U.S. President Donald Trump is rubbing his hands in triumph: His method of putting pressure on the Iranian regime, hoping to reopen the 2015 nuclear agreement, from which he withdrew in May, is succeeding.
The U.S. president’s openly declared goal was to force Iran back to the negotiating table, where the United States would dictate terms that would bar it from any chance of developing a nuclear weapon. But Trump’s vision for Iran is even broader: He wants the Iranian threat removed completely, including the regime’s missile program, its armed intervention in neighboring countries and its support of terrorist organizations. The U.S. president isn’t the only one who aspires to this scenario. Israel and the Gulf Arab states, which are quaking in fear of Iran’s military prowess and its ability to operate regional terrorism, are making the same demands.
On Monday, the first stage of the reinstated U.S. sanctions will take effect. But for months already, the economic situation in Iran has been increasingly less stable. America has convinced several countries to stop purchasing oil from Iran. And in Iran, masses are heading into the streets to protest the growing economic distress. The exchange rate for foreign currency, which doubled in a week, is seen as an expression of the people’s lack of confidence in their regime’s ability to repair the economy.
This has created a tsunami of rising prices and has clamped down retail trade. Bazaar merchants and shop owners are lifting up their voices in protest; it quickly turned into a mass movement of a political nature that was taking place in various cities. Within three days, the protests reached the capital, Tehran.
Now the demonstrators are screaming “Death to the dictator!” and calling on the religious leaders who control the country to “go to hell!” They are demanding that Iran stop supporting Hamas and other Palestinian and Islamist terrorist groups, as well as an end to Iranian military intervention in Syria and Yemen. The masses are also calling to overthrow the dictatorial regime.
The religious rule in Iran supposedly has the support of the people. That is the foundation of Islamic law. When the people take to the streets and shout for the regime to be overthrown, the government loses its religious legitimacy as well.
However, in modern-day Iran, the laws of Islam have long since been abandoned by the regime. What remains is the desire to steal the nation’s wealth and spend enormous amounts of money trying to control neighboring countries and annihilate Israel.
Menashe Amir is an expert on Iranian affairs and former head of the Israel Broadcasting Authority’s Persian-language division.