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Despite Regional Turmoil, Iran and Saudi Ties Remain Strong

When word broke that the Iranian helicopter was thought to have crashed, Saudi Arabia was one of the first nations to offer all help and support to Iran. This was an important signal for the region, and a clear message to the West and the Israeli entity.

Steve Sahiouninie from Middle East Discourse writes…

Ebrahim Raisi, the 8th President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, died in a helicopter crash on Sunday, along with his Foreign Minister and others. Raisi will be remembered foremost as a cleric. He was successful in garnering support from the political circles, as well as the religious ones. He studied Islam at the seminary in Qom, and called himself an ayatollah, which is a title reserved for high-ranking Shiite clerics. His black turban identified him as a descendant of the Prophet Mohammed.

Raisi had been seen as a possible successor to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as supreme leader, the highest political and religious position in Iran.

Following the death of Iran’s first supreme leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1989, Raisi was appointed prosecutor of Tehran, and took his position as a jurist based on Islamic law very seriously.

After taking office as president, Raisi faced a difficult situation because of U.S. sanctions on Iran. President Trump had torn-up the nuclear deal, and had launched a maximum pressure campaign of even more sanctions. In 1998, Richard N. Haas wrote that U.S. sanctions are not effective on major changes, such as ‘regime change’. But, the Oval Office and Capitol Hill refuse to stop imposing sanctions on countries around the world, regardless of their lack of success. The crushing sanctions on Syria are a prime example of sanctions killing citizens, but having no effect on ‘regime change’.

Iran’s economy was suffering under U.S. sanctions, but also the effects of corruption, nepotism and inefficiency, which are the same factors most of the regional countries in the Middle East are grappling with. Raisi promised the people he would tackle inflation, corruption and tax evasion and had some success. But by May-June 2022, the price of food had escalated to more than 80% compared with the same period in 2021.

After the government cut some subsidies, which caused a spike in prices of food staples, protests erupted across several provinces, which brought out the security forces, and resulted in the deaths of at least five people, while dozens were arrested.

Iranian officials acknowledge the right of citizens to protest, but will not allow the protests to evolve into chaos and lawlessness. Security forces in some cases used heavy-handed methods, which drew criticism from the west and Iranian opposition groups in the west. The Raisi government knew too well that western interests would be served if the protests were violent and disruptive to the country; therefore, they tried to manage the protests on a short leash.

Most countries are unwilling to trade or invest in Iran due to the U.S. sanctions. This handicapped Raisi and prevented his government from expanding and developing trade and foreign investment. Countries who might want to do business in Tehran are fearful of being cut off from trade with the U.S., but China was willing to buy a lot of Iranian oil.

Under Raisi, Iran increased oil exports to China, and China has also continued to invest in a broad range of Iranian industries, including oil and gas, lumber, and light manufacturing. By January 2022, Iran exported more than 700,000 barrels of oil per day, which was more than Iran exported before the re-imposition of U.S. sanctions in 2018…

Continue this story at Middle East Discourse






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Get Your Copy of New Dawn Magazine #203 - Mar-Apr Issue