Ornamental image of eyes and figures with hands in front of their faces
Women's rights act as a connector to unite different groups and social classes fighting for democracy and rule of law. | Image: © Parastou Forouhar

“For this Forced Heaven”: Women’s Rights as the Path to Democracy in Iran

Iran’s streets have been the scene of inspiring portraits created by women and young girls chanting “women, life, freedom” over the past six weeks. Starting as a reaction to the death of 22-year-old Zhina (Mahsa) Amini, who was killed by the so-called “morality police” for wearing her hijab improperly, the protests have now turned into a cross-class, women-led movement for democracy and rule of law. This post looks at the situation of women from a historical perspective after the Islamic revolution and argues that women’s rights are acting as a connector to unite different groups and social classes fighting for democracy and rule of law in the current protests.

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Signs at a protest in solidarity with the protestors in Iran showing the hashtags #FreeIran and #MahsaAmini
The outcome of the protests is not only relevant for the Iranians but also has regional implications which should be closely watched. | Photo: Taymaz Valley via flickr | CC BY 2.0

Will the Protests in Iran Change Regional Power Dynamics in the Middle East?

Images of Iranian women burning their hijab in the last four weeks demonstrates the unraveling of the ideological foundations of the Islamic Republic. This discontent, however, extends beyond Iran’s borders, and has strained the relationship with its regional clients. We argue that the ongoing demonstrations in Iran may exacerbate Iran’s already-shifting regional position, as the ongoing protests both question the legitimacy of the regime within and outside the country, and further weaken Iran’s capacity to support its clients in the Middle East.

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Strait of Hormuz – the strait between Iran on the north coast and the Arabian Peninsula on the south is less than 40km at some points. It is one of the world’s most strategically choke points. | Photo: © European Space Agency via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

Overcoming Gulf-Rivalry? Challenges and Chances of Saudi-Iranian Dialogue

While the Saudi-Iranian relations have mostly been shaped by ‘peaceful rivalry’ since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, they increasingly turned hostile following the so-called ‘Arab Spring’. Building on recent dynamics in the Gulf region, high level politicians of Saudi Arabia and Iran have signaled serious willingness for dialogue and reconciliation. We argue here that these renewed efforts are primarily motivated by security and economic concerns but have also been supported through a series of informal interactions at different societal levels. While dialogue seems possible and desirable, its long-term prospects will be challenged by changing regional dynamics and the respective political will to overcome historical constructs of rivalry and regional competition.

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Federica Mogherini war die Vorsitzende des Treffens der Joint Commission zur JCPOA am 6. Juli 2018 in Wien
Federica Mogherini war die Vorsitzende des Treffens der Joint Commission zur JCPOA am 6. Juli 2018 in Wien | Photo: European Council Newsroom, free use

Der amerikanische Rückzug vom Iran-Deal. Das letzte „hurray“ einer scheiternden Supermacht?

„Make America Great Again“: unter diesem Slogan will Präsident Trump die Vormachtstellung und unilaterale Handlungsfähigkeit der USA in einer nach seinem Willen immer weniger multilateral gestalteten Weltordnung weiter festigen. Tatsächlich sind die USA auf dem besten Wege, ihre herausgehobene Position selbst zu demontieren: durch schrankenlose Machtpolitik und die dadurch ausgelösten Gegenreaktionen. Zum sinnfälligen Ausdruck dieser Entwicklung wurde die Pressekonferenz eines Staatenformats im September 2018, das unter dem Kürzel E3/EU+2 zur Rettung des Nuklearabkommens mit dem Iran antritt.

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