Former US President Barack Obama promised that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or 2015 Iran nuclear deal as it is more commonly known, would moderate the regime. However, the opposite has happened. The nuclear agreement seems to have done nothing but embolden the regime, and gave it a lot of cash to go with it.
Yet, the situation changed when President Donald Trump took office. Even during the election campaign, Trump was very outspoken about the Iran threat and he vowed to pull out of the nuclear deal. It took some time, but the United States eventually did withdraw from the JCPOA, despite pleas from the other signatories begging him not to.
So, with the withdrawal came the re-imposition of sanctions. And it did not stop there because the Trump administration imposed additional sanctions and pursued what it calls a “campaign of maximum pressure”. Further sanctions were also a strong possibility and they are continuing to come.
Last Saturday, Iran launched an attack on two Saudi oil installations, immediately halving its oil production and causing a major impact on global oil prices. The Trump administration has condemned Iran’s actions and has ordered the Treasury Secretary to impose further sanctions.
The sanctions on Iran’s oil industry have been the hardest-hitting so far. The United States has effectively removed a large portion of the regime’s income and the Trump administration has made it very clear that it will target any countries that assist Iran in circumventing these sanctions.
Iran’s leadership is facing a major crisis because of this campaign of maximum pressure. Furthermore, Arab states are putting pressure on the regime too because of its regional warmongering. It has reached the stage in the region now where Iran’s neighbors are reuniting against the regime. Last week, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain issued a joint statement highlighting Iran’s destructive role and their willingness to work together to counter it.
And to top it all off, the domestic unrest in Iran is explosive and a major preoccupation of the regime. Society is simmering with discontent and it could erupt at any time. Every time there is a social issue (the death of a political prisoner or the self-immolation of a female football fan that was arrested for trying to enter a stadium, for example), there is a crisis. All it takes is one eruption to push the regime over the edge.
And the regime is very aware of this widespread unrest for it no longer denies that it exists.
As the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), the main opposition to the Iranian regime and the only viable alternative, highlights, the regime has a choice – death or suicide out of fear of death.