Wrestling with dimplomacy: Has Iran ruler’s Twitter account helped ease OFAC sanctions?

Wrestling with diplomacy - Iran tackles US head on

Wrestling with diplomacy – Iran tackles US head on


The Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has taken to using his Twitter account to share his ideas and movements and promote diplomacy,  which is a far cry from his predecessor’s tactics. Although a recent breakthrough in sanctions on Iran may not be directly linked to one of Rouhani’s tweets, his efforts to create transparency in Iran since he took office on August 3rd, less than 40 days ago, have been effective to say the least.

The US Treasury‘s Office of Foreign Assets Control has issued two general licences which authorise the exportation of services and funds transfers by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to support humanitarian needs and athletic exchanges.

The OFAC press release and details of General Licence E (humanitarian) and General Licence F (athletics) are here.

Wrestling with diplomacy

In February, the US national wrestling team touched down in Tehran to compete alongside Iranian and other national wrestling teams in the World Cup Tournament. This scored a diplomatic coup for both countries and may have allowed the US Government direct access to next ruler of Iran before candidate registration opened in May. Either that, or the trip to Tehran may have been a fortuitous coincidence. 

Nonetheless, the limited application licenses demonstrate clearly the US is willing to reopen communications with Iran and this may be due in no small part to efforts by Iran’s Twitter using, moderate cleric President Hassan Rouhani who is actively trying to re-establish Iran’s reputation on the global scale and to reinvigorate an economy severely damaged by sanctions on oil, gas and financial transactions. This week, he even tweeted good wishes to Israel for Rosh Hashanah.

Rouhani has repeatedly called for a lift on social media black-outs in Iran, and despite some opposition, has formed a task force dedicated to studying the legality of what Iranian’s say online and how they use the internet. Rouhani has used his twitter account in the past to comment on education, women, chemical weapons use and ‘Al Qaeda wreaking havoc’ in Syria.

The Iranian leader’s use of twitter as a diplomatic channel is a far cry from ex-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad‘s ultra-conservative, Holocaust denying approach to building bridges.

Follow Rouhani on Twitter @HassanRouhani.

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