Middle East Report
No. 277 (Winter 2015)
IRAN’S MANY DEALS
In the wake of the historic bargain over Iran’s nuclear research program, coverage of the Islamic Republic has focused on geopolitics—chiefly, its relation to other regional conflicts. But the stakes of the agreement in Iranian domestic politics are also very high, as sanctions are lifted and Iran is reintegrated into the global economy. The winter issue of Middle East Report looks at the multiple socio-political negotiations underway in the Islamic Republic today.
As Arang Keshavarzian argues, the leadership of the Islamic Republic saw in the nuclear pact a chance to forge a new social contract aimed at securing the compliance of the citizenry. He offers some clues as to which classes might be elevated, and which whittled down, as sanctions disappear and Iran opens up its economy to the world.
Over the last two decades, contends Kevan Harris, the elusive middle class has replaced the downtrodden masses as the protagonist in the dominant narratives of the Islamic Republic. With all the promise of “normal” politics for many Iranians, others will be rendered invisible in the new order. Rasmus Christian Elling and Khodadad Rezakhani gloss the idioms and metaphors used in Tehrani Persian to situate others in hierarchies of social status.
Fatemeh Sadeghi visits a Mashhad neighborhood home to “the barefoot” of the 1979 revolution and finds a persistent struggle for recognition by the state and the rest of society. Mohammad Maljoo draws the lessons for Iranian workers of the 2010-2012 strike wave at the Mahshahr petrochemical complex. Among Iran’s 3 million Afghan refugees, writes Zuzanna Olszewska, there are also great aspirations to upward mobility and great frustrations when those hopes run into various legal and political obstacles.
Also featured: Dan Connell continues his series on Eritrean refugees; Ali Nehmé Hamdan traces the reasons for the fragmentation of the Syrian opposition to the regime of Bashar al-Asad; Ziad Abu-Rish assesses the achievements of the protest movement prompted by the piles of uncollected garbage in Lebanon; and more.
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Middle East Report is published by the Middle East Research and Information Project (MERIP), a progressive, independent organization based in Washington, DC. Since 1971 MERIP has provided critical analysis of the Middle East, focusing on political economy, popular struggles, and the implications of US and international policy for the region.