by FG

My recent post on the mullocracy's mounting troubles did not specifically predict when it would fall but I examine that near the end of this post. My thesis was that the system cannot be sustained much longer. Sadegh Bozorgmehr argues it is "wishful thinking" but I stand by it. The regime is doomed. Obviusly no one can say exactly when it will fall or who will play the key role when it does.

Bozorgmehr writes "We're approaching the 33rd year of predictions claiming IRI is on it's last leg. Every year we have said this, using almost the same exact arguments." Both sentences are indisputable fact. What is not logically is the conclusion he draws--that past predictions of doom mean any present one must also fail. Who predicted Assad's present predicament just 15 months ago, even though likely sources of discontent in Syria appear much smaller than those confronting the Islamic Republic today?

The best example of such reasoning involves the Soviet Union in 1983 which enjoyed far greater resources than Iran has today and far more ability to isolate its people and keep them uninformed. In that year Marshall Goldman, Wellesley Professor who specialized in the Soviet Economy produced an outstaning, much maligned book entitled U.S.S.R. in Crisis: The Failure of an Economic System. The book is in no way technical or filled with jargon but I recommend it as a "must read" to any Iranians interested in analysis of how and why seemingly entrenched regimes fall. You can't beat it on that topic and I certainly owe Goldman a debt in how I apply analysis here.

Despite Goldman's strong credentials his book was almost universally panned. His critics overrelied on the indisputable fact that a long history of failed predictions existed, then misapplied it without even considering specific details (factual) and persuasive arguments put forth by Goldman, who became known as "the bad boy of Soviet economics" by Sovietologists. Less than a decade later Goldman critics in turn would be inundated with "How could you not have forseen this?" questions? Unlike his critics, Goldman wasn't surprised when the USSR went down. He could not know exactly how or when it would happen but what it did know is why the USSR could not continue much longer, why it had to decline would occur rapidly, and why that decline could not be halted.

Goldman's thesis rested on two central points that apply as well to Iran today though specific details differ. First, earlier predictions failed because they did not take into accunt certain resources or conditions that enabled the Soviet system to survive and progress temporarily in spite of well-known and massive inefficiencies. The latter were the basis of earlier preditions andare described in detail). Goldman's contribution is to who why most of these one-time advantages were gone for good If that were so (and Goldman showed as much) then the USSR would go downhill fast, no matter who replaced Brehzhnev.

Some of the previous advantages that enabled a massively inefficient system to survive were: a greater ability to use fear (reduced by insiders after Stalin's death because they had been the main target of his purges), the once abundant manpower and cheap natural resources which could be squandered to increase performance, a previous easily capacity to conceal western economic evolution and ideas (endanged by changing technology as in Iran), and the shift in modern economies away from heavy industry (where government-run or command economies do best) to consumer-oriented light and service industries (where government-run economies flounder badly).


Just as Marshall Goldman could not say when and how the end would come for the USSR but could guarantee it was coming so too for theIslamic Republic--like the USSR it is on the downside of a bell-shaped curve in terms of multiple crises striking at once.

Except for oil, everything that made once made the Islamic Republic viable (and mocked earlier predictions mainly from optimistic emigres) is n longer available to sustain the regime. Nothing did more damage that the total lost of trust stemming from the rigged election of 2009, its aftermath and subsequent failures. You see its irreversibility in the regime's failure to suck one-time refomers into the upcoming elections. I've already written about six Failure Areas as visible to the regime's supporters as to its critics.

As a leader Khamenei combines the ineptitude and sloth of Breszhnev or Czar Nicholas II with the endless brutality of Stalin. It is hard to imagine a worse candidate and one so lacking in foresight holding the command position in the IRI at a time at when the system still had a chance at drastic change (the Khatami presidency). I doubt it can survive a few more years but if it does, look for a transitional, comprise leader like the ineffective Chernenko or a hardliner like Andropov (Mojtaba). You may even see a Gorbachev, as in 1983, there are insiders who see doom approaching. Like Gorbachev, they will not be able to save the Islamic Republic now even if empowered to do so.


It's ironic that the uprisings of two years ago and the regime's "success" in putting them down seem to be the only thing keeping the IRI afloat. The middle class has been intimidated and its former leaders neutralized. I predict the explosion, when it comes, will be sudden with the working class leading this one, as in Syria. If those demonstrations can't be stopped at the kindle stage--if they become large, widespread and continuous, expect significant political and military defections soon afterward--some based on revulsion (especially among the rank and file) and some (politians, clerics, higher level military) based on a desperate attempt to salvage something from an obviously sinking boat. As I've already noted, the uprising will likely receive outside help, especially if the regime uses air power or engages in mass slaughter.


more from FG
Sadegh Bozorgmehr

Better this time, FG

by Sadegh Bozorgmehr on

Soon could mean anything, so I'm happy that you identified a rough timeframe. More importantly, I'm glad that you, like me, believe that these things come about because of a multitude of reasons.

I considered pointing out fallacies in logic of your own, but you too engage in argument by analogy and attacking a man of straw. But this is a bit childish and won't get us anywhere.

On the economic collapse argument, I have heard not one Iran expert that has argued that even the worst of sanctions and embargoes being pushed and implemented now would lead to a collapse. I would have to look for the article, but just recently at least one administration official also acknowledged that, so economic collapse is not a plausible scenario.

Some of your assessment of the current situation seems a bit hyperbolic and lacking dispassion. The entirety of the economy (or almost all of it) isn't a very credible claim to make.

As for your claim that I believe predictions of doom are worthless because others didn't pan out, I would ask you to think about what I said more carefully.

I said that these imminent predictions have been made for 32 years, always using what was thought to be various factors converging in an unprecedented way, and what I have noticed is that wishful thinking was mixed with or replaced sober analysis.

It would be a fallacy in logic if I used that as an argument to say that you're wrong. I believe the IRI will collapse soon too, but I had to point out that your reasoning is not very convincing.

The key point you ignored was my statement that based on precedent, not only has putting Iranians under pressure not led to a popular uprising, but that if there is any precedent where that has happened it was under conditions opposite of the ones you posit could lead to a popular uprising.

In short, although I admire that you have given this thought, I find the case you made unconvincing while leading me to believe that the exact opposite factors have a better chance of succeeding. Remember, you've taken on this tough issue so the onus is on you to convince the reader.


Dollar hits a new record: 1900 Toman!

by FG on

Dollar hits a new record on the free market, sold at
1900 Toman this afternoon, same for Bahar Azadi gold coin sold at
900,000 Toman! //


Rebutting Bozorgmehr

by FG on

re: You're not exactly going out on a limb in predicting IRI's eventual
collapse... so that's not a bold prediction.

Straw man argument: you assign someone a silly
position he would never take then begin to flail away at the easy target you invented.  Keep an eye out for this in Bozorghehr's arguments.

Correction: I predicted the regime will collapse soon, not eventually, which could mean 1,000 years from now. Like Goldman in 1983, I identified the harsh variables converging almost simulateously.

It is unreasonable to demand an exact date:  The IRI probably won't last as long as the Soviets in 1983.  Most likely less than three years and it could be gone less than 18 months.  Unraveling, when it starts, will occur quickly and even more so the longer it takes to begin.  Time works against the regime. More time = more causes of discontent worsen and converge.

I've described Khamenei's lousy options but can hardly be faulted for not predicting which one he will choose. The prediction that Assad will fall is almost universal, but no one can say exactly when or predict all percussions on the IRI. 

Your thesis is still the same

My convergence thesis won't change because it is comon sense:  "As in the USSR in 1983 the IRI must fall soon simply because too many unfavorable failures are coming together almost simultaneously." 

Re: First you suggest that a bad economy will somehow bring down the regime.

Correction: In my subpost, I thought I offered seven converging variables (count them) not one. The effect of each is multiplied by interaction with the others.  Historically
there is almost never a one-cause explanation for a revolution.  

Re: in the overwhleming majority of countries
with crippled economies, that has not happened.

Did most of them have as many converging problems as Iran now or the USSR in 1983?  History Lesson: Here you rely on a formal logical fallacy (argument by analogy) and make it worse by intentionally excluding well-known facts.  Specific flaws in your argument:

First, in democracies, a president or prime minister often loses elections when the above occurs.  Secondly the Great Depression brought down several democratic governments and replaced them with fascism.  Thirdly, the hyperinflation on the Weimar Republic in the mid-twenties a major factor in that regime's eventual fall.

Fourthly, severe economic problems and
"economic collapse" are not identical (fallacy of degree).  The former suggests something temporary in which people imagine a possible way out  The latter suggests something much deeper with little hope in sight. To which is the IRI closest though not there yet?

Finally, it's one thing when a government which has functioned reasonably well in satisfying most people's needs suffers a major downtown.  It's another thing entirely when a state with a miseable record of economic incompetence and horrific corruption encounters a rapid acceleration in economic troubles that combine with other disasters, no possible light at the end of the tunnel, a handover of almost the entirely economy to its security forces in return for brutalizing dissedents, and a deep, wide and intense loss of trust caused by many reasons other than previous economic conditions.

Did you know that some major revolutions have incurred while an economy was improving?

Re:  Not once in the past 32
years has a popular uprising erupted in Iran due to harsh economic

The flaw here resembles your claims that current predictions of doom are worthless simply because earlier ones did not pan out.  Again, you ignore huge differences in variables.  For example:

Earlier Iranians were more religious and naively trusting in the mullahs.  Earlier the regime could offer plausible excuses (revolution's aftermath, war with Saddam) that it lacks now. Earlier, Iranians had less access to information but along came the internet and foreign travel.  Earlier, the regime hadn't exposed itself so publicly, but 2009 and its aftermath took care of that.

Re: Whether among the
public or former regime stalwarts this deficit of trust (in Khamenei) has always

Fallacy of degree.  Never so broadly or to the same extent.  You imply not much has changed. That's contrary to fact.

You ignore radicalization after 2009 (who believes in reform anymore?), the way Khamenei is now criticized openly by one-time principlist allies, the immensely greater number of critics,  their spread across all classes, the effects of "secularization" caused by the Khamenei's Borgia-style behavior and his inability to conceal it anymore and the degree to which Khamenei's failures in so many areas have become apparent to everyone.


Just around the corner

by jmyt17 on

For IRI no more time for these Jerk in our homeland.

I home the return to their original place!!!

But before leaving they have to pay for their crime.

Khamenei your first, and rest of garbage after you.

Free Iran is Just around the Corner.

Sadegh Bozorgmehr

Unremarkable Piece, FG

by Sadegh Bozorgmehr on

You're not exactly going out on a limb in predicting IRI's eventual collapse. I have never met anyone who doesn't believe the regime will eventually collapse, so that's not a bold prediction.

In contrast to your last piece, this one is not very clear and neglects further explanation of some of your points.  Your thesis is still the same however, and I don't find your arguments entirely convincing.   First you suggest that a bad economy will somehow bring down the regime. I wish it were the case, but in the overwhleming majority of countries with crippled economies, that has not happened. Not once in the past 32 years has a popular uprising erupted in Iran due to harsh economic conditions. The logic that Iranians will rise up and overthrow the regime because of a terrible economy requires quite a leap of logic, and has no precedent under IRI.   Second, you point to a "loss of faith" in Khamenei. Whether among the public or former regime stalwarts this deficit of trust has always existed. It has become somewhat more public in recent years, but claiming this is in any way a determining factor requires at the very least a far more detailed explanation then given. In brief, the two factors mentioned above must be presented with a follow up explanation of how exactly they will lead to regime change, otherwise they're just simply two facts of life under IRI. What we can do is to analyze the two biggest challenges to the IRI, the protests of 1999 and 2009. In both cases, it could be argued that civil society was strong relative to other times and tensions with foreign enemies were at extremely low points (relatively speaking) and that led to an atmosphere conducive to anti-IRI efforts. It may not necessarily mean those approaches are best, but the major uprisings against IRI occured under conditions fully opposite of those you described. 


Another former IRCG commander blasts Khamenei

by FG on

Twelve days ago former Revolutionary Guards
commander Hossein Alaei warned the Supreme Leader about the harmful consequences
of repression. Khamenei's response was predictable.  He dispatched thugs to surround Alaei's house.  Since then more regime supporters are speaking out.

The latest is another former commander, Ali Sanikhani who challeged
12 current leaders of the Guards
for having written two open
letters attacking Alaei. Sanikhani responded by writing eliminating
dissidents is not the right way
of supporting the Islamic Republic: "We are cutting off the tree while
sitting on its branches."

Recall how daring it was considered daring when post-election
protesters were first to criticize Khamenei openly?  Now everyone is
doing it--not just former Greens. Many who had invested their future in the IRI believe Khamenei undermining everything through disasterrous decisions. 



Tell that to the Sunni and Kurds.  I suspect the Saudis, Kuwait and other Gulf States will take steps to create a morass for Khamenei'sd would-be puppet state.  Its problems will be compounded when Assad goes down.  Expect lots of voluteers from Syria to help Iran-oppressed minorities.


Syrian troops refused to shoot on civilians when ordered to do so.  If not, the soldiers would be shot.  It was not the first time the general gave such orders but he will never do so again.

Elsewhere, the Syrian Free Army has seized control over two towns, fought Assad's forces to a standstill, forced a cease fire and destoyed quite a few tanks.  

For a nice update on events there see:




i agree FG...

by shushtari on

there is no way it can get any worse (except maybe 'tajzeeye' iran)

this is the result of 33 years of mismanagement, rape, pillage, and lies......the countless souls of those patriots who have been silenced by these animals will soon get their justice 

Maryam Hojjat

Thanks for your ForCast

by Maryam Hojjat on

I hope IRI falls soon this year 2012.  I can not wait any longer for its demise. 


Seven variables that can trigger a downfall (revised)

by FG on

Future regime decisions and external events will determine when the regime falls which is why no one can be exact.  Any variable listed below could suffice by itself.  When so many converge unfavorably in a short space of time, what are the chances of survival?  The nasty thing in most cases below is that any choice the regime makes is likely to worsen its problems.   

The Majis election of 2012

Will it be cancelled?  (Unlikely).  Will Ahmadinejad's faction be arrested or cheated? (Perhaps).  If neither, will it win control of the Majlis? (highly probable). 

Economic issues

Both the currency and the economy will get worse.  The sole questions are: How badly? How quickly?  How long will people tolerate it?

The fall of Assad

Majority opinion, including that of some regimes friendly to Assad, seems to be that his regime will fall before 2012 ends.  If not, it can't survive too much longer.  The fall will shake the confidence of Khamenei's circle of support.  Any new Syrian regime will be hostile to Iran, recalling the mullah's military and security assistance to Assad.  Khamenei's ally in Iran, Hezbollah, will also suffer unfavorable repercussions.

Loss of Insider Confidence

Insiders are rapidly losing faith in Khamenei and sounding off about his worst decisions.  Everything that goes wrong will increase their disaffection.  Khamenei can let such critics alone or crack down on principalists.   Either way he is screwed.  This scenario could lead to Khamenei's removal, assuming the IRCG allows it.  If the IRCG refuses, you can imagine the chaos. 

Working Class Alienation

How long can this group suffer before exploding?   Can that explosion be contained before it spreads?   Otherwise, how long before political and military defections start.  Every defection encourages others. 

The Presidential Election of 2013

If the regime survives until 2013, will Khamenei eliminate presidential elections for good?  Otherewise will Khoumeini's grandson run?  Can the regime survive a Khoumeini victor?  Can it survive if it tries to prevent such an eventuality by vetting, cheating or assassination.  This is another situation in which Khamenei is screwed no matter what way he decides.

The Reform Question

Can alienated reformers be won back after so many awful crimes?  A huge election boycott suggest a Big No.  Ex-reformers have moved on, having grasped the system is hopelessly unreformable, i.e., they'll never be safe so long as the IRI exists.  Constitutional protections mean nothing.