Will Tehran ever initiate reforms?

Hassan Al Mustafa

Published: Updated:

“Is the collapse of the Iranian regime good for us,” asked Abdulrahman Al-Rashed in the daily Asharq al-Awsat. The question has stirred controversy among those observing the ongoing public protests in Iran.

Known to be critical of Tehran’s policies, Al-Rashed observed that the “ideal scenario would be that the regime does not collapse but changes its foreign policy and stops its aggressive approach”. He justified his point of view by claiming that “the region is afflicted with destruction and cannot afford more chaos, civil wars and displacement of people.” He added that “if the uprising of the Iranian people brings a change in Iranian policy, stops its foreign interventions and initiates internal reforms and development, it would be the perfect outcome compared to the frightening scenario of the regime collapsing”.

The vision presented by al-Rashed is the result of a realistic political assessment of events, or else he would have resorted to propaganda by raising false hopes in the reader, completely unrelated to real course of events and facts.

Neighboring countries hope that recent demonstrations will make Iranian politicians pay due attention to their internal affairs

Hassan Al Mustafa

The issue is not about defending ‘Vilayat-e-Faqih’ regime and the theocratic state in Iran. There is a “geopolitical” reality that cannot be ignored. Iran is a neighboring country with military power, oil reserves and population. It has external outreach and has influence on the region. It’s important to understand the complexities of this reality in order to deal with it correctly.

Gulf countries — specifically Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain — complain about Iranian interference in their internal affairs and Tehran’s support for armed militias in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.

Neighboring countries hope that recent demonstrations will make Iranian politicians give due attention to their internal affairs, listen to their people, work for their development, introduce economic and social reforms and increase their political participation, rather than spending billions in foreign wars, which will only cause further disturbance.
If Tehran preoccupies itself with internal reform, realistically reviews its foreign policy, engages in a serious and sincere dialogue with its neighbors, it would be a positive development that would be welcomed by Gulf countries. These states understand that if there is any chaos or civil strife in Iran, it will have serious repercussions for the entire region.

The article notes that countries such as Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Libya suffer from weak central authority. Therefore, they have become a haven for fundamentalist groups, a base for smuggling weapons and a hideout to target neighboring countries from. It is such chaos that everyone seeks to avoid and wants to get rid of as quickly as possible.

Hassan AlMustafa is Saudi journalist with interest in middle east and Gulf politics. His writing focuses on social media, Arab youth affairs and Middle Eastern societal matters. His twitter handle is @halmustafa.

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