The article below was written by Dr. Thomas Flichy de La Neuville, IWP Research Professor.
The first question that arises about the protests in Iran is that of the organizing brain. A riot is indeed never spontaneous when bellies are full. Now, is the brain located inside or outside?
The Iranians naturally attribute these troubles — the extent of which remains to be demonstrated — to an external intervention. This is explained by the long tradition of underground interventions of the United States in Iranian politics since the Second World War. These interventions were officially theorized into a doctrine: transformational diplomacy, i.e. the art of overthrowing a regime by non-violent means. The Iranians know that the United States and its allies have too many interests in destabilizing the Iranian regime to abstain from doing so. They also know that U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East has been reduced to nothing — because of its inability to speak to everyone — and needs a symbolic success.
There is of course an alternative to this hypothesis: that of organized disturbances from the inside by the hyper-connected youth of the northern districts of Tehran. However, this youth has too many interests in the protection of the regime, which assures its professional future, to encourage its destabilization. Let us also not forget that the Iranian liberal forces are not the alter ego of their western cousins. They wish to combine religious and cultural roots with technological openness to modernity.
If it is proved that the disturbances are effectively remote controlled from abroad, their sole effect will be to reconcile the right wing of the IRGC – which considers Rohani as a traitor – with the regime. The effect will therefore be opposite to that desired. In this respect, the amateurism of Western networks, which widely broadcasted the image of a bare-headed woman brandishing her veil on a stick, as an icon of the demonstrators, only discredited the movement, which — for the time being — is perfectly mastered by the government.
It should be noted that the time of the year is not ideal for launching an important protest movement in the region. In the old Persian calendar, the month of December-January corresponded to that of the God without name. Is it for this reason that astronomers from Persia went to Bethlehem at this time of the year? Still, this month has been renamed Dey, which means the creator. It may be remembered that riots took place in Teheran in January 1829 against the Russian influence; however, it is rather during the spring that the opposition movements are launched in Iran. As a consequence, the highly measured and intelligent response of the Iranian government – guaranteeing cheap gasoline – while opening a space for debate should help deflate the protests spawned by the new party of the wind.