The Rouhani presidency has brought in significant changes to the Iranian political landscape, not the least of which include the on-going negotiations with the P5+1 over Iran’s nuclear program and a concerted effort to end Iran’s international and diplomatic isolation. In his efforts, Rouhani has been able to construct an unprecedented domestic consensus among the key stakeholders within the Iranian body politic, namely the Supreme Leader, the military high command, the parliament, and the conservative media. But significant hurdles remain, both domestically and internationally. Domestically, Rouhani’s popularity is being tested by shortcomings in the prices of oil and the administration’s inability to move forward with many infrastructural projects that had been anticipated. Also, the security forces have turned their attention inwards, often enforcing conservative dress codes and other restrictions on the urban middle classes, therefore undermining Rouhani’s liberalization project. Internationally, tensions with Saudi Arabia are at an all-time high, with the kingdom marshalling regional and international support against a potential US-Iranian rapprochement. Rouhani’s success, therefore, is anything but certain.
About the Speaker:
Mehran Kamrava is Professor and Director of the Center for International and Regional Studies at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in Qatar. He is the author of a number of journal articles and books, including, most recently, Qatar: Small State, Big Politics, The Modern Middle East: A Political History since the First World War, 3rd ed., and Iran’s Intellectual Revolution. His edited books include Beyond the Arab Spring: The Evolving Ruling Bargain in the Middle East, The International Politics of the Persian Gulf, The Political Economy of the Persian Gulf,and The Nuclear Question in the Middle East.