On February 1st to 11th, 2014, the Islamic Republic of Iran held its 32nd Annual Fajr International Film Festival. Despite restrictive state policies and limited state and private financial support for the arts since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, the arts scene in Iran is nonetheless very dynamic. Like the rest of the arts in Iran, however, films are deeply political and linked to the Islamic Republic’s concerns about national security, especially what the regime labels as “soft war”.
President Hassan Rouhani took center stage at the annual Davos World Economic Forum, where he launched a new diplomatic charm offensive, his second since the UN General Assembly last September. This offensive aimed to woo Western business executives, including CEOs of multinational oil companies, to return to Iran and invest in an economy battered by international sanctions and years of gross mismanagement.Rouhani’s appearance at the World Economic Forum sparked varied reactions from Iranian media outlets, illustrating the Rouhani administration’s objectives and challenges in positioning Iran as a global player.
In Iran’s cultural war, television has served as a key battleground for religious, educational and cultural messaging. According to the Supreme Leader and his surrounding political circle, the state run Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) has the vital mission of transmitting Islamic values through television, which is crucial in the fight against the media aggression from Iran’s enemies.
Russia’s strategic goals in post-revolutionary Iran have vacillated in starkly different directions, moving between supporting Iraq in the devastating Iran-Iraq war, to selling billions of dollars in arms to Tehran in the 1990’s, to its present involvement in developing Iran’s nuclear program, while simultaneously refusing to sell Iran advanced air defense systems.
When the Rouhani administration took office in an environment of pressing foreign and domestic issues, hopes for a more free and open internet were widespread among the Iranian populace and international community. The debate over whether Facebook will be unblocked in Iran rages on with significant ambiguity regarding who has the final authority on the issue. Although members of the moderate Rouhani administration are advocating for more online freedoms, including national access to Facebook, Iran’s hardline conservatives believe Facebook should remain filtered.
Cartoons commented on Facebook filtering, music censorship, Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, and more.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has long warned against the dangers of cultural assault and soft war against the ideals of the Islamic Republic. Actors within the Islamic Republic including Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Basij forces, and fundamentalist Ayatollahs have also utilized soft power and allocated significant budgets to this soft war.
Cartoons commented on the economy, announcements by the Minister of Communication, pollution, and Internet relationships.