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Chairman Mohammad Mohaddessin, in charge of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI)’s Foreign Affair’s Committee during an online conference -June 2015
On Friday, January 18th, Mohammad Mohaddessin, the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee for the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), published a piece for US-based news site, Townhall. In the piece, Mohaddessin argues that US sanctions are having a tangible effect on the Iranian economy, drastically weakening the clerical regime, and putting the mullahs’ in a position where the status quo is no longer tenable.
“The Iranian economy is infested with corruption,” Mohaddessin writes, “and has been so terribly mismanaged that an array of crises— unemployment, inflation, currency devaluation, poverty— have become existential threats to the socio-political order.”
Given the rapidly deteriorating economic situation, the mullahs’ future in power looks uncertain. With the added pressures of international sanctions, the regime is even more vulnerable to collapse.
The regime’s shortcomings have been clearly visible in the increasingly frantic and extreme rhetoric from its leaders. The Iranian leadership has made vague threats of seizing Saudi oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz and taking international personnel hostage.
These wild threats only serve to show a “weakening regime under siege on multiple fronts,” Mohaddessin argues.
A Turning Point
Mohaddessin suggests that a turning point for the regime came in December 2017. Over the space of two months, anti-regime protests swept across Iran, rapidly spreading to 142 towns and cities in all of Iran’s 31 provinces.
Since then, protest after protest has engulfed Iran. Every sector of the Iranian economy, from logistics, to steel, sugar, taxi drivers, investors, and car buyers have taken to the streets or gone on strike to demonstrate their fury at the clerical regime.
These protests are now “a defining figure of the domestic landscape,” Mohaddessin writes. They “chip away at the regime’s power,” and leave it in an increasingly vulnerable state.
For the first time, the mullahs have begun to acknowledge the increasing influence of the Iranian opposition and its principal member, the MEK. On August 3rd, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei conceded, “we have problems.”
And the regime’s problems are growing. “A ruling structure dependent on repression will prove incapable of squelching public outbursts,” Mohaddessin writes. The mullahs have certainly become dependent on repression.
In 2018, the regime responded to the protest movement by increasing repressive measures. They arrested protestors, restricted internet and communication access, and publicly executed prisoners.
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“At the right moment, such conditions can bring down any dictatorship,” Mohaddessin writes.
Running Out of Options
So what can the mullahs do? Mohaddessin points out that they cannot negotiate with the US. Khamenei has already stated that to do so would amount to “treason”. To go back on this could lead to the regime collapsing from the inside.
It has instead launched a demonization and terror campaign aimed at the Iranian resistance. The People’s Mujahedin Organisation of Iran (MEK), the largest and most influential opposition group, has been the target of several foiled regime terror attacks abroad, the largest of which saw the attempted detonation of a car bomb at a MEK event attended by more than 100,000 supporters.
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This has only left the regime increasingly isolated on the international stage. Following the failed terror attack on the MEK’s Grand Gathering in Paris, the French government froze assets belonging to the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence (MOIS) and expelled two diplomats. The EU also recently approved their own set of sanctions against top MOIS officials. Mohaddessin suggests this indicates, “a closing of the ranks, and an increasingly aggressive posture toward” the mullahs.
“In such circumstances,” Mohaddessin concludes, “the best end game is an end to the malicious dictatorship that has consistently meddled in the region and suppressed its own citizenry.” Given the increasing pressure the regime faces at home and abroad, this may not be too far over the horizon.
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