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How protests in Iran have set Tehran on a path of foreign policy crisis

Iranian regime president Hassan Rouhani
Iranian regime president Hassan Rouhani

Analysis by PMOI/MEK

Iran, January 22, 2020—Since the nationwide uprisings that spread across Iran in December 2017, Iran’s socio-political landscape has completely changed. One of these changes is the Iranian regime’s position in the Middle East region and the international front. After the protests, Tehran’s foreign policy has been moving on a downward slope and has been suffering from consecutive blows in different domains. This downward trend reached its peak in the November 2019 uprisings.


Iran’s regional and global crises

A look at events in the past two months gives a clear picture of the current conditions of the Iranian regime:

  • The regime’s greatest crisis in the region is the ongoing uprising of the Iraqi people and nationwide protests in Lebanon. These two movements have significantly hampered Tehran’s agendas in two of its strongholds.
  • Multiple rounds of sanctions by the U.S. and the intensification of the maximum pressure policy are tightening the noose around the regime. The continued tensions between the Iranian regime and the international community has put an end to any thoughts of using European countries as a loophole to escape sanctions.
  • The death of Qassem Soleimani, the second-most powerful person in Iran, dealt an irreparable blow to the regime’s terror and fundamentalism apparatus. Absent their commander, the regime’s proxy forces in the region have become paralyzed and are faced with a crisis of collapse and disintegration. The “strategic depth,” as the regime calls its meddling in neighboring countries is faced with a serious threat.
  • Tehran’s European allies have started to distance themselves from the failed appeasement policy. Following the Iranian regime’s declaration of the fifth step in retreating from its commitments to the nuclear deal, the three European signatories of the nuclear deal have triggered the dispute mechanism to hold the regime to account for the continued breach of its commitments.
  • Honduras, Colombia, and Guatemala designated Hezbollah, Tehran’s Lebanon-based proxy, as a terrorist organization. These are countries where the regime’s been long campaigning to get a foothold through Hezbollah and other terrorist entities. This development further highlights the regime’s growing isolation across the globe.
  • The regime’s failure to pass financial bills to become conformant with the regulations of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has brought the regime closer to becoming blacklisted by the international financial watchdog.
  • Albania expelled two Iranian diplomats from its soil because they had violated their diplomatic status. The measure comes little more than a year after Tirana expelled Tehran’s ambassador because of his involvement in terrorist plots against members of the MEK in this country.
  • The Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) shot down a civilian airplane on January 8, killing all 176 passengers on board. The fiasco triggered a new international crisis for the regime and resulted in a new round of protests in several Iranian cities, in which demonstrators targeted Ali Khamenei, the regime’s highest authority, and called for his resignation.
  • The regime’s isolation has expanded beyond the political front and moved into other domains. The Asian Football Federation banned Iran from hosting soccer matches because of security concerns and after several governments issued travel warnings to Iran.

These setbacks show that the Iranian regime is running out of tricks in its foreign policy. Not only the regime is losing its traditional allies in the West, but also, its lobbies and agents are under investigation and the regime’s officials are being criticized for their role in the downing of a passenger airplane.

As Hassan Rouhani, the regime’s president has admitted, the December 2017 uprisings pushed the regime on a path of exacerbating foreign policy crises. Likewise, the November 2019 protests further intensified these crises. With protests becoming more frequent and intense, things are only bound to get worse for the regime.