Once again the Iranian people used the limited available democratic process, combined with unconventional tools and creative methods, to take another step towards political change. A slow process that started with the election of President Khatami and the birth of the reform movement in the 1990s continued through the 2009 election and post-election resistance, re-emerged in the 2013 election of moderate President Rouhani and again showed up in the two important elections last week. Iranians have been on a slow path to democracy and continue to progress -- with patience and with hope.
The message of these elections to global powers is that they should approach Iran with respect rather than with threats and drop anti-Iranian rhetoric. Iranians who went to the voting booths have a palpable sense of the indifference of the West to the existence of democracy and elections in Iran. They know that any claims by the West to respect public participation in Iran loses its credibility, because they see that Western allies in the region have zero democracy.
Sports and air transport are likely to serve as indicators of whether Iran has the flexibility to become a major node in an increasingly globalized world. At the core of Iranian efforts to become a global sports and airline hub will be its willingness to relax strict gender segregation, dress codes and its ban on alcohol.
Despite the recent achievements on Iran-U.S. relations, which have been unprecedented since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, the wall of mistrust between Washington and Tehran remains thick. It is of critical importance for the pragmatists on each side to ensure they stick to fully implementing the nuclear deal.
The timely implementation of the Iran deal and Tehran's full compliance with its various provisions to date should not be viewed as just an accomplished goal, but as a continuing process that could take several years to determine its viability and the extent to which it impacts Iran's foreign and domestic policy.