Stormy autumn of Iran

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Ahead of Iran is not a drifting summer cloud; it is rather a stormy autumn night in which a series of successive blows are raining down on the economic, political and social structure of the regime. For years now, Iran’s economy has been in a critical condition, and in spite of the flawed nuclear deal concluded between the P5+1 and Iran, signed by former US President Barack Obama that lifted the sanctions, no real change has occurred in the development process or in the standard of living of Iranian citizens. On the contrary, poverty, inflation and unemployment rates have dramatically increased.

The Iranian government has squandered billions of dollars of the state treasury either on regional wars in Syria, Iraq and Yemen or on its regional interventions in the Gulf States and elsewhere, not to mention the corrupt political elites controlling the state and abusing their power to achieve personal gains.

However, since US sanctions on Tehran came into force after President Donald Trump withdrew from the flawed nuclear deal in May, the Iranian economy has entered a dark tunnel. Washington aims to cut Iran off economically and block any funding until it backs off from its attempts to destabilize security and stability in the region. The Iranian regime has benefited from funds from the nuclear deal to finance its Shiite militias. Nearly $3 trillion have been spent on regional and international interventions since the 1979 revolution as estimated by economists. Such a huge sum, if invested in development and education, would have turned Iran into an advanced country, but instead Iran opted for conflict, misery and stirring up chaos.

There are two rounds of US economic sanctions on Iran; the first round that has already come into effect is very painful and disturbs the structure of the Iranian regime. It targets the Iranian banking system, including the Iranian government’s purchase of the US dollar, gold and precious metals trade, as well as the Iranian auto sector. The second round of sanctions, to be imposed in November, will be very destructive to the system as it targets the oil and gas sectors as well as the Central Bank of Iran on which the Iranian economy is fully dependent. Rudy Giuliani, legal adviser to President Trump said: “When the greatest economic power stops doing business with you, then you collapse....We are the strongest economy in the world ... and if we cut you off then you collapse.”

The question is whether these sanctions will change Iran’s behavior in the region. Will it put pressure on the regime to sit at the negotiating table and make concessions that contribute to the security and stability of the region? The answers are “maybe” and “I doubt it”.

Over three decades, the change of leadership in Iran within the Governance of the Jurist, “Wilayat-e-Faqih,” has not brought about any change to Iran’s behavior in the region. There has been a change in the degree of rhetoric but not in the behavior, which has caused instability in the Middle East and in the world as a whole.

Hence, cutting off Iran has become a necessary option. The region has become a source of global, not only regional, threat, and the stability of the region affects the stability of the world’s peace and security. Iran and its armed militias are one of the major sources of this threat that must be faced.

The first step in confronting this threat is to cut off Iran economically and to stop financing it until it stops supporting and financing armed militias in the region. Iran’s intervention in the affairs of the region must become very costly.

In addition, imposing economic sanctions on Iran will undoubtedly lead to a state of internal rebellion that will result in a crack in the regime. This will perhaps bring to the fore political elites from outside the framework of Wilayat-e-Faqih that believe in patriotism and common interests. Such elites may work to transform the political path from the current state of zero conflict thanks to its behavior in sharing interests and cooperation in facing threats and contributing to the security and stability of the region.

Dr. Ibrahim Al-Othaimin is a Middle East affairs specialist and security analyst based in Riyadh. He can be contacted at Ibrahim.othaimin@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @Alothaimin


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