ANALYSIS: Iran’s Internal Turmoil After US Elections


by Hassan Mahmoudi

Iran has already taken two other steps to thwart US actions.

The outcome of the US presidential election and the possibility of a change in US foreign policy prompted a reaction in many of the world’s capitals. “What effect will Biden’s victory have on us?” Naturally, the intensity of the reaction of each country and its officials depends on the degree of political stability and fundamental independence of those countries. 

Iran was among the countries most affected by the US election to an extent that it created turmoil. Joe Biden’s stance on the JCPOA is one of the most important elements of his political agenda, which is being considered by the international community and many Americans. This has had a major impact on the potential feud between Tehran’s factions.

The fundamental question is whether the Iranian regime will have the power, capability, and stability to start a new round with the new US administration? There is already concern, rift, and tension shown between the watchwords of the supreme leader, president, parliament, foreign minister, and IRGC commanders.

On 1 December 2020, the regime’s parliament hastily approved a bill entitled “Strategic Action to Lift Sanctions and Protect the Interests of the Iranian Nation” and then the Guardian Council approved it and the Speaker of parliament announced it to the government.

According to this bill, in the case of the Contracting (4+1) States of the JCPOA not fulfilling all their obligations, including the normalization of banking relations and the complete removal of barriers for export and full sale of Iranian oil and petroleum products and the full and rapid return of foreign funds from the sale proceeds, two months after the entry into force of this law, Iran must stop the voluntary execution of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) protocol.

The Rouhani government in reaction to this said that this bill would impose restrictions on the International Atomic Energy Agency’s inspection of the regime’s nuclear facilities.

A notable scandal amid the power struggle of the regime’s leaders, parliament in passing this bill has not paid any attention to the history of such a bill and its relationship with the JCPOA. Eshagh Jahangiri, the vice president, reminded parliament after the bill was approved that the JCPOA process was under Khamenei’s control, approved by the National Security Council and that parliament should not decide on behalf of the government.

Iran has already taken two other steps to thwart US actions.

The first step was to complete, test, supply and demonstrate weapons and missile power, and to deploy these capabilities and provide financial support to proxy groups, including the Houthis, in the region.

Second, Iran presented a picture of itself that not only has nothing in common with the governments of the region but on the contrary is willing to cooperate and support individuals, groups and organizations that have the power to strike at the security structure of the region.

In such a situation, Biden said and reiterated his position, telling Iranians who followed his campaign program and statements in detail that he would not revive the JCPOA without modifying it, and explicitly made this conditional on ensuring the security of his allies.

But outside of Iran’s and Biden’s will, two new realities under Trump have happened that will continue to exist under Biden’s presidency, the first being the political polarization of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE, and Bahrain, which carries its economic, human, and, of course, political weight. The second is the agreement of the UAE and several other Arab countries with Israel, confronting Iran.

This agreement and its continuation take the conflict and war between Arabs and Israel, which had been the face of the region for decades, out of the region’s strategic plan and instead highlights the Iranian regime’s expansionism and ambition, a factor that manifests itself as the main problem every day, more than ever!

And, adding to the woes of the regime, public protests in Iran reached a new peak last week. The poverty line has increased by 80% in the last two years and flood victims took over Sar Bandar city hall in protest. Also, the case of the regime’s diplomat terrorist being heard in Belgium has put on trial the entire Islamic Republic.

This case, an amalgam of espionage and terrorism, has caused tensions between the Iranian regime and several European countries. The Foreign Affairs Committee of the Belgian Parliament passed a resolution in response to the mullahs’ regime blackmail and ransom demands.

The confusion of regime officials and their hasty decisions and internal tensions between the regime’s factions paints a clear picture of the regime’s current conditions. It is not unreasonable that Mike Pompeo at the Manama Security Talks hosted by the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Manama on December 4 said, “The Islamic Republic of Iran in its hurry has shown its willingness to return to the negotiating table and reduce sanctions.”

Therefore, alongside Biden’s presidency, anti-expansionist changes against Iran will continue in the field and will put Tehran in a serious impasse. 

Hassan Mahmoudi is a Europe-based social analyst, researcher, independent observer, and commentator of Middle Eastern and Iranian Politics. He tweets under @hassan_mahmou1. 

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