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Who stands to gain from unrest in Iran?

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Opinion |

I once had an animated conversation with the Middle East correspondent of a leading Indian newspaper regarding the resilience of the Iranian political system. The year was 2001. The conversation took place in the backdrop of mass protests and clashes between hard-liners and reformists on the 22nd anniversary of the Islamic revolution in Iran. My friend forecast that the Iranian regime was in meltdown under the combined weight of US sanctions and a dysfunctional repressive regime.

He point-blank rejected my dissent that the stability of the Iranian system was not in doubt. When it comes to Iran, everything depends on what prism you are holding. If you live in Dubai or visit Israel too often, you get one vision; if you live in Turkey, you get a vastly different view. The recent days’ happenings fell into that familiar pattern.

The protests were played up by the western media and American think tanks in apocalyptic terms, but when counter-demonstrations began appearing, supportive of the government, they have fallen silent. Life is returning to normal in Iran. Two striking features must be noted.

The Iranian foreign ministry made a demarche with the Swiss embassy in Tehran, which represents Washington’s Interest Section, regarding US interference in the country’s internal affairs

One, anti-government protests are possible to be staged in Iran; two, the regime enjoys a substantial social base. Unsurprisingly, when protests appear in Iran, democratic Turkey takes a balanced view while the repressive Saudi regime........

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