However, in the nearly two and half years between the end of international sanctions and President Trump’s May 2018 decision to reinstate US sanctions, Iran accomplished very little in terms of revitalizing its oil industry. In the early months that followed the lifting of sanctions, Iran’s oil industry appeared to make a strong return to the global market. Although Iran’s initial production and export numbers seemed to paint a picture of a vigorous and recovering oil industry, the facts behind the numbers tell a different story.
This goal, which was ennunciated before Obama took office in the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review, reflected US concern about a rising China, the huge costs of the Iraq and Afghan wars, as well as a desire to benefit from more interaction with the fastest growing economies in the world.
The twelve steep demands outlined by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on May 21 as supposed ingredients for a “better” deal have further fueled what is shaping up as a revival of the power struggle within Iran’s complex and opaque political structure.
Success in the sport has brought pride to Iranian women and shown that it is possible to empower women within an Islamic framework. It has also underlined controversy over the government’s treatment of women athletes and fans, in particular the continued ban on women attending sports events in stadiums where men are also present.
The May 6 Lebanese elections granted Hezbollah a comfortable majority. “Hezbollah’s block is unwavering since 2009, with thirteen seats for the organization. The main difference is that now, with allies such as the Syrian Nationalist Progressive Party, Amal, the Baathist movement, and the Marada’s advances in parliament (included in the hard March 8 core), the coalition is now in control of forty-five seats, which represent a third of Lebanese parliament,” said electoral expert Kamal Feghali in an interview with the author. The March 8 alliance is headed by Hezbollah and aligned with the policies of Iran and Syria.
In the weeks since then, dozens of other women have done the same, earning the nickname the “Women of Enghelab [Revolution] Street.” Their acts of disobedience against compulsory veiling in the Islamic Republic have been conflated with the economic protests that convulsed Iran for several weeks and that continue sporadically. But the economic demonstrations were largely by young men in provincial cities and towns; the hijab protests, mostly confined to Tehran, should be seen as a parallel movement and not an extension of the economic protests.
Pompeo’s prescription to achieve his “Plan B”—“unprecedented financial pressure on the Iranian regime”—is unlikely to achieve his stated goals. It could well backfire by encouraging more defiance in Tehran—and in Brussels, Moscow, and Beijing.