructure is damaged, it will naturally become problematic in the future. There are many issues like building houses that are currently done by both the government and the private sector. But if people have jobs and safe living places, they will build their own houses and the government does not need to interfere in this field.
The president’s office recently announced that in Raisi’s numerous trips to different provinces, the first thing people demand is resolving the issue of water. Although the president has said that they have thought of some solutions for the shortage of water in the country, it is important to consider what solutions they have in mind. As far as we do not resolve the issue of agriculture, illegal wells and landslides in living places, we cannot think of addressing other issues.
So, this must be prioritized in the government’s agenda so that the country can get rid of this issue permanently. Priorities in Iran are not clear: the issues that the public budget must be allocated to are not clearly outlined.
It is good that the government is trying to solve the country’s problems, but they should first decide which tasks must be prioritized. So, officials must first decide which issues must be addressed immediately and then use all their powers to address them.
People’s Day-to-day Experience in Contrast With the Government’s Statistics
The editorial of Jahan Sanat stresses that claims made by Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and his economic team about improvements in the economic domain are far from the truth, as they do not correspond to people’s daily lives.
Daily life is always palpable for all citizens, as it is directly experienced by them. The role of daily life is so important that some analysts and sociologists refer to their own daily experiences as evidence and proof, instead of relying on official statistics and theories. Now, citizens’ daily lives are impacted by different economic decisions and policies. In other words, their lived experience holds an undeniable value for them.
For example, when officials and high-ranking economic managers talk of a decrease in the inflation rate and prices of essential goods, as well as citizens’ increasing ease in meeting their essential needs, people compare these claims with their own daily experience instead of just listening to officials’ remarks. Citizens first assess their own daily life, and if officials’ remarks do not correspond to their daily lives, they will surely not believe them.
Citizens will immediately react adversely to public officials’ claims about the increase in internet speed, the reduction in inflation, the government’s achievements in attracting foreign investment, selling oil without restrictions, the increase in exports, interaction with countries in Central Asia, the increase in exporting Iranian products to the Gulf countries, so on and so forth. It is as if the government’s official account of the country has no resemblance to the life people are living day by day.
Citizens will accept the claims made by officials and senior economic managers only if these claims are not in contrast with their daily lives. Otherwise, people will rightfully disagree with officials as exemplified by recent disagreements on social media over claims made by Ebrahim Raisi and his minister of economy.
Mr. Raisi, Takes Us Where You Live!
The editorial of Shargh asserts that what Ebrahim Raisi has said in a recent press conference is so far from reality that it seems that he is talking about a different country.
After a recent press conference by Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, there was this feeling that he lives in a parallel world – in a country which is totally different from the country the Iranian people live in. In Raisi’s Iran, the country is run in the best possible way and all records are broken one by one. But people live in a country where suffering is abundant and they are living miserably.
During the Soviet era, a security official was asked what was the cause of the failure in running the country based on the communist system. Before pointing to the economic conditions in the country or the long Cold War with the United States and other issues, he mentioned something else as the main factor: “seeing differently.” The Communist Party’s low-ranking officials, afraid of losing their positions in the party, did not report the facts on the ground to their superiors. The high-ranking officials also embellished the facts in their reports to their bosses because they too did not want to endanger their positions in the party. This cycle continued up to the highest ranks of the party, thus creating an unrealistic viewpoint regarding the conditions in the country. In the end, the Soviet regime collapsed.
As a matter of fact, it seems that Raisi is using unreal information in running the country, which is why what he says about a country is unfamiliar to the people who live in it. Even his advisers are using ideas taken out of previous presidents’ playbooks when they blame the shortcomings on the those who were in charge before them. It seems that Raisi has forgotten that he himself kept saying that “we should stop blaming the previous governments.”
Raisi must know that in the worst-case scenario, it seems that his managers are not informing him of the facts. Or a more optimistic scenario is that everything is alright in the country; it is rather the people who are living in a different country!
Mr. Raisi, you should either implement what you talked about in the press conference, or take people to the country where you say these things already exist!
75 Percent of Iranians Will Participate in Protests
A study on national security in Iran has pointed to an increase in discontent and protests in the country, warning Iranian officials that in case of an outbreak of widespread protests, three out of every four Iranians will take part in them.
The study, issued in the quarterly of the Supreme National Defense University, has examined the protests in 2017 and 2019, urging that with the continuation of the economic crisis and the increase in injustice in Iranian society, only 25 percent of people will remain inactive if there are protests and nearly 75 percent of people will take part in them.
People, according to this study, will show their increasing discontent through “riots, unrest, uprisings, and collective protests.”
The study underscores the high level of dissatisfaction about current conditions in the country, particularly about economic, political, social and cultural issues, and at least 76 percent of people experience injustice and inequality in different fields.
Iranian officials are warned by the study to alleviate the level of discontent and prevent widespread protests; they should start enacting political reforms and should increase social justice by providing decent living standards for citizens earning minimal incomes.
The study also advises the Iranian authorities to focus on current social issues and take immediate measures to decrease the adverse impacts of economic sanctions on essential goods, forex, and gold.
According to this study, the current developments in the social, political and economic spheres, particularly after 2015, underscore the fact that there has been an acceleration in the waves of protests which might have deep impacts on Iranian society in the 2020s.
In addition to two widespread protests in 2017 and 2018, this study points to extensive union protests in Iran, the growing spread of social networks among people, the unprecedent impact of the stock market, fluctuations in the price of the dollar, and the impact of coronavirus on people’s social and economic lives.
The study has warned the Iranian authorities that they should never ignore the danger of widespread, disorganized, unpredictable, violent rebellion in Iranian society.
300 Opponents of Compulsory Hijab Arrested
The spokesperson of the Headquarters for Promoting Virtue and Preventing Vice announced that Iranian security and intelligence forces have arrested more than 300 citizens who are against compulsory hijab as “ringleaders of fighting hijab.”
Ali Khan-Mohammadi praised the Intelligence Ministry for identifying “the groups that fight chastity and hijab,” alleging that the recent campaign of say “no to hijab” was “extensively planned by the enemy.”
This Iranian official claimed that “the enemy” is taking different measures like “fighting hijab” to “polarize society and create divisions among people.”
He further stated that one of the good measures taken was “identifying more than 300 ringleaders who were fighting against the hijab in different ways” and arresting all of them.
Meanwhile, the secretary to the Headquarters for Promoting Virtue and Preventing Vice recently acknowledged that the laws are insufficient in this regard, urging that the so-called “bad hijab women” are no longer considered as “criminals” but are “violators” and will have to pay cash fines.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi considered it the “legal duty” of the government and other executive bodies to enforce “the law of enjoining good and forbidding wrong.”
Prior to that, Ahmad Khatami, member of the Assembly of Experts, had warned against the return to the Pahlavi era, saying that they are after promoting the values of the previous regime including bad hijab, while Iran’s intelligence minister urged that “the enemy” is seeking to destroy values in society.
Some social network users have compared recent measures taken by the Iranian government regarding the hijab to the ISIS terrorist group that in 2014 took women as captives.
In recent months, while disagreement over compulsory hijab has increased, Iran’s law enforcement forces too have escalated pressures on opponents, brutally detaining them in the streets.
Lately, the campaign of say “no to hijab” was launched in which Iranian women and girls in different regions of the country took off their headscarves and walked in the streets without wearing the hijab.
Iranian Adviser to Nuclear Negotiating Team: Winter Is Approaching, EU Facing Crippling Energy Crisis!
As Iranian and American officials exchange remarks about a possible agreement over the nuclear deal, Ali Khamenei’s representative in Kayhan daily has demanded that Iran should exit the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and an Iranian lawmaker has said that in the draft of the agreement, the United States itself is said to be in charge of verifying the lifting of sanctions against Iran.
In recent days, US officials have considered Iran’s most recent response to the details of the agreement as a step back.
Meanwhile, Mohammad Marandi, adviser to the nuclear negotiating team, tweeted in response to the criticism against Iran that “Iran will be patient. The US under Obama systematically violated the deal and under Trump/Biden it imposed maximum pressure against innocent citizens. Hence, Iran won’t accept ambiguities or loopholes in the text. Winter is approaching and the EU is facing a crippling energy crisis”.
Iran appears to think that it can use the energy crisis in Europe in winter as a leverage in its nuclear talks with the Western countries, hoping to pressure them to give in to its demands.
According to reports, one of the final differences between Iran and the Western countries is Tehran’s demand for the IAEA to dop the investigation into suspicious particles discovered at Iranian nuclear sites.
Meanwhile, Hossein Shariatmadari, the Iranian supreme leader’s representative in Kayhan daily, implied that the Western countries are “blackmailing” Iran to bring the nuclear talks to fruition, and the only way for Iran is to exit the NPT.
In Ebrahim Raisi’s government, there have been no direct talks over the nuclear issue between Iran and the United States.
In this regard, former lawmaker Ali Motahari wrote in a tweet that Iran-US talks through the intermediary of Europe in the nuclear negotiations “has been taken as a joke by all.”
According to Motahari, not holding direct talks with the United States is merely to say that “we are after humiliating America, while our people are being humiliated under the pressure of livelihood issues.”
Intelligence Ministry: 12 Baha’is Arrested on Charges of Espionage in Mazandaran Province
In continuation of the escalation of pressure, oppression and confrontation by Iranian security forces with Baha’is in recent weeks and days, the Iranian Intelligence Ministry announced the arrest of 12 Baha’i citizens on charges of espionage in Mazandaran Province.
According to a statement issued by Mazandaran’s intelligence office, “12 members of a Zionist Baha’i formation have been identified and arrested in different cities of this province.”
The statement reads that two individuals from the “ringleaders of this espionage formation have been trained in a Zionist organization called the House of Justice located in the occupied lands [Israel]” and had created “espionage cells” all over the province of Mazandaran with other members of the formation.
The Universal House of Justice is the nine-member supreme ruling body of the Baha’i faith, which makes major decisions about this faith.
While there are about 300,000 Baha’is living in Iran, Iranian authorities do not recognize the Baha’i faith. They have recurrently called these citizens “spies and enemies” and in more than four decades, they have issued numerous sentences to execute, arrest, imprison, deprive them of education and doing business, while in the meantime they have routinely destroyed their houses and cemeteries.
In recent days, human rights organizations and activists have reported on the arrest of Baha’is in the cities of Sari and Ghaemshahr in Mazandaran by security forces. According to these reports, security forces have searched the houses of a number of Baha’is and confiscated their belongings including their cellphones and religious books, taking all of them into custody for interrogation.
In 1991, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei signed a policy document, calling for “blocking” the path of progress of the Baha’i community including banning them from going to university.
In 2006, the Ministry of Science and Research, in a letter to 81 Iranian universities, called for preventing Baha’is from entering university and expelling them if identified.
According to human rights media outlets, at least 52 Baha’i students were deprived of university education for their faith in 2022.