An Israeli intelligence report that was provided to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Cabinet, and which has leaked to the media, suggests that the Iranian regime was taken by surprise by the ongoing wave of protests, but is not in danger of collapse — at least, not yet.
Barak Ravid of Israel’s Channel 10, writing at Axios.com, notes: “Big picture: The Israeli Foreign Ministry report says the Iranian regime was surprised by the mass protest and is now trying to contain it through preventive arrests and crackdown on social media — while trying to avoid violent response against protesters.”
Ravid said that the report indicates that “The Iran protests started over economic issues but very fast ‘took a political and violent turn which included harsh anti-regime criticism over government spending on Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.'”
Iran has spent billions of dollars on its military adventurism and terrorism in the Middle East and around the world. That is the cause of deep resentment inside Iran itself, where the economy has not fully recovered from years of international sanctions on its nuclear program that were lifted by President Barack Obama and his Iran deal in 2015. In addition, the Iranian economy suffers from heavy state intervention, including from the military, which in turn has led to corruption and mismanagement.
In the summer of 2009, the protests of the “Green Revolution” briefly threatened the stability of the regime. But then-U.S. President Barack Obama declined to support the demonstrations, and the regime consolidated power. President Donald Trump has taken the opposite approach — as many of Obama’s former advisers have urged him to “be quiet” instead.
The regime is stronger today than is was in 2009 — thanks in no small part to Obama — but the protests are reportedly more widespread. Several people have been killed already by police attempting to put down the demonstrations.
If such clashes continue, and escalate, the regime could further lose legitimacy and confidence. At that point, anything is possible.
Iran has accused Israel of fomenting the protests — an idea that Netanyahu called “laughable” in a video message released Monday.
The Iranian regime tries desperately to sow hate between Iranians and Israelis. They won’t succeed. When this regime finally falls – and one day it will – Iranians and Israelis will be great friends once again. I wish the Iranian people success in their noble quest for freedom. pic.twitter.com/kk8wTYmhnz
— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) January 1, 2018
Netanyahu continued: “I will not insult the Iranian people. They deserve better.” He predicted the regime’s eventual demise as its citizens pursued freedom.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named to Forward’s 50 “most influential” Jews in 2017. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.