Iran is running into trouble

05 04 2018

Israeli soldiers in the Golan Heights concerned about Iran troop

movements in southern Syria

Iran is having a difficult year.  Recently, a suspected Israeli missile strike targeted an Iranian military base in Syria, the second such strike in April. On April 30, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered what he claims is decisive proof that Iran has violated the terms of the nuclear deal…this proof would push President Trump to change or cancel the Iran agreement. But Iran is facing defiance at home as well, most recently with strikes in Iranian Kurdistan. So now Iran must deal with a possible collapse of the nuclear agreement with the West, strikes in Syria by Israel against Iranian positions in Syria, and major unrest in the Kurdish populated regions of Iran; And of course; more demonstrations in Iranian cities due to the stagnant Iranian economy.

The Kurdish Problem

The goad for the Iranian Kurdistan protests was the closure of Iran’s borders with Iraq. Iran first shut its border with Iraq after Iraqi Kurdistan voted for independence in an election last September. When Iraqi forces were positioned to quash the mostly Kurdish province of Kirkuk, the Iranian government, foreseeing a stream of Kurdish separatists trying to enter Iran, closed the border and sent tanks, supported by artillery, to help impose the closure.

Iran’s Kurdish population includes pro-independence elements and, like Turkey, Iran is alarmed about any pan-Kurdish crusade that could bring its Kurds together with the more battle-ready Kurds in Iraq and Syria.  No one wants to see an independent Kurdish nation, not the Iranians, the Syrians, the Turks or the Iraqis.  These nations fear a Kurdish uprising in their countries.

Financial problems

Iran suffers from other problems, including high unemployment, inflation, political unrest and lack of foreign investment. Cash-strapped Iran frantically needs investment capital, which was a large part of the reason Iran agreed to curb its nuclear development program in exchange for investment from Europe.  If America and Europe cancel the Iranian nuclear deal…the Iranian economy would suffer severely…foreign investment and hard currency inflows into the country would shrink considerably. Another problem is Iran is spending large amounts of money on foreign involvements in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, this means it is spending less at home on social welfare programs.  The average Iranian family is finding it harder to make ends meet, there is growing unrest in the country because of the anemic economy.

Possible war with Israel

There is a growing threat of direct confrontation between Iran and Israel; this would cost Iran a lot of money—they cannot afford a war with Israel, but it may happen.  Israel hasn’t taken responsibility for the latest missile strike on an Iranian base in Syria, but it is the most likely contender. I repeat– a costly war with Israel would severely strain Iran’s finances and gamble yet another round of mass demonstrations.

The greater a footing Iran establishes in Syria, the greater the threat it poses to Israel. For now, Israel is content to attack Iranian weapons convoys intended for Hezbollah (Iranian proxy in Lebanon) from the sky. The more Iranian targets it hits, though, the more it backs Iran into a corner—so a war between Israel and Iranian proxy Hezbollah may break out within the next 12 months.

So wars and rumors of war continue to come out of the Middle East (Matthew 24:6). We will wait and see if Iran will confront Israel.

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