"Worried" or "Valiant"? The Dialectic Between Iran’s Nuclear Negotiations and its Domestic Politics
Seyedamir Hossein Mahdavi
Middle East Brief 81, June 2014
For years, public discussions of Iran's nuclear program and the negotiations surrounding it were considered to be off limits in the Iranian political sphere. But in recent months and as the negotiations with the P5+1 continue, not only have these discussions become a matter of public debate, they have realigned the political elite along a nuclear fault line. In this Brief, Seyedamir Hossein Mahdavi examines this new dialectic between Iran's foreign and domestic politics by identifying the two new power blocs—the "worried," who oppose, and the "valiant," who support the nuclear stance taken by the Rouhani administration. In doing so, he traces the roots of this political division back to the student protests of 1999 and follows the critical events since then that have shaped the current split. He concludes by analyzing Ayatollah Khamenei's delicate balancing act as he supports both the “valiant” and the “worried” in a bid to pull Iran out of its current crisis, while maintaining his own power base.