Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Words and/or deeds

It's usually necessary, when examining a government's policies, to pay attention to deeds as well as words.

In Iran, there's little but criticism of the USA. But things are happening that suggest policies less critical.

Sign of Thaw With Iran: American Cellphones Ringing in Tehran
Until recently, an American phone in Iran would not receive any signal. But that has quietly changed. This past week, a spokesman for AT&T acknowledged that the company was providing voice and data service in Iran to its customers with American phones through a partnership with a local firm, RighTel. An employee at the Iranian company, fully owned by a state entity, confirmed the partnership.
While the announcement that Airbus and Boeing will provide dozens of jetliners to Iranian carriers garnered worldwide headlines last month, the deal that AT&T clinched in March, making it the only American provider to offer phone service in Iran, flew under the radar.

The agreement is one of the few signs that the promises President Hassan Rouhani made long ago of welcoming Western businesses and ending Iran’s isolation are at last beginning to be realized…

A representative for AT&T said the company would not disclose information on financial arrangements made with the Treasury or with its Iranian partner. One possible clue: RighTel is owned by the Social Security Organization of Iran, a state entity that has large stakes in several domestic banks…

Nevertheless, having working American mobile phones in Iran sends a powerful message that times are changing, albeit very slowly…

And there is still the possibility of opposition from conservative clerics and Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who could end the arrangement in a flash if he felt it was inappropriate…

The opening up of phone service is undoubtedly a welcome surprise to Iranians and the approximately two million Iranians living in the United States, many of whom travel frequently to their home country…

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