A Tale of two Parallel Universes:
The Divine and the Profane
Professor of Economics
I. There are TWO parallel Universes in the Islamist “Republic of Iran”: the Divine and the Profane. The former is the one depicted by the Shiite ideology, “Daar-Ol-Islam”: which is the “Universe to be, to survive and to prevail”; but since it exists only in the ideology, it is FICTITIOUS and lives in constant skirmish with its immediate environment; while the latter, consists of the existing Universe around it, “Daar-Ol-Harb” which is considered “Ephemeral, transitory, to be taken-over, subjugated or annihilated.”
II. The DIVINE is built on its proper paradigm and pillars as to the definition of Life, MAN, Rights, Family, Property, Business, Community, War and Peace, Crime and Punishment, etcetera, which differ from those of the PROFANE. However, until the right time to “take-over, subjugate or annihilate” the latter, the Divine needs to develop a mode of life -“Modus Vivendi” – with the Profane. Here, enter the art of diplomacy.
III. To define a viable modus vivendi, negotiations are required to convene agreements, pacts or treaties. However, no negotiation is meant to modify the Strategic Goals of the “Divine” albeit they may change the tact of achieving them. Thus the ultimate annihilation of the Profane is an integral part of the Divine Paradigm. Therefore, negotiations between the two, do not lead to compromise, as the term negotiation implies, but to establishing RESPITES in achieving the Goals which are “carved in stone”.
IV. For this reason, the Paradigm and Pillars of the DIVINE need be properly digested for any successful dealing with it. The fundamental sources of knowledge consists of the history of its making reflected in numerous books, including but not limited to The Divine Book, The Tradition (Sunna), and Narratives (Al-hadith).
V. To compare some core pillars of the two Universes, let us pick the Concept of Man, His Natural and Civil rights and Duties. The Divine Universe being -an island within the Ocean of the Profane- finds it convenient to remain a signatory to the Charter of the Universal Human Rights of the United Nations but does not intend to respect its soul:
From the Charter,
Art 3 Asserts the Right to Life, Liberty and Security of any Person;
Art.5 Prohibits under any circumstances the exercise of torture and subjection of human being to any inhuman or degrading punishment;
Art 9 Prohibits arbitrary arrest;
Art 12 Precludes arbitrary intervention with privacy;
Art 17 Asserts the Right to own property and prohibits any arbitrary deprivation of one’s property;
Art 18 Asserts the freedom of thought, conscience and religion including the right to change one’s religion, and etcetera,
The Divine insists on applying own “principles” which includes:
A) Lashing Human Beings in public and private (refuses the physical inviolability of Man)
B) Mutilating Human Beings by severing fingers, plucking out eyes etc.
C) Torturing both physically and psychologically
D) Stoning to death
E) Expropriation of Private property without compensation
F) And etcetera.
VI. The case in point is the unilateral repudiation of JCPOA by the President of the United States, May 2018. The president accused the Islamist Republic of non-compliance with the spirit of JCPOA, while the IEA and all five other participants to JCPOA –UK, France, Germany, Russia and China- maintained full compliance of the Islamist Republic with it. The US cited the creation of Proxies of Islamist Republic (IR) in the Middle East; active meddling in the affairs of Iraq, Yemen, Syria and Lebanon; and the expansion of Ballistic Missile Program as evidences of non-compliance, while these were not explicitly included in the text of JCPOA but were assumed by the Profane to be in its culmination. From the vantage of the US policy makers ICPOA was a beginning for “normalization” of an abnormal regime but from the point of view of the Islamist Regime, it was a RESPITE to rejuvenate and revitalize its ailing strategy, to entrench deeper in its positions and to grow its proxies! So, has the IRI been loyal to its cause or has it deviated? Was the assumed aim of JCPOA commonly shared between the parties? “The DIVINE remains loyal to its cause and is responsible to its REAL INTENTIONS when signing a pact /treaty or swearing an oath; the REAL INTENTIONS however abide in the heart, of which GOD alone is aware”.
VII. The REAL Intension is carved in Stone and appears as the emblem of IRGC flag–“Equip yourself with the highest weaponry to cast terror in hearts of your adversaries” – but parallel to it a religious edict – FATWA- is also issued pronouncing the prohibition of Nuclear Bomb, to appease the faint of heart!
VIII. Analogies are rife between the Islamist Regime and those of Hitler of Stalin. There are certainly similarities but there is a cardinal difference between them: Hitler and Stalin were both aberrations of the modern Universe, built on Renaissance and Reformation, but the Islamist Regime is Pre-modern built on a totally different paradigm and blue-print.
New JCPOA and the Exigency of Economy in the “City of God”!
IX. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) convened in 2015 and implemented mid 2016 had unshackled the Islamist Republic from the breaking force of sanctions. The United Nations Security Council measures were also put on hold with few exceptions and opened the way for the rest of the world to release the regime from the hook. This created, for the stagnated regime, a bonanza of which the main beneficiaries were the IRGC and the Lebanese Proxies as the strategic arm of the Islamist regime.
X. In May 2018, the US president Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from JCPOA and imposed the US sanctions on the Islamist Republic. The US used its overwhelming weight in international financial system and blocked Iranian access to the world’s dollar clearances; The System of World Interbank Financial Transactions (SWIFT) severed the life-lines of the economy; Clerical regime’s deliberate non-compliance with the Rule of The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) –in money-laundering and Financing of Terrorism- completed the Financial Stalemate for it; The US secondary sanctions were the “last straw” to break the camel’s back and proved more effective than ever-thought of in isolating the Divine regime.
XI. On November the 3rd, the United States elected a President for another term. The sovereign will of American People decides who prevails and the elected commands Universal recognition and respect, be it the incumbent or his rival.
XII. Paradoxically for Iran, the US 2020 Elections had become, in the annals of the country, the most prominent event which overwhelmed the Corona Crisis, The Inflation and Shortages, the rising unemployment and the threat of the hovering revolts. The Statesmen of all levels were holding their breath in a count-down!
XIII. The reasons are obvious: The annual budget is in stark deficit, the government debt is rising to record levels, the economy is crumbling and jobs are disappearing; 70 percent of population are in need of “subsistence-aid” from the state; the official inflation is back to the channel of 30% and above, while budgetary expenditures are losing impact in tandem with inflation.
XIV. Foreign trade is in deficit and a shortage of Foreign Exchange weighs heavily on a government who is used to feeding on Oil Rent; Country’s Gross Official Reserves have sunk from a $122 billion in 2018 to $8.8 billion in 2020 (IMF) the ex-post reserves are blocked and even the few “friendly” countries – as China, India, and Iraq -are either unwilling or unable to release the blocked funds of an estimated $40 billion. Hence a resort to barter-trade with markets lacking the depth and breadth to provide the demanded goods.
XV. On top of the internal deficits, the international commitments of the State to its proxies in Syria, Yemen, Iraq’ Lebanon, and tens of organised groups in Africa and Latin America pose an existential threat to the strategy of the state, so much so that provision of their urgent requirements takes primacy over national needs.
XVI. It was expected that if The Democratic Party nominee prevailed, the ailing body of JCPOA might become resuscitated to life with some modifications within a few months; but if the incumbent prevailed the Policy of Maximum Pressure would continue until the clerical regime came to a new round of negotiations. The Preparation on both sides were underway and the clock was ticking.
XVII. The point is however, the fortunes of a new JCPOA for its stake-holders. Fortunes of Iranian people would be determined as the balance between two risks felt by the Islamist regime: Popular uprising on the one hand and a tactical set-back, on the other; Fortunes of the Islamist regime would depend on how much lee-way it gets to proceed towards its intended goals set in stone; and fortune of the region and the rest of the world would depend on the specifics of the “model” of the pact measuring the domain and range of parameters, defining the “frontiers” of acceptable behaviour and setting in place sets of stringent monitoring mechanisms.