What’s happening in Iran? Are the protests genuinely spontaneous? Are the grievances authentic and deep-rooted? Or is it a drama created by covert, regime-change puppeteers? And what are the geopolitical implications of the success or failure of these events?
The main purported reason is a failing economy, but some of the protesters are even calling for the end of Islamic Republic.
Undoubtedly, the college-educated, Iranian Middle Class wants to get rid of Sharia Law. After all, Iran was quite secular before 1979.
However, the narrative about the economy makes no sense. Iran’s economy has been booming for the last two years since the US/EU sanctions were removed. If there was an ideal time for an economic uprising, it would have been between 2012 and 2015. Below is a picture of real GDP growth in the last seven years:
As for high unemployment, it’s caused by U.S. sanctions that decimated Iran’s exports; and the high inflation is a result Wall Street’s war on Iran’s currency (Rial). In 2012, Obama also cut off Iran from the world banking system (SWIFT) and froze $100 billion of Iran’s foreign exchange reserves.
In foreign affairs, Iran won the Syrian war, defeated ISIS, and successfully negotiated the nuclear deal (JCPOA) with Obama. Even mainstream US media has declared that Iran is the new superpower in the Middle East.
Thus, in domestic and foreign affairs, there are plenty of reasons for Iranians to be hopeful and proud.
What’s Next? The CIA and Israeli agencies have been openly planning regime change operations against Iran for the last year. All the current events are just replays, if you remember the sequence of events in 2011 in Libya and Syria.
Things are escalating rapidly, protesters are turning violent, and terrorist attacks are aimed at crippling the economy. There are videos of protesters burning police stations and attacking government buildings and throwing grenades. Sunni jihadists — favorite proxy soldiers of globalists —blew up oil pipelines on the third day of protests. The next couple of weeks will determine the fate of this attempted coup.
Geopolitical Importance of Iran: There are numerous reasons why Iran is geopolitically pivotal. To start with, Iran has the 4th largest oil reserves in the world and also shares the largest natural gas reserves with Qatar. A sanction-free Iran will be a serious competitor to Saudi and US oil/gas corporations.
Second, the Persian Gulf is the conduit for 40% of all oil tankers in the world. A war with Iran has the potential to devastate the world economy.
Then there’s the Shiite Crescent that comprises of four contiguous countries: Iran-Iraq-Syria-Lebanon. (Oh, translate Lebanon into Hezbollah). Two countries who fear this reality are Saudi Arabia and Israel. And the failure of Neocons to conquer Syria after six years of proxy wars has only reinforced the urgency to neutralize Iran, which plays a major role in defending Assad.
With a large, well-educated middle class population and massive reserves of oil/gas, Iran has the potential to become a powerful economy and a dominant nation, if given a chance. It has been isolated for 38 years and is ready to sprint. That’s where Russia and China come in.
Iran-Russia-China Alliance: Labeled as revisionist powers by the Trump administration, Russia and China are working to empower Iran and win the Eurasian game.
For Russia, a friendly Iran means more influence in the Middle East and a secure Russian military base in Syria. Putin has also brought Turkey and Iran together, both of whom are now customers of Russian weapons and missile defense systems.
For China, Iran is a key component of the new Silk Road, as freight trains from China go through Iran to various destinations in the Middle East, Africa and Europe. Iran is also willing to forego the U.S. dollar and accept Chinese Yuan for its oil. China can use this to force Saudi Arabia and other countries to do the same, which will help Yuan (Renminbi) transform into a global reserve currency. This is a nightmare situation for petrodollar, Wall Street, and the US government.
With Iran in its pocket, China’s next goal will be Afghanistan, which is sandwiched between Iran and Pakistan. Pakistan has pretty much left the US orbit now, having embraced China’s CPEC project that promises $60 billion of infrastructure spending. CPEC has been so successful that Afghanistan is holding talks to join that project. Imagine the U.S. losing Afghanistan after wasting $1 trillion there in the last 17 years.
So, this is the worst-case scenario: Russia-China-Iran alliance ends up kicking the US out of all the countries from Turkey to China. According to geopolitical experts, who controls Eurasia, controls the globe.
To understand Iran’s skepticism towards the West, one must look at the last 150 years of Iranian history.
Colonialism: Iran was coveted by the Russians, British and others for a long time. In 1872, Baron Reuter – founder of Reuters news – purchased a vast portion of Iran, only to give it back after a huge outcry! In 1909, the British discovered oil in Iran, kept 90% of the profits, and ruthlessly exploited the Iranian workers, who had to live in slums. Later, in 1951, a popular Iranian Prime Minister nationalized the oil industry.
Outraged(!), British spy agency, MI6, then sought out CIA’s assistance. Together, in 1953, they spent millions bribing the right people to stage a fake revolution and got rid of Mossadegh, the democratically elected PM. In return, U.S. oil corporations got 40% of Iran’s oil. (A declassified CIA document from 1953 has the following title: “Campaign to install pro-western government in Iran.”)
The autocratic Shah of Iran protected the Western oil firms and bought a lot of US weapons. Thus he was loved by the US/European elites who turned a blind eye towards his human rights violations and political oppression. He wasn’t all bad, since he embraced secularism, built successful car manufacturing companies and modernized Iran in many ways.
US Switched to Saudi Arabia & Betrayed Iran: However, during the oil crisis of the 1970s, Kissinger and other globalists found a new partner: Saudi Arabia. The Saudis agreed to sell oil only in US dollar and also recycle much of the oil profits back to the US. Perhaps there was also a discussion of Saudis helping recruit jihadists for anti-USSR wars in Afghanistan. In return for all these, the US agreed to drop Iran as an ally and make Saudis the King of the Middle East.
It’s quite possible that the West deliberately brought in Khomenei to take over Iran. Recent declassified materials show that Jimmy Carter assured Khomenei that Iran’s military won’t interfere. Khomenei also had spent a year in Paris before the Islamic revolution in 1979. Regardless, it gave the U.S. a great excuse to isolate Iran and promote Saudi Arabia. Then, of course, for the next nine years, the U.S. armed Saddam Hussein to wage a war that killed a million Iraqis and Iranians, and destroyed the economies of both countries. Mission accomplished.
Will a Pro-US Iran Bring Peace? It’s hard to imagine a happy ending if the regime change succeeds. Yes, there will be an immediate relief from sanctions, but the economy won’t change substantially in the long run. Western corporations may sign up for a few oil refineries and pipelines, but they won’t make Iran so successful that it competes with US and Saudi firms.
With a pro-US government, Iran’s military and foreign apparatus will be quickly dismantled. Iran will turn into a vassal state like Iraq, accept US military bases, and become subservient to Israel and Saudi Arabia. Lebanon and Syria will be cut off from Iran, making them easy targets for Israel. So, perhaps there will be new wars in the Middle East. A civil war in Iran is also likely if Islamists don’t accept the new government. What happens in Iran in the next few weeks will determine wars and consequential events in the Middle East for the next few years.
Chris Kanthan is the author of a new book, Syria – War of Deception. It’s available in a condensed as well as a longer version. Chris lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, has traveled to 35 countries, and writes about world affairs, politics, economy and health. His other book is Deconstructing Monsanto.