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The Foreign Factor in Destabilizing Iran - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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There is no doubt that the political tsunami that struck Iran was entirely home grown regardless of the Iranian regime’s attempts to blame it on its opponents and convince its people that there was a foreign conspiracy behind the demonstrations. It was expected that the Ahmadinejad government would use the excuse of a foreign conspiracy, especially as it rejected holding re-elections and even a recount, putting the country’s stability at risk.

But this does not make the foreign factor part of the problem though it might become part of the problem at a later stage for certain reasons. Iran has many foreign opponents and its enemies are willing to do anything to topple the regime, or at least destabilize it. We know that no regime is safe from foreign influence, especially at times of weakness and internal division when the doors are open to external interference. The Iranian tsunami is certainly home grown, and there is yet to be any intervention in the crisis, but it is very likely and almost certainly going to happen unless Iran shows some flexibility in dealing with its numerous disputes with international and regional powers. The Supreme Guide and other leading figures should choose whether to offer concessions to its internal opponents or its foreign opponents. They should accept that they need to correct the political situation and allow the opposition some authority, or stop the uranium enrichment project and refrain from spreading disorder throughout the region. If the authorities in Tehran fail to surrender to either side, they will become trapped in the claws of both sides and become even weaker.

There’d be no exaggeration in saying that this is the first time the Iranian government has looked so weak after everybody had gotten used to seeing it boast, defy and exaggerate rather than lessen its demands at every meeting. The government tackled the crisis of the election results and its opponents with the very same mentality of superiority. Rather than choosing to deal with the problem through participation and revision and serious mediation, the government chose to challenge [its opponents] until matters spiralled out of control and it was unable to put out the internal fire.

It was no secret that it wasn’t only the Europeans and Americans who rejoiced at the regime’s apparent weakness, and this was evident in their sharp tones against Iran during the recent G8 summit. Russia demonstrated some flexibility in the way it dealt with the issue of Iranian weapons by offering another deal with the United States and China also shows similar flexibility.

What could happen in Tehran in the future remains a basic element of external considerations. Iran has been offered a chance to end the economic sanctions, and aid to guarantee nuclear fuel for peaceful means in return for stopping uranium enrichment. It is odd that Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki is still so persistent as if nothing has happened, as he stated that he wants Iran’s set of regional demands to be included in an exchange package. The new situation is that the Americans and its companions are not the only ones who are angry with Ahmadinejad as millions of Iranians share the same feeling.

The Iranian regime is extremely confused about how to deal with the serious developments taking place. Perhaps it still hasn’t realised that the accusation of foreign interference might not just be a scare tactic to frighten the opposition, but may become a reality. Foreign powers are capable of destabilizing the regime if they choose to include this in their political agenda to weaken the Iranian regime in its negotiations and to end its interference in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Palestine, Yemen and elsewhere. The Iranian regime has no problem with openly interfering, as it considers expanding its influence its right and is also seeking to include this in the political bartering that will take place.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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