In a volatile region Iran is no different than the other instable nations. Its history is characterised by a struggle between the people and the leaders. The clerical regime pretty much waged war on the people when it took power because it wanted rid of all trace of the revolutionary coalition that opposed a theocratic dictatorship.
Iran is struggling along and the regime is falling to pieces. It is struggling to convince anyone about its ideology. In 2009, the Revolutionary Guards refused to shoot protesters, so the Basij militias were deployed.
The entire regime is shrouded in corruption and its latest presidential elections were a sham (like many before). The candidates for presidency were vetted by the Guardian Council and opposition candidates were eliminated. There was nothing democratic about the elections.
Rouhani, during the election campaign, promised freedoms that he knew he was not going to deliver.
The ageing Supreme Leader will need to be replaced, probably very soon. But selecting a suitable replacement will prove to be impossible because the different factions are severely divided.
The historic nuclear deal agreed under the Obama administration was key to the Iranian regime’s current position of strength. Obama did not want anything to derail the nuclear deal before it was signed because he did not want Iran to pull out. He appeased Iran to the point of basically ignoring anything to do with Iran’s belligerence. Many in Washington still want this kind of policy because of fears over Iran’s reaction.
However, Secretary of State Tillerson has brought up the issue of human rights abuses carried out by the regime. However, what seems more pressing is for the US government to prepare for another popular uprising like the one in 2009 which nearly toppled the Iranian regime. It should also prepare for the death of ageing Supreme Leader Khamenei who was ill not that long ago. These two scenarios could be the trigger for the regime’s collapse. If the opportunity is seized immediately, it could bring freedom to the Iranian people quicker than anyone imagined possible.
The regime’s security services are already unsteady, so the US needs to work out how to weaken them. The planning needs to start now so that when the opportunity arises in the near future, the US will be ready.