Iran can still surprise. Voter turnout has surpassed 60 percent. Victory by candidates aligned with President Rouhani already exceeds expectations. This begs the question: What just happened? Perhaps above all else, these elections reflect Iranian society's continued desire to bring about change through gradual evolution rather than radical upheaval.
Qassem Soleimani, Iranian military leader, ideologue, and commander in chief of the Quds force- a branch of the Islamic Republic's Revolutionary Guard Corps that conducts extraterritorial military and clandestine operations- has been coming out of his shell and becoming more vocal in stating his opinions.
After thirty-six years of mutual satanization, it is easy to advance pessimistic arguments and to be doubtful about a future in which Iran and the United States will no longer be enemies. However, the nuclear negotiations and the prospect of a final nuclear accord demonstrate the fiction of the idea of permanent enemies destined to be in conflict with each other.
Unlike the interim nuclear deal, the extension appears to lack any clear key terms upon which prospective nuclear talks would be anchored in, or a final nuclear would be reached. By extending the nuclear negotiations, the Obama administration can save face, add to its questionable Middle East achievements.
History appears to be repeating itself in the Islamic Republic. Whenever many Iranians believe that there will be more socio-political, individual as well as socio-economic freedoms in the country, due to the rule of a moderate or reformist president, the domestic crack down and human rights violation in the Islamic Republic mount up.
The tensions between Russia and the West have further ratcheted up this week since the Crimean Peninsula's local government called for a referendum to secede from Ukraine. The current standoff between the West and Moscow concerning Ukraine might be viewed as the gravest instance of tension in the post-Cold War era.