Is an Iraq-style regime change possible in Iran?

46271.jpgIn a development similar to the incidents leading to the catastrophic U.S.-led war against Iraq, some American media outlets recently launched an anti-Iran propaganda campaign, which includes calls for regime change. This development follows the recent approval of million dollars by the U.S. congress to fund anti-Iranian activities as well as the U.S. State Department’s new approach towards Iran involving what it calls “democracy-promoting” programs.More...¼br />  The debate that raged over Iran’s nuclear program in Bush’s first term between those who favored more diplomacy with Iran and those who pushed for confrontation appears to have settled in favor of the latter. “Our problem is with the Iranian regime,” the U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in Senate testimony last month.

A report on the Financial Times states that the U.S. and Britain have already launched a joint campaign to initiate regime change in Iran. According to the Times, the plan is being developed by a team within the U.S. State Department. The paper said that U.S. officials view the campaign as a joint diplomatic effort to curb Iran’s nuclear program without resorting to military intervention, as both countries are aware that a military strike won‘t win UN approval. Washington also believes that UN sanctions are ineffective, the Times said. U.S. officials say the British involvement was vital, because American experts lack knowledge of Tehran’s nuclear program as a result of 25 years of severed U.S.-Iranian diplomatic relations. Some analysts view British participation as a moderating force as the U.S. decides whether to fund opposition groups within Iran.¼br />  What makes these developments sound alarming is that they come amid reports by sources close to U.S. intelligence and military officials that the Bush Administration is considering plans for military action against Iran‘s nuclear sites. Given this situation, an editorial on the Global Politician examines whether a possible U.S.-sponsored regime change in Iran would succeed. In order to answer this question, one must analyze the public mood in Iran to determine whether the Iranians would support a U.S.-led political campaign or armed intervention to bring regime change in their country. The article argues that the Iranians simply have no appetite for any more political changes in their country. Most Iranian youths are mainly concerned with their basic living needs, such as employment, higher education, recreation, etc. Political participation is considered a luxury for those who are preoccupied with meeting their necessary economic and social requirements. And the Iranians prove to be no exception in this respect.¼br />  

Moreover, the record shown by the new government headed by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad indicates that it would win further public support. Since his election, the Iranian President has embarked upon an ambitious populist social and economic agenda aimed at creating better conditions for the Iranians through fighting corruption, poverty alleviation, equitable distribution of resources among economically disadvantaged regions and cutting public consumption expenditures and other economic austerity measures by government agencies. To stimulate further economic growth and create employment opportunities, Ahmadinejad also withdrew sizeable amounts from Iran’s Foreign Exchange Reserve Fund, an emergency fund set up by the former government, to fund job-creating private investments and public development projects. Obviously, these measures would prevent the social and economic demands of the youths from translating into political behavior, such as public protests, riots and other violent behaviors. Such developments would also significantly boost Ahmadinejad’s reelection chances.
 Most Iranians believe that their country cannot afford another revolution because Iran experienced turbulent times over the past three decades. Moreover, the nuclear issues has become a matter of national pride. This strong sense of nationalism and daily scenes of explosions, bloodshed and chaos seen next door in Iraq also preclude the possibility of a foreign-led or sponsored regime chance in the country.

The lack of a viable alternative political force to fill in the power vacuum after a possible breakup of the existing order also makes a regime change impossible. Currently, there are no credible political movements outside Iran that can mobilize necessary resources to lead a regime change and run a post-conflict government. Most of the existing foreign-based Iranian opposition groups also lack the needed support of the Iranians.
 Overall, the chances of a regime change taking place in Iran any time in the near future are nil. The Islamic republic has consolidated its rule over the past quarter of a century and is currently experiencing its most favorable domestic conditions since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The Iranian government also enjoys wide support among the vast majority of its citizens. Modern political history of Iran shows that any genuine political changes in Iran comes from within the Iranian society and government. The U.S. should examine the realities on the ground before making irrational moves that could create another mayhem in the Middle East.

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