Protests are continuing to grow across Iran even as the regime in Tehran attempts to crush them. The demonstrations are increasing at a time when the leadership of the ‘Islamic Republic’ is struggling to adapt to its newly-reduced status after US President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the 2015 Joint Collective Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal between the regime and the P5+1 group of nations. With President Trump imposing the most severe sanctions to date against the ayatollahs over their nuclear program and the regime’s malign activities in neighboring countries and sponsorship of terror which have undermined security and stability regionally and globally, the regime has lost the geopolitical power it gained under his predecessor Barack Obama, the originator of the JCPOA agreement which was widely viewed as his “legacy deal.”
The current outbreak of anti-regime demonstrations preceded this latest crucial setback for the Khomeinist leadership, beginning at the end of 2017 in response to a spiralling economic crisis. The deterioration of Iran’s economy was already accelerating daily even before President Trump’s decision due to endemic financial corruption at every level within the regime, in addition to its vast military expenditure on the aforementioned regional wars and expansionism. Despite regime officials criss-crossing the globe in a frantic effort to save the nuclear deal, the damage to Iran’s economy is already weakening the regime’s regional power; the Trump administration’s decision has also pulled the rug out from under the regime’s efforts in recent years to be accepted as a law-abiding member of the international community, although the theocratic leadership’s veneer of ‘moderate reformism’ was long ago exposed as a sham by its aggressive regional expansionism, support for the dictator Bashar al-Assad and sponsorship of multiple terror groups.
Despite the frantic efforts by leadership officials to sign new financial and trade agreements and obtain credit lines from various allies to stave off collapse and allow the regime to continue funding its regional interventions, Iran’s currency exchange rate is approaching freefall while inflation is skyrocketing, with U.S. economist Steven H. Sanke announcing on Sunday that the current inflation rate stands at 78.55 percent. Meanwhile one U.S. dollar at the time of writing buys 42,270 Iranian riyals.
This economic crisis has had a devastating effect on the lives of ordinary Iranians already suffering due to the regime’s negligence, with the collapse in the last year of many state-backed finance houses under the corrupt mismanagement of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) with no warning or compensation leaving many citizens penniless and further intensifying public anger against the regime’s oppressive policies. Many workers at state-backed institutions have been unpaid for months, leading to strike action and protests among groups as diverse as factory workers and teachers. Meanwhile farmers across Iran have been protesting over increasingly severe water shortages, with the effects of climate change exacerbated by disastrous regime mismanagement of resources, leaving many unable to irrigate their fields or even feed their livestock; a large number of Iran’s farmers fear that they may be driven into insolvency as their crops fail.
Iranian authorities’ typically brutal efforts to crush the protests, with thousands of protesters arrested, beaten, imprisoned and tortured, and activists regularly, often publicly, executed on clearly fabricated charges, have not succeeded in quelling public anger; indeed, the regime’s savage response to public anger has simply further antagonised citizens who’ve suffered four decades of oppression, extremism and broken promises from the leadership.
Grassroots protests, unity threaten regime
Another notable feature of the current protests, along with their grassroots nature, is the unity across the social, religious and racial spectrum. This harmony between regime opponents is among the Islamic Republic’s greatest fears; like all totalitarian regimes, the theocrats in Tehran clings to power not only by brute force but through instilling an Orwellian mindset of being engaged in permanent war against an external enemy — usually the United States, Israel and Britain — using a strategy of ‘divide and rule’ tactics, sowing mistrust and division amongst various ethnic groups, sects and classes within Iranian society and accusing any dissidents of being heretics, “Israeli agents” and “CIA spies” who can then be blamed for the problems in Iranian society caused by the regime’s own brutality, corruption and incompetence. With Iranians having long ago seen through this cynical ploy and no longer willing to play the regime’s cynical divisive game and blame the USA, Israel or other nations for the problems caused by the regime’s own mismanagement, crimes and corruption, the Khomeinists are in deep trouble.
The fall of the regime is in the interests of all the peoples in Iran, not only to gain their own freedom and sovereignty over the nation taken hostage, terrorised and looted for decades by the Khomeinists, but to have positive relations with neighbouring nations and to build a modern forward-looking nation without the instability, tension and conflicts with which the regime’s unwanted interventions currently poison the region. With the regime gone, the people could finally have a hope of being part of a nation contributing to international peace and security rather than one regarded as a pariah.
For this reason, the Iranian people are eagerly seeking the international community’s support for their heroic struggle for freedom against the tyrannical regime. The people are all too well aware that any move to give the regime another chance by opening new negotiations over its nuclear program would mean legitimising the regional warmongering, terror and destabilising activities which are the foundation of its continuing existence. The world must realise that the ‘Islamic Republic’ regime will never adhere to international conventions, norms and laws domestically, regionally or globally in an international community which it views with absolute contempt.
Taking all these factors into consideration, the regime is unlikely to be able to withstand long-term domestic, regional and global pressure. Its collapse is a matter not of if but of when; for Iranians, hostage to the mullahs’ vicious theocracy for almost 40 years, that day can’t come soon enough.
Rahim Hamid is an Ahwazi Arab freelance journalist and human rights advocate who mainly writes about the plight of his people in Iran.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.