Iran Is Back in Business
January 26, 2016 6:34 AM   Subscribe

The Great Race—for what a Western ambassador in Tehran described as “the last gold mine on Earth”—has begun. With eighty million people, Iran is the largest economy to return to the global marketplace since the Soviet Union’s demise, a quarter century ago. It urgently needs to refurbish its crumbling infrastructure. Unlike Eastern Europe, however, Iran is flush with cash, after gaining access to a hundred billion dollars in oil revenues that had been locked in foreign banks during sanctions. [NewYorker]

Generating economic growth in the Middle East is crucial to defeating extremism, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday, putting forward his country as a regional trade hub and pillar of stability. [SwissInfo]

And the leader of the Roman Catholic Church and the President of Iran met Tuesday at the Vatican, a face-to-face encounter that speaks to a changing geopolitical landscape and both men's significant role in it. [CNN]
posted by Sir Rinse (19 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
And also great cinema, I'll take all the Iranian cinema you got.
posted by Damienmce at 7:01 AM on January 26, 2016 [3 favorites]

I hope this means the return of Iranian pistachio to Europe for good.
posted by lmfsilva at 7:16 AM on January 26, 2016 [6 favorites]

This has so many implications, it's kind of mind blowing: The rivalry with the House of Saud, unlimited funds to Hezbollah and Assad, long term energy price declines, an over abundance of fossil fuels, climate change, and that's not even considering what an opening up to the world might do to things domestically. Interesting times...
posted by gwint at 7:41 AM on January 26, 2016 [2 favorites]

Iran is trying to be the powerhouse in the Middle East, and so too Saudi Arabia and Turkey. But Iran is Shia and Saudi, Sunni, so there is too an animosity that is both secular and religious. We may deal with Iran in some ways but we are not about to give up our connection to Saudi Arabia.
Both Saudi and Iran fund terror groups outside their countries.
posted by Postroad at 7:48 AM on January 26, 2016

"Hey gov't of Iran we are halting our economic warfare, you can sell your oil now! Here's 30bux!"
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 8:32 AM on January 26, 2016

The interesting thing is that it doesn't seem to be affecting other oil producing countries much. So I guess it was already factored in by the markets. I really expected the Canadian dollar to dip a bit more but nope. It actually went up about 1 cent USD.
posted by srboisvert at 8:50 AM on January 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

I have to hope that a more economically successful Iran will be good for stability in the Middle East. Iran has a young, urban, educated population with positive attitudes towards the west, and lower rates of antisemitism than any country in the middle east (including Turkey!)

I see Iran with the potential of becoming another Turkey (pre-Etrigan). They are both muslim, but not arab, populous and educated. They both have long history as a cradle of ancient civilization in the east, with the some of the ingrained cultural capital that goes along with it (poetry, literature, etc). It's not surprising that the countries already have a long close history of economic ties.

In a strange way, Iran's political isolation may have actually helped it avoid the resource trap that's plagued other oil rich nations, leaving it now better prepared than its neighbors to the south.
posted by leotrotsky at 8:57 AM on January 26, 2016 [10 favorites]

Turkey (pre-Etrigan)

Wait -- what did Etrigan do to Turkey?
posted by paper chromatographologist at 9:02 AM on January 26, 2016 [9 favorites]

Turkey (pre-Etrigan)

Etrigan is MeFi's own; you might be thinking of Ergodan.
posted by Jpfed at 9:06 AM on January 26, 2016 [7 favorites]

Wait -- what did Etrigan do to Turkey?

According to this reputable source, he attempted to topple the Ottoman Empire but was thwarted by the Janissary with the aid of Merlin.

But yeah, Erdoğan.
posted by jedicus at 9:09 AM on January 26, 2016 [3 favorites]

Yeah, leave me the fuck out of this.
posted by Etrigan at 9:27 AM on January 26, 2016 [28 favorites]

Iran is fascinating - and I use this word cautiously because I don't want to disrespect all those people who have suffered human rights abuses directly or indirectly because of the existing regime there.

Depending on the time of the day or who you speak to, Iran is full of enlightened philosophical and political ideas (and until recently, even those of love and romance), or it is guilty of egregious violations against women, journalists and other targets of the state.

So while I guess i 'm happy the sanctions have been lifted because this makes life much easier for many people living there, I'm still conflicted, because of the horrible things that continue to go on, but I admit, I know very little about the situation there.

Besides countries like Saudi Arabia are pretty horrible to dissidents as well. And I'm sure there are plenty of countries that are fundamentally oppressive to women and minorities. And the West engages with all of them. So why not Iran, right?

Maybe I was falling for the smear campaign that the Western media was waging against Iran.

So Yay?
posted by bitteroldman at 10:07 AM on January 26, 2016

The up side for those people is probably more along the lines of, Iran is less likely to be Iraq-ified or Afghanistan-ified by U.S. bombing and invasion if it's actively an ongoing energy supplier for the rest of the world.
posted by XMLicious at 11:07 AM on January 26, 2016

The up side for those people is probably more along the lines of, Iran is less likely to be Iraq-ified or Afghanistan-ified by U.S. bombing and invasion if it's actively an ongoing energy supplier for the rest of the world.

We might even start to see the people who live there as actual people™.
posted by Talez at 11:14 AM on January 26, 2016 [3 favorites]

Iran is less likely to be Iraq-ified or Afghanistan-ified by U.S. bombing

Well sure, but I think that would be true anyway.

Granted, if you bomb any place for long enough it will eventually destabilize -- but my understanding is that Iran is basically a coherent nation-state with a long cultural history, in that respect more like Egypt or China, and unlike 20th century frankenstates like Iraq or areas like Afghanistan / Northwestern Pakistan that have (again, to my understanding) pretty much always been fairly liminal, loose areas.

I think I am optimistic about Iran -- but it's hard to understand the actual situation on the ground and the realities of Iranians' attitudes toward liberalization / secularization / modernity since Western media (particularly US media) have been so intensely biased against the Islamic Republic. I try to keep my world news intake balanced between US / BBC / Al-Jazeera coverage which is helpful in getting multiple perspectives on a lot of things; but I'm not sure how much any of those sources are helpful in understanding Iranian perspectives.

It will be good to begin to hear Iranians' own voices reflected in the general discourse as the country opens up further to the world. (I know this happened to some extent during the Green Revolution protests -- but hopefully it happens in a more sustained way now.)

I also hope that the next administration is able to use a closer relationship with Iran as leverage to support human rights pressure on both Iran and Certain Sunni Allies which need a good solid push in that direction. Not super optimistic on that front, however.
posted by tivalasvegas at 11:35 AM on January 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

Of course the RW Media is not liking the fact that nudes were covered in the Capitoline Museum for Rouhani's visit.

No nudes please, we're Farsi

I have always admired Farsi culture, having grown up around the Persian influenced culture of Hyderabadi muslims. One of my bucket list wishes is to have a Irani SO read Hafiz to me in the original Persian, while feeding me Shiraz grapes dipped in honey. :-)
posted by indianbadger1 at 3:12 PM on January 26, 2016

Iran is on my top list of travel destinations; I really hope they lift the restrictions on US citizens traveling independently. Currently US citizens can go to Iran, but they must be accompanied with an Iranian guide at all times.
posted by pravit at 3:29 PM on January 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

Iran's a dictatorship whose human rights record is atrocious, though compared to our allies (or landlords/creditors) in Saudi Arabia, it's positively Scandinavian.
posted by acb at 5:49 PM on January 26, 2016

They may remove restrictions on US citizens visiting Iran, but US now has new restrictions for people of other nations from visiting Iran. If you're from one of the 40-odd countries with a visa-waiver for the US, and have visited Iran in the last five years, you will need to apply for a visa the next time you fly to US.

I don't know about the business people aiming to grab the Iranian market, but as a tourist, that certainly puts a dampener on my travel plans to Iran.
posted by the cydonian at 6:11 PM on January 26, 2016

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