Developments in the Iranian arena indicate that the regime has been seriously concerned about the outbreak possibility of popular demonstrations. This has led many parties, political currents and even prominent figures to re-calculate their political positions away from the ideology of the regime and the ideas of the supreme leader, by taking unclear stances and making ambiguous criticisms. This indicates that some people are convinced that major changes are likely to occur, such as the outbreak of an uprising, the death of Khamenei, or a coup by the Revolutionary Guard against Rouhani’s government. These speculations have been compounded by the return of US sanctions, deepening internal divisions over Rouhani’s government, and the death of Hashemi Shahroudi which sparked a fierce and hidden struggle over the successor to Khamenei after his departure.

In fact, political currents, especially the reformist one, has been seeking to re-position itself in the political arena. This has started with expressions of dissatisfaction with Rouhani’s policies as well as criticizing the policies of the regime and the Supreme Leader Khamenei himself. Some of these statements have shown that the reformists are tending to drop their support to Rouhani’s government. The reformists may want to rebuild their popular base, which has been badly affected in recent years, because of their support to Rouhani’s policies which have failed or arguably been thwarted by the Revolutionary Guard and the hardline movement.

The suspension of the reformist’s support to Rouhani’s government and the continuation of the subversive policies of the Revolutionary Guard against Rouhani could mean that the latter may turn into a scapegoat for the deterioration of the situation before the Iranian people, especially that the Revolutionary Guard’s plans suggest its readiness to any popular demonstrations that might erupt and the intention to direct any popular rage toward the government which is likely to be blamed as a mean to ease the domestic anger.

On the other hand, the Iranian regime is so concerned and afraid of a revolution that the Revolutionary Guard and the regime’s organs would not be able to contain. Therefore, the Iranian authorities have been adopting propaganda programs and media discourse aimed at reducing the spread of frustration and despair among the Iranian people and blaming Western plots for that. Therefore, the regime is keen to ensure that all basic commodities are available in the Iranian market and that no pretext is given to any popular anger by aiding, announcing jobs and ensuring to announce that the situation is going to be all good and that Iran will prevail over American policies and so on. On the other hand, the authorities impose strict control on intellectuals, dissidents and people with dual nationalities as for being the most important tools that Western powers might use to penetrate Iran.

Iranian officials’ statements that despair must not prevail among people seems unpopular, and the people are calling on the government to take serious action and take effective moves instead of making unrealistic and absurd statements. What was said by the First Vice-President Eshaq Jahangiri, that people should not be frustrated about the future, has been repeated several times by other government officials, including President Hassan Rouhani. But the Iranian people see that much of society has been frustrated by the regime’s policies and sees that the government has made no steps over the past five years to change its faulty inherited structures, so society can hope for improvement. Finding hope and breaking frustration cannot be made through statements and slogans, but with deeds and improving conditions, which is the missing element of the government and the regime. Indeed, the reality of the Iranian interior, which is evident through social media shows that the Iranian people are angry with the policies of the regime and frustrated by any improvement in the situation and became convinced that the only way to save Iran is to get rid of the current regime.

Despite the Iranian stance towards America, after the announcement by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo of a summit in Poland with the participation of many European countries against Iran, the leaders of the Iranian regime are no longer able to hide their feelings of weakness or continue to show any obstinacy, especially as this escalation this time has come from Europe, which was a powerful blow to the Iranian regime. The European countries have not yet announced the mechanism of financial exchange with Iran SPV, which is considered a circumvention on sanctions, which means that Tehran has lost hope of hanging on to the last straw for fear of drowning.

Iranian officials have strongly criticized Europe and hinted at Iran’s possible exit from the nuclear deal, especially after Europe’s reluctance to state the special mechanism for dealing with Iran, which it promised to disclose last month, but with nothing happened, which angered the Iranians who considered that as a European hoax. Some Iranian officials also stressed that Poland’s conference against Iran is a pretext for European states to escape their obligations regarding the special mechanism. The Secretary-General of the Society of Path-seekers of the Islamic Revolution, Parviz Sorouri that the mechanism of financial exchange with Europe SPV, was no more than a game from the beginning, because the Europeans have no will to implement it, and this was only to numb Tehran, because from one side they suggested the mechanism and on the other the kept announcing in the negotiations that their economy is linked to the private sector and they cannot control it. Member of Parliament Ahmad Salik also stressed that the Europeans are allies of the United States, and that the conference in Poland comes to cover the European abandonment of the financial mechanism (SPV). Many Iranian officials believe that Europe is unable to enforce this mechanism away from the United States.

Iran understands the Warsaw summit is a coordinated move between the United States and Poland, hence the latter has been a target of the Iranian statements in recent days, especially since the agenda of this meeting will include a series of important issues such as terrorism and extremism, missile development, arms proliferation, maritime trade, security and the threats of groups engaged in proxy wars in the Middle East. This means that Iran will be the focus of all these topics, and that the security issue will dominate the meeting and its main goal is to put an end to Iranian terrorism and the policies of the interventionist mullahs in the region. One of the main objectives of this meeting will be to develop a common framework for stability in the Middle East.

This Summit is expected to witness a wide participation and presence. According to the Polish Foreign Minister, more than 70 countries were invited to participate in the meeting, including the Gulf states, several Arab countries, all members of the European Union and other countries. The Iranian regime’s disruptive policies in the region will be at the center of this meeting, which will discuss ways to counter the threat of Iranian expansion in the region. This has greatly annoyed Iran, which considered the Warsaw meeting a hostile step towards it.

One of the benefits of this meeting is the expected American-European rapprochement regarding policies towards Iran, which will increase the pressure on Tehran and increase the despair of the latter from using its relations with European countries against the American pressures and sanctions, which can be a strong blow against Iran in the next stage, as this will put it under further external pressure and internal divisions. Then, it is expected that Jawad Zarif and Iranian government ministers will be called and questioned by the Shura Council, and the hardliners would find that as an opportunity to attack the Iranian government and block any chance for Iran to join important international treaties such as FATF and many others.

Al Mezmaah Studies & Research Centre

January 20, 2019