Iran’s President Speaks Out
There has been a significant development in the political situation in Iran. According to a Reuters report dated 9 Jan, “President Hassan Rouhani said on Monday young Iranian protesters were unhappy about far more than just the economy and they would no longer defer to the views and lifestyle of an aging revolutionary elite”. He is also quoted by Tasnim news agency as saying “It would be a misrepresentation (of events) and also an insult to Iranian people to say they only had economic demands”… “People had economic, political and social demands.”… “We cannot pick a lifestyle and tell two generations after us to live like that. It is impossible… The views of the young generation about life and the world is different than ours,” he said. Note also that it is reported that Rouhani said on Monday that “people should be allowed to criticize all Iranian officials, with no exception”.
These are quite remarkable words for the President of a country to make at a time of political crisis.
Of course, although elected, the President in Iran has little power. Power in Iran is with the religious head, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who is commander-in-chief of the armed forces and appointer of the heads of the judiciary. Key ministers are also selected with his agreement and he has the ultimate say on Iran’s foreign policy. But the emergence in public of apparent different views by the two leaders confirms that the protests reflect a tense situation at the head of Iran governance. And as Rouhani’s statements would have been well circulated publicly, they would add to the pressure to change governance (see Iranian President Criticizes Hardliners).
Some expert analysts are confidently predicting just that. A US expert on Iran who has visited it since the protests started, Edward Luttwak, argues “there is a fair chance that Donald Trump, who contradicts Barack Obama and Europe’s leaders by refusing coexistence with Iran’s ayatollah empire, will also have the satisfaction of seeing the dissolution of a regime that Obama among many others preferred to accommodate”. He claims that“with some 80 million people, and with oil accounting for 80 percent of its exports, Iran would need to export some 25 million barrels a day to make a go of it, but it can barely export 2.5 million… Iran cannot even match the $6,000 income per capita of Botswana… its citizens are not required to pay for extensive nuclear installations” …or “support a foreign dictator at war with 80 percent of his own population or provide generous funding for the world’s largest terrorist organization, Hezbollah, whose cocaine-smuggling networks and local extortion rackets cannot possibly cover tens of thousands of salaries. The ayatollah empire is doing all those things, which means that average Iranians are actually much poorer than their Botswanian counterparts”(see Strategic Writer Luttwak on Iran).
As to US policy, Vice President Pence wrote on 3 February that “months before the protests started in Iran, the president predicted that the days of the Iranian regime were numbered. Speaking at the United Nations in September, he said, ‘The good people of Iran want change, and, other than the vast military power of the United States, Iran’s people are what their leaders fear the most’. Much like another president who made similar predictions about the Soviet Union, the president was mocked. These words now ring truer than ever. Where his predecessor stayed silent in 2009, Trump swiftly offered the Iranian people America’s unwavering support. He has also committed to provide assistance in the days ahead.
More broadly, the president declined to certify the previous administration’s nuclear deal with Iran, which flooded the regime’s coffers with tens of billions of dollars in cash — money that it could use to repress its own people and support terrorism across the wider world. We have already issued new sanctions on Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and the president is weighing additional actions to punish the regime for its belligerent behavior and assault on its own citizens.
The United States has spoken clearly and unequivocally. Unfortunately, many of our European partners, as well as the United Nations, have thus far failed to forcefully speak out on the growing crisis in Iran. It’s time for them to stand up” (see Pence Says Trump will Support Iranian Protesters).
As I have already suggested, under the Turnbull government no support has been given to the policy adopted by our US ally, let alone to the many Iranians who seek the removal of the dictatorship. It is estimated that, since the take-over by the Extremist Muslim Supreme Leader, about 7 million Iranians have left their country. They have been conducting protests in the countries in which they now live, including Australia.
Another opportunity to support the US will come if Trump refuses to certify the nuclear deal which was made by Obama along with other major European countries. The need to make that certification comes up in the very near future.