Change in Iran? Do not Hold Your Breath

 

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Hassan Rouhani has brought no change to Iran

 

Originally published in Sooper Articles

Regime in Iran Far From Opening Up

There are views heard about “change in the making” in Iran, with reference to the defeats suffered by “hardliners” at the hands of “reformists” in the recent February elections. Such reasoning considers the nuclear agreement sealed with the West as the driving force behind these turn of events.

Through an in-depth look at these shifts, which can only be characterized as small, we come to realize that hardliners are actually gaining a stronger grip over major issues. Yet to be seen is any pledged political, governmental, economic or social “reforms” – faux pas in nature – following the nuclear agreement or February elections. Hardliners ousted from legislative bodies signals major political disputes amongst the regime’s senior brass. Absent, however, is any change for the better good of the Iranian people.

Iron Grip Control

There is no doubt the political stage in Iran has morphed lukewarm shifts following the nuclear deal and legislative polls. There is also a growing desire amongst the general public for Tehran to open to the outside world, bringing an end to the self-imposed state of blockade. The mullahs on the throne in Tehran have since 1979 attempted to completely cut-off Iranians from the outside world. The conservative camp in Iran is concerned of opening Iran’s doors to the West, knowing this will mark the beginning of the end of its iron grip over the society. As a result, Iranian supreme autocrat Ali Khamenei and his loyalists are going to the limits to preserve the status quo. This faction enjoys significant control over all funds, market activity and effectively brought an end to the traditional bazaar.

The IRGC Reign

The Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) has become a major tycoon in Iran, abundantly controlling important aspects such as 69 ports and maritime centers, and practically governing a large portion of Iran’s import and export. A significant number of institutions across Iran’s imbroglio economy are currently tailored by the IRGC’s own independent financial base, known as the Khatam al-Anbia foundation, including even oil refineries and large government companies.

“To understand what Khatam al-Anbia is like, picture the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers combined with Bechtel, Halliburton, KBR, Shell, Exxon, Boeing, and Northrop-Grumman, all rolled up into one,” The Hill reported back in July 16th, 2015.

IRGC-associated institutions will be the sole party benefiting even if the economy opens up, leaving the private sector and public economy in the cold. The IRGC, considered a bedrock aspect of the regime, will channel all revenues for Tehran’s expansionist ambitions, instigate violence and pursue its illicit terrorism campaign across the Middle East, and eventually beyond.

A Look Into the Past

Previous “open-up” experiments showed even the more successful rendered actual economic or political fruit after the passage of many years, at times decades. China adopted a strictly redacted open-door policy following a historic pact reached with the United States in the 1970s. However, the international community failed to sense any real domestic economic shifts as gates into the country remained closed for nearly two decades. The Soviet Union, mired in intractable crises, witnessed Mikhail Gorbachev spearheading efforts to democratize his country’s political system and decentralize its economy, ultimately crystallizing into the complete downfall the regime in the early 90s. This is the exact scenario the ruling elite in Tehran fear the most.

Comprehensive change is yet to be seen in Iran, as reservations remain in the policy of opening arms to the outside world. Refusing to heed to such calls, senior figures are voicing doubts and intentions to block and defuse any such internal alterations and safeguard their rule. As seen in all totalitarian states, only the ruling class ultimately enjoy economic benefits. The mullahs in Iran, from any faction, are fighting tooth and nail to block any meaningful change benefiting the Iranian people. Any reform from within this regime is a myth and we should not hold our breath. It is the Iranian people that deserve our support.

Follow Heshmat Alavi @HeshmatAlavi

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