Will Trump Topple the Ayatollah?

Barack Obama pursued the fantasy of a U.S.-Iran alliance and sought to build up Iran as a regional power. Beyond sheer perversity, it was hard to see a rationale for this strategy. President Trump has sensibly reversed it. Seeing Iran’s mullahs as our bitter enemies–let’s not overthink this, “Death to America” does not lend itself to a subtle, counterintuitive interpretation–Trump has sought to weaken them both externally and internally.

This Reuters report suggests that he may be succeeding far better than I, for one, imagined:

Mounting pressure from the Trump administration combined with discontent among many Iranians at the state of the economy are rattling the Islamic Republic, with little sign that its leaders have the answers, officials and analysts say.

Three days of protests broke out on Sunday in Tehran’s Grand Bazaar, with hundreds of angry shopkeepers denouncing a sharp fall in the value of the Iranian currency.
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However, the weekend protests quickly acquired a political edge, with people shouting slogans against Iran’s ultimate authority, Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and other top officials, calling them thieves who should step down.

I confess I was unaware that the rial has dropped 40% in value. Odd that this hasn’t been more widely reported:

The rial has lost 40 per cent of its value since last month, when President Donald Trump pulled out of Iran’s 2015 nuclear accord and announced draconian sanctions on Tehran.

These include an attempt to shut down the international sale of Iranian oil, Tehran’s main source of revenue, a threat that has cast a chill over the economy.
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The full impact of Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal and Washington’s move to stop foreign countries from doing business with Iran, may not be clear for months.
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Already French companies Total and Peugeot, for example, have said they will pull out of Iran rather than risk being shut out of the U.S. financial system, as Washington threatens to use the dollar’s reserve currency status to punish anyone who gets in the way of its ramped-up Iran policy.

More:

“Sanctions cannot be blamed for all the internal problems. They have yet to be implemented,” said a second official, familiar with Iran’s decision-making process.

To pile on the pain, Washington says all countries must end crude imports from Iran by Nov. 4, hitting the oil sales that generate 60 percent of the country’s income. Iran says this level of cuts will never happen.

Demonstrations against the regime continue in various cities around Iran. Reuters says that “analysts and insiders” expect the mullahs to weather the storm. Likely so, for now. But tyrannical regimes generally appear secure until the day comes, to the surprise of analysts and insiders, when the seemingly solid edifice crumbles, often with stunning rapidity. That’s something for the mullahs to think about. And in the meantime, the likelihood of foreign adventurism should be much diminished.

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