Is Iran suicidal, or is it savvy and capable of fooling the world? If the events of 2011 are any indication of what might transpire in the New Year, I would plead that the former is more characteristic of the Regime.
This past year served not just to dent the image of the Islamic Regime, but also to severely hinder the Regime in its domestic and international endeavors. 2011 was unequivocally the Regime’s lowest year, scourged with fallen allies and isolation, parliamentary divisions and the double digit inflation which has revived protests and dissent throughout the ranks of society. But with Ayatollahs on the edge of collapse, will they accept the demising fate of the Islamic Regime, or will they lash out erratically and aggressively in a last –chance, desperate attempt to save it? Or will a falling regime seek to take the free world down with it?
No one is more responsible for the demise of the Islamic Republic, than the regime itself – it has made poor choices for over 30 years, poor choices which after a generation have caught up with it. These choices include not only the Regime’s chokehold on diversity and expression, its punishment of art, it delegitimization of culture, innovation and creativity because it is not in line with Muslim practice. The Regime’s poor choices include its ‘show’ democracy which have infuriated audiences both domestically and abroad, its torture and imprisonment of journalist and its deadly crackdowns on protestors. On an international level, the Regime’s poorest, most self-inflictive choice is without a doubt its nuclear program, and the path it has chosen to reach this objective. Had the Islamic Republic chosen the path of transparency and accountability, it would not find itself in this predicament. Transparent and accountable dictators? A very sad oxymoron.
Iranians today face mounting hardships as a result of the poor governance they are subject too. This doesn’t include the already mentioned Human Rights violations and the melancholy atmosphere maintained by the Clerics, rather the more day-to-day difficulties which have resulted from their poor decisions. At upwards of 20% inflation, the staples of life have become more scarce and expensive. Cheese and butter, two of Iran’s most basic foods both in the cities and in villages, have seen a rise of 40% in price. Eggs, the most reasonably priced source of protein nutrients in Iran today, have doubled in price. Many families have been forced to abandon meats in total, unable to afford them. In addition to malnutrition and hunger, these soaring prices negatively affect century’s long Iranian culture – the lush festivities, celebrations and traditional events are not what they once where. And in Iran, where food is a central aspect of culture and identity, this reality is doubly infuriating.
Until recently, the Regime sought to squelch the uproar with subsidies and vouchers to combat the rising prices of everyday essentials, utilities and housing. But with the billions-dollar cutback on these very subsidies, Iranians are growing more irate than before, and perhaps more of the understanding that this lifestyle is simply not acceptable, or sustainable. Mutiny, uproar and protest are reaffirming their roots among the Iranian public, demanding everything from dignity and democracy, to the right to prosperity and high standards of living.
Despite all that has transpired, however, the Regime continues to emanate a solid, strong and unified front to the world. In their delusion, the Ayatollahs believe that they can fool not only domestic audiences, but those abroad. They seek the might of seeming dangerous, omnipotent and principal on the international stage. But the world sees nothing but an extreme, crumbling and destruction driven entity, bent doom and gloom. As the Regime feels the heat, both from international sanctions and isolation, as well as the bevy of internal pressures, its actions become more desperate, more outrageous, and more suicidal.