IT may wind up fizzling out, or it may end in tears. But the current wave of protests sweeping Iran is, in a world that seems more chaotic and dangerous every day, a real reason for optimism for 2018.
Not only have the protesters raised the real possibility that one of the world’s most obnoxious and destabilising wannabe nuclear powers might give way to something more peaceful and pro-Western, they have also put the lie to the failed doctrines of the Obama administration, the foreign policy establishment and progressive activists and journalists.
Rather than a legitimate regimen, the protests show that the Shiite mullahs who run the country are deeply disliked, with reports suggesting that even some members of the Revolutionary Guard are throwing down their weapons and joining the citizenry.
And contrary to those in the West who have embraced the hijab as a symbol of liberation, protests in which women have whipped off their compulsory headscarves show that it is anything but.
This may be one reason why much of the Western media, which for the past year has been obsessively focused on proving that Donald Trump is a danger to humanity, has soft-pedalled the news from Iran.
It doesn’t fit their narrative.
After all, the strength of the mullah’s regimen is a direct result of the actions of Barack Obama who, for reasons known best to himself, made a conscious decision to empower Iran throughout his administration.
In 2009, when a wave of pro-democracy protests swept Iran only to be forcefully put down by the government, Obama uttered a few words of condemnation against the violence but made it clear he had no interest in seeing the Iranian people throw off their dictators.
Later, he would ink the controversial “Iran deal”, which involved allowing Tehran to keep its nuclear technology (ostensibly for peaceful purposes like power generation) as well as the transfer of billions of dollars in cash to the regimen.
Amazingly, much of the support for the deal was engineered by Ben Rhodes, a failed novelist turned deputy National Security Advisor who created an echo chamber in favour of the agreement among a largely friendly Washington press corps. Even more gallingly, the American website, Politico.com, last month unveiled a detailed report featuring multiple law enforcement sources claiming that Obama’s White House quashed an international investigation into the Iran-backed, Lebanon-based terrorist group Hezbollah’s drug- smuggling activities while the deal was being negotiated.
Whether it is due to changes brought about by Trump’s presidency — under his watch we have already seen closer ties between Saudi Arabia and Israel, of all countries — or the natural reaction of an oppressed people to a decrepit, totalitarian government, the current situation in Iran is closing the door on the Obama era in the Middle East — which can only be a good thing.
From the Arab Spring to the decision to undermine Libya — creating a haven for people smugglers, terrorists and even slave traders a short boat ride away from Europe — Obama’s foreign policy was marked by disaster after disaster.
Of course, there’s every chance that the mullahs will reassert control and the country will wind up even more repressive than ever, at least for the short term. And revolutions are rarely pretty, with what comes next often being worse than what was before. Here Iran has history. Those urban liberals who, in the 1970s, protested against the Shah’s regimen, found themselves exiled or worse under the fanatical Shiite regimen of the Ayatollah Khomeini.
That said, the possibility of Iran once again becoming a secular state working towards modernity rather than against its people and neighbours can only be a good thing.
Devil-you-know foreign policy types and Obama-era progressives in the West should do more to cheer the possibility of change.
This article was originally published by Herlad Sun. James Morrow is a senior NewsCorp writer