Analysis

Domestic Pressure Drove Rouhani to Make Deal With West
In a speech marking his first 100 days in office on Nov. 26, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said he was being "accountable to our people," a populist message that has seldom, if ever, been heard in Iran. (Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images)
December 2, 2013
| Security
| Middle East and North Africa
Summary
With the recent signing of the interim nuclear agreement with the Western powers in Geneva, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani can take pride in his first 100 days in office. He can say that he had succeeded in relieving Iran of the crushing burden of financial sanctions and in lessening its isolation from the rest of the world.
In fact, Rouhani had made a virtue of a necessity. Going into the talks, Iran was characterized by a collapsing economy and a regime increasingly isolated from the world and from its own youthful, restive population. All had learned to look for signals from the strident style of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The recently completed interim nuclear agreement with the P5+1 nations is a cornerstone of the regime’s broader strategy to improve conditions, as it will result in Iran gaining access to billions of dollars in frozen assets. The money is important, but in the long term Rouhani may be playing for even larger stakes: gaining acceptance of Iran as a peaceful nation no longer bent on confrontation with Israel and the United States. That does not imply a softening of the regime’s revolutionary zeal as much as it signals a shift in tactics.

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