Saturday December 02, 2023
The regime Iranians are battling is not only their problem
Published : 24 May 2023, 11:19
Updated : 26 May 2023, 14:11
Iran's regime is facing an existential crisis after the tragic death of Mahsa Amini. The 22-year old’s death in the hands of “morality police” has raised anti-regime sentiments to a height, unprecedented in scale and scope. Now, Iranians from all walks of life are asserting their will for nothing less than regime change. From chanting slogans to writing them on walls and striking in oil and other key sectors such as petrochemistry and steel, they are sending a clear message: The regime is incorrigible and must go! And they definitely mean business, according to leaked analysis made by the regime’s intelligence agencies warning of a “state of explosion” in the society. So the people call their protests a revolution and seek to subvert the government with unparalleled unanimity.
However, Islamic Republic’s malice is not only directed against Iranians. Last November, Ken McCallum, director-general of MI5, set off the alarm bell about the “very real” threats of terrorism by Iran’s aggressive intelligence services while acknowledging that the uprising could “signal profound change.” Threats posed by the head of the octopus, as some Israeli authorities describe the regime, reach out through a complex network of tentacles to the rest of the Middle East, Europe and beyond. From dangerous cyberattacks to drug smuggling and outright terrorism, it is safe to say that the regime’s multi-faceted threats are increasingly imperiling numerous countries, including some in Africa.
With the nuclear deal largely comatose, Iranian negotiators have been playing the long game to take advantage of the West’s diplomatic processes. Iranian authorities initially assumed that a Democratic president in the White House would give them a chance to step up demands outside the agreement framework, and at the same time toy with uranium enrichment to potentially build a nuke if things go south. But then the “revolution” started, upsetting their equations, and creating a golden opportunity for anyone wishing for a calmer Middle East with no prospects of a hostile nuclear power.
Obviously, the West has no good memories of attempts at regime change and Iranians do not welcome it as no one in their right mind would want bombers above their head, but leaders of the free world still have a lot within their power to advocate the civil movement. A crucial first step would be proscribing the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the main body responsible for overseas terror operations and crushing dissent. The alarmist view that such a move could wreak havoc in the region has already been debunked since the US did it without accidentally triggering a third World War. On the plus side, such a measure would lead to a loss of morale among IRGC ranks, who act as a vital lifeline for the repressive regime.
Another step could be sanctioning the regime’s “religious and cultural” outposts, such as the Iran-funded Islamic Centre of England, described as a “vile threat” by Britain’s security minister. Scattered elsewhere in Europe from Hamburg to Copenhagen and Stockholm, these centers operate under the guise of “places of worship,” but actually engage in espionage or spreading propaganda, and fear among anti-regime activists. There are also political entities such as the NIAC, which works as a lobby for the regime inside the United States. International institutions can also follow UN Commission on Status of Women and remove the regime from seats used for concerted efforts to whitewash crime records at the global stage.
Like most other countries, Iran has a wide cultural and ethnic diversity, both among the people inside the country and the over four million-strong diaspora; therefore, there are differences about what an ideal government of the future should look like. Yet, from left to right, all dissident factions seem to agree on one thing: a democratic resolution. From leftists and liberals to monarchists and constitutional monarchists, all the opposing factions agree that the next system should be a secular one elected in a democratic and transparent process. A democratic Iran would stop destabilizing the region and would treat Israel like a normal country, a demand loudly echoed today by protesters shouting, “Neither Gaza, nor Lebanon; Long live Iran!” clearly indicating that Iran’s assets must not be spent on the regime’s adventurism abroad.
But overthrowing the brutal regime is not easy. Supreme leader Ali Khamenei has proven to be adroit at crushing dissent, just like his authoritarian allies in Syria and Russia, yet a look at Iran’s escalating financial crisis indicates the system is unlikely to endure for long. Therefore, the West might not want to enrich the mullahs directly or indirectly as such economic rewards only help lubricate the crackdown machine and contribute to the regime’s longevity.
All that aside, leaders of the free world should do the right thing by supporting the Woman, Life, Freedom movement, and help boost the West’s reputation, mired by historical blunders in the region. After all, what Iranians are battling is not only their government, but a malignant multinational cult that has been metastasizing from Iran to Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Yemen over the past four decades and keeps expanding well beyond the Middle East.
Note: Nasser Tahmasbi is a freelance journalist with inside knowledge of Iran. He is focused on the country’s rapidly shifting social landscape and writes about the latest political and economic developments there.