What has happened to Iran over the past four decades?
Back in 1976, Iran was at the height of its glory after nearly two centuries. As a close ally of the U.S., the only friend of Israel in the region, and a prosperous nation with the eighth largest economy in the world, Iran was poised to surpass many European countries by the year 2000. At the time, Iran’s innovative educational system and literacy programs were the envy of the world. Its economic and military prowess were a huge source of stability in the region. And yet, the then U.S. administration under President Carter, with the collusion of Germany, France and the UK, as well as the Soviet Union, decided to undermine Mohammad Reza Shah’s reign and help replace him with a relatively unknown radical cleric named Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Tragically, many Iranian intellectuals seeking to abolish the monarchy, with no real succession plans for a post-Pahlavi government in Iran, joined this disastrous campaign and the rest is history. What is baffling is the lack of foresight and critical analysis by the U.S. at the time of the impact of this regime change, particularly one imposing clerical rule and nudging Iran into the Soviet sphere of influence. It is a well-documented fact that historically, the clerics have been the most effective instrument for Russia and the UK to exert their influence in Iran.
In order to paint a clear picture of the current reality in Iran, I highlight several points below:
- Iran has the highest educated population in the region, second only to Israel.
- Iran is the fifth richest country in the world in terms of natural resources.
- Iran has a young and educated population. There are over 17 million Iranians with college degrees or greater.
- More than two thirds of Iranians were either children at the time of the Iranian Revolution or were born after the Revolution, and have therefore not experienced any other form of government. And, despite a lifetime of intense indoctrination and brainwashing beginning in elementary school, the vast majority of Iranians – over 90% – desire a regime change and a representative, democratic form of government that not only respects, but also protects, the rights of all groups and individuals.
Despite such vast human and natural resources,
- Iran holds the top spot for executions and hangings in relative terms, second only to China, a country with 17 times Iran’s population.
- Iran holds the top spot for brain-drain.
- Iran consistently ranks among the worst countries with respect to its rampant and systematic corruption, misery index, rate of poverty, and drug addiction.
- The primary source for distribution of highly addictive and dangerous drugs, at very low prices and primarily among the frustrated youth, is the occupying regime in Iran. Drugs are used as a means to prevent inevitable uprisings among the young people.
- Iran is the only country where the sale of organs and body parts not only is legal, but is facilitated by the government. For a mere few dollars, the young, educated and unemployed are driven to sell their organs as a temporary relief from the abject poverty imposed on them.
- The average life expectancy in Iran, regardless of gender, is about 60 years, which means that every generation of Iranians is collectively robbed of 1-2 billion years of the best phase of their lives.
- The occupying regime in Iran is one of the primary sponsors of terrorism around the world. It is after the inception of this regime that all the known terrorist groups (apart from PLO) came into existence, turning Iran into the primary destabilizing force in the Middle East and elsewhere, threatening democratic values and human rights the world over. Tragically, this has been accomplished at a great expense to its primary victim, the Iranian people.
In order to remain in power and survive, the Mullahs have ravaged Iran’s economy and granted lucrative and one-sided contracts and concessions to Russia, the UK, France, Germany, and China at bargain basement prices. A short while ago, the Mullahs signed a military pact with Russia whereby they abdicated almost all of Iran’s 50% rights to the Caspian Sea to Russia in return for military support in the event of war. They also have allowed Russia to use Iranian military bases freely, basically converting Iran into a colony of Russia. Putin, having extracted the maximum benefit from the Mullahs over the past several decades, has consistently exercised a double standard by betraying his pathetic servant Khamenei when Khamenei and his regime needed Putin’s support most.
Faced with the imminent demise of his regime and realizing Russia’s consistent betrayal, Khamenei has increasingly turned to China for support and an unholy symbiotic coexistence has developed. A few years ago, Khamenei granted full fishing rights in the Persian Gulf to China with a disastrous environmental and ecological impact; China has been using mega ships with fishing nets tens of kilometers long, dredging the Persian Gulf, wiping out every living creature, including coral populations millions of years old.
The conspicuous handling and strategic political use of COVID-19 by the Mullahs and China is another example of the troubling cooperation between these two regimes. A few days ago, an extensive 25-year agreement was quietly signed between the two regimes, providing massive financial and military support from China in return for Iranian territory, including full access to and control of three major Iranian port cities in the Persian Gulf, oil/gas exploration rights in the Persian Gulf with Chinese sovereignty over the extraction and sale of these resources, and the installation of Chinese military bases in designated areas to name a few. The meager proceeds from this humiliating agreement will be paid to Khamenei in the Chinese currency Yuan, one of the designated currencies in the IMF currency basket. This enables the Mullahs to bypass not only the U.S. sanctions, but any other sanctions no matter how severe, and obtain the financial lifeline they need to survive through a credible world currency, Yuan.
With this financial and military support from the Chinese Communist Party, Khamenei and his regime are destined to complete their military nuclear program and obtain the atomic bomb. Their success would mean that the world will have to live with this terrorist regime forever. It means that state-sponsored terrorism and constant attacks on democratic and human values will be a new and persisting reality, unless the international community realizes the immediacy of this threat and unites in confronting these two regimes and their atrocities.
The same strong approach taken by the U.S. against the Mullahs should be applied to the Chinese Communist Party before it is too late, and the cooperation of the EU is necessary to accomplish this objective.
Hamid Gharagozloo is a representative of the International Organisation to Preserve Human Rights (IOPHR) in Washington, D.C.