The Iranian government has been a mortal enemy of the United States, Israel and many Middle Eastern countries for almost six decades. Notice the reference was to the Iranian government—a government run by a figurehead president supposedly elected by the people—from a selection of one. In other words, they are a dictatorship run by President Hassan Rouhani, who makes no decisions without consulting with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Over the past several years, Iran has been in the news almost daily for the following reasons:
1) Working with North Korea; having a nuclear weapons program in some form, whether still working or temporarily suspended. May even be sending their findings and materials to North Korea;
2) Funding terrorism through Hezbollah and Hamas;
3) Attempting to undermine several other governments in the Middle East; and,
The Iranian government has had a tenuous relationship with college students for years over internal reform. The latest protests began when a secret document appeared in the Iranian public domain showing their federal budget. According to Dr. Steve Pieczenik, this budget showed how much money was going to radical Mullahs, Hezbollahs, and Hamas. Additionally, the military—more specifically, the Iranian Republican Guard and their highest ranking General Soleimani—were skimming funds. Despite having substantial crude oil reserves, the country is running out of gasoline due to economic and trade sanctions.
This protest is different from previous protests led by students, and it is likely to pick up momentum as more citizens become informed of this budget, which proves a lack of concern for general human rights. The country is headed into a deep recession, and their students are not finding jobs. Did I mention youth unemployment is over forty percent (40%)? For the most part, Iranian students, particularly those educated outside their country, tend to be more moderate in philosophy than the hard line religious zealots running the government. The students are seeking economic growth, which would lead to those sought-after jobs.
This time, unlike previous protests, several US government officials, including the President of the United States, has come out and supported the students. It is likely the Iranian government will be supported by the Chinese and the Russians. So, this protest is a long way from having the strength to make changes or overthrow the dictatorship.
The previous protests were for reasons other than the budget—they were over governance. In 2009, there was a protest over a Green Party candidate. That particular protest went on for six days and resulted in a number of deaths and thousands of arrests. The United States government failed to come out and support this protest, which may have eventually gained enough strength to overthrow the government. The Obama Administration felt they could not support the revolution while planning future negotiations with the Iranian government to cut a deal regarding their nuclear program. I know they didn’t start formal negotiations until 2015, but the groundwork was done unofficially before the final meeting started. With most diplomacy, when formal meetings began, there has already been informal groundwork so as not to put elite diplomats in embarrassing positions. Plus, the Iranians knew the Obama Administration was so desperate for an agreement, they would win every key point.
Likewise, there is considerable mistrust within Iran of the United States and others, due to American, British and Russian interference in their selection of leaders in the 1950s. At that time, the prime minister of Iran was Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh, appointed by the Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi. The Shah claimed to be a member of the royal family of Persia who could trace his family back to ancient Persia. That point is debatable. When Mossadegh and the Iranian parliament decided to nationalize the crude oil business, this put Great Britain and the United States in action behind the scenes. The British had major investments in Iran developing the crude oil in the country. Great Britain and the United States were already on edge because Mossadegh had made several fiery nationalist speeches regarding the outside influence of the British in their crude oil business. The British and the Americans decided that Iran may be moving toward an alignment with the Soviet Union, through the influence of their communist party, the Tudeh Party. For a period of almost a month in the summer of 1953, intelligence agents from the United States (CIA) and Britain (MI6) jockeyed with those from the Soviet Union (GRU and KGB) for control of Iran and their vast amount of reserves. Ultimately, the United States and Britain won, but the story soon came out how all of this was orchestrated behind the scenes.
Due to the Shah’s cozy relationship with the Western World, he led the country to a Western style of prosperity, but that ended in the late 1970s. Radical Muslim leadership, with the help of the Soviet Union, overthrew the Shah, leading to the rise of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Most know the story of the fall of the US Embassy in Iran and hostages being held in captivity for 444 days.
So back to today. It’s only natural that the Iranians don’t trust anybody. It’s a pivotal time for a very powerful regional country in the Middle East. Considering their recent conflicts with Saudia Arabia, it would not surprise me to learn the Saudis have agents in Iran. It is my opinion it would be good for the peace of the world for the removal of the radical Mullahs and the current political system, but I also believe we must support the Iranian people and let them create a new government, with new military leaders that may have a more favorable opinion of their neighbors and the United States. The students and the population must accept that deaths and arrests will occur, as well as direct conflict with the military, but they can make the changes. We have seen this in other places around the world like the Soviet Union. Likewise, if a new, more moderate government and military would come into power, then perhaps their relationship with North Korea could be stymied. But the United States must understand the people may choose not to create a democracy, and the United States must continue its new policy of staying out of nation-building.
I am rooting for the Iranian students. How do you feel about this important development?