Iran’s Year of Unrest

Dec. 27 2018

A year ago, protests erupted throughout the Islamic Republic as demonstrators took to the streets to express their frustrations with economic hardship, laws mandating the wearing of the hijab, and even their government’s foreign policy. While these protests have disappeared from Western headlines, they have not ceased. Ilan Berman writes:

Although regime officials have renewed their calls for a “resistance economy” in the face of reinvigorated sanctions on the part of the United States, the Islamic Republic shows no sign of rethinking its extensive (and costly) foreign-policy priorities, which include helping to keep Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad in power and providing military support for Yemen’s Houthi rebels.

That, in turn, represents an opportunity for Washington. The Trump administration has made renewed [economic] pressure on Iran a centerpiece of its regional policy. . . . Accordingly, over the past half-year, the White House has sought to turn up the heat on Iran’s leadership through the “snapback” of American sanctions, and by cajoling European and Asian nations to reduce their trade with Tehran.

America’s greatest ally in this effort, however, might just turn out to be the Iranian regime itself. To date, Iran’s leaders have succeeded in containing the challenge to its rule represented by the ongoing protests. They have done so in large part through widespread arrests, pervasive censorship, and extensive repression. These efforts have likewise been greatly aided by the absence of clear leadership or an organized agenda for action among the protesters themselves.

Yet the longer the Islamic Republic continues its descent into economic crisis, the more compelling these calls for counterrevolution are bound to become—and the more profound the ideological challenge to the integrity of the Iranian regime will be. And that, in turn, makes the current protests the most potent force working toward creating meaningful change within the Islamic Republic.

You have 2 free articles left this month

Sign up now for unlimited access

Subscribe Now

Already have an account? Log in now

Read more at Ilan Berman

More about: Iran, Iran sanctions, Politics & Current Affairs, U.S. Foreign policy

 

Why Israel Pretends That Hamas Fired Rockets by Accident

March 21 2019

Israeli military and political officials have repeated Hamas’s dubious claim that the launching of two rockets at Tel Aviv last week was inadvertent. To Smadar Perry, accepting Hamas’s story rather than engaging in further retaliation is but a convenient, and perhaps necessary, way of aiding Egyptian efforts to broker a deal with the terrorist group. But even if these efforts succeed, the results will be mixed:

The [Israeli] security cabinet has met in Tel Aviv and decided that they would continue indirect negotiations with Gaza. A message was sent to Egypt, whose delegation is going back to Gaza to pass on the Israeli demands for calm. The Egyptians also have to deal with the demands from Hamas, which include, among other things, an increase in aid from $15 million to $30 million per month and an increase in the supply of electricity.

The requests are reasonable, but they do leave a sour taste in the mouth. Israel must ensure that this financial aid does not end up in the pockets of Hamas and its associates. [Israel] also knows that if it says “no” to everything, the Iranians will step in, with the help of their Gazan friends in Islamic Jihad. They are just waiting for the opportunity.

Hamas also must deal with the fallout from a series of massive handouts from Qatar. For when the citizens of the Gaza Strip saw that the money was going to the Hamas leadership, who were also enjoying a fine supply of electricity to their own houses, they took to the streets in protest—and this time it was not Israel that was the focus of their anger. . .

[But] here is the irony. With Egyptian help, Israel can reach understandings for calm with Gaza, despite the lack of a direct channel. . . . In the West Bank, where the purportedly friendlier Fatah is in charge, it is more complicated, at least until the eighty-three-year-old Mahmoud Abbas is replaced.

As evidence for that last statement, consider the murder of two Israelis in the West Bank on Sunday, and the Palestinians who threw explosives at Israeli soldiers at Joseph’s Tomb in Shechem yesterday.

You have 1 free article left this month

Sign up now for unlimited access

Subscribe Now

Already have an account? Log in now

Read more at Ynet

More about: Egypt, Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, West Bank