Our 6-person group now touring Iran is being accompanied by Professor William Beeman, a noted Iran expert from the University of Minnesota. Dr. Beeman has sent us two reports detailing his observations from the trip, which will be ending back at the Tehran airport in a few days. They make for informative reading and serve to remind potential American tourists that the only way to find out what is really happening in Iran is to go see it for yourself. Please keep in mind that our private and small-group guided tours are more comprehensive, more luxurious and around half the price of larger group tours offered by other Iran travel providers. Read Prof. Beeman’s first report below.
I am currently in Iran traveling from Tehran to Ahwaz via Zanjan, Hamadan, Kermanshah and Khorramabad. Thus I am traveling through Azerbaijani, Kurdish, Luri and Arab regions of Iran. I will write more later, but it is singularly impressive that every Iranian citizen I have encountered, without fail has expressed fervent hope that the nuclear accords in Lausanne be successfully concluded. I am speaking to these people in chance encounters directly in Persian, which I speak fluently.
As an example, at a restaurant ouside of Khorramabad, sitting next to us were four workers from the Department of the Environment doing am insect control mission in a nearby forest. They were all Lurs. I asked them several questions about climate and agriculture—the wheat harvest is just beginning, and the Luri tribal migration is taking place. Then one of them started talking about Cyrus the Grea who wrote the “Cyrus Seal”, and how Iranians were all “children of Cyrus” who didn’t want war with anyone and who respected other nations, and weren’t terrorists. He also expressed a desire for the Lausanne talks to succeed.
There was a large display of flags of all nations, but no American flag. Our driver, Hossein, asked the woman at the manager’s desk why there was no American flag. She said : “when they sign, I will put it up”
I can’t emphasize enough how widespread this view is. The papers are full of optimistic scenarios when the accords are signed. One 19 year old guy told me that he hoped the accords would succeed so he could “go to America and get a wife.” So this is a bit silly, but it shows how widespread the consciousness of this is in the Iranian public.
The other point is that whether Azeri, Kurd, Lur or Arab, one other theme is that “yes we are members of minority ethnic communities, but we are all Iranian and proud of our heritage.”
Americans should be visiting Iran in droves, but we are virtually the only American group here among Germans, Italians, Spanish, Chinese and other groups. As usual, we are overwhelmed by kindness and hospitality and impressed by the robustness of Iran’s internal economy. The shops and bazaars are full, the produce and food supply is astonishing. The idea that the current sanctions are crippling the economy doesn’t hold up on inspection.
I will write more as I continue this eye-opening trip.
University of Minnesota
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