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Monday, November 25, 2019

"We win. They loose."

To borrow Ronald Reagan's great plan for detente.

One of the many disasters of the Obama years was the Iran Nuke, aka the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). When you give them 150 billion first, then implement restrictions on their WMD programs, that alone is a debacle. But to give the Iranians 24 days notice of inspection, that is beyond ludicrous.

Thank God Mrs. Bill Clinton did not make it into the White House, and our current president took us out of this unconstitutional abomination, and imposed sanctions that are doing what is necessary. And when Foreign Policy magazine is saying it is hurting the Iranians, you know it's bad.
Iran Protests Suggest Trump Sanctions Are Inflicting Serious Pain
The regime has survived uprisings in the past. But now it is starting to kill demonstrators in great numbers.

View of Tehran shops that were destroyed after nationwide demonstrations broke out in protest of fuel price hikes and led to widespread destruction of property, on Nov. 20. ATTA KENARE/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

The deadly drama playing out in Iran since last Friday, leaving more than 100 protesters dead, shows three things. Tehran is increasingly in desperate economic straits, in part because of intense U.S. sanctions; Iranian popular discontent with the regime’s economic mismanagement seems to have reached a breaking point; and the regime is more frightened of popular unrest than at any time in recent years.

The latest explosion of popular protest in Iran began on Friday after the government rescinded fuel subsidies, which essentially tripled the price of gasoline—a painful blow to millions of ordinary Iranians already struggling to survive a debased currency, high unemployment, and a shrinking economy. But the demonstrations that began over fuel subsidies quickly became a sweeping, nationwide protest against the Iranian regime itself, with outbreaks in dozens of cities in every Iranian province, targeting especially government buildings such as police stations and state-owned banks.

The government’s response has been much more brutal than in previous outbreaks of protest, such as in 2017-2018, including a near-total shutdown of the internet and unrestrained use of violence by security forces. Groups including Amnesty International have documented at least 106 deaths during the protests, as regime security forces have used live ammunition to target demonstrators. The brutal crackdown is both evidence of the regime’s desperation at its own inability to sway popular opinion and a result of watching weeks of similar deadly protests (also directed against Iran) in Iraq and Lebanon.

“Fundamentally, it is an economic protest. But clearly, among some protesters, there is the opportunity to make broader complaints about the government,” said Henry Rome, an Iran analyst at the Eurasia Group.

The fuel price reform, which effectively raised the price of gasoline and diesel for most drivers from about 8 cents a liter to about 25 cents a liter, is meant to save the government a few hundred million dollars over the course of a year, as well as husbanding increasingly scarce supplies of motor fuel, which can be exported for greater earnings than essentially giving it away domestically. The government hoped that its plan to redistribute most of the revenue from the price hike back to low-income families would blunt the pain of the measure, but delays in getting cash back into people’s hands left the protests still simmering through Tuesday.

The fact that Iran would risk sparking such widespread anger for minimal economic gain underscores the dire condition of the Iranian economy, hammered by U.S. sanctions in its inability to export practically any oil, one of the main sources of revenue for the government.

“They did the reform because they are broke,” said Alireza Nader, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD). “People can’t afford a 300 percent increase in gas prices, but the regime didn’t have any other choice....”

...Another problem is that many people simply didn’t believe the government would follow through on the cash transfers. Yet another is that they worried that higher gas prices would just trickle down to higher prices for all sorts of other consumer goods, at a time when annual inflation in Iran is officially at least 40 percent and perhaps as much as five times higher.

Though Iranian officials, including President Hassan Rouhani, have blamed foreign countries and especially the United States for organizing the uprising, the U.S. role is—as far as is publicly known—mostly indirect, rather than actively supporting opposition groups. Since U.S. President Donald Trump reimposed sweeping sanctions on Iran’s economy, including the ban on oil sales, Iran’s economy has been in a free fall. Because of the increased pinch from sanctions, the International Monetary Fund recently revised downward its expectations for Iran’s economy: It now expects it to shrink by almost 10 percent this year.

But the protests, like those that also swept the country in 2017-2018, are about more than just U.S.-inflicted pain. Many Iranians are irate at rampant corruption and economic mismanagement, constants in the 40 years since Iran’s revolution.

“The underlying grievances were there without the maximum pressure campaign, but it’s the fiscal strain that the government is under which has forced it to take these steps, which has brought those grievances to the fore,” Rome said. And once people are in the street, narrow protests can snowball.

“Once there is an avenue open for protest, the dam is burst,” he said...

It's somewhat amusing to me that "progressives" (better called "regressives," what they want has never worked, will never work) will "Boycott, Divest, and Sanction" (BCS) the only democracy in the Middle East, but they are very supportive (relatively) of the Iranian regime. The left was overjoyed when Obama gave his greatest asset in dealing with the Iranians away for only their word. A solemn vow that's worth less than, "If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor..." Then again, they are not liberal (in the classical sense), but militant fascists, and anti-Semites to boot.

One of the many opportunities Obama missed was the Green Revolution in Iran, back in 2009. The population, a majority of which does not have memory of the Shah, is tired of living in a 3rd world hell hole, especially when then can see how much better the rest of the world (Hell, the Middle East) is living now. That din't stop him for sticking his nose and ears into Egypt, Libya or Syria, stilling up multiple disasters and leaving a major mess for his successor to handle. Hopefully the Iranian people will handle the mullahs and we can replaced the Islamic "republic" with a more stable regime.

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