By Mahmoud Hakamian
Following the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea, many people in Iran are accusing President Hassan Rouhani of selling them out. The treaty was signed on 12th August between Iran, Russia, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan.
The Caspian Sea dispute has been ongoing since 1991 after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
Users on social media have accused the Iranian president of selling off Iran's share of the Caspian Sea to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Iran now has the smallest share.
The sea is rich in both oil and gas with estimates indicating there could be around 8.5 trillion cubic metres of natural gas and 50 billion barrels of oil beneath the seabed. Hence the major disputes over the sea.
The Iranian regime is worried about the reaction from the public and it is trying to cover the issue up with the usual tactics. Propaganda is in full swing and President Rouhani’s speech in a cabinet meeting two days after the treaty was signed revolved around the issue. He tried to justify the major concessions made by Iran. Rouhani said that the negotiations have been going on for two decades and that less than a third of the issues had been resolved with this treaty, implying that the next round of negotiations would be more in Iran’s favour. However, this is a complete contradiction to what the Iranian had previously said. It had claimed that only around 10 per cent of the issues remain outstanding.
However, he revealed further information at the end of his speech. He said: “In these negotiations and agreement we had a very great achievement in terms of national security. The United States, and even NATO, had a plan to come to the shores of Caspian Sea. So that their soldiers, their soldiers’ boots reach the shores of the Caspian Sea.”
The Foreign Minister of Iran, Javad Zarif, appeared on television to justify the treaty. He was asked whether it was a good idea that Iran signed the treaty given its current weak position. However, he refuted that the regime was in a weak place, saying that it is “very strong”.
Even some state media outlets have criticised Iran’s concessions, calling the agreement the second Treaty of Turkmenchay referring to the treaty that was made between Iran and the Russian Empire many years ago. In this agreement, Iran gave Russia control over a number of areas of South Caucasus. To this day, the treaty is still regarded as symbolic of Iran’s interests being sold out.
This is just another example of the Iranian regime mismanaging the country’s resources. It should not be surprising as the country is in a mess because of the current leadership. This is just one more reason for the people to take to the streets.
Since December last year, the people of Iran have participated in protests and anti-government demonstrations and are calling for regime change. They are angry at the regime’s corruption, mismanagement and neglect.