Analysis by PMOI/MEK
Jan. 31, 2019 - In the past year, nationwide uprisings have drawn a lot of attention around the world to the events in Iran.
Regime change in Iran will have enormous ramifications for stability, peace, freedom and security in the Middle East and across the globe.
Many now believe that curbing the mullahs’ malign activities should be a priority. This includes U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who recently said that focusing on vital international goals such as stability, peace, freedom and security in the Middle East include "an important element of making sure that Iran is not a destabilizing influence." (Secretary Pompeo, Fox News, January 11, 2019)
Therefore, it is essential to look further than day-to-day news and try to acquire a strategic view on the course of events.
Well into the beginning of the second year of ceaseless uprisings that the Iranian regime promised to stop in its inception, one can recognize a number of severe crises surrounding this regime. We will discuss them very briefly in this article to provide an overview to be further analyzed in upcoming series of articles.
Iran's deepening social crisis
- Spread of poverty has far passed critical levels. 33% of the Iranian population (26 million people) are below absolute poverty line and 6% (close to 5 million) are below starvation line.
- Official government figures show 7 million underage workers, 4.5 million drug addicts and 2.5 million families supported by single mothers with unbearable restrictions on women's social and economic activities. And remember these figures come from a regime with such record of truth and trustworthiness that its former foreign minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, says on national TV, that they used Photoshop to cheat in nuclear negotiations with 5+1.
- 19 million residents in shantytowns (with no electricity, no sewage, no hospitals, no schools, no transportation, etc.)
- Catastrophic water situation. Issa Kalantari, former minister of Agriculture and present chief of environmental services said if no solution is found, 70% of the nation's population will have to migrate. (Aftab News, 17 July 2018)
In short, the social situation is explosive.
Iran's aggravating economic Crisis
- The main source of revenues, oil exports is approaching zero.
- The regime's own budget experts say the deficit is never going to be resolved, although the budget was prepared under austerity measures.
- There have been talks of substituting oil revenues by raising taxes. But this is a proposition that is economically impossible and socially very dangerous. It is therefore very unlikely for the Iranian regime to commit such a suicidal mistake.
- The value of rial (Iran's currency) has declined three folds compared to last year.
- Basic goods are now 70% more expensive.
- Huge factories which were icons of industry in Iran have shut down. This includes factories such as Melli Shoes, Arj, Azemayesh, etc. Tabriz’s huge automotive factory has lost 70% of its production capacity and is on the verge of shutdown.
- Just in spare parts section, 300,000 workers have either lost or are on the verge of losing their job.
- Bus production has gone from 300 per month to zero.
In short, the economy is on the verge of complete collapse.
The Iranian regime's factional fighting and internal crisis
- Iranian regime supreme leader Ali Khamenei is ill. Iranian officials are discussing what happens when the regime’s most powerful authority dies. Ahmad Khatami, spokesman for the Assembly of Experts, said last year that a committee was formed to choose Khamenei’s heir. But since then, they never talked about the issue any more. They lack any powerful figure who would be accepted by all factions and could lead the regime in the current tumultuous times.
- In-fighting between ruling factions has escalated unprecedentedly on how to confront the crippling sanctions and international pressures.
- When it comes to particular issues such as discussions on FATF, the factional fighting takes new dimensions. After U.S.’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, Tehran banked on bringing Europeans on its side. But it only resulted in a ridiculous 18-million-euro aid package that many analysts considered a joke. Then it was the turn for Khamenei's "doctrine" of "Looking at the East" to fail. Russian and Chinese companies are leaving Iran with a very fast pace. These have all contributed to the escalating in-fighting of the regime.
In short, factional fighting has reached levels of death threats by opposing factions.
The regional and international isolation of Tehran
- The death of nuclear talks, lack of any results by the European SPV, the supposed mechanism to allow the Iranian regime to circumvent U.S. sanctions, and failure of "Looking to the East" set the ground for the Iranian regime’s international crisis.
- A series of arrests Iranian regime "diplomats” and agents in Europe caught red-handed in terrorist plots, was a devastating blow to an already weak international position. 11 countries have severed ties with the Iranian regime particularly for its terrorist activities and war mongering in the Middle East.
- Regionally, the regime has is losing serious foot holds in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen.
In short, the regime is not nearly taken as seriously as it was a year ago in the region.
Tehran's failed efforts at suppression and censorship
- The regime no longer has an open hand in brutal crackdowns as it wish it could. While repression is the only way for the regime to control the society, it might itself trigger an explosion which frightens the regime tremendously.
- The regime's efforts to block social media and messenger services such as Telegram, have not only been unsuccessful, but have also backfired, making VPNs and various censorship circumvention tools more public.
In short, as vital as suppression and censorship are for the regime, they have lost their effectiveness.
- Qualitative weakening of the regime in the past 12 months.
- Impasse in facing various crises.
- Tangible prospects of overthrow.
All of these observations were made without discussing the role of the nationwide, organized resistance with a very powerful international presence.
The picture is generally clear. We will discuss it with more profound and detailed arguments in the upcoming articles.