Commentary: The regime in Tehran moves towards isolation

2010/02/08

Published on the website of German weekly newspaper “Die Zeit” and in German daily “Tagesspiegel” on February 8 2010
Source (German): http://www.zeit.de/politik/ausland/2010-02/iran-isolation

They oppress the people and gamble away their diplomatic credit at the international level. Iran has internally and externally become almost incapable of action.
by Martin Gehlen

Facing isolation within and abroad: Ayatollah Khamenei, supreme figure of the hardliner regime (photo: (c) Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty Images)


The country is facing a declaration of political bancruptcy: In the sphere of foreign policy, Iran is hardly any longer capable of action, and it is practically paralyzed within. The next confrontation with the green movement is to happen next Thursday, on the 31st anniversary of the revolution of the Islamic Republic. It could turn out even more disastrous than the last countrywide rebellion on the day of Ashura in December.

Inside the country, the supreme religious leader Ali Khamenei and his president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are far from being able to control their opponents, while Manouchehr Mottaki with his bizarre appearance in Munich has ruined the last remainders of Iran’s diplomatic credit abroad. Certainly, the Iranian foreign minister managed to briefly attract everyone’s attention during the security conference, but what he, in a grand gesture, presented during the nocturnal special Iran-uran forum was nothing more than yellowed memorandums and diplomatic shelf warmers.

So why had the Iranian chief diplomat come to Munich in the first place? If he had intended, by the usual allurements, to avert the next round of international sanctions, he has thoroughly failed. Instead, international pressure intensifies as much as the international isolation of the Islamic Republic is increasing. The new Director General of the Vienna-based IAEO coldly rebuffed him. Many Arabic states want to buy and install complex missile defense systems. And following Russia’s open criticism, even China seems to consider passing a possible vote for sanctions.

Nevertheless, the UN veto powers plus Germany are still walking a tightrope, since sanctions that are exclusively directed against the regime or the Revolutionary Guards do not exist. Sanctions only make sense when they hurt – meaning that they inevitably will hurt the population as well. Thus, the regime would be given an opportunity to proclaim the great and final national war against the evil rest of the world, thereby squelching its internal adversaries: This would be the end of the green movement.

And also, it would annihilate the people’s courageous referendum of the last presidential elections of 2009, when the voters militated against Ahmadinejad’s rowdy and hostile foreign policy. This policy is nothing more than “adventurism, extremism, and showing-off”, as the later defeated presidential candidate Mir Hossein Moussavi had put it during a dramatic televised debate with the president shortly prior to the elections. “You have created so much tension for the relations with other countries that we do not have any friends in the region anymore.” And the whole situation since then has just gotten so much worse.

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