Analysis by PMOI/MEK
Iran, January 30, 2020—The Iranian regime's political isolation is continuously growing, both regionally and globally. Under these conditions, Tehran’s diplomatic institutions cannot make any moves without creating more problems, including political strife inside the regime. As an example, when the regime’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif gave an interview to Der Spiegel, many of the regime’s officials responded by calling him a “disgrace,” "shameless," and so on.
Such internal conflict reflects a level of isolation that Tehran is struggling to deal with. And that isolation is currently being amplified by four major factors.
First: Activation of JCPOA trigger mechanism
After the United Kingdom, France, and Germany triggered the dispute resolution mechanism of the 2015 international nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the mullahs responded with threats in the hope of forcing Europe to withdraw from its new position. They even threatened to withdraw from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Without explicitly threatening to develop a nuclear bomb, the regime clearly called attention to North Korea’s prior withdrawal from the NPT, which led to that country obtaining nuclear weapons.
In the interview with Der Spiegel, Zarif called the “blue-eyed leaders of Europe" the servants of America and said they are fearful of the new customs tariffs imposed on European cars by the US. That, according to Zarif, is why the Europeans yielded to Trump's demands to isolate the Iranian regime and trigger the dispute mechanism.
However, in the same interview, Zarif repeatedly signaled that his regime is ready to start talks with the US. He even turned a blind eye to the killing of Qassim Soleimani when a reporter asked, "Do you find it impossible to negotiate with the US after Soleimani's assassination?”
Zarif answered, “No... The Trump administration can make up for its past, lift sanctions, and return to the negotiating table. We are still at the table. They left the table. America has done great damage to the Iranian people. The day will come when they will be compensating. We have a lot of patience. "
In response to Zarif's political retreats, the other faction in the regime accused him of "disgraceful" and "shameful" actions, and the Fars News Agency called for Zarif's immediate dismissal.
Second: Tightening sanctions
US sanctions on the steel, mining and petrochemical industries, which were Iran’s most important non-oil exports, are suffocating the regime. The US Treasury announced on January 23 that it has blacklisted four Chinese, Hong Kong and UAE companies for violating these sanctions. The new sanctions were imposed ten months after the initial sanctions on several Iranian petrochemical companies. The regime's total petrochemical exports in 2019 were worth $10 billion. In addition, the regime exported $4 billion of petrochemical raw materials.
The US Treasury Department had previously imposed sanctions on exports of metals and mines. Mines and metals exports also account for about 15 percent of Iran's total non-oil exports.
Therefore, Zarif’s interview with Der Spiegel and his signals to the United States are indicative of the pressure the regime feels due to the new sanctions and the possibility of UN sanctions being enacted through the trigger mechanism.
Third: Continuation of the Iraqi people’s uprising
Iraq, which was considered the backyard of the regime until a year ago, has changed course with the uprising that has been going on for months. The Iranian regime is now terrified of the Iraqi people's pressure to form a new and independent government free of Tehran’s influence. This has created a huge crisis for the regime.
Fourth: The uprising of the Iranian people
The uprisings of January 2020 and November 2019, and continuous riots throughout the country are major signs of conflict between the regime and the people. The massacre of 1,500 protesters in November 2019, is the foremost indication of a fierce confrontation, and it reflects the horrors of the regime. Both factors also point to Tehran’s illegitimacy on the international stage.
Accordingly, after turning a blind eye to the regime’s atrocities for a long time, the international community is now recognizing a change in Iran’s political climate, and that is why it is questioning the regime.
Now that regime is facing a whirlwind of crises, which is moving it toward a point of no return. Student protests over the downing of a Ukrainian airplane and the deaths of 174 passengers indicate a phase shift in the Iranian people’s uprising. The demonstrations, which took place after the brutal suppression of the November uprising, are themselves a turning point and above all, they send a message to the regime and the international community that the uprisings will not stop.
In short, the Iranian regime is facing unprecedented domestic and international isolation, and given the explosive state of the nation, this is the path that will lead to that regime being overthrown by the Iranian people.