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OPINION

100 Years After the Collapse of the Weimar Republican, the Islamic Republic of Iran Faces a Similar Fate

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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Kirsty Wigglesworth

The new year has dawned with the unfolding revolution in Iran entering its most critical stage. The nationwide insurrection has continued for almost four months and shows no sign of subsiding, despite a ruthless crackdown by the theocratic regime’s security forces, which has seen more than 750 protesters killed and over 30,000 arrested. Strikes and protests have crippled the Iranian economy, already reeling from years of tough Western sanctions. Now the Iranian currency has nose-dived to its lowest level ever against the US dollar. When the uprising began in September, following the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, the young Kurdish girl murdered by the so-called morality police for not wearing her hijab properly, the rial was trading at 315,000 to the dollar. Last week it plummeted to 430,000 to the dollar. In desperation, the mullahs sacked Ali Salehabadi, head of the central bank and replaced him with Mohammad Reza Farzin, the 57-year-old senior banker and former deputy finance minister. Farzin has inherited a poisoned chalice. He can do nothing to prevent the rial from collapsing. 

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Iran now faces the certain prospect of hyperinflation, similar to what occurred in the Weimar Republic of Germany between 1921-1923, when accelerating inflation rapidly eroded the value of the local currency, forcing the price of everything to rocket. The Weimar government began printing more and more paper Marks until barrow-loads were required to purchase a single loaf of bread. The government was then unable to meet its operating costs by raising taxes, because these taxes would have to be paid in the ever-falling German currency. The political leaders were faced with two unacceptable alternatives. Either they could stop inflation, causing immediate bankruptcies, unemployment, strikes, hunger, violence, the collapse of civil order, insurrection and revolution, or if they allowed inflation to continue, they would inevitably default on their foreign debt. Ultimately, they suffered both and the Weimar Republic collapsed. A similar fate now beckons for the mullahs’ tyrannical dictatorship. They cannot survive.

The mullahs are now attempting to shore up their disintegrating economy by selling scores of small kamikaze ‘Shahed’ killer drones to Vladimir Putin, for use in his genocidal war in Ukraine. The drones are not much larger than ones that can be purchased for children in the West and are relatively cheap to build at around $6,000 each. They are, however, lethally effective and can find and destroy a target many miles away in minutes. Putin has replaced his dwindling stockpile of missiles with the Iranian regime’s kamikaze drones, targeting Ukraine’s electricity and gas generators and power stations, in an attempt to freeze the Ukrainian population into submission during the harshest months of winter. In his recent visit to Washington, D.C., Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president, condemned the mullahs for supporting Russia in the Ukrainian conflict. During a speech to Congress, Zelensky said Iranian drones sent to Russia had become a “threat to our critical infrastructure.” He continued: “When Russia cannot reach our cities by its artillery, it tries to destroy them with missile attacks. More than that, Russia found an ally in this genocidal policy - Iran. That is how one terrorist has found the other.” 

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The Iranian regime, past masters at lying and dissembling, quickly tried to deny Zelensky’s allegations. Naser Kanani, a spokesman for the mullahs’ foreign ministry described the Ukrainian president’s claim as a “baseless accusation”, stating: “We have always respected the territorial integrity of other countries, including Ukraine, and Mr. Zelenskyy should know that Iran’s strategic patience for baseless accusations will not be unlimited. We emphasize once again that the Islamic Republic of Iran has not exported any military equipment to any side for use in the Ukraine war.”

Meanwhile, in response to international demands for severe action against the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) – the regime’s Gestapo, the British government has declared that it will blacklist the organization as a terrorist group, meaning that it will become a criminal offense to belong to the IRGC, attend its meetings or even carry its logo. The IRGC controls around 70 percent of the Iranian economy, paying no taxes and creaming off all profits to fill the pockets of its venally corrupt leadership. It is the IRGC’s brutal response to the nationwide uprising that has given rise to the UN Security Council, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and others, calling for retaliatory action from the West. The IRGC’s shoot-to-kill strategy has led to the death of hundreds of innocent men, women and even minors, during the ongoing disturbances. The blacklisting by the UK government is supported by Britain's security minister, Tom Tugendhat, and Home Secretary Suella Braverman and will come as a deadly blow to the Iranian regime, who rely on the IRGC for overseas trade.

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One by one the dominoes are falling and like the Weimar Republic, the mullahs will no longer be able to cling to power. Whereas the Weimar Republic was Germany’s first experiment with democracy and its collapse led to an era of fascism and World War II, the exact opposite is happening in the Islamic Republic of Iran, where an era of fascist, theocratic tyranny and repression is about to be overthrown and replaced by a democratically elected government. Eighty million Iranians have had enough. After four decades of tyranny and repression they are chanting “death to the dictator and death to Khamenei,” the regime’s elderly and delusional Supreme Leader, on the streets. What began as a demand for freedom has rapidly evolved into a revolutionary ultimatum for regime change. The mostly young protesters, led and coordinated by Resistance Units of the Mojahedin-e Khalq, the main democratic opposition movement, have lost their fear of the regime’s brutal security forces. Gunfire, teargas, baton charges, arrest, torture, imprisonment and execution have simply fired their passion and inspired escalating reprisals against the mullahs’ regime. One hundred years after the collapse of the Weimar Republic, history is repeating itself and for Iranians, a better future will be the prize.

Struan Stevenson is the Coordinator of the Campaign for Iran Change (CiC). He was a member of the European Parliament representing Scotland (1999-2014), president of the Parliament's Delegation for Relations with Iraq (2009-14) and chairman of the Friends of a Free Iran Intergroup (2004-14).  Struan is also Chair of the ‘In Search of Justice’ (ISJ) committee on the protection of political freedoms in Iran. He is an international lecturer on the Middle East and is also president of the European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA).

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