Developments in Iran: preparation for new political process (COMMENT)

Developments in Iran: preparation for new political process (COMMENT)
 Azerbaijan also follows with interest the recent protests in Iran. The first and the most important reason for this is the fact that this state is a neighbor of Azerbaijan. Because if such events expand, it can create problems for the security of the neighboring states as well.

Secondly, more than 30 million Azerbaijanis live in Iran. What is happening there is also important in terms of ensuring the rights of our peoples.

Thirdly, the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) is one of the leading states in the Middle East. Therefore, events in the neighboring country can also cause serious disturbances in a region close to Azerbaijan.

Moreover, Iran has been cooperating with Armenia, occupying the territory of Azerbaijan and expanding its relations. This is one of the factors hampering the liberation of Nagorno-Karabakh. Therefore, developments in the Islamic Republic is very important from the perspective of influence on behavior of the occupant. At the same time, the southern neighbor of Azerbaijan holds one of the leading places for oil production and export in the world market. Therefore, the economic impact of Iran's actions on oil extracting and exporting countries is undeniable. At the same time, the southern neighbor of Azerbaijan holds one of the leading places concerning oil production and export in the world market. Therefore, the economic impact of protests in Iran on oil extracting and exporting countries is undeniable.

Economic sanctions were imposed on Iran for more than 20 years due to its nuclear program. The UN Security Council also adopted three resolutions in this regard. Azerbaijan was also involved in international sanctions against its will. Therefore, new sanctions against Tehran in connection with the protests are not in the interests of Azerbaijan. From this point of view the essence, perspective, outcome of protests, etc. is of interest for Azerbaijan.

By the way, the first protest actions against economic, internal and foreign policy of the Iranian authorities started on December 28, in Mashad, Razavi Khorasan province, calling on the Telegram social network under the slogan "No price rise!" and covering several cities in the country continued until January 2. Slogans were even more stringent in the last days of the action. The processes are gradually becoming political, and the slogans targeted supreme leader of the country, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei. Official sources said two people were killed but unofficial sources reported 27 deaths.

Official Tehran said over 450 people were detained and they would be brought to justice soon. On January 3, protest actions in Iran were declared "finished". Iranian commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari made a statement in this regard: "Our enemies must know that no military or security threats against Iran will give results. We can declare that the rebels are defeated”.

Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, the Iranian government and other officials accused Saudi Arabia, Israel and the United States of organizing protests. Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations Gholamali Khoshroo sent a letter to Secretary General António Guterres and the Security Council, accusing the United States of interfering in internal affairs of the country. He called writing by the US President Donald Trump and vice-president Mike Pence on the Twitter as "provocative".

Donald Tramp said the US government is focusing on what has happened in Iran: "Finally, the people of Iran stood up against this wild and corrupt regime. All the money foolishly given to the Iranian regime by former US President Barack Obama was spent on terror and went to the pockets of the authorities. Today, the Iranian population is facing a shortage of everyday goods, high inflation, and gross violations of human rights”.

Prime minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu rejected the claims of Iranian president Hassan Rouhani and accused him of "speaking false”. The head of Israeli government criticized the European countries for observing the demonstrations unfolding across Iran in silence.

"When Iranian regime finally falls, and one day it will, Iranians and Israelis will be great friends once again.”

Iranian officials have been issuing statements regarding external interference for many years. Unfortunately, no proper work is done for elimination of the problem that caused the protests.

The statements of Trump and Netanyahu proved that the developments in Iran are closely followed by the states that Tehran consider as enemies. Of course, there were also those that exaggerated these relations. They dared to say that the end is here. However, serious social problems exist in Iran. As Iran focused on developments in Iraq, Syria and Yemen the reforms in the economy has been suspended. There is a standstill in social area, youth face multiple problems. The restrictions imposed on social media creates additional obstacles for freedom of expression.

The sanctions lifted after the agreement signed on July 15, 2015, was a serious event for Iran’s recovery. Underestimation of this have created problems for Tehran. Protests were the first manifestation of that. Claiming that foreign states organized the protests can be regarded as indicator of Iranian authority’s power. Regardless of the attitude of foreign forces, the government has multiple problems in the southern neighborhood of Azerbaijan, that wait their solution for nearly 39 years.

As reforms were not carried out in the country in previous years or the planned processes remained unfinished, it has caused an additional tension.

On February, 2018, 39th anniversary of Iranian revolution will be marked in Iran. During this period new forces that came to power in Iran conducted senseless eight-year-old war with Iraq. They were also engaged to confrontation between Lebanon and Israel. They defended the nuclear program. They joined directly or indirectly to the processes that followed the changes of power in Iraq, Syria and Yemen. The government justified them with safety issues, step taken for protection from external aggression. But the rising demand of population and meeting those demands were left behind which turned into protests. Taking advantage of those problems by foreign forces regarded as enemies is not impossible. Protests were held before and after 2009 presidential election in Iran. At that time the representative of conservative line, second time candidate for presidency Mahmoud Ahmadinejad competed with reformist Mirhuseyn Musavi, Mehdi Karroubi and Mohsun Rzai. The main representative of reformists Mirhuseyn Musavi lost the election. Massive protests followed the election, the representatives of reformists were arrested. As of today Musavi and Karroubi are detained under house arrests.

The protests that started on December 28 can be considered as continuation of the process. Because the revolution that took place 39 years ago could not reach its targets or achieved them partially. If the claims of protesters were political in 2009, majority of slogans in the last protests were social. Thus, the Iranian authorities did not carry out reforms on political, economic and social demands of population for almost 40 years. If situation continues this way or the attention will be focused on pressure and persecution rather than solution of problems, it is likely that new wave of protests will break out in the near future. 

What happened in summer of 2009 and winter of 2017 can also be considered as preparation for establishment of political environment of February, 1979.