The Trump administration has been putting Iran under extreme pressure over the past few months. The administration vowed to subject the Iranian regime to a “maximum pressure campaign” and it is certainly having the intended effect.
President Trump and a number of his officials have said that they want to cut the regime off from the huge sums of money that it plunders on funding terrorist militias and proxy groups and other belligerent activities. The U.S. President also recently re-iterated his request for Iran to come back to the negotiating table.
The Supreme Leader of the Iranian regime –Ali Khamenei – basically scoffed at the idea of negotiating with the United States. The country’s president, Hassan Rouhani, on the other hand, has not been quite so closed to the idea. He said that once sanctions have been lifted, the door to negotiation could open. The Supreme Leader then re-affirmed that the country will not sit down with the United States with regards to its ballistic missile and nuclear programs.
On his website, the Supreme Leader said that any negotiations with the United States will have “no benefit” and “carries harm” for Iran. He said that the “core values of the revolution” are not up for negotiation, nor are the country’s “military capabilities”.
Despite President Rouhani saying that negotiations will be possible, it does not mean that he will be able to move in this direction. The Supreme Leader has the final say in all matters whether they are related to the government or the clerical establishment.
In the past few weeks, there were concerns that the U.S. or Iran would spark military conflict, whether it be intentional or otherwise. Military conflict is not an option for Iran because it would be suicide. Iran’s economy is in tatters and it could simply not afford military conflict, especially faced with the United States and its regional allies.
At one stage, it seemed that waiting Trump out and banking on a friendlier president to take his place was the safest option for the Iranian regime. However, this option is also being taken out of the regime’s hands too because it cannot survive with the international and domestic pressure until then. Its situation cannot be endured for much longer.
It looks like Iran will have to go back to the negotiation table whether Khamenei likes it or not. Iran will have to make some assurances that it will moderate its behaviour, or, no doubt, face the consequences that the Trump administration will have in place.
A moderation of its activities is not sustainable for the Iranian regime. Its survival depends on the spread of chaos, terrorism and sectarianism. Without this, it cannot spread the revolution and its grasp on power will slowly slip away.
This option will precipitate the regime’s downfall and give the people of Iran what they want – the chance to live in a free, equal and democratic society where they will finally be able to enjoy human rights.