Op-Ed: What could come next for Iran after the Islamic Republic?
(CNN) — A decade after protests began across Iran, this country is the leading state sponsor of terrorism in the Middle East — and the West is no closer to understanding it.
The protests that began in December of 2009 were sparked by the disputed re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
They were quickly followed by weeks of nationwide unrest over economic hardship, unemployment, corruption and growing corruption accusations against their own leaders and the regime.
In a matter of weeks, Iran was facing its worst crisis in its history, with protests threatening to turn violent.
The country has since been shaken by renewed unrest that has led to more deaths, more arrests and more arrests.
But today, it is difficult to tell how much of this unrest has been instigated and carried out by the country’s hardline conservatives and how much by the country’s hard-line moderates.
For years, the United States and much of the international community struggled to understand what was going on. The Obama administration refused to engage at the highest levels of the government. There were a few rare high-profile diplomatic meetings in Geneva.
The Obama administration has been careful to remain quiet on the Iranian government’s decision to test Iran’s nuclear program with uranium enrichment at a much higher rate than any other country.
But many inside the United States have had their doubts about how seriously the US is taking the developments in Iran.
How much more of an Iran is the US willing to deal with?
How can the United States really be so confident that Tehran will never develop nuclear weapons again after the recent test, and that the US will never again get caught by surprise?
“It is not likely that the United States is even going to hear of the test this week,” a top US defense official told CNN.
There is a very good chance that the US will learn of the Iranian nuclear test some time in the coming weeks. There may be something that Iran tried to hide behind the test.
If the test is as much as a demonstration of their new capability as it is a declaration of their intent to try to build a nuclear capability, then it could have some real global implications.
Iran is very sensitive to Western criticism