A conversation with Mr. Zimmt Raz
GG students have had a huge opportunity to enrich their knowledge about Middle East affairs, in particular the domestic and external challenges of Iran. The discussion has been so inspiring because the guest touched three main issues linked to the country: domestic challenges, the relationship between United States of America and the Arab world in the Middle East.
He is a research at the institute for National Security Studies (INSS) specializing in Iran. He has a master’s degree and a PHD in Middle Eastern History from Tel-Aviv University. He is the editor of “spotlight on Iran” published by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center. His main fields of interests are linked to politics, foreign relations, society & social media of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
In order to analyse the internal situation of a country it is better to start from the domestic part and then study the international field. The economy of Iran is getting faster and there is a huge inter-generational gap between the young part of the population and the older one. The starting point can be considered the unemployment rate that is different according to the age of workers: the general rate is between 12-13%, among 15-19 years old it is 20 or 30% and finally it is over 40% for the university graduate students; one out of two students does not possess an employment.
In addition to that, it is important to underline the fact that Iranian society is a young one, but in 30 years, there will be too many pensionaries. In the country have also occurred lot of protests for women rights to have at least the basic freedom of male individuals (Girls of Enghelab Street against the compulsory hijab in Iran, inspired by Vida Movahed).
Other domestic challenges involve the era of globalization in the Middle East and the role of clerics in Iran who represent the most influential social class of the country; the corruption is a key factor of their powers. As an example of their power, a member of the government needs to be nominated by the “Sayyid” Supreme Leader, currently Ali Khamenei. Thanks to the role of Mr. Rouhani, the current and seventh President of Iran since 3rd August 2013, the gap between population and regime has become part of common knowledge for inhabitants. In the recent years, a western penetration has occurred in Iran (Mash Donalds, Parsi-Cola”). The economic policy of Hassan Rouhani focuses on the long-term economic development of the country, it deals with an increase in the purchasing the power of the public, economic growth; thanks to a flourishing economy, a reduction in the social gap should be possible to achieve. He is regenerating the Management and Planning Organization of Iran with an optimal distribution of subsidies, control of liquidity and inflation.
On the international field, there is an interest discussion linked with the nuclear deal between Iran and United States. Trump’s decision concerned the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), an important diplomatic achievement of Mr. Barack Obama’s mandate, was controversial and opposed by France, Germany and UK. Mr. Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal and for this reason, these days are arising lots of tensions between Tehran and Washington. Trump stated that “It is clear to me that we cannot prevent an Iranian nuclear bomb under the decaying and rotten structure of the current agreement. The Iran deal is defective at its core. If we do nothing we know exactly what will happen.” He wants to negotiate a new deal with Tehran. Iran has accused the US of waging “economic war” and rejected proposals for the current President unless he could go back on JCPOA’s steps. Arab world is so weak and Iran has been able to convert threats into opportunities and not the contrary. Civil war in Syria and ISIS are two examples of this ability, turning them into occasions to increase the influence in the region has been a smart action and it will influence the middle east for the next twenty years.
After the end of the conversation, the guest received some smart questions from GG students concerning sanctions and Obama’s behaviour towards the nuclear deal in the past.
“Sanctions affect only poor people. This difficult situation won’t change and it will change our world, as we see it today.”
Sanctions are important and they have a relevant role in the economic environment. They can be effective and not only related to poor people. Sanctions can work being effective when the objective is limited. In the example of nuclear deal between US and Iran, the declared goal of United States changed and, as a consequence, Iran changed as well. Iran wants to discuss a lot of topics and need to do that. Both resistance and maximum pressure strategies are facing a deadlock. The key words for this international issue are: realism and be objective.
Regarding Obama’s plans for the future of the country and his job on the international field, people are divided and have controversial arguments, opinions for his job at the White House. What did go wrong in the past years concerning nuclear issue?
Iran is not ready to give up its nuclear ambitions. In Iranian perspective, US has violated the deal and its response went beyond the expectations an aggressive policy in the gulf against America.