United States Institute of Peace

The Iran Primer

Robin Wright's Blog

Zarif on Nuclear Deal, US Relations

Robin Wright (for The New Yorker)

Three months after Iran dismantled large parts of its nuclear program, in compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action—the international nuclear deal—the country’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, declared last week in New York that the United States is falling seriously short of its commitments. … In an interview last week, Zarif discussed various sticking points in relations between Washington and Tehran. 

Click here to read the interview on The New Yorker website.

Zarif on Syrian Peace, Nuclear Deal

Robin Wright (for The New Yorker)

Two years of transformative diplomacy between the United States and Iran—after almost four decades of hostility—are reaping tentative benefits on other Middle East flashpoints. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, whom I wrote about in the magazine, is meeting again today with Secretary of State John Kerry, in New York, as part of the new, seventeen-nation initiative to end Syria’s savage civil war.
Click here to read the interview on The New Yorker website.

Tehran Transformed by Surreal Murals

Robin Wright

Tehran has new colors—and a new un-revolutionary whimsy. The sprawling Iranian capital, long famed for its anti-American graffiti and grim billboards of war martyrs, is now adorned with huge surreal murals in bright hues that have transformed drab cement-and-steel high-rises. Some corners of the Islamic Republic even look festive.
The dream-scapes are playful: A giant giraffe, with two men balanced on his head, saunters along the side of a four-story apartment block. Painted people seem to be walking along an illusory nature trail that bisects a big office building. Cars are driving in the sky in another high-rise illusion; a child appears to be riding his bike down the side of a third. A fourth building has been turned into a huge aquarium, with human-size goldfish wiggling along the sides.
More than 100 of the new murals are the work of Mehdi Ghadyanloo, a 34-year-old Iranian who leads a team of young artists in the Blue Sky Painting Company. Most are friends, former university classmates, or current students. With whimsy and humor, his works are altering the atmospherics in Tehran, a city of more than eight million better known for its horrendous traffic and smothering smog.
The son of a farmer and a carpet weaver, Ghadyanloo grew up amid both earth tones and brilliant colors that inspired him to paint as a boy. As a student, he was inspired by the minimalist work of Japanese architect Tadao Ando and the detailed graphics of Dutch artist M.C. Escher. Now, he is captivated by Banksy, the pseudonym of a British graffiti artist who has left paintings — anonymously — on buildings, billboards, bridges and fences around the world.
“I really like his work,” Ghadyanloo said in an interview. “I wish I could be the second Banksy.”
Graffiti is illegal in Iran; spray-painted slogans are quickly removed. The city instead has an arts commission that must approve public murals. More than 100 of Ghadyanloo’s proposals have been rejected, he said. But given the city’s past penchant for revolutionary art, his portals into imaginary worlds are strikingly different.
Most of Ghadyanloo’s inspirations come at night. “I have surreal visions when I sleep,” he said. “Now, I translate my dreams onto walls.”
Additional works by Ghadyanloo and his team are accessible on the website https://www.behance.net/ghadyy and his Facebook page in English.

 Classic architecture painted on contemporary buildings.


Photo credits: Courtesy of Mehdi Ghadyanloo via Facebook and Behance.net

Tags: Art, Offbeat

Zarif Interview on Russia & Peace in Syria

Robin Wright (for The New Yorker)

Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, is in demand these days. On the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, he shook hands with President Obama and met twice with Secretary of State John Kerry. … Zarif hosted both Republican and Democratic officials from previous U.S. Administrations, breakfasted with editors, huddled with American nuclear experts, and briefed the Times editorial board. ...

The day before Zarif returned to Tehran, I spoke with him at the residence of Iran’s U.N. ambassador, on Fifth Avenue, near the Metropolitan Museum. 



Click here to read the full article on The New Yorker website. 


Iran: A Done Deal

Robin Wright (for The New Yorker)

President Obama today won the riskiest gamble of his presidency. He now has enough support in the Senate to ensure that the Hill cannot kill the White House deal with Iran. Some will still try. Cheney has joined the noisy opposition and will give a big speech next week. Trump, Cruz and Glenn Beck have scheduled a "Stop the Deal" rally on Capitol Hill next week. The debate still to come - as Congress goes through the motions - will be (memorably) nasty. But Obama has now basically ensured that the Iran deal will be the centerpiece of his foreign policy legacy.

Click here to read the full article in The New Yorker.

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