The demonstrations in Lebanon, followed by those that broke out in Iraq, show that a new wave of change is coming through public movements in the Middle East. Beirut and Baghdad being two of the four Sunni cities under Iran’s control makes Iran an inevitable target of the public movements. It is due to the fact that the established order that has been ongoing in both cities in recent years forms a strict status quo that largely runs under Iran’s control and protection. So much so that it was clearly stated that the aim of the actions in Iraq was to impact Iran.
Iran and the pro-Iran actors in the country truly are among the primary targets in demonstrators’ discourses. This leads to the bloc opposing Iran to also support these demonstrations. Even though Gulf countries, which have never been pleased with street demonstrations and democratic movements, openly supporting these casts a shadow of doubt over the demonstrations, countries do have their own internal dynamics after all, and there are public masses that are quite agitated with the order that has been ongoing for years.
As the administrative staff in Lebanon is assigned according to ethnic, religious and sectarian quotas, the country is unable to pull itself together in any way. The people believe this distribution of roles in the administration is the primary reason behind all economic problems and corruption since the war, and think a new order independent of such quotas, that is based on the individual and equal citizenship is the only solution.
It needs to be seen that this democracy demand is actually not among the ideals and demands of neither the Gulf countries nor the U.S., which are supporting the movement simply because they are against Iran. The U.S. has never had an aptitude for wanting democracy in any Arab country. Hence, the Lebanese public’s current demands hold dynamics much beyond the plots of any other country.
The same applies to Iraq. Today, the regime that was established in Iraq after the invasion, imitated Lebanon with its sectarian and ethnicity-based quotas – as if it was successful in Lebanon. This regime that was established under the protection and surveillance of the U.S. was actually serving Iraq to Iran on a silver platter.
Iran’s influence worked in a manner that will protect its own interests alone, rather than forming a model that would benefit Iraq and make the entire public happy. Also, Tehran is being held responsible for all the corruption and inadequacies that have been appearing in the obvious Iran-influenced order. The situation that was initially disturbing Sunnis started, in time, to disturb all Iraqis, including the Shiite, such that it was the Iraqi Shiites that led the latest demonstrations with their discourses and criticisms directly targeting Iran.
Though Tehran’s fight for influence is aimed at protecting its own interests, the fact that it does not benefit the people of the Islamic Republic is another problem that concerns Iran. As a matter of fact, Iran has developed a very special economy in terms of standing on its own feet against the years of embargoes, economic and political sanctions. So much so that no economic sanction against Iran seems to have very effective results. Because Iran is able to obtain many basic items the economy is based on through its own means. It has extremely rich and high-quality produce, which saves it from being dependent on imports.
It has developed skills to improve its own human resources despite all these sanctions and embargoes. If any of the Gulf countries were to face merely 5 percent of the sanctions Iran is currently under, they would most likely not last three months, but Iran has managed to turn even sanctions into an opportunity for its economy.
However, a significant portion of the Iranian public is seriously disturbed even though some have accepted these as the natural destiny of their country. Oil prices in Iran going up threefold in one night is like a test in terms of the Iranian regime to measure its own public’s patience. As a matter of fact, doing this in one night while it had the chance to do it in stages, is like a show of strength in the eyes of everybody. Yet it seems as though this show of strength is costing them a great deal. Because the Iranian public’s reaction to these price hikes has been harsh. Demonstrations are from within, directly from the government, not abroad, and they are based on a quite provocative reason.
However, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s statements regarding these demonstrations, saying, “As I said to the people of Iran almost a year and a half ago: The United States is with you,” sound like the lines of an undertaker who just entered the scene in a comedy film.
The U.S. has never been on the side of the people of Iran.
The U.S. has never stood by any nation in the Middle East.
From time to time, it only used certain peoples in the region, but never took place by their side. In fact, it led those very people to disaster soon after. The problems the people of Iran are facing today are mostly the result of U.S policy.