The recent uprising by the Iranian people that still continues in different forms and intensities across the country is evidence that Iran is ready for regime change; it is only a matter of time. Iran may one day sooner or later erupt into a serious struggle for achieving freedom and democracy, ending the dictatorial rule of clergies that has forcefully ruled the country for nearly four decades.
In Iran, according to Human Rights Watch and other human rights organizations, since the ending of international sanctions and the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPA) in 2015, the Islamic Regime (IR) has systematically continued to suppress the Iranian people in all aspects even more intensely than before: mainly freedom of expression, the press, religion and completely in gender equality. Further, the general standard of living in Iran also has continuously deteriorated so rapidly and so profoundly. The burden, however, has fallen most heavily on what remains of the middle class, and on the lower class which makes up the majority of the Iranian population today. Undoubtedly, young Iranians, including high school and university graduates who are unemployed and financially ruined, see no bright future with these clergy dictators and are more concerned.
According to the official reports coming from Iran, the economic crisis has increased corruption within the system and with governing officials that openly practice it daily. Inflation, unemployment, homelessness, and substance abuse, among other socioeconomic difficulties, have naturally discouraged civil obligation and created steep rises in crime.
The clergies in Iran have consolidated their regime by supporting international terrorism mainly in neighboring countries, including Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, and interfering in their internal affairs. Further, the IR has given away Iranian oil at a great discount to Asian countries- mainly China, India, and Turkey- for diplomatic support. The IR has also swapped resources with Russia for the same purpose. In addition, the IR has delivered free petroleum products to Syria to appease dictator Assad, as well as hundreds of millions of dollars of oil revenue yearly to the Hezbollah terrorist group in Lebanon to keep Israel’s army occupied.
The bottom line is that income which is supposed to help struggling Iranians instead goes to foreigners and international terrorist organizations around the world. This irrefutably demonstrates that the Islamic regime is sacrificing the welfare of the Iranian people for its own gain and survival. Evidently, the removal of sanctions (JCPA) in 2015 also have not stopped the terrorist behavior of the clergies and certainly will not end the suffering of the Iranian people as long as this evil dictatorship remains in power.
Those few countries, mainly America’s European allies that do not agree with President Trump’s firm policy toward the IR, should think through the implications of a free Iran. One that puts aside forced fanaticism, puts aside the Islamic revolution’s manners and ISIS-type behavior, puts aside repression and systematic execution of its own people, puts aside the supra-state power structures of the clergies, puts aside anti-American sentiment and its position against American allies Saudi Arabia and Israel in the region, puts aside the support of international terrorism, puts aside intervention in neighboring countries’ domestic affairs, and finally puts aside the effort of making an atomic bomb and intercontinental ballistic missiles. This will be an Iran that the free world expects to see, and one with which the free world naturally can have fair political and economic relations.
A free Iran opens up a prospect for a grand democratically-oriented region which would have the resources to foster moderation throughout the Middle East and Central Asia. This new Iran would definitely have the potential of emerging as one of the most democratic countries in the world. Therefore, it could become one of the West’s leading partners in the Middle East, as it was before the Islamic revolution, rather than Russia and China’s handyman in the region. Certainly, a free Iran has the ability to play a dignified role in the free world.
Investment in Iran
Last February, the United States’ National Security Advisor Herbert Raymond (H.R.) McMaster spoke at the Munich, Germany Security Conference and emphasized that businesses should not invest in Iran or do any transactions with the IR. He stated that any investment in Iran means investment in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which has been sanctioned by the United States government for their involvement in international terrorism and their ballistic missile program. The fact is that the IRGC is in total control of the political and economic matters of the country. Furthermore, the IRGC recently has announced it is ready to engage with the American and Israeli forces in the region, close the Strait of Hormuz, and halt the passage of about 18 million barrels of oil daily through the Persian Gulf.
Despite the European countries’ enthusiasm over Iran’s lavish economic opportunities, the free Europe should avoid behavior that might be mistaken as support of a regime which indulges itself while the Iranian people are practically starving. The Iran in which European companies wish to be involved economically is a democratic one, and therefore an Iran without clergies in power.
As free world investors try to imagine such a place and plan for their work within it, their focus should be the people of Iran. Of course, it will be mainly outside investors that will ultimately revitalize the Iranian economy. But it will be demonstrations of humanitarian concern for suffering Iranians at this time that will earn foreign companies their welcome when the time comes.
Presently, the IR in Iran is one of a few governments that the US has accused of promoting international terrorism, testing ballistic missiles, disregarding the approval of “UN Security Council Resolution 2231”, and furthermore systematically abusing human rights in Iran. Critics believe that the oil revenues are making these programs possible. Any EU officials or oil companies that oppose sanctions against the IR are intentionally supporting an undemocratic and pro-terrorist government, and by doing that they are advocating hostilities toward the freedom-loving Iranian people and internationally the US and its allies in the region.
Therefore, Russian, Chinese, Indian and a few European oil companies that are still eagerly racing to enter the Iranian oil and gas industries after the US left the JCPA need to realize that the IR’s governing system alone, not the American sanctions or any sanctions, deserves to be blamed for the current misery of the Iranian people. Conditions in Iran today, almost four decades after the so-called Islamic revolution, are worse than ever. No one can recall any part of the world at any time where a country so rich in natural resources (10 percent of total world oil and 18 percent of total world gas) experienced such a profound and rapid deterioration of the general standard of living as happened in Iran after the Islamic clergies that took over in 1979. The Iranian economy is ruined and the majority of the people in the country live below the poverty line, and with this regime in power, there is no sign of relief in sight.
The bottom line is that for a sound operation and a secure source of oil and gas, businesses should side with the people of Iran. Certainly, their distance from an uncivilized regime, their intention of supporting democracy in Iran, and their expression of concern for suffering Iranians at this time of oppression will gain oil companies and any investors their welcome when a new Iran is in place.
Mansour Kashfi, Ph.D., is president of Kashex International Petroleum Consulting and is a college professor in Dallas, Texas. He is also the author of innumerable articles and books about the petroleum industry and its market behavior worldwide. [email protected]