Iranian reaction to Rouhani UN speech: ‘I hope it works’

Iranian president’s speech in New York greeted with scepticism and hope at home that it will be enough to lift sanctions.

A world away from the United Nations headquarters in New York, Iranians express a weary, impotent hope that their new president’s address at the general assembly in New York will be enough to drag Iran back in from the diplomatic cold and secure the lifting of sanctions.

Malek, 45, runs a small shop in the northern city of Sari. “I hope the other side steps forward and shakes this man’s [Rouhani’s] hand. Whatever it takes for these sanctions to go away, this man should do it,” he said.

“Obama is just as responsible for our situation, but I didn’t go out and vote for Obama. This is my demand of the man, of the son-of-a-bitch I voted for.”

Solmaz, 28, works as a computer programmer in Tehran. “Rouhani went up and went through every point that he was supposed to go through. That was one careful speech. He tried his damnedest to make sure no one left that room unhappy, and then he gave a few winks in the direction of the people back home – the hardliners, the reformers, and the ones who don’t give a hoot about politics and just want their lives to get better. What do you expect me to say? Like everybody else, I hope it works.”

Saber, 33, is a film-maker. He lives in a tiny apartment in central Tehran. “I’m watching a game that has everything to do with me and has at the same time nothing to do with me. The whole hoopla about the nuclear issue – the government holding a hard line, Ahmadinejad acting like a rabid dog, and now the leader’s ‘heroic leniency’ has nothing to do with me,” he said.

“I can’t begin to tell you what was in their minds, though as time passes I can see how the regime turns things to its own interest. I was also not naive enough to take part in another sham of an election and vote for Rouhani. He is the other side of the same coin, which was minted in the treasure of the Islamic Republic. On one side, a rabid dog that helps isolate the country and crush the last vestiges of independent local [economy]; on the other the smiling face of this ex-security chief [Rouhani] who extends a lame hand on behalf of the [supreme] leader. None of it has to do with me, even if it impacts every aspect of my life. Let them do what they want. My job is to maintain my own tiny kernel of independence from the game.”

Ehsan, 32, lives in Tehran and runs a small advertising firm. “You can only hope that things work out – I mean that Iran and the US come to an agreement. The reality is that Iran and the US need each other: we are a regional power, and they are a global power. It would be absurd for Iran to want to shield itself from the economic powerhouse that is the US. It would also be against the interest of the US to have a rogue government in the Middle East. In any case, this is just talk – we have to watch and see how this moves forward.”

By The Guardian


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