Iranian leadership is comprised of aging mullahs and leaders want to export what appears to be an outdated ideology to Arab and Islamic countries in the region.

In January, Dennis Ross, former US envoy to the Middle East and counsellor at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, wrote a commentary for the Foreign Policy magazine. He argued that Iran’s policies, particularly its expansionism in the Middle East, comes with a heavy social cost, especially in reference to the nationwide protests in Iran over corruption and economic mismanagement that began on December 28th.

Ross wrote that the while the demonstrations do not indicate “the Islamic republic is on its last legs — far from it,” he noted that “…for a regime that prides itself on control and recalls well what brought Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi down, the protesters flocking to the streets cannot be a happy sight.”

Francis Fukuyama, the American political scientist who forecast the “end of history,” has said that the generational tensions in Iran point to a looming crisis. “In Iran there has been a social revolution going on beneath the surface.” At the World Government Summit in Dubai, Fukuyama said, “There is a young population, well-educated women in particular, who do not correspond to the rural, conservative power structure that runs the country.”

Deteriorating economic conditions, political concerns, and a major social shift, all combine to make Iran look increasingly unstable. Iranian leadership might resist progress, but time marches on.

“[Iran is] headed towards some kind of explosion and I’m not sure of the outcome but it is not a stable situation,” Fukuyama said. Fukuyama called Iran’s demographic landscape “most important”.

The youth of Iran have embraced the information revolution — the internet, the development of artificial intelligence, the use of quantum information processing.
They are uninterested in the conservative way of life that Khomeini endorsed 40 years ago. Few adhere to the antiquated ideology of their leaders.

After enduring heavy repression since 1979, Iranian women have recently made great strides against the social and legal barriers imposed by the regime. They were among protesters in December and January shouting: “No Gaza. No Lebanon. I will die for Iran.” Still, women’s participation in the labor force is only 17%, demonstrating the extent of the inequality that women continue to face, socially, and in terms of economic outcomes.

Iran’s women and its youth continue to face frustration, and popular unrest continues to increase. Some predict that Iran will soon witness an explosion, as its society hungers for change.