Then and Now: The Current Political Climate of Iran

Iran is the only country in the world led by Islamic clergy. Forty years ago this past February, Iran’s secular intellectual elites joined with the conservative clergy to overthrow the Western-backed monarchy of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

Soon after ousting the Shah’s regime, the revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini declared Iran an Islamic republic. The Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) implemented Islam and forced its laws in every area: personal life, family and society. The people of Iran have seen theocratic Islam in action firsthand for 40 years.

What do they think now?

In this series of blogs, I discuss the current spiritual, political, social, and economic climate in Iran and why I believe Islamic rule in Iran is nearing its end.

Part 2

The Current Political Climate of Iran

After 40 years of theocratic rule, the people have changed their political thinking and behavior.

Building of the Iranian Parliament in Tehran

Celebration rallies ignored

Not many people showed up at government-sponsored rallies celebrating the 40th year of the Islamic Revolution a few weeks ago. In previous years, the government successfully forced its employees and their families to form a crowd on the streets. Then the news agencies used coverage of the crowd to proclaim that the government was popular. But this year the celebration was a disaster—even government employees and their families refused to show up.  

But this year the celebration was a disaster—even government employees and their families refused to show up.

Iran’s media said they were showing live coverage of people marching on streets supporting the government, but for the most part, they were using footage from previous years. It was rainy in the cities in the north, but the supposed live coverage showed a very nice sunny day. Even in Tehran, the media showed “live” rallies on the streets but had to mask the trees because in the previous year at this time, the trees were green (there was an early spring), but this year the winter was longer and the trees still had no leaves. This obvious attempt at deception was all over social media and a matter of laughter and discredit for the government. 

Desire for secular government

The majority of Iranians want separation of religion from politics. Iranians admire America and everything American. If they had a choice, and if there was ever a referendum, an overwhelming majority would vote for a secular government—American style. 

Secure communication breakthrough

The Green Movement in 2009, an outburst of rallies objecting to voting fraud, was organized using Twitter. So the government shut it down easily after shutting down Twitter because the people had no secure way to communicate with each other. For years, phones and the internet have been filtered and controlled; Facebook has been blocked. 

But in 2015, free and secure social media apps (such as Telegram, WhatsApp, and Viber) became available. Secure social media has revolutionized the spread of information and communication between people once again. The people ignore untrustworthy government-sponsored channels and media; they look for true information only from satellite broadcasts, the internet (using VPN), and through these apps.

 The people look for true information only from satellite broadcasts, the internet (using VPN), and secure apps.

Rejection of terrorism sponsorship

Iran has become the top financer of terrorism around the world. It is a destabilizing force in Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, and Iraq. The people of Iran, however, are bitterly against the IRI’s involvement in those countries saying to their government, “You care more about them and advancing your agenda than you care about your own people. We are suffering financially, and you are spending so much money advancing your agenda around the world.”

Rejection of the nuclear bomb

Development of nuclear bombs and cruise missiles has always been the top priority of the IRI. They pursue these weapons despite financial difficulties and sanctions because they believe that having them will ensure no threat from outside can topple them. They want the nuclear bomb also to bully other countries with the threat of nuclear attack. The majority of Iranians have a different view about the nuclear bomb: “We as a nation have a right to have it, but our government will abuse it.” They feel it is like giving an irresponsible child a gun. 

Rejection of enmity with America

One comment I constantly heard from the people of Iran about Obama’s nuclear deal was “Americans are so naive.” After the signing of the deal, there was a celebratory spirit in the Parliament in Iran saying, “We gained a lot without giving up much.” The deal’s intention was not to stop them from developing nuclear bombs but just to slow them down. What made them happy was that they could continue the development of nuclear weapons because the inspection of the nuclear sites had so many constraints, and the inspection of the military sites was not allowed at all. 

The government takes Trump’s warnings very seriously, however, because they know that he is a man of action. So since mid-January 2019, the IRI has been warning the people of Iran that an attack by the USA is imminent. Of course, they magnify this threat to distract the people from noticing how miserable their lives are and that the government’s policies have failed and have destroyed Iran’s economy. 

Before the 1979 revolution, Iran was a close ally of the USA and Israel. Now according to the IRI, America is the “Great Satan” and Israel is the “Little Satan.” Both must be destroyed by any means, including the nuclear option. But neither of these concepts are believed or supported by the Iranians. Even with the threat of a USA/Israel attack of Iran, many are welcoming it saying, “Please come and help us get rid of these mullahs.” 

Many are saying, “Please come and help us get rid of these mullahs.

Iranians want political change

At the time of the revolution, the people supported Khomeini and thought Islamic rule would bring relief from corruption and the western social values that were invading Iran. But they have witnessed that there is now more corruption, more injustice, more moral decay, more disintegration of the society than in the Shah’s time. 

Throughout much of the past four decades, the people believed that their efforts to make a change through voting in presidential leaders would make a difference in their country’s leadership. In the past year and a half, their eyes have opened to the truth that only a total regime change will make any difference. The regime can no longer deceive its people with a scripted political play of alternating moderate and hard-liner presidents. 

In conclusion, the Iranians are open and ready not only to a spiritual revival but also to a major political change—from a theocratic dictatorship to a secular democracy. 

Next week: the current social climate of Iran.

The Nuclear Agreement with Iran: Is it a Good or a Bad Deal? (Part 2)

In my last post, I wrote about how this nuclear deal will negatively impact the U.S. government and its citizens (click here), and also how it will benefit the Islamic government of Iran. Today, we’ll look at how this deal will impact the people of Iran and especially how it will affect the spiritual revival that is going on in Iran.

3) Bad Deal – for the people of Iran (physically)

The people of Iran—and specially the younger generation—have been celebrating this nuclear deal by dancing in the streets. The reason for ap_995965368922their celebration, however, is totally different from why Iran’s government celebrates. The Islamic government of Iran rejoices because they were thrown a lifeline. It now has the resources to extend its existence and power and to pursue its goals nationally and internationally.

On the other hand, the people of Iran have been praising this deal because:

  •  They think the removal of sanctions and the influx of more than $100 billion will improve their economic condition.
  • They think that this is the start of a normalized relationship with the U.S. Yes, most Iranians, and especially the younger generation, love and admire the United States as a country as well as its people. If it were their decision, they would want a close relationship with the U.S. You should know that “Death to America” is the goal of only Iran’s Islamic government—not Iran’s people.

The people of Iran are happy because of these two hopes. But I believe they will soon be very disappointed because:

  • This money will NOT improve the economic condition of the country and will not benefit its people. On the contrary, this money will be used to oppress the people even more. The government will buy and develop a better technology to control and suppress its people. I believe that the Iranian government will use this money to establish a National Internet—just like China—to disconnect its people from the outside world.
  • Since the supreme leader, Khamenei, has already declared that the U.S. is still Iran’s number one enemy, its relationship with Iran will not normalize anytime soon. Iran’s policy towards the U.S. will not change.

4) Good Deal – for the people of Iran (spiritually)

Over the last few years, Iran’s government has totally destroyed its political opposition. At the moment no political movement or leader is a threat. The only situation that alarms the Iranian government is the growth of Christianity. It is the only group out of their control. That is the reason that the persecution of Christians has increased drastically in the last two years.

I believe as the number of Christians and the house churches grows, Iran’s government will increase its persecution even more. It will allocate more money and personnel to stop this transformation of its people. As a result, more Christians will be arrested and jailed. Terrorist acts against Iranian Christians outside the United States will start. (Please pray for us as once again we are receiving serious threats.)

But this new wave of persecution will strengthen the church in Iran. First, the disappointment, hopelessness, and disillusionment of people in Iran will increase. This will make millions more Iranian Muslims open to the message of the Gospel. Second, the persecution of Christians will strengthen and purify the church. Since the rise of persecution two years ago, we have seen the rise of a generation of young leaders (under 25) who are not afraid of the government—not even afraid of dying for their faith in Jesus. We will see more Christians rise up with that type of deep relationship with the Lord and commitment to serve Him.

In spiritual terms, then, the nuclear agreement will become, with much heartache, a good deal for the Iranian people.

Please pray for us at Iran Alive as the Lord has graciously positioned us to have a major impact in Iran. Over the last 14 years, by His Grace, we have established a heart connection with millions of Iranians inside Iran, have been instrumental in bringing tens of thousands of Iranian Muslims to Christ, and had a major part in establishing hundreds of house churches in tens of cities in Iran.

We are now starting new underground house church networks. The government of Iran knows that we have such plans and understandably is not happy about it. We are already getting a new wave of threats. We need your prayer for protection. We also need your support so that we will not shrink back in ministry but will take full advantage of this opening of heaven in Iran to establish a strong church that will not be wiped out but be strengthened by persecution.

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Blessings,

Hormoz Shariat

The Nuclear Agreement with Iran: Is it a Good or a Bad Deal? (Part 1)

Many have asked me, “Is the nuclear deal with Iran a good deal or a bad deal?” The answer depends on whose chair you’re sitting in. In this blog and the next, I will share how this deal will impact four people groups.

1) Good Deal – for the Islamic government of Iraniran nuclear
The Islamic government of Iran is the total winner in the negotiation. They got almost everything they wanted without giving up much. They are celebrating this victory. Yes, they consider the deal a victory because they are getting the immediate lifting of sanctions, at least a $100 billion release of funds, and the ability to sell their oil on the world market with merely a pledge to do and not do certain things in the future—a pledge that could easily prove to be just empty words.

How did this happen?
President Obama and John Kerry negotiated from a weak position. You know, to be a good negotiator, you should show your opponent that you are ready and willing to walk away from the negotiation table. The U.S. delegation showed that they desperately needed this deal, didn’t have a plan B, and couldn’t walk away from it. That position caused them to have a weaker hand in the negotiation game. The American delegates wanted a deal at any cost. The Iranian delegates knew this and took full advantage. As a result, U.S. delegates had to agree to a mediocre deal that will not stop Iran from making the atom bomb. At best (that is if Iran does not cheat), it will only slow down its development.

To justify this mediocre deal, President Obama has repeatedly stated that America’s two choices were either this deal or war—ignoring a third option of continued sanctions, which looked like they were working.
For the Iranian government, this deal throws them a lifeline. It injects fresh life and money that they needed desperately. They limped to the negotiation table, took the offered head chair, and received the winning lottery ticket—a windfall of $100 billion in cash. Before, they were in trouble existentially; now they have exactly what they need to maintain power for at least the next 15 years.

As for their required responsibilities, they paid for their lottery windfall with “credit”—a pledge to behave. Iran has broken UN agreements in past years, building enrichment facilities in the desert. Nothing will stop them from doing the same thing again, this time under their cities.

How will this money help the Iranian government?
The Islamic government of Iran will use this money to oppress its people, strengthen its military and its defense system, advance its goals around the globe (such as Yemen, Lebanon, Bahrain, Syria, and Palestine), develop new nuclear facilities (this time in cities where they cannot be detected), and buy the nuclear technology it needs in the black market—hence speeding up its goal to develop a nuclear bomb.

2) Bad Deal – for the US government and its people
Even if the Iranian government follows through with its pledges, does not cheat, and does not develop nuclear bomb, this deal does not solve the problem of Iranian’s threat to the peace in the world, and specifically to U.S. and Israel. It only delays it. So President Obama will not have to face Nuclear Iran, but his successors will.

The supreme leader, Khamenei, has declared with very clear words that “there would be no change in the country’s hostile relations with the US or its anti-Israel approach in regional policies, regardless of the fate of the breakthrough nuclear deal with world powers.” We have to understand that in the Iranian government’s organized rallies, when they chant “Death to America, Death to Israel,” they are not just badmouthing the United States and Israel; rather, they are declaring their plans and intentions. If the Iranian government had the power to do so, it would bring death to the U.S. and Israel even this afternoon.

I believe in the next few months and years, the billions of dollars that are given to the Iranian government will come back and bite the U.S. around the world. The U.S. government and its people will pay for it. Iran will continue to oppose U.S. policies in the Middle East with a greater capacity. The fading presence and influence of the United States in the Middle East will almost vanish all together. Even worse, unfortunately, we will
see that the Iranian government will finance increased terrorist attacks against U.S. establishments and its citizens around the world and even inside the United States. With this money, they will try literally to bring “Death to America.”

Related Articles:
U.S. and Allies Warn Iran Over Nuclear ‘Deception’

Nuclear Deal with Iran – Joel C. Rosenberg’s Perspective

Iran Nuclear Deal
Now What?

My dear friend and Middle East expert, Joel C. Rosenberg (@joelcrosenberg), has been posting his thoughts on the nuclear deal recently struck by the US, Russia, Germany, UK, France and China with Iran.

I highly recommend reading his most recent post, as he highlights the major points of the deal and gives wonderful insight regarding the implications on Israel and the West.

In the coming days, I am going to post my own thought on the issue, from the perspective of Iranians…specifically those who follow Jesus.  Check back for these posts, as I will provide a unique perspective that may be helpful as you learn about the impact of this significant event.