Donald Trump, a new advocate for Iranian nationalism and Islamist hardliners

The 2015 Iran nuclear deal was widely backed by the country’s citizens. The Trump administration’s decision on 13 October to ‘decertify’ Iranian compliance could provoke a return of anti-American sentiments.

Anti-American graffiti in Iran. Credit: Flickr/Frode Ramone

By Clement Therme, Research Fellow for Iran

The October 13 decision by US president Donald Trump to “decertify” Iranian compliance to the 2015 nuclear nonproliferation agreement could signal the end of US soft power in Iran.

In his speech, Trump attempted to emphasise Iran’s deep history, which he said the Iranian people “long to reclaim”. Yet in doing so he employed the term “Arabian Gulf” rather than “Persian Gulf”. He also invoked the Iran of the early revolutionary years, when Tehran was at war with the regime of Saddam Hussein (1980-88) and failed to take into account the sociocultural transformation of the last 38 years.

Within Iran, Trump’s discourse was perceived as anachronistic and out of context. The country’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, stated that the attempt to send Iran back 50 years was a demonstration of Trump’s “mental backwardness”. Moreover, the 2015 agreement was widely approved and positively perceived by the country’s citizens.

Trump’s speech and his decision could provoke a return to the anti-Americanism of Iran’s early post-revolutionary years by the country’s hardliners. Many called the speech disrespectful of Iran’s status as one of the regional powers in Southwest Asia.

Read the full article at The Conversation

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