It is hard to know exactly the current situation in Iran, but the uprising seems to be fading . The mullahs' regime might survive a little longer.
The overthrow of a totalitarian regime takes place when the security forces -- which ensure the survival of a regime that has been ruling through repression and fear -- begin to falter, or else when the number of angry people becomes so big that a tidal wave sweeps away all in its path.
This time, Iranian security forces remained loyal to the regime and angry people were too few. The regime could manage the situation by killing a few dozen protesters, arresting four thousand
The defeat, however, is temporary.
What happened now was different from what happened eight years ago. The 2009 protests took place mostly in Tehran and opposed a rigged election. No one questioned the system. This time, the protests spread throughout the country and opposed the entire system. Slogans referred to Ali Khamenei and Hassan Rouhani as dictators. Some protesters spoke favorably of Reza Shah, the founder of the dynasty overthrown in 1979. The protests also overflowed with fury that the regime had supported terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah and Hamas. The $100 billion in assets unfrozen by the July 2015 nuclear deal were expected to be used to improve the well-being of Iranian citizen. That did not happen.
The regime can only calm the pervasive anger if it changes its policies radically. That is the one thing it cannot do.
The mullahs' reign, born from an Islamic revolution, derives its "legitimacy" from that and the promise of carrying it further. The regime cannot stop supporting terrorism without ceasing to be itself. Iran's "Supreme Guide," Ali Khamenei, constantly speaks of "apocalypse" and "holy war against America and the West." He speaks about the urgent need to destroy Israel and "liberate" Jerusalem. He cannot give a different speech without undermining himself and being called an impostor by those who still support him. President Hassan Rouhani has no real power; he is just there to provide a "moderate" façade for people who still want to fantasize that a moderate actually exists in a regime that is fanatic.
Even if the mullahs decided to give a few crumbs to the population, politically they cannot do it.
Iran's economy is in terrible shape. Much of the infrastructure is worn out. Water resources, badly managed, are vanishing. The banking system has disintegrated: in 2017 alone, five banks and investment funds collapsed; in coming months, others will, too. Pension funds are bankrupt: hundreds of thousands of old people have lost everything they owned. Millions of young Iranians, highly qualified, cannot find jobs; they are unemployed and frustrated. Drugs and prostitution are widespread. Venereal diseases proliferate. The birth rate is in free fall, condemning the society to aging rapidly.
The vast sums of cash made available in 2015 by US President Barack Obama have already been wasted or spent. They have sunk into the circuits of corruption and bank accounts of terrorist organizations that the regime supports. They have also been invested in deadly acts in Yemen, Syria and Iraq.
No miraculous "savior" exists; even if one did, the regime would quickly eliminate him. Iran is heading for a massive collapse. The regime's leaders know it.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is more than ever the regime's Praetorian guard and ready to defend it to the end. The IRGC would not hesitate to massacre just about everyone. This year, more than twenty people were killed; if things get worse, if the regime feels threatened, the number will be far higher.
The regime has not stopped its race for nuclear might. It has already given the terrorist groups it controls sophisticated weapons that many armies do not own. Hezbollah has at least 150,000 long-range missiles and rockets; it is, according to estimates, the world's "best-equipped non-state fighting force."
If the regime feels near its end, it will fight. Europeans, nonetheless, are trying to avoid a confrontation.
Western governments could limit the damage by telling the Iranian people that they are not alone and pressuring the regime.
Unlike the Obama administration, US President Donald J. Trump seems to have been going his better instincts and allowing his timid State Department the benefit of a doubt.
The alliance between Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the Gulf monarchies, Israel and the United States seems intended to contain the regime, and not, as falsely advertised by former US President Barack Obama, to prevent a nuclear program.
Revising the nuclear deal with Iran opens the door to sanctions against the regime, but enables the mullahs to buy more time in which to complete their nuclear program.
President Trump's speech to the United Nations last fall denounced the danger of the regime while reaching out to Iranians. During recent protests, President Trump said, "the world is watching" and "that the good people of Iran want change". Nikki Haley, America's ambassador to the United Nations, said that "a long-oppressed people is rising up against their dictators," and that "all freedom loving people must stand with their cause."
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, also sees the regime as the main threat to his country, the region and the planet.
Leaders of Western Europe are following a very different line. They know exactly what the mullahs' regime is, and what its goals and activities are. They know that the regime has been, and is, the world's main sponsor of Islamic terrorism. They know the disastrous state of Iran's society and economy, but they prefer to play deaf and dumb. All they think about, it seems, are the contracts they sign with the mullahs to get more money. They do not care about the suffering of Iranians; the chaos, massacres and destruction caused by the regime. They know that the nuclear deal is constantly violated by the self-policing regime, and that a nuclear bomb is in the making. They are aware that the regime has close ties with North Korea, and that both are global threats. Yet, they choose appeasement at its venal worst. During the uprising, they were on the side of the oppressors. The Europeans were just waiting for the mullahs to prevail, so they could resume doing business as if nothing had taken place.
French President Emmanuel Macron says he is planning an official visit to Tehran. He did not have a single word of support for the people of Iran or for the victims of the terrorist groups armed and financed by the regime. He criticized neither Khamenei nor Rouhani; he focused all negative remarks instead on the Trump administration and Israel. He said that by placing themselves on the side of freedom for the Iranians, they were "creating a risk of war."
German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel called for "calm" in Iran and asked the United States to "re-engage" with the men whom the protesters called dictators. EU's chief diplomat, Federica Mogherini, has hypocritically called "all parties concerned to abstain from violence", as if there were a moral equivalence between unarmed protesters and killer militias with weapons of war. Gabriel and Mogherini decided to invite to Brussels Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. He came and met them, along with French and British Foreign Ministers, on January 11. Zarif said that the meeting showed a "strong consensus" between all those present. Meanwhile, in Iranian prisons, protesters were being arrested and tortured to death and their families intimidated.
The EU's chief diplomat, Federica Mogherini, has hypocritically called "all parties concerned to abstain from violence" in Iran, as if there were a moral equivalence between unarmed protesters and killer militias with weapons of war. Pictured: Mogherini (left) stands with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, during her August 2017 visit to Iran. (Image source: European External Action Service/Flickr)
Leaders of Western Europe like to boast how they respect human rights, yet they are the ones trampling on them. The minute they think their interests might be at stake, they are the first to practice pre-emptive surrender and fraternize with the men shooting into the crowd if they think there is something to gain from it.
This is not the first time that they reacted like this; it is exactly what they did when Hitler showed up. Now, since Trump announced that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, they call to create a "Palestinian State" as quickly as possible, meanwhile knowing full well that this "Palestinian State" would be filled with terrorists. Their continuing support for the murderers of Jews is not acceptable.
Nearly eight decades ago, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and French Prime Minister Edouard Daladier went to Munich and came back with an agreement they professed would bring "peace in our time". Winston Churchill famously warned at the time: "You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor and you will have war. "
Leaders of Western Europe have again chosen dishonor. They are betraying the values they claim to embody -- and again increasing the chances of war.
Dr. Guy Millière, a professor at the University of Paris, is the author of 27 books on France and Europe.