Iran is stuck between the demands of its people and its claims to become a regional power.
Iran was the country in which the United States had the most persuasive influence in the Middle East during the Shah Pahlavi era. The Iranian state, which gained its independence in the 1950s, could not shed the influence of the U.S. and the United Kingdom. For instance, the nationalization efforts of Iranian oil, initiated by then-Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh, were terminated with a coup d’etat in 1953, orchestrated by British MI6 agents and the U.S. CIA. Since the Iranian Revolution took place during a period when the strength of the U.S. and the West was at its peak in the world, it was witnessed attentively by all nations as a historical turning point.
As we all know, Iran is a religious state established among Shiite nations. Since the imperial era, there have not been many states based on religion among the nation-states. In this context, despite the contradictions contained therein and several ups and downs, the Iranian Revolution has managed to establish and maintain a regime of its own kind. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, led this revolution and challenged the U.S. by calling it "the big devil," attracting the sympathy and hatred of many and fueling the success of such an ambitious revolution.
From time to time, there has been an ongoing debate on whether the revolutionary government established in Iran is genuine or, conversely, a regime promoted and supported by the West. Similarly, some thinkers also debate whether Iranian-Israeli relations are hostile. Or, is Iran perfectly fitting in the enemy role that the U.S. and Israel need to have in the region? It is as if this perfect enemy was ingeniously invented and continues to be enmity. On the other hand, Iran needs countries like the U.S. and Israel. There are many examples for and against the roots of such hostility.
The administration of former U.S. President Barack Obama attempted to include Iran in the system through the nuclear deal. Iran has tried to use this attempt as an opportunity for its regional hegemony. It dragged Iraq, occupied by the U.S., into political instability, hence being dependent on itself. It deployed soldiers in Syria. It created a military population in Yemen against Saudi Arabia. And while these activities were becoming a serious regional threat, the Republicans came to power in the U.S. and introduced a heavy embargo challenge to Iran. Iran has spent fortunes in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and Iraq for regional hegemony. No matter how high its oil income is, the impact of the embargo, on the one hand, and such expenditure for political influence, on the other, dragged the Iranian people toward poverty.
There is an important crossroads in front of the Iranian state. Does the well-being of the people living in Iran have priority? Is their freedom important? Or will Iran try to continue expanding its regional influence? People discuss this issue both internally and externally.
The empires contain many cultural profiles, including different religious groups and subgroups, which live their own cultural life in harmony. In the empires based on Islamic law, we observed the tolerance of Islam to several religious groups and subgroups within the multicultural environment.
Intervention and suppression of nation-states on human identity with the claim of creating a singular identity is a fundamental problem of nation-states. When a nation-state has a “national” religion in addition, this can indeed turn into a human tragedy. The Iranian people experience nation-state oppression and the influence of the religious state together.
There is a comprehensive discussion on the freedom of religion and conscience in the countries where the West has an extensive influence. In my opinion, shortly, Iran will discuss in depth the status of women and the freedom of religion and conscience. There are demonstrations from time to time in Iran, and we cannot say that the Iranian state is tolerant in accepting such manifestations. It seems that Iran shall continue to discuss the transfer of Iranian resources for regional politics, the impoverishment of the people, and finally, the freedoms to a large extent.