Iran’s Horrible Year

Today’s post on Iran’s changing posture hinted that “2011 was not easy on Iran.” I explore this argument more fully in a new co-written article posted by the Middle East Policy Council. The article, “Iran’s Horrible Year,” concludes with:

The Arab uprisings of 2011 certainly did not enhance Iran’s status. And the Syrian case proves Tehran’s interests were just as vulnerable as Washington’s, if not more so, given Iran’s short list of friends and Syria’s outsized importance. The country gained little and lost some thanks to self-inflicted wounds and external pressure. Economic sanctions, diplomatic isolation, and negative changes in the strategic landscape all combine to suggest the immediate future will be difficult for Iran to navigate. But any year-end review of Iran must concede a sobering fact: the regime is stable.

There is no debate raging in Iran right now over the value and purpose of Iran’s nuclear program. It is a national project, tied to identity, pride, and prestige, and it is not likely to be forfeited as such. While some have questioned the cost of the program in economic and diplomatic terms, the regime appears steadfast. Also notable in a year defined by regional unrest, rallies in Iran never reached the boiling point seen in other countries. Ayatollah Khamenei also appears set to consolidate power and marginalize contenders by terminating the presidency. Sanctions, condemnations, and sabotage have yet to derail Iran’s nuclear program. It continues to limp forward in spite of American, Israeli, and international efforts.

Included are details on Iran’s domestic troubles, their failed OPEC presidency, revealing UN watchdog reports that challenged Iran’s human rights and nuclear record, the covert war against Iran’s nuclear program, and strategic changes in the Middle East that could hurt the regime.

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