Monday, 25 March, 2019

“Balcony Diplomacy”

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By: Bobbie

There are many images that will be associated with what must be the longest negotiations in human history. Many are already being circulated on social media by Iranians. There’s the one where foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, in his shirtsleeves, is waving a draft of the agreement that he needed to get back to, or the one where he is holding both ears to hear the shouts of the reporters below. This balcony has now entered the annals of international conflict resolution and Iranian political history.
A raised small platform in the seminarian city of Qom, 1964. A middle-aged cleric sits slightly elevated on a traditional pulpit above a sea of white turbans. He is preaching to his juniors, deploring a recently passed law that exempts American military personnel from being tried by Iranian courts if they commit a crime in the country.
He declares that the Shah’s capitulation law is humiliating. For this he was exiled, first to Iraq and then to France, only to return 15 years later to become the supreme spiritual leader of Iran after the revolution. During the day, the school yard heaves with the mass of people who have come to hear Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini speak of his vision for a new Iran. It’s February 1979.
The world press will stand under the balcony of the Cobourg Palais hotel for 17 days and watch the end of our standoff with the world. More reporters will hover on the hot pavements of our capital waiting for what is now another Iranian spectacle, the street celebrations.
On the many balconies of the city, we will watch the celebrations and share a multitude of images on our smartphones from the day history became brighter from a balcony in Vienna. We will discuss the implications endlessly. Will the end of sanctions make life easier? What will the future hold? How soon and how meaningful will the changes be?

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