Iran is experiencing a new wave of protests, some violent. The protests are centered in the oil-rich province of Khuzestan in the southwest, along the border with Iraq.
In this tweet By Entifadh Qanbar, you can see how Iranian protesters attack a seminary said to be in the city of Khorramabad, located in Lorestan province, also close to Iraq.
According to the washington post, the protests “have shaken the government.” “He has been accused of responding with a heavy hand to prevent the demonstrations from spreading to other parts of the country.” Even Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (remember him?) Has criticized the state’s harsh response to the protests.
The protests are related to a severe water shortage and the government’s ineffective response. Yet, as the Post points out, there are “overlapping crises” in Iran, not just water shortages, but also “a relentless outbreak of coronavirus, economic problems exacerbated by US sanctions, and widespread power outages that have sparked other protests.” . In addition, there have been “waves of labor unrest, including strikes by oil workers.”
I’m not sure how much we should make of these protests. We have seen waves of them before. The government always seems to outlive them. On the other hand, authoritarian regimes always survive protests until they do.
The question is whether the United States should help America-hating mullahs cope with their overlapping crises. That is, should we lift our sanctions and enrich the regime in some other way to re-enter a nuclear deal?
This is the intention of the Biden administration. If the Iranians weren’t making a tough deal, Biden would have already lifted the sanctions.
I am not saying that doing so would be a lifesaver for the regime. The mullahs probably don’t need a life preserver, at least not yet.
But there are only two plausible scenarios under which Iran does not become a hostile nuclear power. One scenario is military action by the United States and / or Israel to prevent this outcome. The other is regime change.
No one knows if a regime change is likely. I suspect it is not. But the fact that protests continue to emerge suggests that it is plausible that it will occur sometime in the not-too-distant future.
Therefore, the United States should do everything possible to promote a regime change scenario. That means, at the very least, keeping our penalties in place and finding additional ways to tighten the screws.
Unfortunately, the Biden administration is determined, indeed, desperate, to move in the opposite direction.