More and more means of exerting pressure are being activated to keep Iran in its lane regionally, or, with any luck, to end the reign of the country’s ruling authority.
The pressure is noticeable in many areas, beginning from sanctions and their visible consequences (fall of national currency, withdrawal of major businesses from the country etc.) and ending with dangerous events in Iran itself.
Also, the so-called Iranian Land Bridge is being tested for durability.
In Yemen, the government army, supported by the Saudi Arabia-UAE coalition, is pushing Iran-aligned Houthis, having forced them to leave six provinces by now.
Recently the Saudi-led coalition has launched a major offensive to recover the strategic port city of Hodeidah on the Red Sea in order to cut the supply of goods (and reportedly weaponry) to the northern rebellious provinces including the capital city of Sanaa.
In Syria, too, things are not going the way Iran wants. The agreements, reached previously during trilateral meeting in Tehran (Russia-Iran-Turkey) on the military crackdown of the last major stronghold of the anti-Assad rebel forces in Idlib, were dashed after the meeting of Putin and Erdogan in Russian Sochi, where another decision was made – to create a demilitarized zone and to separate Assad’s opposition from terrorist groups.
Iran really wants Assad to remain in power. If the moderate opposition in the Idlib cauldron is not destroyed today, tomorrow they may have a voice in the post-war political set-up of Syria and be able to participate in elections, results of which may be ambiguous for Assad.
Apart from that, Israel continues to regularly destroy, as it says, Iranian - and Hezbollah-affiliated military facilities in Syria. Even after the Russian intelligence plane was shot down last week, in which Russia accused the Israeli air forces, it is unlikely that something will change in the policy of Tel-Aviv. This has already been stated by Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman.
“Nothing has changed and nothing will change. We have made it clear that we will not allow Syrian territory to become a front for Iran against the State of Israel,” he said on Sunday, Times of Israel reported.
If, as Israel claims, Iran is really making efforts to establish some kind of military and intelligence infrastructure in Syria, then its attempts has failed as yet.
The recent attack and arson of the Iranian Consulate in Basra and the offices of Pro-Iranian political parties and movements, as well as the July attacks on the headquarters of Pro-Iranian forces with chanting anti-Iranian slogans, suggests that Iran's influence in this country is not as strong as it seems at first glance.
However, the main issue for all forces acting in and around Iraq is the election of a new Cabinet and Prime Minister, which will determine the future policy of Baghdad, including that towards Iran.
Representative of the US State Department Heather Nauert warned the Iraqi Government in August that violating the sanctions regime against Iran could put Iraq itself under sanctions.
Considering that Iran is one of the three top trade partners of Iraq, a new Prime minister will have to make a difficult decision. The US will likely not accept a partial solution suggested by Baghdad that it will trade with Iran, but not for the US dollars; whereas Iran will get outraged if Baghdad after all will fully abide by sanctions to safeguard its own interests.
In this context it is necessary to pinpoint one more fact.
Iraq’s Supreme Shiite spiritual leader Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani’s office released a statement that it will not support any new prime minister chosen from the politicians who have been in power in the past years, without distinguishing between the party individuals or the independents.
Among others, Sistani’s statement refers to leaders of the Fatah Alliance and the Abadi-Maliki Da’wa party – the two Iran-supporting political powers in Iraq. Reportedly, both have already announced their withdrawal from electoral race for the post.
This can't but cause serious concern of Iran.
And finally, analyzing latest events in Iran itself, one can suppose that the card of national minorities, which account for about 40 percent in Iran, is being played now to rock the Iranian boat from inside and to make a mess by using ethnic factor. This, in turn, fits the general scenario of toppling the Islamic Republic.
During the attack of armed men on the participants of the military parade in the Arab-populated city of Ahvaz in the southwest of Iran on Saturday morning 29 people were killed and another 60 were injured. The group called “the Patriotic Arab Democratic movement in Ahwaz” claimed responsibility for the attack.
Bloodshed in Ahwaz can create a fertile ground for ethnic confrontation and cause a fierce backlash with unpredictable consequences, which is utterly dangerous for Iran in the current circumstances.
In this sense, one more threat for the Central Government may come from the Iranian Kurds, and there is every reason to believe so.
Iran attacked the base of an Iranian Kurdish opposition group in northern Iraq killing at least 11 (15) people and wounding many more, Iraqi Kurdish officials said, Reuters reported on September 8.
The Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI), an armed opposition group fighting for greater autonomy for Iran’s Kurdish community, is out of law in Iran.
Mustafa Hijri, the leader of PDKI, has pledged to intensify the armed and civilian resistance in response to the attack and called for greater unity of the Kurdish parties at a time when “the Iranian regime is on the verge of collapse.”
Dozens of Kurdish activists were arrested during a general strike in Kurd-populated cities west of Iran, organized in protest against a missile attack and the execution of a number of Kurds on those same dates, K24 reported.
In the past six months, Iran has hanged over 40 Iranian Kurds and sentenced just under a dozen other activists to death, a statement by “Hengaw” organization for human rights said, K24 reported.
Thus, mechanism for another potential ethnic clash has been switched on.
In Iran, the authorities believe that reasons of their failures and misfortunes are due to plots of the US or its regional allies. In response, the US State Department says: look in the mirror.