VANCOUVER, British Columbia, December 29, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --
In his message this Christmas to his counterparts around the world, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif stated, "The Islamic Republic regime has clearly demonstrated that it is prepared to accept a rational and fair agreement based on mutual respect and interest on Iran's nuclear program, in the same manner as we resist and reject arbitrary, degrading and unlawful demands."
Zarif's conciliatory tone is intended to mask the weakness of a regime that has clearly failed to convince the international community that its nuclear program is entirely peaceful. Hence the failure of Iran and the P5+1 Group of countries to have reached a final and lasting deal on the issue by the 24 November deadline set a year earlier.
The roots of this weakness are to be found in the leadership structure of the regime and its decision-making hierarchy, whereby the whims of one man, the supreme leader ayatollah Khamenei, overwrite all others regardless of whether they are right or wrong.
Suffering from prostate cancer, as widely reported in national and international media in the summer of 2014, he is surrounded by ultra-conservatives and the top brass of the Revolutionary Guard. As a result, Khamenei's ill health and isolation have made him vulnerable to being exploited by regime hardliners, effectively a hostage of their domestic and foreign strategies.
Khamenei's paranoia about "the enemy" - the US and its British and Israeli allies - have hardly helped the Rouhani government to end Iran's diplomatic isolation in the world, leading to unbearable economic conditions for a nation that sits on the second largest reserves of oil and gas in the world.
Yet despite all the social, economic and diplomatic impasses confining the country, the regime's repressive domestic and adventurist foreign policies have been neither modified nor disavowed.
Ali Larijani, the head of Iran's legislature and a mandarin in the Khamenei camp (his elder brother Amoli Larijani heads Iran's justice department) travelled to Syria at the same time Foreign Minister Zarif was busy writing his Christmas letter, pledging millions of dollars of aid to the embattled Assad regime, at the same time that Iran's revenue from oil exports has been halved due to plummeting crude prices.
This splashing of cash by the Khamenei-Guards alliance from the pockets of the Iranians to prop up fraternal dictators in the Middle East has met with some muted opposition from the "moderate" factions of the Islamic Republic, though only under the pretext of support for the Rouhani government.
"The policies and decisions of the government that are in line with reviving the sanction-ridden economy of our country must not be influenced or derailed by certain factional acts, which are nothing more than playing into the hands of our enemies," pronounced Ali Shamkhani, the Secretary of Iran's National Security Council, at a gathering of Iran's economists, commissioned to return stability to the country's economy.
And as Khamenei's absolute leadership status and the consequences of his political decisions become more and more the subject of criticism among the regime's various factions, the concern for the majority of Iranians remains that of who will eventually replace him?
Given the enormous domestic and foreign challenges the nation faces as a result of more than two decades of his damaging and authoritarian powers, the fear is that the end of the Khamenei era would see Iran's political scene embroiled in fierce and perilous factional infighting. Such conflict would endanger not only the remaining stability in Iran but might also entail dire consequences for the entire region.
The Centre for a Democratic Iran, along with many other Iranian dissident groups and individuals engaged in our country's pro-Democracy movement, strives to provide an alternative peaceful transition for our country to democracy and respect for human rights that can lead to the uprooting of religious extremism in the Middle East.
It is only with that eventuality in mind that anything, even a nuclear deal with Iran, can succeed.
Dr. Behrooz Behbudi
29 December 2014
SOURCE Centre for a Democratic Iran (CDI)