They even hoped that the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi would deflect international attention and somehow stop the implementation of sanctions, but the full sanctions came into force on November 5, with no way for Iran to escape.
This was devastating for the mullahs, who are barely able to control the already volatile domestic situation, as they righty fear that it will increase political unrest among Iranians and make their rule even less tenable.
While the protests began long before the sanctions took hold (and even before they were announced), the sanctions are limiting the Regime’s power to control the situation; less money from oil exports, means less money to pay the Iranian militias that usually suppress uprisings.
Now, Iran’s oil trade, use of the US dollar and use of American financial institutions has been cut off and the Regime is being forced into a corner. Trump has offered them a way out in the form of a new deal that confronts a of Iran’s malign behaviours. However, the mullahs are unlikely to agree, even if it is the only thing that could save them.
Journalist Abd al-Rahman al-Rashed wrote : “It seems very plausible that in two years’ time the regime will ﬁnd itself in such dire straits that it will have no other choice but to give up its nuclear program.”
But, even more likely, the Regime won’t last two years. The careful sanctions waivers, which allow time for certain countries to adjust, were the subject of much controversy, but they are stabilising the market, making it more likely that US allies will go along with the sanctions.
It also, possibly more importantly, shows Iran what life could be like if it relinquishes its missile program for good and indicates that the only way out is through diplomacy and not force. This could be the way to bring peace to the Middle East.
In related news, the US-backed Saudi-led Arab alliance in Yemen is continuing its battle against the Iran-backed Houthis for control of the port city of Hodeidah. This is strategically important for both sides, but while progress has been made by the allied powers, the Houthis still hold the city and new UN calls for negotiations have been made.
The Iranians will not allow peace talks to go ahead, however, which will leave brute force as the only option.