2019: Iran Decides Not To Fold; Security Is Sacred
By Nour Rida
Tehran - The year 2019 was eventful for the Islamic Republic of Iran on the different levels.
An Iranian expert uncovered a new method to relieve migraine patients “for good”, Dr. Hossein Baharvand, head of Iran’s Royan center for research won the Word Academy of Sciences [TWAS] 2019 prize in biology. He received the prize for his fundamental contribution to the understanding of how pluripotency and differentiation establish and maintain in stem cells. Iran is one of the most pioneering countries in the world and the second country in the region regarding stem cell knowledge and technology. Also, Iranian Wushu fighters received gold medals in World Wushu championships, the Municipality of Tehran won the World Smart City Award [WSCA] 2019 for its Smart Tehran Program which was held in Barcelona, and on Monday 14 January 2019, the world wakes up to seeing Iran as the sole regional country with its own satellite launchers. The list goes on.
Also like previous years, Iran had a busy year with different challenges that fail to impede its progress. Despite growing pressures from the US and its allies on Iran, the latter refuse to yield. The beginning of 2019 witnessed sessions between Iran and Syria where their joint ministerial economic committees exchanged views on a long-term strategic cooperation agreement. Despite the US sanctions that were imposed and renewed multiple times on Iran, China and other countries were still doing business with it, with a 25-year strategic deal with China that can have a great impact on the development and strengthening of bilateral relations. Iran also upped its cooperation with Russia and India, while also decided to end 2019 with naval drills with China and Russia.
However, several sensitive events attract the attention of those interested in Iran and its news in 2019: the ongoing discussions on the JCPOA, the different shapes and forms of US pressure, the fuel reforms and the economy. The most important thing to notice when it comes to Iran is that Iranians, their strong national identity and awareness fails all attempts of adding insecurity to the problems.
If we dive into the whereabouts of the nuclear deal and the repercussions of US withdrawal from the JCPOA in 2018, we will sink into endless evidence of US despair and frantic efforts to destroy Iran. Nevertheless, Iran kept its part of the deal and still gave chances to the EU countries that did not seem to have a strong backbone or did not want to upset the US. After the many attempts and good will, in November, Iran announced the fourth phase of its step by step withdrawal from the nuclear deal, moving further away from limits placed on its nuclear program under the JCPOA. From an international perspective, the world is more sympathetic to Iran’s position in the nuclear dispute, than the United States. Because Iran stayed strictly committed to the nuclear deal for one year, after the US left the deal and violated its terms. Many analysts see that the Trump administration’s policy on Iran has isolated the United States and diminished its leverage to enforce the JCPOA.
US pressure in 2019 came in different forms, from hard war threats to soft war and “harsh” tweets [needless to mention US officials starting with the US president Donald Trump to others like Pompeo and Bolton killing themselves to defame Iran], to accusations of attacking other countries, but Iran stands firm and confident in face of all that. The US maximum pressure policy has not yet succeeded in bringing Iran to the negotiating table or curbing its regional activities across the Middle East. In fact maximum pressure seems to have backfired and pushed Iran across the edge.
Now when it comes to the economy, Economic woes have been striking the Iranians, but Iran is not unique in the sense that millions across the globe are hit by economic burdens, with what seems to be a global economic crisis on the way.
As the US continues to impose sanctions on Iran and its people and has caused harmful shortages in the medical and other crucial sectors, the solidity and insight of the Iranian nation and the determination of the youth foils any plans to cause chaos in the country. The Iranian New Year, which is marked on the 21st of March was dubbed as “The Year of Boosting Production”. There were different attempts to bring on reforms and improve the economy but that is a long process that requires serious work and a long period of time to see effect on the ground. For those who know Iran well or live there, it is clear that the main problem of the country continues to be economic problems. Especially in recent months, people’s livelihood problems have increased. Part of these problems is related to inefficient management in the area of economic matters, which should definitely be compensated for.
In this context, the Iranian government decided in November to cut gas subsidies to fund support for the poor. As per the new plan, each car with a fuel card will receive a monthly ration of 60 liters for the price of 15,000 rials per liter. Every extra liter will be charged 30,000 rials. The strategy seemed right in order to help the poor, help the economy and limit the smuggling of fuel but it did take the people by surprise and the timing seemed bad. Maybe a gradual process with some explanation would have prevented any exploitation or foreign meddling.
The government has said not a single rial of this price hike will go to the treasury and that the proceeds accrued will be used to help about 60 million Iranians in need, and it indeed started depositing the money into the accounts of the people after exactly one week to the announcement of the measures.
Gasoline in Iran still remains among the cheapest in the world, despite prices jumping 50%.
Almost one year after the failing attempt to steal Iran’s stability when gunmen opened fire on a military parade in Ahvaz in Khuzestan Province in November 2018 in which 25 people were killed, hooligans and rioters hijacked peaceful protests across the country and caused damage by destroying public and private property. Once again, the Iranians stood united in mass demonstrations to refuse any violence, foreign meddling or exploitation of the situation. Literally every Iranian realizes the importance of security and stability. However, Western mainstream media will keep depicting the protests in such a way as if all 80 million Iranians pour into the streets everyday against the revolution and the government, which is not the case. Iran is a country that experiences fair elections, people are allowed to practice their civil rights and hold peaceful protests and demonstrations, they have the right to demand reforms but of course when hooligans arrive to the scene they will be arrested and fought back.
Iran is a regional, or even a world power, thanks to three decades of social, economic, diplomatic, and military advancements. Many of Iran’s achievements actually created new challenges or even led to political and diplomatic encounters and difficulties but two things are for sure, the Iranians know the value of security and are genuine; they refuse to be lackeys to anyone.
So the bottom line as Iranian Foreign Minister Dr. Javad Zarif explained in December as the world bids farewell to 2019, “The problem is we decided not to fold. That is our only crime. We had a revolution against a government that was supported by the United States, imposed on our country by the United States, [that] tortured our people with the help of the United States, and never received a single human rights condemnation, and now people are worried why they say ‘Death to America’? We say death to these policies, because they have brought nothing but this farce. What did they bring to us? If somebody came to the United States, removed your president, imposed a dictator who killed your people, wouldn’t you say death to that country?”