A bombshell for Iran
This year's Munich Security Conference became the scene for the condemnation of Iran as a sponsor of terror on a regional and global scale. The mullahs' regime was named as the main state sponsor of terrorism, and part of the problem, not the solution, in establishing peace and security in the Middle East.
The similarity of the harsh criticism and strong positions taken by numerous countries against Iran speaks very vividly and unmistakably of a coalition against Tehran, leaving senior Iranian regime officials desperately in need of a solution, and fast.
The conference has been described as a major turning point to what the future may hold for Tehran, and it is now crystal-clear that the balance of power in the region and around the globe has shifted significantly against the mullahs, to say the least.
"A new formation of old enemies against our country has established, and we are alone faced with a global alliance. In such conditions Iran must decrease the military confrontation possibility, tone down the propaganda and make room for overt and covert diplomacy, all aimed at breaking this alliance," the state-run Sharq daily wrote in a recent editorial printed on its first page.
"The strategic management of Iran's policies in the region must be returned to the Foreign Ministry," wrote the state-run Jamaran website. For example, Iran's embassy in Baghdad is considered the most important for the mullahs' regime. And this post is, and has been, under the control of Iran's Revolutionary Guards Quds Force from 2003 onward.
These remarks make it undisputable how terrified Iran is of the rocky road ahead.
The period we are currently in is being described in Iranian circles as the "post-Munich era" involving potential disputes between Riyadh and Tehran. Such developments foreshadow a substantial decline in Iran's influence in the post-Munich order, signaling harsh days ahead for the mullahs' regime.
The regional balance of power will undergo major changes, and Iran is terrified of not only being on the wrong side of history, but of suffering major setbacks. Senior Iranian officials are issuing warnings for decision-makers to accept the new reality and focus their efforts on sidestepping any provocative actions that can provide excuses or pretexts by rivals. This is one major reason Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei has remained relatively silent in the past month.
Iran is concerned that U.S. president Donald Trump's efforts will not be limited to the recent round of sanctions imposed following the January 29 ballistic missile test. Regime analysts are predicting a series of pressure-increasing measures by the new White House, knowing Congress is fully ready to back such action. One issue Republicans and Democrats will not have much trouble finding common ground on is punitive measures against Tehran's mullahs.
It is common knowledge that Iran benefited extremely from Obama's eight-year tenure, especially the unprecedented access Tehran's lobbies enjoyed to the White House. On the other hand, many voices advocating a firm approach on Iran are now considered very close to President Trump and his national security team.
To this end, Khamenei understands quite well that unpredictable developments await. Just as international sanctions and fear of an explosive society becoming completely restless forced Iran to the negotiating table, with Trump at the helm in the White House, rest assured that Khamenei will have very limited options.
Tehran will to some extent attempt to further test Washington's limits, such as the recent military drills and testing of "advanced rockets," or generals making remarks such as Iran being ready to give U.S. a "slap in the face." This practice is also aimed at lessening the costs resulting from any possible future negotiations with the West.
Senior Iranian regime officials and politicians understand the unpredictable nature of what lies ahead. This is exactly why voices are heard indirectly encouraging the Supreme Leader to refrain from provoking new tensions and enter new talks when possible.
To this end, the regime's efforts to create new space for the mullahs' regime in relations involving the international community and regional countries, all under the banner of engagement, backfired significantly in this year's Munich Security Conference.
As a result, there is a rising perspective of further global and regional isolation awaiting the mullahs' regime in Iran. Khamenei and his inner circle are realizing the harsh reality that Obama's "golden era" is over, and the Munich bombshell will have major impact both internationally, and more importantly, in domestic affairs.
Heshmat Alavi is a political and rights activist. His writing focuses on Iran, including human rights violations, social crackdown, the regime's support for terrorism and meddling in foreign countries, and the controversial nuclear program. He tweets at @HeshmatAlavi and blogs at IranCommentary.