Long-term, Inevitable Strategic Errors of the Islamic Republic
The number of crises the regime is presently dealing with has been unprecedented ever since the outset of the Islamic Republic. The regime has been driven to exaggerate and cash in on a funeral in the hope that it can overcome these challenges.
The Islamic Republic is a regime that generates and lives off crises. Yet, the crises have become so numerous and frequent that they are shaking up the foundation of this already declining regime. The regime reacts violently to any form of mass protests, using arms and arresting thousands of people. In addition to its long-standing crises of legitimacy, authority, and influence, it is now facing new crises of systematic corruption, lack of trust, and incompetence.
The Islamic Republic came to power emphasizing Islamic justice, restoring the Islamic caliphate and laying the groundwork for universal governance. Ever since its dawn, it has won the favor of both Shiite Islamists and leftist national and Marxist groups. But what went wrong that after only four decades, the regime is now in such a wretched condition? The answer must be sought in the state’s strategic errors. For the Shiite clergy and its guards, to rule means exercising absolute sovereignty, totalitarianism, assuming more power in the region, and enmity toward the US and the West; it is, therefore, unsurprising that using these strategies to guarantee the religious government has backfired.
The Weapons of Mass Destruction Plan
Neither before nor after the Iraq war was Iran a target of nuclear warfare; therefore, it is difficult to accept the nuclear program to be solely pursuing defensive purposes. Iran is also too infamous to suggest that enriching Uranium is solely for scientific development. Undoubtedly, pursuing a nuclear program is an agenda of a regime that desires to be a superpower. Unfortunately for Iran, the international community has made it impossible for a nuclear program to proceed unchecked by a state that has terrorism, wiping another country off the face of the Earth and destabilizing the region at its heart.
The West has tried to accept many of Iran’s requests so that Iran can become a logical state, but it will never tolerate the nuclear program. Perhaps certain credulous western powers (like Obama’s administration and his European counterparts) feel that Iran can be controlled with encouragement and rewards, but later governments will not necessarily be as gullible as the previous ones.
Now that Trump is in power, instead of contributing to Iran's expansionist agenda, the nuclear program has caused the regime to head for demise. European governments, who constantly receive their share of Iran’s Supreme Leader’s vituperation and contempt, the latest instance of which was during the Friday Prayer on January 18, will inevitably follow Trump. Similar to tens of dictatorships around the world, the Islamic Republic could have guaranteed its survival without a nuclear program and with a good relationship with the West.
Political Risk Aversion
The regime has used the principle of Approbation Supervision, mass political suppression of protesters and opposition and replacing information with propaganda to minimize the possibility of a threat to the rule of the Islamic jurist (velayat-e-faqih). Such a risk-averse regime shuts every single window that lets a modicum of light and hope in, and in so doing, gets suffocated itself. Over the past forty years, more than any dissident, it has been the regime itself that has been strangled by the conditions, as the Iranian people have sought alternative ways to access information underground. The regime denies every form of compromise; this demonstrates why Ali Khamenei has not taken it upon himself to acknowledge the existence of various political groups in the country and has prevented myriads of candidates from running for the upcoming parliamentary elections.
Tying National Security to Expansion
After four decades, Iran’s early politics of ‘exporting the Islamic Revolution’ and ‘supporting freedom movements’ has now become an ‘expansion of strategic influence’ and is costing the regime tens of billions of dollars. Iran embodies a constant threat in the region and especially to its neighbors. Needless to say, the neighbors would do everything they can to cause trouble to such a regime.
Iran’s problem with every state in the region (even those which are not its enemies) is that everyone considers Iran a potential threat. Hence, Iran has no permanent ally in the Middle East and its neighbors. For the Iranian regime, the countries in the region are either America’s errand boys (those Iran deems enemies: Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the Emirates), or they are countries like Turkey and Qatar which will ultimately turn against Iran, or they are bankrupt governments with societies that are falling apart (such as Iraq, Yemen, and Syria). The Islamic Republic has been extremely active in the last group of these countries and the havoc it has wreaked will eventually turn to itself.
Ali Khamenei strongly believes the country’s security is paved through the expansion of the Quds forces and the destruction they are causing. In his speech on January 17, he declared: “these brave young men are apparently helping Palestine and other areas but in reality, they are guarding the security of our dear country”.
The Islamic Republic threatens the world with rocket attacks to make up for its lack of any defense plans when it comes to national security. In the event of a military attack, the drones and rockets it acquired from Russia and North Korea would do it little favor.
Cutting the Roots
Khamenei’s Bureaucratic Office and the Revolutionary Guard's total control over Iran’s economy has robbed more than 80% of Iranians of any claim on the national economy. Except for a pittance for salary and the regime’s aides in the form of subsidies, the people have no share of the national economy. Such an economic system cannot be sustainable in any country and one day the future-less people (those with no land, capital, employment, and dignity) will revolt against the corrupt class which is holding everything in its hands.
People’s cultural and social roots are being cut off as national culture turns into religious propaganda and social relations are converted into religious state ceremonies. The reason behind the migration of millions of Iranians is their feeling of being uprooted from the Iranian land. The state has uprooted millions of Iranians while Ali Khamenei and his entourage content themselves with a fake base of 10 million supporters. In his speech on January 17, Khamenei announced ten million mourners to have attended Soleimani’s public funeral, in spite of the 14-million total population of the five cities where the funeral took place.
The Insanity of the Regime
Iran has been acting ruthlessly beyond its borders and inside the country, even its supporters are alienated and suppressed. Having taken advantage of religious and national values, the Iranian regime has used up every ounce of its legitimacy.
Nowadays the regime has to grapple with the following problems: America’s sanctions due to the nuclear program, internal poverty and misery as a result of the regime’s expansionist policies and its rampant corruption and inefficacy, the disillusionment of the reformists because of political stagnation and the dissatisfaction of millions of Iranians inside and outside Iran who are socially and culturally uprooted.
The state lacks the power to change its course. Iran wrongly believed that internal propaganda and suppression, its Shiite militias in the region, nuclear power and international lobbying could guarantee its persistence, even though it lacks any financial and economic structure and a minimum satisfaction and support from Iranian society.
At the time of crisis, Khamenei resorts to his older methods, which increasingly prove less effective over time. Once again, in his speech on January 17, he used his old method of falling back on political propaganda and calling protesters dupes, with no hope of solving the crises.