Iran: Regime Change By Sanctions?

By Andrew Korybko

Trump advisor Rudy Giuliani called for regime change against Iran last weekend, and with a new wave of protests hitting the country over fears about the consequences of the US’ forthcoming reimposed sanctions, it looks like Washington wants to bring down the Islamic Republic through weaponized economic means.

Officially speaking, however, the US denies that it wants to overthrow the Iranian government via a Color Revolution or even a Hybrid War, claiming that Giuliani and other Administration officials who share his view such as now-National Security Advisor John Bolton are expressing themselves in a private capacity. Even so, the message that they’re sending is clear enough, especially when considering who they oftentimes surround themselves with when making these statements.

Giuliani, just like Bolton before him and definitely not for the first time, was hosted by the so-called “People’s Mujahedin of Iran”, better known by their Farsi abbreviation as the MEK and which used to be on the US State Department’s terrorist list until 2012 because of its history of killing Americans. This “syncretic” organization bringing together Marxist and Islamist views is still regarded as terrorists by the Iranian authorities, therefore making Giuliani’s presence at their yearly gathering in Paris particularly provocative. While Tehran has long been aware of the regime change plans that the US intends to pursue through its alliance with the MEK, the Islamic Republic is now forced to confront a different dimension of this anti-state threat through the internal political consequences of Washington’s economic warfare.

The first wave of reimposed sanctions mostly targeting the automobile and metal sectors will kick into effect at the beginning of next month, after which the ones against the country’s oil industry will enter into force at the beginning of November. For such an energy-exporting-dependent economy as Iran’s, the second wave could be devastating if its partners are deterred from importing its oil by Trump’s “secondary sanction” threats, and average Iranians seem to be fearful of what comes next judging by some of the latest protests that have broken out in response to their country’s weakening currency and runaway inflation. These structural shocks are undoubtedly the result of speculation pertaining to the reimposition of the US’ anti-Iranian sanctions, but that doesn’t seem to matter to the protesters.

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Pouya Sharif, Iranian student activist from Germany, and Arman Mahmoudian, research assistant at the Centre for Strategic and Diplomatic Studies, and a freelance journalist who also writes for Iranian media and the Middle East Eye commented on the issue.

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