Many Iran watchers are puzzled with Iranian regime’s behavior these days. Ali Khamenei, regime’s supreme leader’s speeches are questionable. He seems to have lost touch with reality all together. The same can be said about the rest of regime’s leaders including Hassan Rouhani the President. No doubt the regime is under pressures both from inside and outside. A situation the theocratic regime has never faced in its entire life. The regime for years took advantage of a failed appeasement policy followed by the West.
It seems that Khamenei’s strategy for getting through the new round of crisis is to buy time. He knows full well that his regime is on the edge. What goes through his mind is hard to guess.
Focusing on what he just said on September 5th about recent crisis in currency market maybe a clue. He placed the blame squarely on outsider meddling in Iran. In his two follow up addresses however, he took a U-turn and said that the currency crisis has nothing to do with outside influence.
The first wave of Iran’s currency free-fall rocked the market in the summer. Khamenei is looking for a way out now.
Time is of an essence
The Iranian regime is under enormous pressure. Not a whole lot of options are left on the table and it has to make hard decisions. There are two deadlines looming in the horizons which the regime is anxiously watching them; one is the midterm elections in the US on November 6th and it hopes democrats won either chambers and the other is the second phase of US sanctions kicking in by November 4th targeting its life line Iran’s oil exports.
It is highly unlikely that any major shift in US policy in favor of the regime will be in the cards. Last year votes on bills are prime example that issues related to Iranin both houses were passed with consensus between both sides of the aisle. It means that Khamenei and his cronies in the Revolutionary Guards stand to lose big time if they are gambling on changes in the US after November elections in their favor. They often dream of times when Obama was in office. The Iranian regime knows full well that the public opinion in the US is against it because of its terrorist activities on both sides of the Atlantic. Throughout the world public opinion shape the internal and foreign policies of governments.
A few weeks ago, two Iranian agents were arrested in the United States spying on members of Iranian main opposition the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) and its partner, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).
In late June in Europe a terrorist plot was foiled by security forces intended for an annual gathering of the NCRI in Paris. Four EU countries were involved since two IRGC’s sleeper cells, a husband and wife, based in Belgium and another Quds Force agent turned diplomat stationed in Austria were involved. Assadollah Assadi, the diplomat was on the run when he was arrested in Germany.
Against this backdrop hardly any politician in Europe or the United States would risk getting involved with such sticky issues as Iran.
An enemy within
Since the start of protests in January, the Iranian regime’s leadership has put blame on outside meddling and the MEK activities in Iran. Despite IRGC’s usual threats for boosting its foot soldiers’ moral at home, time has proven that they are no match for the recent turn of events. Soon, what began as protests over bread, mushroomed to 143 cities across the country. The problem has since snowballed to a major and life threatening issue for the theocratic regime in Tehran. Outside pressure unlike the past 40 years is mounting and for the spoiled regime showered with gifts and incentive packages from the West has come as a shock. An Iranian regime official recently described the government as a patient on life-support.
Many analysts believe that the Iranian regime will not weather its current predicament. Economic failures as the bedrock fueled with four decades of absolute suppression are recipes for disaster. It is certainly true but it is missing a major component, which should be taken into the consideration and that is the role of an organized resistance. Khamenei and IRGC officials have said all along that MEK’s Resistance Units are playing a leading role in turning simple protests into major security threats for the regime.
Going back to terrorist plots in Europe and the US carried out by the Quds Force’s agents targeting the members and supporters of the Iranian Resistance, although seems disparate for a regime still in power, but keep in mind that it has very few options.