NEWS & ANALYSIS: Iran’s permanent security headache and frail economy

Iran tries to make up lost ground

The conventional wisdom, particularly in the United States, is that Iran has gained from the US’s invasion of Iran’s neighbors since the events of September 11, 2001. Yet, a careful reading of the changing security calculus caused by the exponential increase in the US’s military presence in Iran’s vicinity leads to the opposite conclusion.

Sure, Iran has gained from the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan and Saddam Hussein and his dreaded Sunni Ba’athist regime in Iraq, yet the problem with the standard analyses, for example by the US’s ambassador to the United Nations, Zalmay Khalilzad, is that even though they are couched in the language of “balance of power”, nonetheless these analyses are tainted by a major gap. That is, forgetting the US superpower’s role in the equation that, on balance, has tipped the scales away from Iran, in a word, amounting to a net loss for the country.

Until now, no one in the US has questioned what has become an article of faith in the US media and a kind of self-evident truth to so many US politicians, such as former secretary of state Henry Kissinger and former national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski. [complete article]

A frail economy raises pressure on Iran’s rulers

In one of the coldest winters Iranians have experienced in recent memory, the government is failing to provide natural gas to tens of thousands of people across the country, leaving some for days or even weeks with no heat at all. Here in the capital, rolling blackouts every night for a month have left people without electricity, and heat, for hours at a time.

The heating crisis in this oil-exporting nation is adding to Iranians’ increasing awareness of the contrast between their growing influence abroad and frailty at home, according to government officials, diplomats and political analysts interviewed here.

From fundamentalists to reformists, people here are talking more loudly about the need for a more pragmatic approach, one that tones down the anti-Western rhetoric, at least a bit, and focuses more on improving management of the country and restoring Iran’s economic health. [complete article]

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