The sanctions imposed on Iran’s shipping, banking, oil, energy, auto, precious metals and shipbuilding industries over the course of the year have pummelled the economy, already weak from decades of corruption and mismanagement, and sent the rial plummeting and the prices of basic necessities soaring.
The goal of these sanctions, according to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is to cut off the Regime’s access to funds that support its malign activities, target the Iranian elite, and put “maximum pressure” on the mullahs to alter their behaviour.
Dr Albadr Al-Shateri, a politics professor at the National Defense College in Abu Dhabi, said: “The sanctions, despite their unilateral nature, have hurt Iran. Many companies that had planned to invest in Iran changed course, fearing US punitive sanctions. The Iranian currency plunged, unemployment is high and inflation is soaring. The International Monetary Fund points to declining growth due to the sanctions.”
This economic crisis has led to mass demonstrations in Iran, although the nationwide protest movement calling for regime change in Iran began last December, and now the Regime is feeling more threatened than ever.
Riad Kahwaji, founder and CEO of the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis in Dubai, said: “Economic conditions in Iran have worsened, even following the mere announcement that sanctions would be reimposed. We saw the reaction in the Iranian market, where many Western and international companies pulled out, and we see constant demonstrations by people protesting over the worsening situation.”
While Raghida Dergham, founder and executive chairman of the Beirut Institute, said: “The sanctions are definitely hurting the country economically. The harm isn’t only in terms of trade relations with the world, but is also sowing the seeds of a possible implosion in Iran.”
So Iran is forced to try and convince Europe to offer them above and beyond what they were promised in the nuclear deal, usually with threats of restarting its nuclear programme, in order to try and stabilise the economic situation in Iran; at least until the Trump administration leaves office.
The Regime is also blaming the protests of foreign interference, claiming that instigators from the US and Israel are inciting the protesters, preferring to ignore that the mullahs’ actions have led the people to this protest.
But 2019 is expected to be an even worse year for the Iranian Regime, according to many analysts, with the US only getting tougher on Iran.
Dr Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, former chair of the Arab Council for the Social Sciences, said: “Internally, with severe sanctions reimposed, the net impact will be a weaker Iran, which is good for the region’s stability and for global stability.
A weaker Iran is expected until the end of the Trump administration. And in this zero-sum game that we have in the region, a weaker Iran necessarily means stronger Arab Gulf states.”
So could this be the end of the Iranian Regime? Let’s hope so.