If media reports and diplomatic overtures are any indication, the nuclear deal finalized this summer was to have ushered in a new era of rapprochement, cooperation (on everything from business to tourism to the fight against ISIS), and even friendship between Iran and the West, and particularly the US.
And yet, there are several persistent indications that despite the various business opportunities and the new visa on arrival scheme, there is still a wide chasm between Iran and its new friends. And not just in terms of ideology – although there is no need to explain how vastly Iran’s trigger-happy judicial system (which does not spare even juvenile offenders, eliciting continuous international concern) differs from that of its democratic counterparts.
But there are other indications that the enmity between Iran and the Western world is far from over – and what’s more, that Iran still sees the nuclear deal’s signatories, and especially the US, as its enemies. One of these is the recent arrest and imprisonment of an Iranian-American businessman in Tehran (reported on The Daily Beast under the heading “Another One”), along with the continued captivity of Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian and other US citizens. Another is the anti-US rhetoric of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, which continues to set the tone for US-Iranian relations characterized by mutual suspicion. All these (and more) have clued major media outlets in on the fact that the Iranian standoff with the West is far from over, and that there is “trouble ahead” – to cite Christian Science Monitor, that “instead of a new era of budding US-Iran cooperation, a retrenchment is under way in Tehran that favors hard-line suspicions.”
As if that weren’t enough, leading think tanks such as the Washington Institute for Near East Policy have also begun to warn that the nuclear deal was not signed among new allies or friends, but rather “among enemies” – because despite its “moderate” face, to cite analyst Mehdi Khalaji, the Iranian regime’s “anti-Western regional policy” is now “much more important to its identity than Islamic ideology.” In other words, it is through opposing the West (particularly in the Middle East) in ideology, policy and practice that the regime in Tehran, which Khalaji defines as “rational” but “undoubtedly unreasonable,” is able to define and perpetuate itself – nuclear deal notwithstanding.