In this segment of FO° Exclusive, Atul Singh and Glenn Carle discuss why recent developments in Iran are significant regionally and globally.
Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei is no spring chicken. At 84, intimations of mortality are nigh. Should Khamenei’s faculties wane and were he to die, a power struggle will ensue. There is no clear line of succession. Hence, contenders will inevitably jostle for the throne.
This struggle will cause cleavages within the ruling elite. There is a real risk of civil war. Already, rising discontent has brought thousands out on the street. Young people, especially young women, have revolted bravely and chipped away at the edifice of Iran’s Islamic state.
Tensions in Iran are increasing. Even as literacy has risen, jobs are few and economic hardship is on the rise. The Islamic regime is struggling to meet the expectations of the people. Furthermore, a large number of young people are turning more secular and sometimes even irreligious. If the Islamic Republic’s elite fractures, the mullahs’ grip on power will inevitably slip and Iran might experience yet another revolution.
The foreign policy ramifications of these developments is immense. The US still characterizes Iran as a destabilizing power. However, Iran has lost its revolutionary fervor. For the last 25 years, Iran has no longer been the expansionist threat that it originally was in 1979. However, Iran’s hardline Shia regime still remains obsessively anti-Israel and supports groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah.
If there were to be a regime change, it is plausible that Iran’s fraught relationships with many of its neighbors could improve. This includes not only Jewish Israel and Satanic US but also Sunni Saudi Arabia and Taliban-ruled Afghanistan.
[Anton Schauble wrote the first draft of this piece.]
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