Islamic Republic Regime. Resilience
In February of 2020, the Iranian regime will celebrate the 41st anniversary of its existence. Much like the past years, there will be military parades and chants of death to America, accompanied by its staged audience and spectators.
On November 15 of 2019, with the announced price increase of threefold for the price of gasoline demonstration began in many cities of Iran. Disaffected Iranian people and tighter sanctions imposed on Iran due to its nuclear activity have greatly affected the Iranian middle class in general. Demonstrations for the increased price of gasoline soon turned into a violent political disturbance that became a worrisome affair for the existence of the Islamic republic.
On the orders of Supreme Iranian leader, Ayatollah Khamenei these disturbances had to be prohibited as soon as possible. In order to truly understand the response of the Iranian regime to such mass political disturbances, one must review the history of the Islamic republic and its early years of the formation of the regime.
Iranian political activities against The shah of Iran was not a coherent or cohesive organized political movement. First and foremost they were the so-called National Front which consisted of mostly liberal moderate forces that had its origin at the time of oil was nationalized in Iran in the early 1950s. The other political dissidents were the outlawed Communist Party of Iran, the Tudeh party. The left-leaning Marxist Maoist groups made up mostly of idealistic students of the younger generation who advocated armed struggle against the regime of the shah of Iran. They were Mujaheddin and Fedayeen groups with the aim of changing the regime via a revolution in Iran much like China and the Russian revolution. More importantly, the other political opponents were the radical religious groups that had ties to clerics and continued their political activities and at times subversive activities against the regime of Shah of Iran.
The events of 1978 that led to the February revolution of 1979 in Iran were in need of a leader and it found it’s leadership from an exiled Ayatollah in Iraq. Soon after the collapse of the Regime of the shah of Iran which avoided bloodshed and possible civil war revolutionaries in Iran won. Soon struggle for supremacy among the so-called political groups in Iran began and no other group was more suited to win the power struggle other than religious groups led by Ayatollah Khomeini and his cohorts. But this was not possible without creating a group that could win the street battles and defeats the opponents. The so-called Hezbollah party or party of God was created not only as a political apparatus to represent the clerical regime but to fight for the regime and enforce its will as well.
They were instrumental to help Ayatollah Khomeini to consolidate power in Iran.The members of Iranian Hezbollah were mostly made of the religious people and tough guys who had some affiliation with local mosques and clerics. Throughout the contemporary of Iranian history, this loose affiliation always existed. With the start of Iran /Iraq and subsequent fear of regime from the previous regime for any possible coup, the revolutionary guards were created to safeguard the regime. The Hezbollah nucleus and other religious young people who joined the war efforts subsequently formed various future institutions of the regime. Revolutionary guards, Qudus forces who operate in the foreign countries and security forces loyal to the regime were created from this nucleus.
Hezbollah of Lebanon created during the Lebanese civil war was perhaps modeled after this scenario. First and foremost they provided needed social services and thereafter to create a well organized military force in the region friendly to the Islamic Republic and it’s aiming.Throughout the past four decades with any social and political uprising, the Iranian regime has shown that is ready to use force to inhibit and suppress the fall of the Islamic Republic.
Lack of organized political parties in Iran, spontaneous uprising without an organized base and leadership may not be effective to bring about change in Iran. The harsh response from the regime to these spontaneous uprisings has all contributed to the demise of uprising and establishment of a truly secular democratic state that is desired by many Iranian people. Perhaps a regime that is pro-western in general.
In 1993 in the Middle East Iran was the second country after Israel that introduced the internet in Iran. Nowadays internet and social media are a potent force in the shaping of the events and political outcome. The Iranian regime is well aware of this fact and at times closed the internet to avoid any political risk it may impose on its survival.
Iranian regime in times of crisis has tried to flex its moderate Political force to protect its existence. The recent rapprochement between Iran and Saudi Arabia mediated by Oman and Pakistan is an example of such a policy. Saudi Arabia is wary of another missile attack to its refinery that the damages it may have to it’s the economy.
Perhaps sanctions imposed on the Iranian regime has diminished the funds needed to support the war in Yemen or to sustain other regional proxies. Any rapprochement at this time with powerful players such as Saudi Arabia will be a counterbalance to the activities of the US to isolate Iran in the region. Recent developments at home have forced the clerics in Iran to focus more on their survival and existence.
Without the necessary ingredients that can bring about a regime change in Iran such a goal may not be achievable.
By Dr. Mehrdad Noorani