World & Nation

Iranians look upon U.S.-Cuba accord with hope and a bit of envy

Iran economy
Iranians shop at the main bazaar in Tehran on Thursday. Sanctions have battered Iran’s economy, with the inflation rate currently between 17 and 18%.
(Atta Kenare / AFP / Getty Images)

A prominent Iranian cleric cited the U.S. normalization of relations with Cuba during weekly remarks at Friday prayers as evidence that sanctions against his country are destined to fail.

“As [President] Obama and John Kerry admitted, the 55 years of sanctions against Cuba have not worked and John Kerry himself said that by sanctions we have sanctioned ourselves not Cuba,” said Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Movahedi Kermani, the leader of Friday prayers in Tehran. “Sanctions are futile against Iran.”

Conservative political analyst Hossian Royvaran agreed.

“Obama is doing a wise thing by normalizing relation with Cuba and has no option but make a deal with Iran and start lifting sanctions and normalizing with Iran too,” Royvaran said.


Many liberal Iranians also envied Cuba’s new relationship with the U.S.

“Financially, Iran is in bad shape and the sanctions are so painful that Iran has no option but to compromise,” said Amir Hossian Sharifi Sistani, 35, an import-export manager, “Now Cuba and the U.S. are normalizing - then why not Iran and the U.S.?”

Hasan Moadabi, 60, a retired teacher, read the banner headlines at a newsstand in Tehran proclaiming Cuba’s new status.

“God willing, Iran and the U.S., as Cuba and U.S. have done after more than 50 years of severed relations, will bury axes and at least bank transfer will be possible,” he said. “My son is working in an import-export company and cannot do a regular business, as bank transfer is impossible.”


Fatimeh Moghimi, 55, said she thinks Obama intends to “make a legacy of normalization relations with Cuba and Iran by the end of his second term.”

“President Obama has initiated a good step and here. … I think Iran and the U.S. will follow suit” and normalize relations, said Moghimi, who owns a shipping company and favors reforms.

But Hoshang Tale, a former member of parliament, does not expect normalization in Iran anytime soon. He also cautioned that even if the day comes, it won’t solve Iran’s economic woes.

“It is not a piece of cake to follow suit and normalize relations as Cuba and the U.S. did. We have different reasons to be angry with the U.S.,” said Tale, 80, “The economic problems in Iran will not be solved by lifting sanctions, as reformists wishfully think.”

Mostaghim is a special correspondent. Times staff writer Molly Hennessy-Fiske in Baghdad contributed to this report.



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