By Staff Writer
2018 was a challenging year for the Iranian Regime, from widespread anti-regime protests to international sanctions, both of which have done significant damage to the mullahs as we begin 2019.
These protests spurred US sanctions against the Regime, which only spurred more protests. It was like a perfect storm to destabilise the Regime. The Iranian Regime failed to address the demands of the protesters or the US, which is not surprising because it is simply not in the nature of the mullahs to abandon costly foreign wars or a nuclear weapons programme in order to help its people survive. So the sanctions and the protests grew all the more, eventually leading to other problems.
Of course, foreign investment tanked, with companies many pulling out of deals with Iran citing fear of US sanctions. This was even true for European companies, whose governments promised to help them avoid sanctions and threatened penalties if they withdrew. This has only further destroyed the Iranian economy, as can be seen from the 2019-2020 budget, which shows severe cuts to services and an increase in military spending.
Another problem faced by the Regime was a deterioration in relations with neighbouring states, thanks largely to Iran’s meddling in the region and threats against other Middle Eastern countries. Many countries in the Middle East and North Africa cut or reduced diplomatic ties with Iran, following the US’s lead. Even France, who is still a party to the 2015 nuclear deal, removed its diplomats following the Regime’s bomb plot of a Paris gathering of the Iranian Resistance.
Factional infighting, which has long plagued the Regime as the mullahs scrabble for their share of power, only got worse. Some warned that the Regime must address the needs of its people or risk imminent collapse, but this should not be mistaken for moderation. Those figures are merely concerned with keeping the Regime going. They could not care less about the Iranian people.
While the IRGC has only become more powerful inside Iran, taking advantage of the weak government to further increase its control, and may well be the group that will actually assume power upon Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s death from cancer. As the IRGC is behind some of the worst repression inside Iran and some of the most costly (and deadly) military activities, this will mean that the situation in Iran will continue to deteriorate.
Dr Mohammed Al-Sulami, the Head of the International Institute for Iranian Studies, wrote: “The regime is trying to manage the fallout from these crises, rather than confronting them, hoping to gain more time until the 2020 US presidential election. It hopes that a new US administration with new policies will be elected, as the regime considers Washington as the source of its limbo.”
But the crises faced by Iran are the result of the Regime, not the US and so, the only option available is regime change.