You are on page 1of 2

What Washington is missing in the Iran deal

Negar Razavi is an anthropologist and Ph.D. candidate at the University of

Pennsylvania, as well as a global fellow at PS21. She tweets @razaraz.
Most reactions in Washington to the historic nuclear agreement (or Joint
Comprehensive Plan of Action) between Iran and the P5+1 have frustratingly
ignored how it affects the lives of ordinary Iranians, who have
disproportionally paid the price of confrontation with the U.S. but who will
also ensure the long-term durability of this agreement.
In the U.S., opponents of the deal conveniently gloss over the role the Iranian
people played in electing a pro-deal president, as they frame this agreement
as a Chamberlain-esque defeat to the evil mullahs. On the other side,
supporters downplay any gains this deal will provide the people of Iran as
they focus on the robust invasiveness of the inspections regime and
engage in dispassionate discussions about the implications of the deal for
regional allies.
But we in the Iranian-American community who have maintained our
connections to contemporary Iran cannot afford to ignore what it means for
our families and friends inside the country. As 1.5 or 2 nd generation IranianAmericans, we have lived the painful history of confrontation between the
U.S. and Iran in deeply personal ways. And we have watched tensions
between these governments reach frightening new levels over the past
Many of us who regularly travel back to Iran have also had to bear witness to
the deteriorating conditions facing ordinary Iranians as a result of expansive
international sanctions, growing isolation, and recurring threats of military
strikes from abroad. For me personally, it has been very painful to see my
family and friends inside Iran struggle with serious financial problems, health
concerns exacerbated by the slow importation of needed medicines, and the
dramatic increase in violent, poverty-driven crimes in the cities that have left
no family untouched.

So while experts and political figures in D.C. politely discuss centrifuges

and timelines, many in the Iranian-American community will think of their
grandmothers worried about paying for food and fuel as prices continue to
soar. When we hear snapback sanctions tossed casually around the Hill,
we are reminded of all those talented young Iranians being prevented from
connecting to the rest of the world.
Conversely, when Americans question why Iran will continue to comply with
this deal, we think of the 18 million people who elected President Rouhani
largely on the promise of getting this deal done and ending Irans global
isolation. We will show them how videos of the millions dancing and
celebrating the deal on the streets serve as reminders to Irans leaders that
they must answer to their people moving forward.
In the end, it may be easy for many in Washington to forget that this
agreementand the years of confrontation that preceded ithas had and
will continue to have a direct impact on people in Iran. But those of us with
ties to both societies know that the people celebrating this historic deal in
Iran do so because they paid the biggest price for it and will subsequently
hold their leaders accountable if they fail to deliver what they promised. In
turn, we in the U.S. cannot afford to ignore the Iranian people now or
marginalize their concerns as we debate this deal.
PS21 is a non-partisan, non-ideological, non-governmental organization. All
views expressed are the authors own.