The urban middle class of Iran has been cynical about all political issues for years. But now, it has finally got itself floating in a sea of nationalism. And what has caused this change in attitude? Well, it might have something to do with Trump becoming the President of the United States and the increasing competition with Iran’s sectarian enemy, Saudi Arabia (both have been battling for regional authority).
An overhauling of Iranian beliefs on key issues
Trump had condemned Iran’s nuclear treaty during his election campaign in 2016. In fact, he even termed it as one of the worst deals that were ever negotiated, simultaneously promising to destroy it. The people of Iran were horrified to see the President sell armaments valued at over $100 billion to Saudi Arabia while participating in a war dance performance in Riyadh. They were also taken aback by the Saudi prince’s foreign policy decisions. The prince, named Mohammed bin Salem, is perceived to be an inexperienced and aggressive ruler.
However, at this point, Iranians believe that they are proud of the Iranian-led military officials who are playing a key role in battling the militant group led by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. This is giving a boost to the regional influence of Iran.
It seems that the Saudis and President Trump have allowed the government to accomplish a very far-fetched goal, that is, achieving the widespread support of the public for the uncompromising belief that the Riyadh and the United States are untrustworthy and also that Iran has finally emerged as a capable and strong state and can threaten its enemies.
Mr. Hojaji Morteza Hosseinzadeh, who has studied theater at the famous Tehran University and a self-acclaimed reformist, was recently honored in a state ceremony, where he dressed in all black and held a poster and appeared every bit the new martyr, taking forward the ideology of the hard-line advocates in the government.
The groundwork for this new nationalism kick-started when Hassan Rouhani was elected as the President back in 2013. For the first time after the aggressive 2009 street protests, the urban middle class of Iran felt some hope of peace. A nuclear agreement was promised by Rouhani, one that would eliminate the stringent global sanctions over the nuclear program of Iran. These sanctions had distorted and depressed the economy while also isolating the nation.