Head of the Department of Iranian Studies at the Faculty of Oriental Studies of Yerevan State University Vardan Voskanyan in an interview with ArmInfo comments on the reasons for mass unrest in Iran. He talks about the goals of encouraging protest actions of external forces, shares forecasts of the further development of the situation in Iran and around this country.
Mr. Voskanyan, you have been in Iran from December 29 and returned only a couple of days ago so you can talk about the essence and main causes of protest actions in a neighboring country, not only as an expert, but also as an eyewitness. Of course, there are enough versions in the media about what is going on, nevertheless, I would like to hear your expert assessment, in other words, to have news from the scene of events.
In general, the protests taken place in Iran have a number of objective and subjective reasons, preconditioned both by internal and external motivation and factors. The main reason for the unrest was the socio-economic situation in the country, which led to a certain inflation, sharp fluctuations in the currency. However, given the appearance on this background of political slogans and statements in Iran, it is more than obvious that these processes have come out of their original framework and reasons. This became possible thanks to both internal processes and external intervention. The traces of external interference, first of all, are contained on the pages of social networks, in particular, on Telegram, which is very popular in Iran . From inside and outside, certain control over the processes in Iran were carried out, their direction and often provocation were determined. And a large number of tools and mechanisms were used for this. In particular, the real scale of protest actions, the number of their participants, the essence of the requirements to which the political notes and shades were artificially added, were unjustifiably inflated. A number of foreign media engaged in a deliberate dissemination of outright misinformation about the transfer of entire Iranian cities under the control of the "insurgents". Simultaneously, the media, in particular, the Iranian service of the BBC, openly and purposefully implemented the policy of directing these processes through spreading disinformation. We are talking about the use of well-known mechanisms in Iran through which the "Arab spring" was held in a number of countries.
That means initially the protests were exclusively of socio-economic nature and only after an attempt was made to give them a political orientation?
Yes,of course. The main goal of all these provocative attempts was the hope of the Iranian authorities responding back to the protesters with a brutal and tough force, which would lead to clashes, bloodshed and numerous victims on both sides. This would allow the international community to exert pressure on Tehran and return Iran to a previous or even tougher sanctions regime.
21 people were killed in Iran not as a result of using brutal and hard power?
Official figures do not confirm these figures, which gives us a good reason for not believing in their reliability. In this case, we should compare the media data with the results of another, more objective monitoring. The publication of the number of real and fictitious "victims" is one of the most common technological devices of initiators of "velvet" revolutions. Here it is necessary to note an extremely important circumstance. Protests in Iran were not only of a peaceful nature, and illegal actions were often carried out as a result of which the child was killed. It goes without saying that under similar circumstances the police had every right to use force. The provocateurs in Iran planned that the use of force by law enforcers would lead to a much larger number of victims detained and more bloodshed. It was planned that after this the country would be affected by destabilization, chaos, which would lead to weakening of the Iranian authorities. The United States and Iran's opponents in the region, in this case Israel and Saudi Arabia, are not so naive as to hope for a regime change in Iran through such actions. In this sense, their main goal was not to change the regime, but to plunge Iran into chaos, an unstable situation, with parallel tightening of sanctions, which in turn would have allowed us to hope for a change of power in Tehran. The change of power, in the context of the situation developing in the Middle East, will obviously lead Iran to a division into parts. A similar, weak, decentralized Iran will no longer be able to have the influence and play the role that it plays today. This unambiguously proceeds from the interests of Iran's geopolitical opponents, but it also unequivocally does not proceed from the interests of neighboring Iran and the friendly Iranians of Armenia. I can say that strong statehood and strong regional positions of Iran are based on the interests not only of Armenia, but of the entire Middle East. Imagine for a moment that there is simply no Iran in the region and a regional catastrophe will inevitably arise in front of your eyes.
Do you think that in the absence of a counterbalanced country in the Greater Middle East, the prospect of a regional catastrophe will be inevitable?
Yes sure. There is simply no other counterweight in this vast region. There is no state capable of controlling the territory from the Mediterranean to the Indus River, from Araks to the Persian Gulf and to the south, and to ensure there stability and the geopolitical presence that is provided by Iran today.
And, nevertheless, what is your forecast of the state of the region in case the Iranian factor is still leveled?
The worst of them is the appearance in the Middle East of a new Libya, Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. Nevertheless, I do not assess the situation so pessimistically. The Iranian statehood has ancient and firmly established traditions. And it is these traditions that mainly prevent the Iranians from shaking the foundations of their own statehood. Yes, there are groups of such people in Iran. There are similar Iranians and foreigners trying at the clown level, it is about the son of the former Iranian shah, interfering in the internal affairs of Iran. At the same time, for some reason it is forgotten that according to the degree of vampirism the current Iranian power is in no way comparable to the Shah's regime. As an American henchman, the Iranian "prince" does not even understand the Iranian realities and still lives the realities of times when his father left the helm of power.
Does the information on the role of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in protest actions and his arrest have the right to be certain?
I do not think so. Not only him, but in general any politician in Iran of this scale does not participate in protest actions. Information about his detention is an outright lie, spreading within the framework of applying all the same "revolutionary" technologies. There is no clash between the various political currents in Iran. He just very much want to demonstrate all the same forces inside and outside of Iran.
The initiators of the protests are hoping for the introduction of what sanctions against Iran, given that not all sanctions have been lifted?
There are no international sanctions due to the nuclear program and the human rights situation in Iran at this stage. There are only sanctions of the United States, which are trying their best to connect the international community to them. However, the position of the European Union on Iran today practically contradicts the position of the US, which, at a minimum, speaks about the Europeans' understanding of the fact that the Middle East is in some sense the continuation of Europe and vice versa. Accordingly, any Middle East destabilization creates risks and shakes the security system of European countries.
And what role the American sanctions played in shaping the current not the best socio-economic situation in Iran. Is it possible to conclude that in some sense Washington has nevertheless achieved its goals?
Washington's goal is to change the power in Iran and establish its own puppet regime there with the aim of destroying the influence and power that this country has today. As we see, the US has not achieved this goal. Nevertheless, American sanctions did lead to a certain tension in Iran. However, getting rid of international sanctions, Tehran is making every effort to improve the social and economic situation inside the country. It is axiomatic that extremely poor societies never organize protest actions, they are organized by societies consisting of citizens who have a certain level of well-being. Accordingly, the presence of protest actions in itself testifies to the existence in Iran of a certain level of social security, the presence of a sufficiently powerful middle class. The problems with products, which the US president insists on, are not in Iran. However, of course, great financial resources are needed to ensure the regional, geopolitical role and mission of Iran. If the Iranians did not participate in the fight against terrorism in Syria and Iraq, and sent these funds to internal development, then of course we would see a much more powerful Iranian economy. However, no one needs a high level of social welfare in conditions of bombs and shots of terrorists rushing on the street. It is necessary to understand that the interests of national security very often outweigh socio-economic ones. And most Iranians realize this. And the fact that the small part of the population of the 80 millionth country took part in the rallies is the best evidence of this. The Iranian market is traditionally calm, there are no signs of panic, which is also a very important indicator of internal stability.
Would you share your forecasts for Iran?
Obviously, the leadership, the political elite of Iran is well aware of the socio-economic problems in the country. In my opinion, they will do everything possible to rectify the socio-economic situation in the country through the use of all the means and mechanisms at their disposal. How much they will succeed is another matter, but that additional efforts in this direction will be applied, undoubtedly. External pressure and attempts to interfere in Iran's internal affairs will continue. However, it is not necessary to expect that these attempts will lead to a wave of protest that is capable of threatening the political, economic and geopolitical interests of Iran. Intervention in Iranian affairs makes possible only local, short-term outbursts of discontent, given the presence in Iran of the real grounds for that. However, this is well understood by the authorities of Iran, which creates good prerequisites for rectifying the situation.
ArmInfo. The rallies in Iran cannot in any way affect the diplomatic relations between Armenia and Iran. Iran is a friendly state for us, and regardless of the situation in this country, we will maintain our relations, "Deputy Foreign Minister of Armenia Shavarsh Kocharyan told to journalists on January 11, referring to the latest unrest in Iran.
ArmInfo. Armenian Ambassador to Georgia Ruben Sadoyan during the meeting with his Iranian counterpart Seyed Javad Kavamshahid discussed the Armenian-Iranian economic relations.
ArmInfo. It is the United States that stands beyond the ongoing processes in Iran, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Arman Navasardyan says.
ArmInfo. The large reserve of strength of the military-political system of the Islamic Republic of Iran makes the change of power in this country by street protests practically impossible. Such an opinion was expressed by Gagik Harutyunyan, the director of Noravank scientific and educational foundation.
ArmInfo.The social rebel in Iran is devoid of the scale capable of destabilizing the region,the director of the Caucasus Institute Alexander Iskandaryan expressed such opinion in Yerevan.