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Authoritarian Regime: A Case Study of Iran

By Nadir Ali

In spite of having a fascinating history, the instability of Iran makes it one of the most hated countries in the world. After the Iranian revolution of 1979, Iran considers itself a hub of Islam. Iran controls its people by strictly controlling the Internet, banning all local news channels, including anti-government news channels and blogs sites, and shutting down all social media sites. Simultaneously, Iran promotes voluminous Anti-Jewish and Anti-America propaganda with the help of print media. Iran has nearly 58 million Internet users, so Iran prioritizes its digital broadcasting to control the information. Iran used a security and intelligence setup to neutralize any voice against the regime.

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“Ebrahim Raisi” is the current Iranian supreme leader, who is elected as President in 2021, thus, Iran is currently working to strengthen its regime with the help of the Intranet system. Iran began pursuing a national intranet in 2013, although the idea appeared about 10 years ago. The project is currently costly and will enable Iran to use its infrastructure, while foreign companies or intelligence agencies cannot access it. In recent years, with the outbreak of sporadic protests, the authorities have completely shut down the Internet in certain areas to suppress information leaving the area.

In the shadow of religion, Iran strengthens its regime because that regime is also used to have control over the curriculum/syllabus to promote the “Ayatollah Khamenei” (the first leader of post-revolutionary Iran) clergy rule. The Iranian government itself admits that it is forbidden to criticize Islam (which naturally prohibits criticism of the government, because Iran is a government based on Sharia law). There is hardly any real information in a country that prohibits criticism of the government.

Iran has one of the most isolated economies in the world but the United States imposed strict sanctions on Iran. Interestingly, more than four decades ago, the United States had long supported the Iranian monarch “King”, but in 1979, the Islamic Revolution swept the clergyman “Ayatollah Khomeini” to power. A group of Iranian revolutionaries stormed into the US Embassy and detained its staff for more than a year that led to the first round of sanctions on Iran.

However, the United States has frozen billions of dollars in the Iranian government assets and Iran received more international sanctions for its human rights violations. Iran has also been sanctioned for sending billions of dollars to militant groups in the Middle East. What really worries the United States is Iran’s decision to develop nuclear power. A nuclear crisis has been brewing between Iran and the United States and its allies since 2003 when Iran had two nuclear facilities that were not declared to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). So, the nuclear program that tests ballistic missiles have been a cause of alarm among leaders worldwide especially for the United States and its allies.

Also, in late 2020, the sanctions were imposed on the Islamic Radio Television Union (IRTVU) by the United States for the reason that the government of Iran has interference in the US election by disseminating misinformation. In fact, promoting Anti-US and Anti-Israel propaganda in the Middle East. So, shutting down an Iranian mainstream English news channel is just another attempt to control the narratives.

Undoubtedly, Iranians are also experts in cyber activities and disseminating disinformation campaigns hence Iran has imposed strict censorship on the Internet. The authorities restrict its people, state can decide what is good and what is bad. In fact, no one is allowed to oppose religious leaders. If someone undermines the legitimacy of the state, should be regarded as a rebellion and must be persecuted. At the same time, Iran’s media is more controlled and suppressed by the state and regime.

Therefore, under this authoritarian regime, the state of Iran is not only suffered from gender segregation, repression and injustice but also from fundamental policies, and other systemic inequalities, that undermine human livelihoods. People are facing severe poverty, high inflation, environmental destruction, unfortunate Ideology, incompetency, corruption, a backward education system, and enjoy no liberty.

On the other hand, Iran is facing plenty of non-traditional threats, one of the major cyber-attacks that had occurred in Iran, known as Stuxnet, which is often referred to as a malicious computer virus. This sophisticated virus, allegedly manufactured by the US and Israel, used to destroy Iran’s nuclear program. This malicious and purely coded virus targeted and destroyed multiple nuclear facilities and centrifuges of Iran. Stuxnet was made by the Siemen related products and Siemen insist that they would not harm their customers at any cost.

Last but not the least, Iran is one of the most dynamic and elegant countries in the Middle East, with abundant natural resources. At the same time, it is considered to be one of the most vulnerable and most wanted countries for liberal democracy. Currently, Iran is trying to maintain its legitimacy in the Middle East, which is hurting Israel, the United States and Saudi Arabia. Iran is using authoritarian rule over its people, maintaining its power under the carpet of religion, their literature and curriculum is used to brainwash a generation.
Iran controls the Internet in such a way that no one can access it on social media to oppose the regime and the country. Therefore, in Iran, state-controlled television, local news channels, blogs, and websites that promote anti-government remarks are strictly prohibited. However, the websites used by the regime to spread anti-Semitism and anti-American propaganda on a larger scale have been banned and sanctioned by the United States.

The writer is associated with the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad. He can be reached at hafiznadirali7@gmail.com

 

Disclaimer:

The views and opinions expressed in this article/Opinion/Comment are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the DND Thought Center and Dispatch News Desk (DND). Assumptions made within the analysis are not reflective of the position of the DND Thought Center and Dispatch News Desk News Agency.

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