Iran’s iron curtain is falling

Just as the Soviet Union could not adapt to new realities that accompanied Reagan’s arrival to the White House, Iran was unable to adapt to Trump’s era.
Sunday 09/02/2020
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks at a celebration of the 41st anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.(DPA)
Behind a curtain. Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks at a celebration of the 41st anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.(DPA)

Arrogance leads nowhere.

In his State of the Union address, US President Donald Trump mentioned Iran in passing. Just like former President Ronald Reagan, who in 1981 began doggedly pursuing the dismantling of the former Soviet Union, Trump seems to be on his way to earnestly bringing down a country he sees as an enemy to its real size.

That feat would allow him to leave his mark on the history of the Middle East but this is contingent on his success in doing so because Iran has been working for many years on changing the nature of several neighbouring countries and others far from it.

In his speech, Trump gave a realistic description of the state of the Iranian economy and its deterioration considering US sanctions. He mentioned the United States’ assassination of Iranian Major-General Qassem Soleimani, commander of al-Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Soleimani was the direct supervisor of Iranian activity in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories, especially the Gaza Strip, and even in Yemen and Afghanistan. His activity consisted mainly in recruiting sectarian militias to serve the Iranian expansion project.

Iran wants each of those areas, which are Arab countries and territories, except for Afghanistan, to be satellites and bargaining cards. Its goal is to perpetuate its regional role, regardless of the misery that afflicts most Iranians.

The deterioration of the economy in the Islamic Republic must be considered a natural consequence of the arrogance that characterises the actions and declarations of senior Iranian officials. They refuse to admit they have no solutions to Iran’s internal problems, especially as they let the country remain captive to its oil and gas exports. Even on the external front, there is no successful Iranian model that can be presented in any political, economic or civilisational field.

Iran refuses to deal with the regional and international realities that arose with the arrival of Trump at the White House. This is why we see Iranian President Hassan Rohani talking about re-establishing the nuclear deal with the Group of Five Plus One that the US president tore apart.

Rohani does not know, or perhaps he does know very well, that the nuclear accord is no longer valid for blackmailing anyone and that counting on Europe is not a safe bet.

Iran has not overcome one psychological complex that controls all its actions — the constant denial of its defeat and refusing to admit failure with the courage it presupposes to carry out a process of self-criticism.

In 1986, two events exposed the weakness of the Soviet Union, which Reagan had dragged into an arms race it could not afford. This was when the US president spoke of the “Star Wars” defence system, a system of missiles in space capable of intercepting and disrupting any missile attack on the United States.

Time has revealed that Reagan’s plan was more akin to science fiction than reality but it served to reveal that the Soviet Union was in no way capable of competing with the United States in an arms race of this type. It showed that the Soviet economy resembled a colossus with clay legs.

The economic fragility of the Soviet Union had consequences on the ground. On January 13, 1986, the situation in South Yemen, which was then called the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen (PDRY), exploded. This republic was independent and remained so until 1990 when Yemeni unity was achieved.

The PDRY was a mere Soviet satellite and served as a foothold for the communist bear in the Arabian Peninsula. South Yemen suffered a civil war that marked the end of Soviet control over the country.

It turned out that the other world superpower was nothing more than a paper tiger. Perhaps the most prominent evidence of this and the biggest humiliation to the communist regime was resorting to a royal yacht of the British monarch to evacuate Soviet nationals from the PDRY.

The second event that demonstrated the weakness of the former Soviet regime was the catastrophic Chernobyl nuclear accident in Ukraine on April 26, 1986. Ukraine was a Soviet republic and the Chernobyl accident came to confirm, without doubt, that the Soviet Union was a third-world country that possessed nuclear reactors but was unable to ensure their safe functioning.

Soleimani’s assassination came within the context of a catastrophic economic situation in Iran. He was considered a symbol of the Iranian expansionist project but Iran can no longer come up with a response to his killing. The missile strikes at Iraq’s al-Asad Airbase was more of a farce than anything else and the accidental downing of the Ukrainian passenger plane revealed that Iran is a third-world country at best.

Just as the Soviet Union could not adapt to new realities that accompanied Reagan’s arrival to the White House, Iran was unable to adapt to Trump’s era.

Certainly, arrogance is of no use to anything. It is equally futile to bet on Trump not being elected for another term in November. Not only have the Democrats failed to force him out of office with impeachment for pressuring the Ukrainian president to dig dirt on the Bidens, they displayed a great deal of internal chaos during the Iowa caucuses. Trump is still waiting for a serious Democratic contender for his position.

Time is not working in favour of the interests of the Islamic Republic just as it did not play in favour of the interests of the Soviet Union. Is there anyone in Tehran who wants to realise that Barack Obama is no longer president and that no one is willing to negotiate with Tehran on its terms, especially now that the cards in its hand no longer have any value?

Take Lebanon in the era of Hezbollah’s rule, for example, or take Iraq now. Lebanon is collapsing since it has been abandoned to its fate by the United States and the Arabs. In Iraq, there is a real popular revolution against everything related to the Iranian coloniser.

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