State attainment versus Individual attainment as model for Iran Challenge

For the Iran challenge, my model was about state-level goals and whether each state would attain it’s ascribed goals.  Fellow forecaster Carolyn Meinel [9] told me she suggested a question on when Jewish people would feel comfortable in Iran or would return to Iran.  On that one, I read in Pierre Loti’s book “Vers Ispahan” [1] about the Armenian Jewish Quarter in Isfahan [2][3].  Jewish people were protected by order of the Shah since quite a while. You can visit the Armenian Museum in Jolfa to see original decrees of the Shahs.[4]

Iranian Govt will probably say Jews have no problem.  The situation is much worse in Saudi Arabia, which does not permit synagogues or any religion other than Sunni Islam, and still executes people for witchcraft [8], a standard of jurisprudence which in North America was found not to improve the public welfare.[6]  There are synagogues in every major city in Iran.[7]   That said, The Iranian and Egyptian Governments persecute Bahais, considering the religion to be a dissident political movement.[10]  So it sucks to be a Bahai, way more than it does to be Jewish.

In general I think the answer to the return question will be “maybe 30 years from now”.  There is still institutionalized discrimination against Bahai and one would assume against Sunni Muslims and in general anything which is not Shiite.  This will last as long as the mullahs run the country, which may not be forever, in the sense that the Pope eventually stopped controlling things in Europe.  (Though the Cardinal may still control things in Boston.)

The phrasing of the challenge is “assess the impact of the nuclear deal on Iran’s future in the region and the world”.  So my framework is “state self-attainment” versus the religious freedom one, which is “individual self-attainment”.  No doubt there will be more distinguishable lenses.  I hope that when GJ Open has gotten enough input, they will distinguish the 5 or 10 different world-view/models that forecasters apply to the Iran situation and index the questions to the models and set up some kind of leaderboard for the world-views with some kind of performance metric to compare their predictiveness.    I’m not quite sure how to organize that, but if the goal really is “find the best way of decomposing a strategic question into falsifiable assertions”, then they need to figure out a criterion of success for that goal.

For the individual attainment lens, the following questions are questions Carolyn and I agreed on:

  1. When will Iran permit Israeli citizens or people with Israeli visits in their passport to visit/work in Iran?
  2. When will IRG accept Bahai as a religion and not as a banned political faction?
  3. When will the mainstream media report that a prominent Jewish businessperson is investing in an Iranian business?
  4. When will a prominent Jewish elected official (excluding those of Iran itself) visit Iran?
  5. When will Iran’s unequal blood money laws be changed to place Iran’s Jews on an equal footing with Muslims?

Of course since the answer to all of these questions is most likely “after 2017”, they are not really in scope for the tournament in practice, but do serve to illustrate the lens.  To keep things balanced and debate lively I would also add

6. When will Saudi Arabia permit Israeli citizens or people with Israeli visits in their passport to visit/work in Saudi Arabia?

[1] http://www.bibebook.com/files/ebook/libre/V2/loti_pierre_-_vers_ispahan.pdf

[2] http://www.balcanicaucaso.org/eng/Regions-and-countries/Armenia/New-Julfa-the-Armenian-quarter-of-Isfahan-154773

[3] http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/isfahan-xviii-jewish-community

[4] https://www.flickr.com/photos/hhayk/8706501251

[5] http://www.bloomberglabs.com/quantitative-finance/quant-seminars/, contact naseminar@bloomberg.net

[6] http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/09/07/the-witches-of-salem

[7] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_synagogues_in_Iran

[8] http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2013/08/saudi-arabias-war-on-witchcraft/278701/

[9] http://cmeinel.com/

[10] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bah%C3%A1’%C3%AD_Faith#Iran

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