Recently, there have been media reports about the former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s attempts to reenter big-time politics. Many observers believe that Ahmadinejad, who served as president of the Islamic Republic from 2005 until 2013, intends to run for the country’s top civilian job in May 2021, a move allowed by the Iranian constitution.
The ex-president has spent the past few months visiting the country’s various regions, speaking at meetings and rallies and being active on Twitter and Instagram popular among Iranian youth. He even has his own website – http://ahmadinejad.ir/.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has also been making himself visible internationally, with personal messaged sent over the past few years to Presidents Barack Obama and Emmanuel Macron. Recently, he sent a missive to Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, urging him to end conflicts in the Middle East, including Yemen, and offering himself as a potential mediator in any peace process. He has sent similar messages calling for an end to the war in Yemen also to Abdel Malik al-Houthi, the leader of the Shiite movement Ansar Allah (Houthis) currently in control of northern Yemen, and to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.
Speaking at a June 2020 rally in the northern province of Gilan, Ahmadinejad sharply criticized President Rouhani for approving a 25-year plan for cooperation between with China. The ex-president slammed the bilateral accord as “a secret deal with a foreign side against the interests of the country and the nation,” to a thunderous applause from the gathering.
There is no denying the fact that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has supporters who root for him during his visits to the provinces, especially now that, amid the socio-economic problems largely resulting from hard-hitting US sanctions, the liberal reformers, led by President Hassan Rouhani, have been ceding ground to radicals and conservatives, who stand by the principles of the Islamic revolution and the precepts of the Islamic Republic’s founder, Ayatollah Khomeini. These “principlists” include Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who since leaving office in 2013, has shown himself as a critic of the policies of his successor, President Hassan Rouhani. The ex-president supported all anti-government actions (but not before he stepped down seven years ago!), and remains opposed to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal, signed in 2015.
Ahmadinejad is particularly popular in small towns and rural areas, and for a good reason too, because his biography, as well as his populist rhetoric and image, appeal to a certain segment of the Iranian population.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was born in October 1956, into the family of a poor blacksmith in the village of Aradan in the country’s northeastern Semnan province. His father, Ahmad, was a deeply religious Shiite Muslim, and his mother, Khanom, was a Sayyida, an honorable title given to those believed to be direct bloodline descendants of the Islamic prophet Muhammad.
The family moved to Tehran when Mahmoud was one year old. He was raised as a devout Muslim. Still a child, he already knew the Koran by heart, and at school he quickly gained the reputation of a hardworking and capable student.
In 1976, the would-be president entered Tehran’s prestigious University of Science and Technology, successfully graduating with the diploma of a transport engineer.
During his student years, he actively participated in the anti-Shah youth movement of a radical Islamic hue. After the Shah’s overthrow, Ahmadinejad, then a third-year student, joined the ultra-conservative Islamist Organization for Strengthening the Unity of Universities and Theological Schools. According to unconfirmed reports, he took part in the November 1979 seizure of the US embassy in Tehran. In 1980, he volunteered for the Iran-Iraq war as part of the IRGC and took part in a series of sabotage operations in northern and eastern Iraq. In that same year, he married his fellow student Azam al-Sadat Farahi, a mechanical engineer.
Upon his discharge from the army, he took up the career of a professional politician. In the late 80s, he headed the administrations of various cities in West Azerbaijan Province. In 1993 he was elected governor general of the newly-formed Ardabil Province, while simultaneously serving as an advisor to the Minister of Culture and Education of Iran, until the liberal reformer Mohammed Khatami removed him in 1997, whereupon he returned to teaching.
During that time, Ahmadinejad often visited the holy city of Qom to meet with Ayatollah Mohammed Yazdi, a radical representative of the Iranian clerical elite. Ayatollah Yazdi eventually became his spiritual mentor and played a significant role in his political career.
Six years later, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad returned to politics, and in 2003, the Tehran Municipal Council elected him as city mayor. As mayor of the capital, he rolled back most of the liberal reforms implemented by his predecessors, tightened censorship, enforced Islamic morality, ordered the closure of all of the city’s Western fast food outlets, tightened Islamic norms in clothing and everyday life, instructing women to comply with the Islamic dress code, and men in public service to grow beards and wear short-sleeved shirts.
In June 2005, Ahmadinejad was elected president after running a populist campaign focused on social justice. In June 2009, he was re-elected for a second term in a tough tug-of-war with his political opponents. Ahmadinejad’s campaign rivals refused to accept his victory, claiming that electoral fraud had occurred during the voting. Anti-government protests and demonstrations, known as the “Green Movement,” ensued, but were suppressed.
For fairness’ sake, it should be noted that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has always maintained an ascetic lifestyle both in everyday life and in the positions of power that he held. He has never been embroiled in any corruption scandals – a rarity in modern-day Iran.
Observers, who have been following Ahmadinejad’s activities, point to several surprising or shocking details of his life both as a politician and a high-ranking official, such as:
- as president, Ahmadinejad took the bus to get to work;
- his wife, Azam al-Sadat Farahi, worked as a cleaner in a Koranic school;
- when asked by the US TV network Fox News what he usually said to himself when looking in the mirror in the morning, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad replied: “Remember that you are nothing more than a simple servant.”
- when Ahmadinejad first entered the presidential office, he surprised many by giving the pricey Persian carpets hanging on its walls to one of Tehran’s mosques and replacing them with ordinary cheap carpets;
- upon his election as president, his property declaration included a 1977 Peugeot 504 car and a small house in one of the poorest districts of Tehran, inherited from his father 40 years earlier;
- President Ahmadinejad also impressed his staff by bringing his breakfast to work in his briefcase every day, consisting of several cheese and olive oil sandwiches made by his wife;
- during his tenure, any Cabinet minister, before being appointed to his post, was to sign a document, which, among other things, included a pledge not to enrich himself and make his and his relatives’ bank accounts open to public scrutiny;
- after his resignation, Ahmadinejad refused the presidential pension, saying that he had worked not for a pension, but for the good of the people;
- In his spare time, he likes to graze sheep and to help street sweepers with their job…
Well, this could have been just for show, and still…
Pro-Ahmadinejad propaganda was playing up his asceticism and fairness, comparing (just as a hint though, because no one can be compared with the Imam!) his modesty and fair-mindedness with those of the leader of the Islamic revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini.
Then what are the characteristic features of the policy of President Ahmadinejad, the man who for eight years held the second highest position in the Islamic Republic of Iran?
To answer this question, one needs to know exactly what country the president inherited in 2005 and the processes leading up to the situation, which then existed in Iran.
One should keep in mind the revolutionary upheavals, economic experiments of the Iranian version of military Communism and the impact of the eight-year Iranian-Iraqi war that by the close of the 1980s had left the country in a state of socio-economic decline. The potential of the harsh system that distinguished Ayatollah Khomeini’s Islamic regime had been exhausted and this is something Iran’s clerical leadership realized full well. The very economic survival of the Islamic Republic was on the line now and speedy reforms were sorely needed.
It was at that critical point in time that pragmatists came to power – first, Hojat ol-Islam. Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani (1989 – 1997), then – Hojat ol-Islam Mohammad Khatami (1997 – 2005).
During the 16-year presidency of these two prominent leaders, despite all the contradictions and mistakes, deviations, failures and miscalculations, Iran gained strength, becoming a leading power in the Near and Middle East. Spiking oil and gas prices certainly helped, as oil export revenues quadrupled from $11 billion in 1998 to $40 billion in 2005.
The national economy was looking up, investments were flowing in, and democratic reforms were on the rise. On the foreign policy front, Iran was emerging from the semi-blockade and self-isolation, opening up to the outside world, which had gradually improved the country’s image internationally. This certainly facilitated Iran’s involvement in the political and economic processes going on in the world, in a boost to the national economy.
However, for all the socio-economic gains of 16 years of reforms, they threatened the very foundations of the Khomeinist ideology, which they were supposed to save and strengthen. The reforms (whether their architects and builders wanted it or not) were actually taking the country and society away from the strategic course laid out by Ayatollah Khomeini.
This is something the radical conservative Iranian clergy and their secular associates simply could not allow. To maintain their power they sought the revival of Khomeini’s ideas in a bid to reverse the policy of the two previous presidents.
Rafsanjani and Khatami – these two “Moors” of Iranian politics – had done their duty though, saving and strengthening the regime. They could go now, making way for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Formally speaking, President Ahmadinejad is a secular man, an engineer, but at the same time he sincerely considers himself a soldier and a direct messenger of the Messiah – the 12th hidden Imam Mahdi, and claims to be in constant mental contact with him.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s first actions as president showed that he was firmly on the path laid out by Ayatollah Khomeini. Naturally, a return to the political and ideological fold of orthodox Khomeinism is impossible without the elimination of any sprouts of liberalism, especially when it comes to ideology. True to the precepts of Khomeini, Ahmadinejad banned Western music and movies, suppressed any signs of non-Islamic culture and essentially extended all the restrictions that he had previously introduced as mayor of Tehran, now on a national scale.
During his eight years in power, President Ahmadinejad, a native of the IRGC, did a lot to increase the Corps’ political and economic sway. Directly and indirectly, Ahmadinejad granted preferences to the IRGC in order to boost its commercial business assets. The Corps’ commercial role is particularly evident in at least 229 major holdings and civilian companies. The IRGC dominates the country’s construction, energy, petrochemical, mining, engineering, transport, telecommunications, trade, insurance and banking sectors.
As a result of the IRGC’s economic expansion, initiated by Ahmadinejad, by 2015 the Corps already controlled 25% – 35% of the national economy and 25% of all capital. Nowadays, it is not only a powerful military-political, ideological and intelligence organization, but a significant financial and economic establishment too.
The defense industry, also under the auspices of the IRGC, received a big boost during Ahmadinejad’s presidency. In particular, the rocket industry has made a major headway in the development of new combat systems, including for launching satellites. In 2009, on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Islamic Republic, Iran placed in orbit its first space satellite Omid (Hope) launched by a two-stage Safir-2 (Messenger-2) booster, thus joining the club of space-going powers.
The Iranian nuclear problem remains the most important factor influencing the situation in and around the Islamic Republic. Back in 2003, in an effort to solve this problem, President Khatami initiated “nuclear negotiations” with Germany, France and Britain, which were supervised from the Iranian side by the incumbent President Rouhani. Under President Khatami, Iran signed the Additional Protocol to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Although this document, which gives the IAEA additional access to Iranian nuclear facilities and provides for surprise checks, was not ratified by the Majlis, Khatami issued a directive, first to comply with its requirements, and, secondly, to suspend the country’s uranium enrichment work. This was done until 2006.
During the first months of his presidency, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad nixed all the positive results, achieved by his predecessor, President Khatami, in resolving the Iranian nuclear issue.
The country was now ramping up its nuclear ambitions. Mastering modern technologies, Iran had advanced so much in its IRGC-supervised nuclear program, that it was now able to create its own complete nuclear cycle, primarily an industrial infrastructure for uranium enrichment, which became a cause of serious concern by the whole world. While in the early 2000s Iran had only 164 centrifuges, by 2013 their number had increased to almost 20,000.
The international community responded to this by ratcheting up pressure on Tehran, demanding that it ensure full transparency of its nuclear program and prove its entirely peaceful nature. The UN Security Council adopted six resolutions, four of which introduced sanctions against Iran.
Under Ahmadinejad Iran began to slide back into isolation. Unlike his predecessors, Rafsanjani and Khatami, Ahmadinejad stubbornly refused to seek any compromises and opted for a policy of confrontation, relying on a demonstration of force, both globally and on a regional level. The political tension around Iran sometimes escalated into military confrontation. Responding to outside provocations, the Ahmadinejad administration has repeatedly threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz, which resulted in large US and allied naval concentrations close to Iran’s borders and pushed the situation to the brink of war. Meanwhile, the military tension around Iran continued to impact the political and economic situation inside the country and the regional security system as a whole. Quoting Ayatollah Khomeini, Ahmadinejad then said that “the Zionist regime must be wiped off the face of the earth, and with the help of divine power, the world will soon live without the United States and Israel.”
President Ahmadinejad policy resulted in a cool in relations with the EU countries, which had traditionally been among the main trade and economic partners of Iran. Most other countries around the world were equally wary of building closer partnerships with Tehran.
The President increased the scale of Iran’s military and political activity in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Persian Gulf countries.
The resulting international isolation and the actions of Iran’s opponents dealt a heavy blow to the Iranian economy, which by the end of Ahmadinejad’s presidency presented a very serious problem. Despite the fact that during Ahmadinejad’s eight years in power Iran had earned $1 trillion 200 billion, half of that as oil revenues, this did not prevent the country from sliding into a crisis.
The economic crisis did not come as a result of Western sanctions alone though. Under President Ahmadinejad reformers and moderate conservative traditionalists were being gradually phased out from the state apparatus with radicals actively taking over all the three branches of power in the country.
All this was seen by many as an attempt by Ahmadinejad to limit the power and influence of the first generation of Islamic revolutionaries and the clergy and to create a new political and business elite by promoting the current and former relatively young employees of the IRGC to government posts, and to provide state assistance to IRGC-affiliated companies and organizations. This led to the security forces’ increased interference in the political life of the country – something Ayatollah Khomeini warned against in his political testament.
Simultaneously, Ahmadinejad sought additional powers as president and was trying to weaken parliamentary control over the executive branch and other power agencies, much to the chagrin of traditionalist conservatives who hated to see any weakening of their positions.
Ahmadinejad’s all-stops-out ambitions were apparently the reason why his relations with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei strained in the final years of his presidency, which ultimately led to the political isolation of Ahmadinejad and his associates after 2013, and prevented him from running again in 2017.
However, the situation in and around Iran has since changed very significantly. The virtual collapse of the JCPOA, aggressive US sanctions, falling oil prices and the coronavirus pandemic that hit Iran hard have set the stage for a political comeback by anti-Rouhani “principlists,” who scored a crushing victory in the February 2020 parliamentary elections, winning 223 out of 290 seats in the Majlis.
The moderate speaker Ali Larijani left the Majlis, replaced by IRGC General Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf. His two deputies are former members of Ahmadinejad’s government. According to observers, 60 members of the new Iranian parliament are people close to Ahmadinejad.
Almost all the most important positions are now in the hands of radicals, some of them seen as potential presidential candidates, such as Chief Justice Ebrahim Raisi, who heads the most radical conservative camp in Iranian politics, Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council (NSC) Rear Admiral of the IRGC Ali Shamkhani, and Secretary of the Council of Political Expediency, former commander-in-chief of the IRGC, General Mohsen Rezayi.
There may be other conservative presidential hopefuls now in the making, of course, but the abovementioned politicians are unlikely to exchange their high-ranking positions for the “lose-lose” post of president. After all, it is clear that the current economic crisis in Iran will not end any time soon and voters will inevitably fault the president for this. In addition, the conservatives want to prevent anything that might damage the popularity of Ebrahim Raisi, who is reportedly being groomed by them for the position of the country’s next Supreme Leader.
The situation apparently favors Ahmadinejad, with many local analysts noting that “the general trend in domestic politics increasingly resembles the methods and style of Ahmadinejad.”
Reformist politician Hossein Khanizadeh believes that Ahmadinejad will run for president: “With the election of the 11th parliament, Ahmadinejad’s supporters are negotiating with the Guardian Council (GC) about his possible participation in the elections.” An unnamed ally of the ex-president clarified that “the issue is past mediation and is now in the stage of direct discussion. Ahmadinejad has met with a number of GC members to discuss his candidacy for the presidential elections.”
That being said, many in the conservative camp have fresh memories of President Ahmadinejad’s waywardness. Conservative lawmaker Yakub Reza-zadeh flatly rejects the possibility of the ex-president’s participation in next year’s elections. He believes that Ahmadinejad has no place on the political stage after he repeatedly voiced his disobedience with the Supreme Leader.
“When Ahmadinejad decided not to follow the recommendation of the rahbar – Ayatollah Khamenei – and took part in the 2017 elections, Ahmad Janati (the head of the GC) said that this would lead to unrest. How can a person who does not obey the orders of the leader of the revolution and provokes unrest in the country become president again? ” Reza-zadeh wondered.
With the presidential election nine months away now, the conservative-radical bloc is quite likely to put forward a new candidate. As of now, the candidacy of ex-President Ahmadinejad looks pretty real.
The only reason why the author has analyzed in such great detail the personal traits of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his policies as president is because if he is elected again, this would undoubtedly determine the main trends and features of the country’s foreign and domestic policy, which, in turn, would result in an across-the-board metamorphosis of the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is something we need to prepare for.
The future of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his participation in the 2021 presidential race certainly depends on the decision by the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, and, of course, on how the situation in and around Iran will develop in the coming months.
From our partner International Affairs
Why Did We Forget The 1999 Earthquake?
The earthquake that happened in Marmara region in 1999 was a really big one. On 17 August 1999, a catastrophic magnitude 7.6 earthquake had struck Turkey, causing monumental damage with more than 18,000 deaths. After more than two decades what kind of precautions and policies has the Turkish state adopted to be ready for the next earthquake? I am afraid the answer to this question is not a satisfying answer for most of us…
Yesterday night, another catastrophic earthquake shook Turkey, this time the southern part of the country. A number of cities saw major damage. In Malatya, Kahramanmaras, Sanliurfa, Adana, Hatay and Diyarbakir several buildings collapsed including public buildings like that of hospitals and town halls.
According to the data from AFAD (Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency), the earthquake of 7.8 magnitude occurred at 04:17 A.M on February 6th 2023, and 130 aftershocks at maximum level of 6.7 followed the initial earthquake. According to State News Agency, Anatolian Agency (AA), over 3,380 people died as major earthquakes rocked Kahramanmaras, affecting several other regional provinces. However the data coming from CNN is different. CNN notes that, more than 4,300 people have died after the devastating earthquake ripped through Turkey and Syria, leaving destruction and debris on each side of the border.
M. Naddaf’s news story from Nature Journal cites Turkish scientist Seyhun Puskulcu, a seismologist and coordinator of the Turkish Earthquake Foundation based in Istanbul. According to Püskülcü, people in Turkey are well aware of their vulnerabilities to earthquakes. “This wasn’t a surprise,” says Puskülcü who was touring the cities of Adana, Tarsus, Mersin and west Turkey, delivering workshops on public earthquake awareness.
The big picture shows us a bitter reality: We did not take lessons from the 1999 earthquake. The earthquake happened the day before is really a major one but official authorities should have been prepared for such a crisis bearing in mind the warnings made for several times by the scientists.
Some Twitter posts are really meaningful showing the righteous rebel of Turkish citizens:
-Give power, see the effect, has anyone seen Mr. “One Man”?
-You spent all your black day coin as if there is no tomorrow, look at the situation we are in now! For God’s sake, can the state be run so carelessly? There’s no money in the cash box, what do we do now? We still have relatives that we have not heard from. You haven’t sent a person to that area yet.
– Isn’t it everyone’s debt regardless of political party to this country to try to prevent future earthquakes from causing so much damage, to question under what conditions the destroyed buildings, roads, airports have been built?
Haskoloğlu’s tweet:Tens of thousands of people are still desperately texting. There are still places where no help has gone. Don’t believe the news and statements that are shown on television as if only 10 buildings have collapsed. This is real disinformation. The situation is not good. Survivors may be lost to the cold.
Following the earthquake, the Turkish Red Crescent (Kızılay) has started the delivery of aid materials for Kahramanmaraş and all the regions affected by the earthquake. To learn how you can donate to Kızılay, you can go to this link.
In addition to Kızılay donation, if you’d like to help Turkey, Ahbap is a reliable and independent NGO working in coordination with state agencies for disaster relief. You can use the following info for donation:
USD IBAN TR320006400000210212150262
EUR IBAN TR150006400000210212150277
Protest in Iran: A Middle Eastern déjà vu with a twist of irony
A recent survey of Iranian public opinion suggests that the lack of confidence in a Middle Eastern regime is starkest in Iran, although crisis-wracked Lebanon, Egypt, or Syria may compete.
Surveyed in late December by the Netherlands-based Gamaan Institute, an overwhelming majority of the 158,000 respondents in Iran and 42,000 Diaspora Iranians in 130 other countries, rejected Iran’s Islamic regime. The poll was published days before Iran commemorates the 44th anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution.
The poll’s reach was achieved in part by Voice of America and London-base and Saudi-backed Iran International TV helping with the distribution of questionnaires. Iran International made no mention of its involvement in its reporting on the survey.
Iran, which has accused Iran International of fomenting anti-government protests and cited it as evidence of Saudi Arabia’s involvement, is likely to try and discredit the poll on those grounds.
For its part, Iran International asserted last November that Iran had plotted to kill two of its journalists.
As a result, Gamaan’s use of partisan distribution channels raises legitimate questions.
That doesn’t take away from the fact that respondents participated in the poll against the backdrop of anti-government protests that have continued for four months despite a harsh regime crackdown, including the sentencing to death and execution of demonstrators.
Middle Eastern autocrats are less afraid that the Iranian protests will be contagious like the 2011 popular Arab revolts that toppled the autocratic leaders of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen.
There is a twist of irony in reduced Middle Eastern anxiety. Twelve years ago, now embattled Iranian leaders claimed the Arab revolts had been inspired by their 1979 revolution that overthrew the Shah, a monarch and an icon of US power in the region.
That is not to say that Arab autocrats have no concerns today. On the contrary, the 2010s were bookended by the 2011 revolts and mass protests in 2019 and 2020 that overthrew governments in Lebanon, Algeria, Iraq, and Sudan.
Rulers in Egypt and Jordan, where rising commodity and energy prices, coupled in Egypt’s case with economic mismanagement, fear, together with their Gulf backers, that a black swan could spark an eruption of frustration and anger that is boiling at the surface.
Nevertheless, lack of concern about a domino effect bears witness to the yawning gap between Iran and much of the rest of the Middle East as well as doubts the Iranian protests that, at least for now, are fizzling out because of the crackdown and economic pressures, will lead to immediate regime change.
Even so, the stark results of the Iranian public opinion survey are likely to give rulers in Tehran and elsewhere in the region pause.
The fallout of the protest is likely to reverberate over time rather than immediately in Iran as well as regionally. It may also contribute to hardening US and Israeli attitudes against the backdrop of the collapse of efforts to revive the 2015 international agreement that curbed the Islamic republic’s nuclear program and alleged Iranian progress towards a nuclear military capability.
Some of the survey’s findings could not be starker.
Asked, “Islamic Republic: Yes or No?” a whopping 80.9 per cent of people in Iran said no. Not surprisingly, that figure was 99 per cent for Iranians abroad.
Similarly, 80 per cent of those in Iran supported the anti-government protests while 67 per cent believed they would bring about change.
Almost three-quarters, 73 per cent, wanted to see Western nations pressure the Iranian government in support of the protests. Seventy percent agreed with Western governments potentially proscribing the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization, expelling Iranian ambassadors, sanctioning officials involved in the crackdown, and seizing Iranian assets.
Twenty-two per cent of those in Iran said they had joined the protests, including participating in nightly chanting against the government; 53 per cent indicated they might. Thirty-five percent had engaged in acts of civil disobedience like removing headscarves or writing slogans; 44 per cent participated in strikes, and 75 per cent were in favour of consumer boycotts. Finally, eight percent said they had committed acts of “civil sabotage” while 41 per cent suggested they might.
A majority of respondents in Iran, 85 per cent, seemed to suggest that the protests and opposition to the regime needed an organizational structure. They said they were for creating a solidarity council or a coalition of opposition forces. Forty-two per cent agreed that the council should include those in Iran as well as Iranians abroad. Fifty-nine per cent expected the council to establish a transitional body and a provisional government.
The chance of such a council getting off the ground in Iran is remote at best. Moreover, Iranians were divided about what political system should replace the Islamic republic.
Inside Iran, 28 per cent and 32 per cent outside preferred a presidential system; 22 per cent in Iran and 25 per cent abroad favoured a constitutional monarchy, presumably with the return of Reza Shah Pahlavi, the Virginia-based son of the toppled Shah, while 12 per cent in Iran and 29 per cent outside want a parliamentary system.
Similarly, 60 per cent of those in Iran believed regime change was a prerequisite for meaningful change, but only 16% were proponents of a structural transformation and transition away from the Islamic Republic.
In the polling, Mr. Pahlavi emerged with a significant lead as the most popular potential candidate for membership in the council on a list of 34 names presented to respondents. Other candidates included footballers Ali Daei and Ali Karimi and activists like Hamed Esmaeilion and Shirin Ebadi.
Nevertheless, the likelihood of a return to power of a Pahlavi may be even more remote than the most recent wave of anti-government protests toppling the Islamic regime.
Even so, the thought that a popular revolt, the nightmare of Gulf autocrats, would topple the regime they view as the greatest external threat to their security and restore a monarchy seems ironic at the very least.
The current economic crisis in Egypt and the attempts to drag the Egyptian army into a war against Iran
The United States of America is trying to force Egypt to enter into a regional war against Iran for the benefit of the countries of the Arab Gulf region and Tel Aviv. Hence, the United States of America and its other partners in the international monetary and financial institutions are putting pressure on Cairo in this regard, through the arbitrary policies of the International Monetary Fund and its major shareholders. And on top of them: the United States of America, Britain, France and Germany, as an attempt to oblige Cairo to agree with them to confront Iran, and with Egypt having to resort to the International Monetary Fund for the fourth time since 2016, after that game of American, Israeli and Western intelligence in confronting the Egyptian army to force it to confront Iran, after the game of withdrawing a number of major international investors from the country for purely intelligence, political and military reasons in favor of the goal of confrontation. with the Tehran regime. This coincided with the practice of Washington and the Western powers, through their arms in Cairo, of several artificial economic crises, such as the shortage of foreign currency in the Egyptian market, the weakness of the Egyptian pound, the rise in inflation rates, and others.
For its part, the United States is trying to gather more allies in its war against Iran. In this regard, it is trying to persuade the European Union to join its alliance in the war against Tehran. Perhaps the big gap in the front of the United States of America remains the European Union, through which the Iranian regime wants to penetrate in order to weaken the American and Israeli position that is motivated and mobilized towards the danger of war. Perhaps because of the refusal of the countries of the European Union and the countries of the NATO military alliance to bow to the American and Israeli demands to enter into direct military confrontations against Iran, it was the main direct reason for the threat of former US President “Trump” to expel the United States from NATO membership and to keep Europe alone in front of the Russian threat, which might force the countries of the European Union, from the point of view of “Trump”, at the time to modify the views of the countries of the European Union and the countries of the NATO military alliance.
From my analytical point of view, what is happening in the region in terms of the American and Israeli attempt to mobilize against Iran with Gulf support, and the attempt to drag the Egyptian army to fight without its direct interest at the present time to confront mainly with Tehran, is a war with different faces and multiple players, but Iran remains the field. The main conflict is in a war fueled by central banks, the economic structure, oil, banking and trade at all levels.
On the other hand, the options available to Iran seem limited to confront the specter of the American-Israeli-Gulf war in confronting it, in addition to the ongoing economic war and the growing threats against it. The options against Tehran appear to be all accompanied by risks and risks. Internally, Iran has to convince its people to bear the policy of austerity, and externally, the Iranian regime is counting on the support of China, Russia, and the armed militias that support it in the countries of the region, perhaps to threaten through it to ignite the situation throughout the region and hint at the danger of the straits and sea lanes in the Red Sea. On top of them are the Straits of Bab al-Mandab and Hormuz and the Gulf of Aden. This may make the situation more complicated for America, Israel and their other allies in the event of entering into any uncalculated military confrontations with Iran, which Egypt and President El-Sisi are well aware of the enormity of engaging in any potential clashes with the Tehran regime.
The point of view of Egyptian President “Abdel Fattah El-Sisi”, as a former military intelligence man, and the Egyptian army, and their response to any attempts to enter into military confrontations with Tehran and try to convince the Arab Gulf states of that, is (the cost of war), in the sense of what the countries of the entire Gulf region and the region will incur by waging a similar war. guerrilla warfare and armed militias. As the issue of establishing and supporting armed militias in the countries of the region has become something that everyone knows and does not need proof. And the matter is not limited to Shiite militias backed by Iran, such as: (Lebanese Hezbollah, and the Houthis in Yemen), but Iran will also find, in the event that America, Israel and the Gulf enter military confrontations with it, great and direct support from Al-Qaeda and the nearby Taliban movement in Afghanistan. Borders with Tehran, and there are reports indicating the Iranian regime’s complicity with the terrorist organization of “ISIS”, and all of these organizations will be used once in the event of a military confrontation with Iran, and Iran will inevitably resort to re-enriching uranium very quickly and developing ballistic weapons and missiles to confront the imminent war. The entire Gulf and region will be destroyed, as well as the movement of the straits and sea lanes will be affected and the entire international trade movement will be paralyzed, and the security of Egypt, the region and the Suez Canal will be affected, which will disrupt the global trade movement.
And in light of the outbreak of any war against Iran, the Iranian decision-maker will be forced here to resort to and use these militias and armed groups, as a pressure card on neighboring countries, the United States of America and the Gulf. Based on this option, it is likely that the pace of terrorist operations will increase in the countries of the region in the coming period of time. This is clearly understood by President El-Sisi and the Egyptian army, so he distances himself from entering into any confrontations or clashes with Iran, not to push for the complete destruction of the region in favor of Israel in the first place, as it is the only beneficiary of that war, to spread chaos and unrest throughout the region, including the Gulf countries and Arab supporter of the war against Iran.
Perhaps that economic crisis fabricated by the West in the face of Egypt, its indirect result was that American and Western call through their monetary institutions, of the need to restore foreign direct investment as a real way out of the current crisis after the flight of investments estimated at about 20 billion dollars from investment in the Egyptian debt, according to intelligence reasons. Purely, as I mentioned in my analysis, because of the attempt of the extreme right and hardliners in Israel to enter into direct military confrontations with Iran with the generous support of the Gulf countries, and their attempt to drag the Egyptian army and involve it by force to defend Tel Aviv’s malicious dreams of bringing Cairo into serious military confrontations with the Tehran regime. Perhaps this is what the International Monetary Fund declared explicitly in favor of Washington mainly and in support of Tel Aviv’s hard-right policies, by announcing that Egypt will be affected by the global repercussions of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, with a funding gap of $17 billion over the coming years. This is the same as what “Ivana Hollar”, head of the International Monetary Fund’s mission to Egypt, declared:
“The reform program of the authorities in Egypt must give a greater role to the private sector, which is urgent, and it is very important that the state ownership policy be approved at the highest levels, including by the president”
This is what Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi understood with the mentality of a military intelligence man, as a former head of the Military Intelligence Service in Egypt, by trying to exert maximum American and Israeli pressure on Cairo in order to enter into a confrontation with unsafe consequences to confront Iran, by giving “El-Sisi” his orders to form a “crisis committee”, to follow the situation on a weekly basis as soon as the Russian invasion of Ukraine begins, as well as current events. President El-Sisi also instructed the army to provide food commodities to citizens, after President Putin’s war against Ukraine caused the largest global food crisis, if we add to it those reprehensible American and Israeli attempts to force the Egyptian army to enter into direct military confrontations with Tehran. Perhaps this was one of the main reasons, from my analytical point of view and my reading of the general political and economic scene in Egypt, behind those tours that Egyptian President “El-Sisi” made in the Arab Gulf region, specifically those presidential tours to (Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, and Qatar).
Then, the Egyptian government, represented by the “Egyptian Council of Ministers”, issued an official report issued, based on directives and presidential orders from President El-Sisi to address the Egyptian people, in a framework of transparency to address in this report the most important issues related to the general economic situation in the Egyptian state during the year 2022. Specifically, and in the context of the official report issued by the Egyptian Council of Ministers, 17 main claims and allegations were answered, in terms of (the size of the external debt, the state’s general budget, the exchange rate, the state’s credit rating, as well as the feasibility of national projects, the terms of the Monetary Fund loan, and the rise in prices. Crisis in the situation in banks), and other issues that occupied the Egyptian street during the last period.
This brings us to the general political scene in Tel Aviv, and that successive Israeli pressure on the regimes of the Arab Gulf states for a possible and imminent attack on Iran, and perhaps that is the main reason for the use of an Israeli extreme right-wing government at the present time, which facilitated the Israeli Prime Minister “Benjamin Netanyahu” to form an alliance that is the largest of its kind in the history of Tel Aviv is the far-right parties and the religious extremists, who are pushing for the inevitable confrontation with the Tehran regime to protect the interests of Tel Aviv.
Where the Israeli hard-right, led by Israeli Prime Minister “Benjamin Netanyahu”, raises many slogans in the direction of war against Iran, including: preserving the security of the region, assisting the Gulf countries that have signed peace agreements with Israel and others, such as the UAE and Bahrain, and indirect support for Saudi Arabia in the wake of these multiple Houthi attacks on Saudi oil facilities, and the Iranian-backed Houthi militias targeting Saudi Aramco facilities in the Red Sea, which Iran denied, in addition to the “Netanyahu” government’s promotion in Israel towards war among most segments of Israeli society, under many and varied allegations, such as: stopping Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, and promoting that this has become one of Israel’s most important priorities in its foreign policy.
In the event of a confrontation between Israel and Hezbollah, the turmoil emanating from Syria and the control of ISIS, which has swept the greater part of the region, will reach directly to the Egyptian border. This particular development was raised by President El-Sisi in an official and popular public speech to him, emphasizing:
“We do not need additional complications related to Iran and Hezbollah”, adding: “I am against war, as crises can be resolved through dialogue”
This confirms the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi’s endeavor to avoid the region witnessing any tensions, especially between the Arab Gulf and Iran, or witnessing further escalation with the help of Washington and Tel Aviv. Egyptian President “Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi” left no doubts about his position, assuring that:
“The Middle East does not need security in the Gulf, which constitutes a red line. We believe in Egypt that any threat to the Gulf states also affects our national security”, with President El-Sisi acknowledging in several official speeches to him, that:
“Security in the Gulf constitutes a red line, and we believe in Egypt that any threat to the Gulf states also affects our national security”
Tel Aviv, along with Washington, has also become involved in promoting between the countries of the region and the Gulf, primarily about the feasibility of a military war against Iran, and exporting a file for Israel’s fear of Iran’s interference in countries close to its borders, with leaks that Tehran has supplied a group of ballistic missiles and precision ammunition to its proxies in “Hezbollah group” in Lebanon and in Syria as well. Therefore, Israel announces its fear of the nuclear agenda to produce nuclear weapons for Iran and the equipment that carries it as a threat to the security and safety of the entire region and the Gulf in particular as an ally of the Tel Aviv regime through normalization and peace agreements with it. Hence, the attempts of Israeli intelligence and its Mossad apparatus to strike a number of nuclear reactors in the Iranian city of Isfahan are attempts that the Israelis are promoting internally, regionally and internationally, as a “part of Israel’s attempts to strike Iranian capabilities and prevent them from supporting their proxy groups in the region”
The fundamental question remains here, when talking about how all regional and international parties view the extent of support that China and Russia can provide to the Iranian regime in the event of war with Israel and the Gulf, with direct US-Western support? The answer to this question will make us analyze the reasons for Washington’s efforts to curry favor with the political system in Egypt in the first place, through the visit of US Secretary of State “Anthony Blinken” to Cairo and then his departure to Tel Aviv as part of the American game of moves and probing the pulse of Egypt and the countries of the region. Perhaps relying on Chinese and Russian support for Iran will be one of the strongest cards that the Iranians bet on, especially given the existence of vital and necessary Egyptian and Gulf interests with the Chinese and Russians in the first place. This is what China stated directly, that it is likely to continue buying Iranian oil after the conclusion of the second phase of sanctions against Tehran in November 2018. “Mohsen Karimi”, as deputy governor of the Central Bank of Iran, confirmed in official statements published to him in the Persian media on Monday, January 30, 2023, that (Iran and Russia) have linked the communication and transfer systems of their banks to each other, to help promote commercial and financial transactions under the sway of Tehran and Moscow to Western sanctions.
This Russian financial and economic support for Iran has been mainly since the re-imposition of US sanctions on Iran in 2018, after Washington withdrew from the nuclear agreement concluded between them in 2015, which was mainly between Tehran and the world powers, after which Iran was separated from the “Swift” financial network, as an International Bank Transfers, which is headquartered in Belgium. The similar restrictions have been imposed on a large number of Russian banks since Moscow’s attack on Ukraine in February 2022. This is what was confirmed by “Mohsen Karimi”, deputy governor of the Central Bank of Iran, in a public challenge to Washington and the West with the help of China and Russia, by stressing that:
“Iranian banks no longer need to use the Swift system for transfers and financial transactions with their Russian counterparts, which can all the parties may open letters of credit, transfers or joint guarantees between the two parties”
This was confirmed by the Russian Central Bank, in agreement with the Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Iran, “Mohsen Karimi”, stressing that “about 700 Russian banks and 106 non-Russian banks from 13 different countries will be linked to a new credit and banking system.” This is without going into details about the names of foreign banks that will accept such banking and financial trading away from the global financial system of “SWIFT” for financial and monetary trading, which is officially approved internationally.
This is precisely understood from him, as the Chinese and Russians did not leave Iran alone in the midst of the danger or the wind of any imminent military war against them. Perhaps, in this case, Russia will try to take revenge on Washington and Tel Aviv with generous military and economic support for Iran, especially in light of its facing sanctions by the United States of America and the European Union.
This brings us to the political scene in Egypt in a more precise and objective manner, emphasizing the smooth and clear vision of the Egyptian approach in Cairo, and that Egypt actually does not share the concern of the Gulf countries about the West’s nuclear agreement with Iran, just as Egypt did not adopt the assessment expressed by the United States of America that Iran It supports terrorism, in addition to the fact that Egypt plays a very conservative role in the Saudi-led coalition against the Houthis, who are sympathetic to Iran.
Hence, we conclude, based on our reading and analysis of the general scene, that this economic crisis in Egypt is fabricated by the Americans, Israelis, Westerners, and even the Gulf states, to push the Egyptian army, as the strongest armies in the region, to bear the cost and burden of the war, which is not fundamental to Egyptian interests on behalf of everyone. precedent for Egypt, in addition to the withdrawal of a number of foreign investors, mainly, suddenly and at once, and at the same precise and sensitive time from the Egyptian financial market within the framework of “pressuring the Egyptian regime, in order to respond to the conditions of the International Monetary Fund, and those in charge of it politically and economically in the first place, who are Washington and its allies in the West, As a part of a systematic campaign against Egypt and its army to bear the cost and burden of the war against Iran on behalf of Israel, the Gulf and everyone, and in favor of competition between Washington, Beijing and Moscow as allies of Iran in the Middle East.
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