The meddling of global powers in Iranian politics has started but under the present political environment of the region, these players want continuity not turmoil. Iran is a significant part of the puzzle in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine. What happens in Iran will determine the course of President Obama’s policy in the Middle East and the Islamic world in general. As indicated above, none of the players to include Israel, UK and US, desire an unstable Iran at this juncture, to join chaotic Afghanistan and increasingly unstable Pakistan in the region. China has also voiced this concern loudly for all to hear.
With the arrival of Zardari, Iran’s influence on Pakistan has been increasing as well; most illustrated by the Iran-Pakistan Gas Pipeline Project. Traditionally, improvement of Pakistan’s relations with Iran comes at the expense of relations with Saudi Arabia. The most popular politician of Pakistan presently is the opposition leader Nawaz Sharif, who is also favored by the Saudi’s. How this dynamic will play-out as United States attempts its regional approach in the region, is yet to be seen.
The major foreign stakeholders in Iran are keeping their fingers crossed. The challenge is that no one knows for sure the true balance of the public sentiment in Iran. The media has played so many games that it has ended up in a trap i.e., confusion in assessing the true public opinion towards the reformers and the hardliners.
POLITACT predicts that the hardliners will be able survive the protests, but what we are seeing is the beginning of something that will play-out in the long-term. The pressure these demonstrators have built will force an incremental change in the power structure of the Iranian political institutions. These changes will not necessarily alter Iranian foreign policy or minimize its nuclear ambitions, but will make the nation more open to foreign influences. How Iran balances these influences while achieving its own interests is a test that the country has historically not handled well.