Paris, December 3 (dialogue) Observers hold their breath. The scale of the social movement that has rocked Iran since September 16, 2022 has left experts petrified. Everyone is waiting. Everyone recognizes that secretly unprecedented things are happening in Iran, and the courage shown by the protesters is unprecedented.
Who are these protesters, what are their ties to the Iranian theocratic state, and what impact will their uprising have on the embattled regime’s foreign policy?
passed down from generation to generation
The rebellious generation born in early 2000 longed for freedom. So much so that it appears poised to bear the consequences of an insurgency against the regime in Tehran: a violent crackdown has resulted in 448 deaths and some 15,000 arrests at the time of writing.
Unlike its elders (more fearful of the repercussions of rebelling against the regime whose uprisings, like the 2009 Green Movement, remain within the political framework of the Islamic Republic), this younger generation is ready to make its desired name.
The impact of social networks on his ability to connect with the world, and thus perceive the taboo-laden “disconnect” of his daily life, compared to the freedom enjoyed by his peers elsewhere on the planet, is certainly one of the reasons for this intergenerational break. Main explanation.
The long-term impact of the current campaign remains difficult to predict. However, the socio-political situation in Iran is likely to change.
The scale of the uprising is such that even if it is completely crushed by fresh blood (at the cost of thousands of victims, as in “Tiananmen of Iran”), the way the regime and the population can coexist will be significantly affected. A trend What seems to be happening: an increase in civil disobedience.
Unlike previous generations, young people dare to hold representatives accountable; and — like their regimes’ geopolitical strategies at the regional level — they act asymmetrically, diversifying their expressions and demands.
Khomeini’s ideological legacy is remote to these young people who are now starting to live actively, knowing neither the war against Iraq (1980-1988), nor the mobilization of families, nor the bombing of cities, Don’t know about the dissidents that happened in the late 80’s, let alone the 1979 revolution.
dissatisfaction with religion
A second trend reinforces this generational shift. Paradoxically, the establishment of a theocracy in Tehran accelerated the secularization of Iranian society, as the French Islamist Olivier Roy predicted in the 1990s.
In fact, by making religion the bedrock of political power, the ideological regime promulgated by Ayatollah Khomeini has created a phenomenon where any rejection of power automatically becomes a rejection of religion.
The regime establishes control over society by imposing a form of “political spirituality” on its people, reminiscent of Michel Foucault’s use of the same concept in his 1978 “Essay on Iran”. Mandatory adherence to this model of governance partly explains young people’s growing dissatisfaction with Khomeini’s theocracy.
These variables (generational transition and social secularization) are all the more important because today’s rising young people will be the active population in the next four to five years.
Unless the regime manages to quickly establish a system of control and social repression capable of reducing the risk of internal unrest to zero, it will inevitably evolve under the weight of social demands.
The “Asianization” of Iran’s Foreign Policy
This evolution of power relations in Iranian society cannot be fully understood in an appropriate manner without considering the geopolitical context in which it occurred.
The ability of social movements to reproduce and grow resonates with major realignments taking place at the regional, continental, and global scales, which in turn shape the Iranian regime’s policies and shape its response to the uprising. popular.
However, in terms of foreign policy, Iran has been leaning towards “Asianization” for many years.
In the Middle East, the geopolitical situation freezes around two opposing extremes: one consisting of Iran and its regional allies (mainly Shia), and the other manifesting itself as an anti-Iran axis driven by the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia .
However, aside from building militias in Iraq and Lebanon and aligning itself with Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria and Houthi rebels in Yemen, the strategy has not yielded the expected economic gains for the Islamic Republic. With all of these countries bankrupt or in ruins, this “bloc” geopolitics is unlikely to change significantly in the medium term.
Thus, at the regional level, the Asianization of Iranian foreign policy appears to be the result of an influence strategy based solely on the mobilization of parastatal armed groups that is inconsistent with the anti-Iranian wall. established by its geopolitical rivals. Against this backdrop, the authorities have no choice but to “pivot east” to revive the economy and quell social unrest.
And this, especially since Donald Trump broke the Iran nuclear deal (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, JCPOA) in May 2018, the regime clearly believes that any normalization efforts with the West are futile.
In Europe, it is difficult to gauge the psychological and symbolic impact of this act, which was both betrayal and humiliation, which discredited the Iranian reform movement (which has supported open projects for more than a decade) and reinforced the hostility of the ultra-conservative camp towards the West .
With positions more or less frozen at the regional and international levels, Iran’s geopolitical fulcrum is now functioning at the continental level. The regime responded to the JCPOA’s “betrayal” by announcing a 25-year comprehensive strategic partnership with Xi Jinping’s China in March 2021 and strengthening its already strong relationship with China. Vladimir Putin’s Russia.
The Russian military’s use of Iranian-made drones in Ukraine is a testament to the advanced level of strategic cooperation between the two countries, with Tehran and Moscow’s forces facing off against the West, under the watchful eyes of China, which has temporarily limited itself to discrediting the international order rather than Don’t harass it too much.
This new Eurasian momentum has also prompted a surge in Iranian diplomatic initiatives with other key partners on a continental scale, including Turkey, India, Pakistan, and post-Soviet republics in Asia.
Central and Caucasus. Iran’s integration into major Chinese (Belt and Road Initiative, BRI) and Russia-India (International North-South Transport Corridor, INSTC) infrastructure projects indicates Iranian leaders’ desire to link the country’s development to the gradual adoption of intercontinental connectivity networks The shape is not subject to any western control.
At this point, this “Asianization” process culminated in Iran becoming a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).
Acceptance of Iran’s candidacy (submitted fifteen years ago) in September 2021 (a month after the inauguration of conservative President Ibrahim Lacey) proves that an executive in line with the vision of the highest guidelines is a guarantee of stability in the eyes of members of the SCO Member states, especially China, oversee the entire process of building this “post-Western” international order.
Tested by 40 years of isolation but still in place, the Tehran regime, once the “pariah” of the West and the East, has proven to be a respectable and valuable partner for many countries in light of the current geopolitical environment Eurasia mainland.
Toward Chinese-style social control?
But what about the interplay between this geopolitical reorientation and protest movements? Currently, the two trajectories are developing separately.
Popular uprisings emerge during generational and secular transitions as bottom-up movements.
On the contrary, the “Look East” policy is only a priority of the regime, strengthening relations with China and Russia is of great interest due to geopolitical considerations and the prospect of strengthening cooperation with these countries in the field of new technologies (artificial intelligence, human face identification, predictive algorithms, etc.) are likely to be provided when faced with the risk of internal instability.
An atmosphere of “Chinese-style” social control hangs over Iran. The fact remains that social control systems, no matter how effective, are only effective if they inspire fear among the populace. In Iran, however, the wall of fear appears to be crumbling. (conversation)
(This is an unedited and auto-generated story from a Syndicated News feed, the content body may not have been modified or edited by LatestLY staff)