The serious public protests of Turmoil In Iran have entered their fifth week and right up to now have shown no signs of abating. Instead, the public anger is growing by the day and now the protesting crowds are unwilling even to talk to the clerical regime and are calling for changing the system entirely. The regime has gradually buckled under the pressure and has not only withdrawn the morality police from the scene but has also strongly restrained the notorious Basij brigade.
So far the regime has been successful in holding the powerful oil industry and its large workforce from halting work but reports are that it may also take place shortly. Things are now precariously balanced and the clerical regime is very jittery and prepared to give concessions provided the protestors agree to accept them. The country has been exposed to extremes of governance over the last one hundred years: liberal monarchy to illiberal theocracy.
Iran is quite a curious case and in a unique way has carved a curiously distinct niche for itself amidst the fast gelling Greco-Roman world imbued with modern concepts of human liberty, democratic dispensation, and open societies. In the modern scheme of things, Iran appears anachronistic, remote, and isolated despite the legatee.
Although Turmoil In Iran has changed since the Islamic Revolution of 1979 yet it has not shaken off its cultural heritage and the legacy of Persian superiority that was left behind by the modern school system instituted by the Pahlavi Shahs still exists and, to some extent, can still be seen reflected in the current Iranian textbooks. Iran sits at the crossroads of Asia between the Middle East and Central Asia and by virtue of its location it is in close proximity to over half of the world’s known energy reserves.
Central Asian And Gulf Regions
Understanding Turmoil In Iran is therefore important for developing a cogent understanding of the region and, by implication, the international scenario. Both regions share massive amounts of the world’s energy resources and the ethnic and linguistic makeup of both regions is also dominated by a single group that is different from Iran’s: Turks and Turkic languages dominating Central Asian states and Arabs and Arabs dominating the Gulf States.
The region is dominated by Russia and America with Russia dominating Central Asia and America holding sway over the Gulf States. Turmoil In Iran is in a vortex being a major source of the global energy security paradigm. It is estimated that the proportion of almost 83% of global oil reserves lies in the region with Iran holding almost 10% of them.
Iran controls Abu Musa situated at the entrance of the Strait of Hormuz a passageway witnessing the transportation of around 17 million barrels of oil each day. Equipped with Silkworm anti-ship missiles easily capable of scuttling commercial tankers, Abu Musa is certainly a powder keg.
Central Asian states have a more accommodating stance towards Iran than the GCC countries owing to the fact that Iran has traditionally been viewed as a threat since the revolution in 1979 due to ideological and theological reasons. Iranian military capability is also eyed with the suspicion that becomes menacing as Iran was considered the regional policeman before the revolution and those impressions are writ large in the memories of its Arab neighbors.
The crux of the matter is that the world is anxious about whether Iran will go back to the system prevalent there before the Islamic revolution in 1979. It has almost been four decades since Iran ditched the modern lifestyle that the former Pahlavi dynasty tried so hard to establish from 1925 to 1979.
Iran’s Nuclear Aspirations
Currently, however, Iran’s nuclear aspirations, strict clerical domestic regime, and vast oil reserves have posed a concern to both Western powers and its Arab neighbors. The long wait the western world had to bear to see Iran change has frustrated it.
The region and world fail to fathom the internal workings of Iran which are of course as complex as any other nation-state. The world believes that the true keepers of power in Iran are the Revolutionary Guard, a multifaceted organization from whose ranks emerged former President Ahmadinejad and a majority of the Iranian parliament and cabinet members.
The interesting angle to understanding Iran is its quest for nuclear technology. It is usually assumed that Iran wants to become a nuclear power and its nuclear targets would be Israel and Sunni Muslim states. But it is childish to assume that Iran will strike nuclear-armed Israel with nuclear weapons as a well-kept Israeli counter-strike may obliterate Iran.
It must also be borne in mind that 1.5 million Muslims live within Israel’s borders and Iran may well avoid harming them. Like any other nation-state, Iran is protecting its interests while getting involved in proxy wars against extreme Sunni factions in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. It is cooperating with India to deter Pakistan from following an openly Sunni-based policy with Saudi Arabia although it treads carefully in this matter. The Weekender