Published January 31, 2014
As sanctions against Iran begin to thaw, its people are warming up to America.
The Iranian people reeled for years under western sanctions implemented because of the regime in Tehran’s secret pursuit of nuclear weapons. But with the so-called P5+1, made up of the U.S., Russia, China, United Kingdom, France and Germany, easing sanctions, many hope the economy will improve.
“The mood in big cities has become measurably more friendly towards the U.S., and this has been directly affected by the foreign relations with the west and sanctions,” said Iranian economist Mehrdad Emadi, senior economist at the London-based Betamatrix Consultancy.
In a nation where inflation topped 35 percent last year, unemployment hovers at around 15 percent and basic food and pharmaceutical supplies are both scarce and astronomically expensive, there is renewed hope for the economy and an end to pariah status.
“There is a calming effect amongst the populace suggesting they expect a brighter future and the dark mood has been at least partially lifted,” Emadi said.
A recent RAND study focusing on Iranian public opinion of the U.S. found most Iranians were in favor of reestablishing ties with America. Though some Iranians are in favor of the nuclear program, viewing it as a national program meant to strengthen their nation’s standing, they are disheartened by the economic and political isolation.
The current deal with the P5+1 meant to curb Iran’s nuclear program will release $8 billion in assets in the form of sanctions relief, gold, and oil sales in exchange for a freeze on certain aspects of Iran’s nuclear proliferation.
“Happiness is coming back to Iran. People are enjoying life more and there’s an overall air of positivity, and this all comes from creating a situation where nations can be friendly without boundaries,” said Nader, a coffee shop owner from Mashad, who asked not to be further identified.
Nader says there has been a significant drop in the price of airplane tickets, which is very important to Iranians who love to travel.
Over the last three decades, the Iranian regime has used negative propaganda against the U.S. as a political and mobilizing tool within the country.
Even in the hours following the announcement of the P5+1 deal in Geneva in late November, Iranian leaders zealously delivered the news back home as a ‘victory,’ and depicted the negotiations as a surrender by the West.
Iranian leaders however, used the moment to create national excitement about Iran’s future economy and strengthen the role of the regime, promising the Iranian people new opportunities with trading partners around the world.