In my articles released on Jan. 2 and Feb. 25, I tried to explain the interrelationship between U.S. President Donald Trump's unilateral policies along with other parameters and the turbulent developments in Iran. "People are at the center of the protests and that makes the atmosphere in Iran very sensitive and provocative – governments pay serious attention if people are the main force behind a movement or uprising – it is more powerful in the sense that people can be both devastating for and/or influence the country's development," I had emphasized.
In addition, we can find no point in the history of the engagement and interference of the U.S. and the West, in Iran's domestic affairs, that resulted in better conditions for Iran. Rather, their interference through double-standard diplomacy and military threats under any cover have always had devastating outcomes for Iran. In this opinion article, however, I tried to answer some questions asked frequently these days as to why Iran is not taking necessary action; why Iranian authorities do not develop proper responses and where Iran is heading.
Since the beginning of the nuclear talks, the people of the country and officials have hoped the talks would lead to better living conditions in Iran. It would have been an opportunity for Iran to restore its image, damaged as the result of internal and external factors. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was a golden opportunity for not only the officials but also for traders and other economic actors both within and outside Iran, although there were still waves of distrust toward the U.S.' decision to sit around the negotiation table. Likewise, Trump's one-sided withdrawal from the JCPOA has broken down that hope. Fortunately, the EU is well aware of Trump's distorted approaches and policies and consequently declared its firm support of the JCPOA. Notwithstanding, we need more time to see to what extent the EU is willing to stand against U.S. policies, and whether the EU can fulfill the economic commitment of the JCPOA without a joint international multilateral decision.
But, what is going on in Iran? What we are currently witnessing in Iran is not solely the outcome of the U.S. unilateral withdrawal from the nuclear deal but the result of a series of phenomena that have generated consequential economic, psychological and political hardships; a climate of uncertainty hanging heavy over Iran in almost every area, with the effect of both internal and external factors, such as mismanagement, corruption, sanctions, threats of war and regional insecurity which have caused Iran to hemorrhage billions of dollars in an effort to save its economy and preserve its security within and outside its borders.
Social media affiliated with the West has carefully used this and provoked tension, sparking sporadic protests in various parts of Iran; although, some of the protests are unrelated to the current climate.
This has brought huge social, economic and psychological consequences and a climate of mistrust towards the government and the whole system. Mass media and social media in the Islamic republic have so far played little or no significant roles in defusing the provocation mechanism.
A small number of people in Iran no longer believe in the need for Iran's engagement in regional affairs in support of the oppressed and preserving its security and sovereignty. However, the fact is that this small group has little or no knowledge of who is who and what is what in security and strategic issues and tend to be misguided in these sensitive matters.Unsustainable financing practices, the limitation of governmental power and misguided government policies along with the lack of transparency in various areas have ultimately intensified the rial's devaluation, even superseding the value of the rial in 2012. As the result, the bleak economic situation has maximized confusion in society.
The lack of domestic unity and cohesion among various sections in the system of government have provided grounds for the current U.S. government to reach its ultimate goals without resorting to war. By targeting Iran's economic structures, Trump has used economic pressure as the "Achilles heel" of Iran.
Some of the political factions and fronts in the Islamic republic have unfortunately bowed down to international pressure and underestimated the historic achievement of the nuclear deal, totally oblivious that it is not the JCPOA, but Trump himself who is the source of all the problems since he pulled the U.S. out of other international agreements, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Paris Accord, etc. This disunity and lack of coordination among the sectors in the system has forced the current government into a corner and prevented it from properly deciding on and developing proper responses.
Facing the challenges to come
The ongoing situation indicates that the whole society is in a state of limbo. Like the experiences of other systems of governments around the world, just a little more hesitance at responding to the demands of the people in Iran will provide the chance for the internal political and economic manipulators, along with the outside forces, to deliver the final blow. To avoid facing further challenges, more power and authority should be delegated to the current government; the whole system in Iran should become more transparent in its expenditures and budgets and, as the top priority, pay careful attention to the people's social and moral rights and welfare. It is no secret that "a hungry man is an angry man."
And finally, the nature of the developments and the direction Iran is being pushed is by no means comparable to its previous experiences. Nevertheless, it does not mean that the so-called external support, including the U.S. support recently discussed by U.S. congressmen Dana Rohrabacher and Doug Lamborn, will by no means deliver Iranians better living conditions or prosperity. No instance of U.S. and Western interference and engagement in Iran's domestic affairs has ever resulted in better conditions for Iranians. Rather, their interference has always led to devastating results for Iran in the long run. U.S. officials are continuously expressing their concern for Iranians' well-being under the Islamic republic; the same as they also did during the rule of Iran's last shah, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi. However, U.S. officials should always remember "people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones."
* Researcher, Middle East political and security analyst
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