A Pendulum Shift in Iran

Sanctions against Iran have not rallied the Iranian people around their regime as critics have warned. Iranians are blaming their own regime for the harsh oppression and deteriorating living conditions.

"Death to America, Death to Israel" isn't cutting it anymore. United for Iran Global Day of Action (Photo - Marjolein Katsma Flickr)

In response to the recent attack on an Iranian Revolutionary Guards parade which killed at least 24 people, Iran fired missiles with anti-Israel, anti-American and anti-Saudi slogans written on them against rebel targets in Syria. Iranian television aired footage of the missiles before launch showing the slogans “Death to America, Death to Israel, Death to Al Saud,” Saudi Arabia’s ruling family, written on the exterior.

The attack gave the Iranian regime, which is the world’s leading sponsor of global terrorism, a shocking taste of its own lethal tactics. Washington, Jerusalem and the Arab Gulf states have all denied any responsibility for the parade attack.

Tehran itself appears unsure of the perpetrators’ identity. Iran’s rulers initially blamed the attack on Arab separatists in Iran. While intended to project strength, the Iranian missiles with the familiar slogans “Death to America” and “Death to Israel”, exposed a shocked Iranian regime that increasingly feels vulnerable at home. Are we witnessing the beginning of the end of the Islamo-fascist regime in Iran?

In democracies, unpopular governments are replaced through elections. By contrast, despotic regimes seek to perpetuate their power indefinitely. Despite boasting slogans of alleged immortality, dictatorships are painfully aware of their vulnerability and limited shelf life. Throughout history, numerous despotic regimes used scapegoats as a diversion survival strategy. However, just as blaming the Jews did not save Tsarist Russia, blaming the Jewish State will not save the Islamist Iranian regime either.

While Soviet state propaganda demonized the Western free world, much of Soviet’s citizenry secretly admired Western freedom and prosperity. While Iranian state propaganda chants “Death to America” and “Death to Israel”, millions of educated Iranians secretly admire America and Israel. Washington’s sanctions against Iran have not rallied the Iranian people around their regime as critics have warned. Iranians of all classes increasingly and rightly blame their own regime for the harsh oppression and deteriorating socio-economic living conditions in Iran.

The Soviet regime realized in the 1980s that it was gradually losing the Cold War. As a response, the Soviet leader Gorbachev tried to postpone the inevitable Soviet collapse through political and economic reforms known as Glasnost and Perestroika. However, by 1991, the Soviet Empire was gone. While the Soviet Communist ideology was irrational, Moscow pursued it rationally by recognizing its financial and political weakness compared to the US-led West.

By contrast, Iran’s Islamist regime is pursuing an irrational ideology in an irrational way. Instead of seeking détente with militarily, technologically and economically superior foes like America and Israel, Tehran advocates confrontation. Instead of improving the deteriorating living conditions at home, Iran’s Islamist rulers continue prioritizing its costly imperialist ambitions and its nuclear weapons program.

Behind the façade of confident Islamist state propaganda, the ayatollah regime fears Washington and Jerusalem. However, most of all it fears the Iranian people that is increasingly demanding freedom and decent living conditions. While Iranian-financed Hezbollah missiles in Lebanon and Syria threaten Israeli cities, they cannot protect the unpopular Tehran regime against ordinary angry Iranians.

Instead of placating domestic opposition with limited political and economic reforms like the Soviets did, Iran’s Islamist rulers have intensified its oppression of its own people. Instead of consolidating its existing Middle Eastern influence and gains, Tehran’s imperial greed pushes it to overstretch its own limited military and financial capabilities.

Hitler’s Nazi empire, which was supposed to last for one thousand years, collapsed after 12 years and left a Germany in ruins. Iran’s Islamist regime that regularly calls for Israel’s destruction looks more vulnerable than ever since the Islamic Revolution in 1979.

The ayatollah regime would be wise to study Jewish history carefully. Numerous and far more powerful empires unsuccessfully tried to wipe out the Jewish nation. The Babylonians, the Romans, Tsarist Russia, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Empire are all gone. By contrast, the tiny Jewish nation has not only survived but also managed against all odds to establish a thriving powerhouse in its ancestral homeland Israel.

While always few in numbers, the Jewish people’s more than 2000 years long quest for national freedom has inspired millions of people worldwide. No wonder that Iran’s ayatollah regime is concerned, when millions of young educated Iranians increasingly embrace Israel and America while chanting “Death to the Dictator.”


Daniel Kryger is a writer and a political analyst. He lives in Israel.

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