Most Iranians in diaspora and likely a majority inside the country would like to see an Iran with a democratic, largely secular government; an Iran at peace with its neighbors near and far; and an Iran building on the strengths and beauty of Iranian culture and history to play a constructive role in global affairs. But beyond that significant divisions are becoming sharper among the Iranian opposition in exile. This is reflected in ugly harassment, particularly of analysts, academics, activists and journalists who have taken stands in favor of diplomacy and do not back maximalist positions over how the West should handle Tehran. Another measure of this division is reflected in the conflicting interpretations of the import of Reza Pahlavi’s visit to Israel. Inside Iran three groups pushing for fundamental changes to the Status quo: Conservatives, Moderates and Progressives. All are being resisted by the intransigent regime under Khameinei and Ra’isi. Iran’s ongoing economic crisis, the Supreme Leader’s failing health, and the legacy of widespread protest and repression all reflect the volatile times and unpredictable future pressing into Iran’s present.
Understanding the varied and often conflicting visions of a new Iran will be a central theme of a plenary panel at the upcoming PCIA Conference in Chicago, 25-27 May. Panelists who will share their views and answer questions on today’s Iran include John Limbert (PC Volunteer in Sanandaj, diplomat including US embassy hostage ordeal, and professor at US Naval Academy); Assal Rad (scholar, author, and Nonresident Fellow at Eurasia Group Foundation); and Behnam Ben Talabu (Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.) If you are in Chicago on the 25th of May, join us for an exciting panel discussion