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Iran Will be the New Yugoslavia
A demonstrator holds a poster of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei inset with a photo of his predecessor, the late Ruhollah Khomeini, on November 25 during a pro-government rally in Tehran. (Fatemeh Bahrami/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Iran Will be the New Yugoslavia

Al-Jazirah, Saudi Arabia, November 23

The unrest and demonstrations taking place in Iran did not surprise me, but they are, in my opinion, long overdue – this pure, priestly state cannot keep pace with modern times, and cannot continue existing for much longer. It is true that the mullah regime has survived so far by ruling with a fist of iron, but this may prove to be more of a painkiller than a long-lasting cure. The oppression that came with this iron first deprived the Iranian people of a decent livelihood and a reasonable amount of economic growth. The Iranian people have been suffering from reduced development and modernization, and worsening poverty over time. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) may succeed in silencing regime opponents and suppressing their demonstrations, but its success will remain a temporary success, in the sense that protests will return again and again in the years to come, especially given Iran’s poor economic situation due to the tight economic blockade, the depreciation of its currency and declining purchasing power. In addition, unemployment rates have increased over time, with corruption and bribery growing ever more prevalent. As a result of this financial crisis, the mullahs significantly decreased their financial support for various armed groups in the region, in a manner that led to the unrest we’re currently witnessing in Iraq and Lebanon. Needless to say, what is happening in these two arenas is closely linked to the weakness of the Iranian treasury. In my view, the IRGC – whose top-most priority is to protect the mullah regime and its stability – will respond to the current crisis by violently crushing protests. Its experience with the people of Syria serves as a stark reminder about what happens when protests get out of hand. As I mentioned, it might be able to quell the demonstrations now, but as history has taught us, the revolution propagated by the men and women of Iran will continue at an accelerated pace. It may subside here or there for a moment, but will remain burning under the ashes. When a favorable opportunity arises, it will erupt again. Moreover, when these revolutions widen, and the anger of the people grow, they will inherently create a leadership that draws its legitimacy from the street. This leadership will be embraced by many Western countries, including the United States, which will work to support it financially and logistically. All of this will bring Iran closer to the Yugoslavian model… based on ethnicity and demographics. There are Arabs in the South, Sunnis in the Northeast, and Azeris and Kurds in the North. The Iranian state will inevitably be divided into several states, just as happened in Yugoslavia, especially as its people lack the linguistic, ethnic and sectarian homogeneity to bind them together in the wake of political turbulence. – Muhammad Al-Sheikh (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)

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