Not since the formation of the Islamic Republic in the wake of the 1979 Revolution has Iran been most shaken than it is now. Worry runs deep among the hierarchy and ayatollahs who run the country and keeping their grip on power is an all-consuming preoccupation. Pressure was brought to bear in 2016 with the election of Donald Trump.
Since his election, besides withdrawing from the bogus JCPOA, Trump has instituted crippling sanctions on Iran and encouraged allies not to circumvent them, although they sadly refuse to go along. The JCPOA was allegedly designed to keep Iran from becoming a nuclear-armed state, but in actuality paved the way for the exact opposite. It was a naive, “slap yourself on the back” moment from the outgoing Obama administration. Even if Iran did not breach the agreement, everyone with an ounce of gray matter in their skull knew Iran was still a dangerous international actor- everyone that is except the Obama administration.
However, we know, thanks to a daring operation by the Mossad, that Iran did breach the agreement. Their exfiltration of archives from secret locations deep in Tehran proved, at least to the United States, that Iran had no intention of abiding by the JCPOA in letter or spirit. As I write this, a UN ban on the importation and exportation of weapons by Iran is soon to expire. The expiration was one of those infamous “side deals” with the JCPOA. If Iran had abided by the deal, the expiration of the ban would have happened. The fact it is still in effect is proof they did not abide by the deal.
Currently, Iran is reeling from an economic disaster on par with the Great Depression with no end in sight. When coupled with the daring killing of Qasem Soleimani, the ease with which the killing took place shook confidence in the rulers among the people. Solemaini, elevated to some status higher than due by many in the West, is responsible for the deaths of thousands of American and British soldiers through his proxies.
Despite the uproar over his death, the Iranian people were likely happy he was gone. His terrorist adventurism outside Iran and his iron hand inside Iran along with his profligate spending for these actions is partially blamed for Iran’s current economic woes. Then Iran mistakenly shot down a Ukrainian airliner which further shook faith in the leadership. There have been large-scale demonstrations throughout Iran which the government has ruthlessly suppressed.
Recent explosions throughout Iran, especially at seaports, have taken place. Transportation and energy infrastructure has been disrupted. One of the largest explosions occurred at the Natanz nuclear facility which Iran admitted hampered their nuclear ambitions. Taken together, all these events have the Iranian people questioning their leaders, and those leaders questioning their grip on power.
To distract from domestic woes, despotic rulers will engage in foreign military actions. Here, Iran uses its proxy Hezbollah to do its dirty work. They have been trying to introduce more precision-guided missiles into their arsenal along Israel’s northern border. They have conducted a series of probing raids from bases in southern Syria and Lebanon into Israel that have thus far been thwarted. Striking at Israel- not directly, but through Hezbollah- would be a way for the ayatollahs to regain some standing.
Iran and China entered into a 25-year agreement where China would invest billions in Iran to upgrade critical infrastructure. In return, China would receive Iranian oil and natural gas at discounted prices. Such an agreement, if it comes to fruition, would be an economic lifeline to the Iranian regime, but China must move cautiously here.
China has greater interests in the area, namely Egypt and Saudi Arabia. With the Gulf states, they do not want to disrupt tenuous relationships, especially if they start providing Iran with military hardware, which was part of that 25-year agreement. Slowly but surely, as recent deals with Bahrain and the UAE demonstrate, brokered by the Trump administration, US policy is slowly whittling support away from Iran. They, more than anyone, know how batshit crazy the Islamic Republic can be.
Clearly, Iran is pressured from all sides. It will not be a popular uprising in the streets by the people to bring about a downfall of the government? It will likely occur at the hands of the military or some paramilitary group within Iran. Whether it is better or worse than the current regime, no one can say.
But one thing is abundantly clear. Does anyone with a right mind believe this would even be possible with a President Joe Biden at the helm? Yet another reason among many to vote for President Trump.