Iran still rolling with the punches

Another wave of Western provocations cannot harm the Iranian regime.

Instead of rapprochement with the West in order to ease the burden of anti-Iranian sanctions and to push its conditions under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iran chose to increase its engagement with Russia and China after the start of Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine. This situation has brought the JCPOA negotiations in Vienna to a standstill. Consultations on the nuclear deal are in intensive therapy mode at best.

Despite unprecedented pressure on Tehran and its economy from Western governments, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and his clerics and military will not retreat from their hard line to please local or international critics. This is due to the fact that since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Iran has developed a multi-level political system based on theocracy combined with democratic elements. Over time, this structure has become stagnant and slower to adapt to changing demands.

Under these conditions, externally provoked protests and unrest, coupled with the degradation of the country’s economic situation, have become widespread and are attracting increasing attention from international observers. However, as practice shows, Iranian demonstrators receive only rhetorical support from the West and cannot count on the US and EU to provide practical assistance to overthrow the regime. Moreover, open support for the protest movement by Western countries could undermine public confidence in the opposition itself and provoke retaliation from the Iranian government, which has experience in suppressing unrest.

It should be noted here that the Ayatollah regime was originally very closely linked to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). This paramilitary structure was adapted and equipped to deal with such unrest. The tandem between the government and the IRGC was cemented by the pragmatic nationalism of the Iranian elite, tired of the Pahlavi Shah’s rule.

Thus, the West is left to prey on the financial disadvantage of the Iranian population, which has lately, due to the frantic inflation rate (about 50%), been resulting in labor unrest and ethnic tensions. Thus, the most intense unrest was recorded in the Kurdish northwest of the country, in the Sistan and Baluchestan Province inhabited by non-Persian-speaking Sunnis, and the Azerbaijani-populated provinces of Ardabil, as well as East and West Azerbaijan. This has provoked Tehran’s strikes against Iraqi Kurdistan, as well as a diplomatic crisis with Baku.             Tensions in the oil sector, as well as in other industries such as farming sector, metallurgy and food processing, have also taken on a pro-Western tone. The confrontation between the regime and the opposition culminated in the death in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in September 2022. The incident sparked a new wave of demonstrations and pressure from Europe, criticizing the local authorities for human rights violations. The consequence was Germany’s cancellation of export credits stimulating trade with Iran, as well as the European Parliament’s recognition of the IRGC as a terrorist organization.

However, the West does not offer anything in return. And as you know, Western human rights activists, apart from naive promises that constitutional reforms will happen easily, cannot provide any guarantees. Only the son of the late Shah Reza Pahlavi believes in serious political transformation, but even with his arrival it is unlikely that any profound changes will take place.

To summarize, no matter how long Tehran declares the development of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, its message will never be heard in Western capitals. Despite the strongest push and constant incitement and provocations from the West, the clerical regime continues to hold its ground. Perhaps Supreme Leader Khamenei lacks popularity with the population, perhaps street protests have been too harshly suppressed, perhaps Israeli attacks can disable Iran’s nuclear capabilities. All this, however, will only further unite Iranians and make the country more secure. For opponents of the regime, predicting its demise remains a matter of hope, not expectation.

Bakhtiar Urusov, a political observer, exclusively for the online journal “New Eastern Outlook.


You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress | Designed by: Premium WordPress Themes | Thanks to Themes Gallery, Bromoney and Wordpress Themes