So, the US and Iran. Often two countries referred to as being in tension. At the beginning of this year there were some major instances in the heightening of tensions between Iran and the United States. On the 3rd January the US ordered the assassination by drone strike of Major General Qasem Soleimani - the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. He was considered the second most powerful person in Iran. Following this, there was relief as well as anger at his death. There was also shock around the world for what this would mean for Iran US relations which have been considerably rocky since President Trump removed the US from the Nuclear Deal signed in 2015 with Iran and a number of other countries. In removing themselves from the deal they also reapplied sanctions on Iran that had been removed as part of the 2015 agreement. The sanctions, along with mismanagement and a shock rise in fuel prices led to nationwide protests last year in Iran. More than 1000 people are believed to have been killed. After the assassination both countries were on high alert and this led to the shooting down of a civilian plane by the Revolutionary Guard who mistook it for a cruise missile. 176 people were on board and all were killed. As the Iranian elections are upon us, as well as the American elections later this year, Lillian thought it could be good to have a big conversation about what this all means. Negar Mortazavi is an Iranian American journalist and media analyst based in Washington DC. She has been following Iran news and US Iran relations for a decade. I reached out to her to provide a bit more context about the history between these two countries and to understand more about how this political warfare, which could lead to actual warfare, is affecting the everyday lives of people.
It would be remiss of me not to mention what is happening in Iran right now with the coronavirus. On instagram this morning a post came up by the user See you in Iran - this is an account for the Hostel and Public Cafe of the same name situated in Tehran, however the bio also states ‘voices from within Iran to avoid others speaking on our behalf’. The post they made reads as follows:
“A new phase of disaster and isolation has hit Iran after the frightful news of Iran becoming a new epicenter of the Coronavirus outbreak; another critical point we are facing along the recurring crisis during the past few months. Firstly, authorities took no measurement to keep Covid19 from entering the country, and further on had no plans to quarantine virus-hit cities. False medical advice, avoiding reliable statistics release, and shortage on health services are causing social chaos. Many countries have closed their air and land borders with Iran and lots of businesses are on the verge of collapse. Low-paid workers have no choice but to use public transportation, vulnerable women and children are working on the street and subways, with poor sanitizing conditions; and yet there is no sign of the officials’ support. The private sector, conforming to the rule of capital, have mostly found their business more valuable than their workers health conditions and did not shut down their workspace as well. For most of us there is no excitement about our new year celebration, Nowrus, with no family or friend gatherings this year. It is hard not to lose hope and fight for the good, though we do not stop to depict our global audience the challenge people inside Iran are coping with these days: health insecurity, unstable career, political disappointment, and an unknown future.”