Iran's hardliners have had themselves quite an "implementation week." As the U.S. and Iran ironed out the final details of a prisoner exchange and coordinated the implementation of the complex nuclear deal, the Islamic Republic's deep state went on a spree.
First they boarded two U.S. Navy boats at gunpoint. Then they tried to detain the mother and wife of one of the hostages they were releasing. Topping that, on Sunday Iran's hardliners voted to disqualify nearly all of President Hassan Rouhani's political allies from running in next month's parliamentary elections.
The disqualifications are a blow to President Barack Obama and European leaders who had hoped the accord would benefit Iran's moderate (by comparison) president. Much of U.S. strategy in the nuclear talks has been aimed at strengthening perceived moderates in the hopes of weakening perceived hardliners. This was Obama's argument to Congress when he urged Democrats to oppose sanctions on Iran. Privately, U.S. officials have pointed to February's elections as a chance for Iranians to give the nuclear deal popular legitimacy inside Iran.