Anti-Americanism is getting even more pronounced in Iran, even as the country is negotiating with the United States on a potentially historic nuclear agreement. Negotiators are currently trying to work through the last-minute issues that have arisen in the negotiations, including the pace of relief from economic sanctions. The possibility of improving relations with the United States has angered many hardliners in the country.
The growing likelihood that Iran and its Western negotiating partners will be able to reach a deal has invigorated Iran’s hardliners into even more vitriolic displays of anger towards the United States, often called the Great Satan. Chants of “Death to America” and the burning of American flags in the streets still mark many of the public events held across the country.
This week, the hatred that Iranians feel towards the United States has been on full display. The annual rally traditionally held in Iran and other Muslim countries on the last Friday of Ramadan has become an annual anti-Israel, anti-America extravaganza. State television reminds viewers every day of all the evil acts and “crimes” committed by the United States.
Iran’s conservative clerics, lawmakers and commanders fear the normalization of relations with its traditional enemies, particularly the United States. They are afraid of losing of their position in the Islamic world if relations with a country seen by many as devoted to oppression is normalized.
The tensions in Iran’s divided political system are bound to increase if a deal between the nations is completed. Those hoping for better relations with the West are fighting against groups opposing any type of diplomacy with the United States.
In 2000, President Mohammad Khatami advocated for better relations with the United States. In response, hardliners in the country began to throw stones at buses carrying American tourists. During the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the government sponsored a conference denying the Holocaust, causing many Iranian reformists to advocate for better relations between Iran and the rest of the world.
The government of President Hassan Rouhani has been promoting better relations with the West Since its election in 2013. The new government has also been welcoming interest from international and American oil companies seeking to invest billions of dollars in the country’s oil industry.