A key fact the Iranian regime should heed
Last week, Iranians marked the 42nd anniversary of the Islamic revolution, commemorating a popular revolution led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini from exile in France against the regime of Mohammda Reza Shah Pahlavi with the aim of improving people’s living conditions, which were abysmal despite their country’s wealth. But today, after more than four decades, have the Iranian people achieved the goals they sought through the revolution?
This question is frequently raised by observers of Iranian affairs and is also a matter of curiosity for the Iranian regime’s critics, who are tempted to compare today’s situation with the days of the shah.
For everyday Iranians, the question opens the door to bitter complaints, as they are the ones who contributed to bringing the mullahs to power. Today they relentlessly pursue protests, as discontent spreads to more and more social classes, including retired people, the unemployed and the poor.
Because of the deteriorating social and economic conditions, the situation has reached the point where people wish they had not unleashed the revolution. They believe that what the mullahs’ regime have done to them is much worse than what the shah did. At least, they feel, the monarchical regime preserved the reputation of the country before the rest of the world.
Why all of this anger? In fact, if any observer of Iranian affairs were to evaluate the experience of government rule in Iran during this recent period, they would see only two basic features marking the behaviour of the Iranian regime.
The first feature is that Iran, a country that was once praised as a model of stability and development, has since the revolution become a leading instigator of chaos and destruction in the region and a threat to the stability of the world by supporting militias and extremists all over the Middle East region. Tehran also carries out assassinations of its opponents in European countries and even in its near-by region, as happened recently in Turkey, where an Iranian diplomat was arrested on charges of involvement in the assassination of an opposition member and other cases, as well as the manufacture of weapons and ballistic missiles.
The second feature concerns the situation at home. The common man on the street who helped fuel the revolution against the shah’s regime in pursuit of better living conditions and greater benefits from the country’s wealth has discovered that his revolution has been hijacked by the mullahs who rule the country and lead it from war to war, squandering its wealth.
An Iranian study published by the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) indicated that about 33% of Iran’s population are in absolute poverty, and that 6%, which is equivalent to 5 million Iranians, have no food on the table. This number is expected to increase to 16 or 20 million if the statistics were more accurately prepared.
It is clear from the policies of Iran’s current leaders that they do not care much about the living conditions of the Iranian people.
They seem to believe that what matters is that the elite at the helm of power enjoys the dividends of the great wealth of the Iranian state. It is also clear that their priority is to spend the people’s resources in order to antagonise the countries in their geographic vicinity and pursue nuclear programmes that do not serve the Iranian people. Developing missiles only sparks the concerns of the international community.
Within the Iranian regime there are those who are aware that the compass of the revolution has lost its direction. Many such voices have been muted within the country and others do not want to express themselves in front of the current Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei or other influential people and beneficiaries of the situation regardless of what happens to the Iranian people.
The supreme leader and his entourage make a big mistake by ignoring the level of anger the Iranian people feel. Demonstrations take place from time to time and are led by various social categories. Over the past few days, there have been demonstrations led by retirees in Tehran, Isfahan, Kermanshah and other major cities, an indication of the Iranian people’s resentment for the revolution and its goals.
The Iranian regime’s continued escalation of disputes with the international community and the near-by region confirms that it does not want to focus on ensuring a decent life standard for the Iranian people.
Silencing critics, building a nuclear programme and fighting wars in their neighbourhood are not among the priorities of Iran’s poor. The mullahs’ regime should heed this fact as it was the spark that fueled the Iranian revolution four decades ago.