Why The Protests In Iran Are Unlikely To Cause Regime Change For Now

Why The Protests In Iran Are Unlikely To Cause Regime Change For Now
The Truman Doctrine, which gave impetus to the practice of 'regime change’ in countries that were perceived as being against the interests of the USA –  or could threaten its interests – is alive and well today, and being practiced, but with modern tools. These include influence operations on the youth of target countries via social media, creating a narrative through corporate media outlets, etc. And, if possible, such regime change efforts can also proceed through a direct military invasion, as we saw post-2001.

The recent protests in Iran started back on 16 September when Mahsa Amini reportedly died in custody after the Iranian police had apprehended her for alleged violations of Iran’s municipal laws. Soon the news spread out on social media and a media propaganda started blaming Iranian authorities for killing the lady in custody.

This was followed by Western and European countries imposing more and more harsh and severe sanctions targeting Iran’s state entities. The earlier sanctions already had put Iran in a terrible economic condition and inflation was more than enough to ‘punish’ the Iranian people. But such is the way of the US and its allies: in supporting the people of Iran they are shouting to be standing by. Their old and new sanctions directly affect, hurt, and kill Iranian people on daily basis. They contribute more than the Iranian government in the prosecution and the worst human life of Iranian people.

The media blitz was not even over, and worldwide protests started happening “in support of the Iranian women” – featuring people demonstrating against the Iranian government.

This was probably one of the rarest of cases when a 'revolution,’ instead of rising within a country, was attempted to be exported to a country. Protests were seen all over Western countries – whose warm wishes for the Iranian people may be gauged from the fact that they are the very people who supported Saddam Hussain in using chemical weapons against Iranians and have imposed sanctions for the past 40 years. In fact, the countries which demanded regime change in Iran and were promoting protests were the same who had imposed history’s harshest and cruel economic sanctions on the very protesters they were speaking to be supporting. This was hypocrisy and untrue. They never cared for the Iranian people but for their national interests; the support was purely aimed at achieving the lost pro-Western Middle Eastern power centre of Tehran as it was before the 1979 revolution

The major aims most probably behind supporting these protests were overthrowing the government, pressurizing Iran to say "yes" to the new nuclear deal, stopping the missile program, and halting Tehran’s support for groups in Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq, etc.

So far, they have failed in achieving even one of those goals.

The Iranian government has so far shown no willingness to sign the deal without any prior guarantees, and also has increased its work and research on its ballistic missiles program.

The Qaeem-100 successful test flights and the announcement of the upgraded version of the Iranian-made Bavar-373 defense system are indications of how constant and nonnegotiable these sectors are for Iran.

Moreover, Iran still stands loud and clear in its policies regarding those who it describes as 'imperialists’, and ‘occupiers’ – and it is continuing to improve, test, and develop the necessary equipment to defend its sovereignty against any possible threat to its survival.

The recent protests are far from achieving the goals of regime change at large and pressuring Iran to abandon its ‘specific’ foreign policies. These activities, propaganda, and resources will hardly impact the current government’s standing on its foreign policy decisions and activities beyond and within Iranian borders.

There are a few reasons for the failure of this strategy of trying regime change – or at least putting pressure on the government officials in Iran to abandon the policies that the West sees as unacceptable.

Firstly, the Iranian people, the government, and the religious figures ruling Iran follow what they see as the path of ‘Red Shi’ism’ which presents guidelines for their operations, policies, and decisions. Red Shi’ism aims to bring about a revolution with practical acts in the absence of their last and awaited Imam, Imam Mehdi (AS).

Secondly, the Iranian society is religiously motivated and largely accepts Vilayet-i-Faqih. The adoption of any system of thought can be manipulated but not faith of this kind. Iranians are guided by faith and belief in this system. The revolution against the Shah of Iran was based on the ideological beliefs of Red Shi’ism led by Imam Khomeini and Dr. Ali Shariati – and it is not easy to shake these.

Thirdly, there is the crucial question: who will replace the Islamic regime? If one talks of the reformists, they will yet establish a similar kind of government - as they also largely uphold the same ideology of red Shi’ism. Also, if you talk of the Shah’s regime, then it would be ridiculous to imagine that the Iranians will at any stage support the old monarchy. Most Iranians are familiar with the true face of the Pahlavi dynasty, which was seen as selling the country’s sovereign rights to Western regimes, creating a cruel secret police with help of the CIA aimed at eliminating anti-Shah elements, and so on. While the Western perception of the Shah’s regime is commonly one of a liberal, open and modern society with beaches and alcohol open to the public, and no dress code, the fact remains that Iranians overthrew this system long ago.

Fourth, the Iranian nation, by and large despite the sanctions, inflation, restrictive laws, and government structure, has still been participating in national life with great enthusiasm. Scientific, social, military and political developments continue unabated.

The only possible scenario where the regime can be overthrown or replaced is the elimination of the IRGC and the Basij forces: a task that seems almost impossible due to the secrecy in which these forces operate and their deep ties to the country’s leadership structure

The protests are likely fizzle out and leave Iran with the much-needed guidance to work more on correcting governance errors and filling the gaps which leave it open to subversion and infiltration from hostile powers.

The author studies International Relations at the National University of Modern Languages, Islamabad. His focus is on proxy wars, conflicts and aspirations for hegemony by international and regional powers in the Middle East region. Contact: Bilalhyder313@gmail.com