Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Is Iran Capable of Helping? | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Today, Western media analysts that deal with Iran’s relationship with the West keep repeating the statement that the West must engage Iran with regards to its nuclear project as well as with regards to [securing Iranian help] in Iraq and Afghanistan. So is Iran capable of genuinely providing assistance in Iraq and Afghanistan?

The quick answer is no. The Iranian regime is in a genuine state of confusion and incapacity, both internally and externally, as the power struggle between the pillars of the regime has yet to be resolved, in fact the details coming from the Iranian interior reveal that these divisions are ongoing. The decline of the demonstrations taking place in Iran is not as a result of the crisis easing but due to the suppression tactics employed by the Basij militia and the Revolutionary Guards. It has [now] become clear that this conflict has been transferred to the governing bodies in Iran.

We witnessed how over half the members of the Iranian parliament boycotted Ahmadinejad’s [election] victory celebrations. We also saw how certain pillars of the Iranian Revolution boycotted the [official] Iranian Friday sermons, regardless of whether these sermons were given by [Supreme Leader of Iran, Grand Ayatollah] Ali Khamenei or one of his deputies.

Nobody knows whether Ahmadinejad being overthrown is a satisfactory solution to this crisis, or whether this crisis will end in another way, but what is certain is that Ahmadinejad no longer enjoys the power that he previously did. Ahmadinejad is a lame duck as the disputes [in Iran] have escalated to the point that the conflict is now taking place between parties who are more powerful than him. The lines in Iran have become blurred, and the Supreme Leader who represents the [uncrossable] red line has been challenged by the Iranians from the general public to the opposition figures. This is unprecedented, even if it is symbolic, and it is also unprecedented for the Iranian Supreme Leader to back down in the face of public pressure, but this is something that occurred a number of times.

The internal debate and exchange that is taking place in Iran has made taking external action more difficult. This does not mean that the danger from Iran has been removed but rather the problem now is with regards to Tehran’s unpredictability. It is certain that the internal situation is not unified behind the ruling regime at the grass-roots level and the level of the electorate. It is therefore not within Iran’s ability to provide genuine assistance to the West with regards to Iraq and Afghanistan, unless the mullahs in Tehran decide to go against all of their principles and Iran is transformed into Turkey. However this is something that is unlikely at the moment as the percentage of those that oppose the [Iranian] regime and the Supreme Leader is not insignificant and genuinely exists.

It is also important to look at those affiliated to Iran who have announced their bankruptcy as a result of the interruption of financial aid [from Tehran] as well as those [groups] such as Hezbollah who are concerned of this fate in order to see how the instability in Iran may weaken those affiliated to the country.

We must also not forget that Iran’s nuclear project will increase the country’s plight, as it has been shown that the economic sanctions have significantly affected Iran internally, therefore resolving the negotiations on this issue in a non-lenient manner will only serve to increase the plight of the Iranian regime.

And so apart from all this, does the West believe that a regime that has oppressed its own people, illegally arresting them despite international warnings, is capable of providing genuine assistance to Iraq and Afghanistan in order to help stabilize these countries and enable them to become democracies?