Widespread chaos, anarchy and instability in Iran is not a coincidence in 2022
What is happening in Iran is a US attempt to break the social contract of popular sovereignty between the Iranian population and the government, and given Washington's checkered past, it is certain that what we are seeing is an attempt to target Iran with domestic anarchy and soft power.
Large-scale damage to public property, harrowing scenes of civil unrest, and destruction of critical infrastructure in Iran is an anomaly in 2022. As President Ebrahim Raisi rightly stated, external factors are playing a key role in fomenting domestic discord, with the United States spearheading nefarious strategies. Therefore, it is imperative that analysts and experts on domestic politics and international relations view the unfolding mayhem, impartially and factually. The truth is that internal conflicts and tensions in another sovereign state should never be fertile ground for foreign intervention. The protests in Iran over the death of Mahsa Amini are no exception.
What is being witnessed in Iran is an American attempt to break the social contract of popular sovereignty between the Iranian population and the government, both systematically and tacitly. President Ebrahim Raisi rightly accused the Biden administration of undermining the relationship between the people of Iran and their sovereign rulers. Given the United States' checkered history of soft intervention during the “Arab Spring”, protests in Hong Kong, and encouragement of separatism in Taiwan, President Raisi’s accusation carries significant merit. Remarks by President Joe Biden on Washington DC supporting an ‘awakening’ in Iran, implies tacit support for agitation which undermines the writ of the state. The United States is clearly not concerned with Iran’s social cohesion or well-being but is fixated on undermining the Iranian regime.
This is not the first time that intervention is being employed as statecraft. Regime change for example, dates back to the 1953 coup which was orchestrated by the United States and the United Kingdom to overthrow the democratically-elected government of Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh in favor of solidifying the monarchy of the Shah in Iran. Similarly, the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion in Cuba, the overthrow of President Sukarno in Indonesia, and interference in the national elections of Italy, Japan, and the Philippines in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s were initiated, sponsored, and supported by Washington DC. According to research conducted by Carnegie Mellon University, from 1946-2000 the United States conducted close to 81 overt and covert interventions in other sovereign elections. In 1988, the United States also launched operation "Praying Mantis" against Iran, which was the largest naval combat operation since World War II. The CIA also did not admit its responsibility for the 1953 coup until its 60th anniversary in 2013.
With such a controversial history, the United States is in no position to issue statements, condemn, castigate or censure Iran over its domestic issues. As Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei rightly mentioned, the death of Mahsa Amini in the custody of the morality police deeply distressed Iranians and the Iranian leadership. However, there was no justification for protesters burning down mosques, calling for regime change, or committing blasphemous acts which threaten public tranquility. US support for such anarchy demonstrates how Washington DC is least concerned about Amini’s death and is more fixated on narrow parochial interests by issuing statements that incite hatred between communities.
The absence of a proposed conflict resolution mechanism also indicates that the United States is playing a regressive role in the ensuing chaos. At the macro level, the decision to impose new sanctions on senior government officials over the handling of the protests comes straight after the US Treasury imposed penalties on the morality police. This again follows a series of measures undertaken by Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump including the scrapping of the 2015 JCPOA nuclear deal, the assassination of Al-Quds commander Qassem Soleimani and imposing sanctions during the pandemic era. The result was a complete loss of trust in American foreign policy in Iran and a worsening of bilateral relations.
In each of the aforementioned cases, the United States needed a justification to intervene and foment chaos which resulted in casualties, discord, chaos, and anarchy. With such historical precedents, it is certain that Iran is once again becoming a victim of American neorealism where soft intervention and propping up domestic anarchy is the standard modus operandi. Claiming that the Iranian public should ‘Keep Fighting’ and standing with the agitators is akin to fanning the flames of conflict in the absence of dialogue, deliberations, and diplomacy. This approach constitutes quintessential ‘ Cold War binaries’ or reckless competition that Washington DC has pursued with other countries such as China and Russia, where dividing the world and internal populations into camps results in a breakdown in peace. On numerous occasions from 2020-2022, such binaries were operational in territories across the world. In China’s case, American detraction from the One-China principle and plausible deniability on violating that principle contributed to increased tensions.
In Iran however, the US is once again whipping up agitation to instigate regime change which is not an anecdote for peace. This is not about Mahsa Amini’s death but about narrow parochial interests.