The Iranian regime’s main priority for 2011 will be to focus on internal crises and opponents, taking away the spotlight from the nuclear program, the Christian Science Monitor said in its final edition of 2010.
“In Washington and European capitals, top New Year priorities on Iran may be Tehran’s nuclear program, and the next round of talks in Istanbul in late January.” But, 2011 will bring “significant challenges” for the mullahs as the regime grapples with subsidy cuts and “an inefficient economy already under strain from a host of sanctions,” the paper said.
“The most important challenge in Tehran in 2011 will be economic reform,” it added.
The Christian Science Monitor said, “After decades of expensive subsidies that drained the treasury of anywhere between $30 billion to $100 billion per year, Tehran’s cold-turkey withdrawal of subsidies on gasoline, fuel, and bread – which last week quadrupled the price of gas overnight and made diesel prices skyrocket much higher – is an “extremely drastic” measure, says Farideh Farhi, an Iran specialist at the University of Hawaii.”
“Indeed, the changes amount to the most serious economic retooling since the 1979 Islamic revolution … taking away such subsidies after a generation can be politically explosive.”
“2011 will prove a decisive year,” the paper added.
“Beyond domestic issues, Iran also has a complicated set of foreign policy challenges in the new year.”
“Iran’s first priority in foreign policy should be neighbors and the Islamic world,” the newly appointed foreign minister Ali Akbar Salehi, said last week at his first official press conference. “In this regard, Saudi Arabia and Turkey have a special position. Iran and Saudi Arabia, as two effective countries in the Islamic world, can resolve many problems together.”
With regards to the nuclear dossier, the paper added, any deal between the West and the Iranian regime “would also require a compromise from Washington, which until now has insisted that Iran stop all uranium enrichment – the process to make fuel for nuclear power, that refined to higher levels can also be used to make a weapon.”