The people of Iran have made no secret of their desire for regime change. During the massive uprising that took place between December 2017 and January 2018, Iranians explicitly said that they want the clerical regime to collapse.
The Iranian authorities have rarely commented on the will of the people, dismissing the slogans chanted during the anti-government demonstrations as a foreign conspiracy by the West, especially the United States.
However, it appears that the regime is now taking the possibility of regime collapse seriously.
The IRGC-affiliated Javan publication wrote that the latest sanctions on Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif “must be interpreted in the context that the U.S. government seeks to overthrow the establishment in a style similar to that of the [MEK]”.
So far, the United States has issued sanctions against a number of key regime officials and entities including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the notorious Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
The publications said that the United States, over the past few decades, has paid little attention to the Iranian opposition, but that this has completely changed now that US President Donald Trump is in office. It said that for the first time in 25 years, the government of the United States is not pursuing the “reformer” route. It said that the Trump administration “sees no difference between reformers and principalists” whereas the Obama administration did.
The Arman publication that is linked to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani also spoke about the sanctions on the Foreign Minister, saying that the sanctions are “against the entire diplomacy” of the regime.
It also spoke about President Trump, the direction his policy is taking and the motives of his administration. It stated: “It is wrong to think that Trump is alone in his decision to sanction various individuals and, according to some analysts in Iran and abroad, that his team's foreign policy is shaky. The fact that Zarif has been sanctioned is a symbolic move against the establishment's diplomacy.”
The Arman publication mentioned the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or the 2015 nuclear deal as it is commonly referred to, stating that the diplomacy with the Europeans over its future has come to an end.
The Europeans originally appeared to take Iran’s side over the United States’ when it was clear that the United States would be exiting the nuclear agreement. The European leaders criticised the US move and they vowed to do everything in their power to preserve the deal. The Iranian regime took this as a sign that the Europeans would give Iran what it wants, but it has become increasingly clear over the past few months that this is not the case.
A member of the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Affairs Commission said: “The Europeans want the [Iranian regime] to stop its activities in violation of the JCPOA, and the establishment seeks fundamental changes in the sanctions and the restoration of the oil sales and financial transactions. As long as this doesn't happen, the rest is diplomatic gesturing.”