Iran is one of few countries in the world which currently runs on a theocratic government. It is a type of government where a religious figure rules in the name of God. It wasn’t like that until 1979 when Raza shah pahlavi a Pro US leader was overthrown with an Islamic Republic under the leadership of Ayatollah Khomeini.
Iran ranks 25th in the world by GDP, with the 14th strongest military in the world. Iran is directly challenging the superpower.
The United States put sanctions on Iran for the first time in 2006 when Iran refused to halt its uranium enrichment program. Initially, the sanctions weren’t that severe, but gradually sanctions have taken a serious toll on Iran’s economy and people. Within 3 years from 2012 to 2015, Iran’s GDP drop from $600 billion to $385 billion. In 2015, Iran agreed to limit its nuclear program in exchange for most of the sanctions on Iran were lifted. This resulted in an improvement in its GDP.
In 2018 President Donald Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal, and following US withdrawal, European Union did the same.
Trump called the agreement “a horrible one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made. It didn’t bring calm, it didn’t bring peace, and it never will.”
In 2019, a U.S. official stated that the United States will sanction whoever deals with Iran or purchases its oil. and now In August of 2020, the Trump Administration tried to extend the arms embargo on Iran.
Despite all this US isn’t Iran worse enemy, Saudi Arab is. Saudi Arab has good relations with the United States. Iran blamed Saudi of being an agent of the US in the middle east. Iran is a Shia majority country while Saudi Arab is a Sunni majority. Both are carrying out proxy wars for influence in the Middle East and surrounding regions. The two countries have provided varying degrees of support to opposing sides in nearby conflicts, including the civil wars in Syria and Yemen. The rivalry also extends to disputes in Bahrain, Lebanon, Qatar, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Morocco.
Is Iran able to survive despite US sanctions? Will Iran’s military powerful enough to cope with Saudi Arab? let’s have a look at it.
Iran is located in Western Asia, bordered by 7 countries which are Iraq, Turkey, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Turkmenistan. To the north, it is bounded by the Caspian Sea and the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman to the south. Its central location in Eurasia and proximity to the Strait of Hormuz give it significant geostrategic importance. The Strait of Hormuz is one of the most important strategic locations for International trade. Nearly all of the oil-producing countries in the middle east use this strait for international trade. 25% of global oil and one-third of liquified natural gas passes through this strait. In 2018, its daily oil flow averaged 21 million barrels per day. This strait is the most important chokepoint. If Iran somehow manages to close this strait, it would cause a global surge in the prices of oil and the consequences would be catastrophic. As a response to US sanctions, Iran has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz on multiple occasions, most notably in 2008, 2012, 2018, and 2019. Iran has conducted multiple naval exercises, displaying their naval capabilities. The United States has sent Naval Forces in the strait to protect the Ships. The presence of the U.S. Navy’s Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet has made it difficult for Iran to close the waterway.
Still, Iran can manage to seal the waterway. If Iran is to block the maritime traffic through the Strait, the violation of international norms and damage to the global economy would likely end up in international support to the U.S. acting against Iran. Iran’s use of its territorial advantages in the Strait of Hormuz is, therefore, more effective as a threat than if a complete or partial closure of the Strait is actually executed.
According to Gross Domestic Product GDP Iran ranks 25th in the world with a worth of $458 billion. Iran’s economy is predominantly based on oil and gas. With 10% of the world’s proven oil reserves and 15% of its gas reserves, Iran is considered an “energy superpower.” Out of all the Oil and petroleum countries Iran still hold 3rd largest oil reserves. The unique feature of Iran’s economy is funding by religious organizations, which contributes 20 to 30% of Iran’s GDP. These organizations are called bonyad. Iran has the world’s largest Islamic banking sector valued at 235.5 billion US dollars.
Iran’s economy keeps on fluctuating as it relations were affected by the United States. In 2012, Iran’s GDP worthed around 600 billion dollars, but in 2015 it fell to 380 billion dollars. After sanctions were lifted on Iran in 2015, it’s economy flourished and in 2017 reached 440 billion dollars. The economy decreased from 2018 and onwards as sanctions were imposed again. In 2020 Iran’s economy was badly affected by the COVID 19 outbreak. World bank report “Facing a growing pandemic, low oil prices and increasing sanctions, Iran’s GDP growth is projected to remain subdued.”
Can Iran survive US sanctions?
President Trump warned the firms in Iran to pull out from the country, but china the biggest buyer of Iranian oil looks unlikely to follow orders from trump. China’s foreign minister said, ” China will continue its normal and transparent practical operations with Iran under the premise of not violating international obligations.” In 2020 Iran and China signed a 25 years strategic partnership agreement in the trade, politics, culture, and security. the plan calls for up to $400 billion in investment spread over years. Experts believe that this agreement can be an economic lifeline for Iran, saving its sanction hit crashed economy by ensuring the sale of its oil and gas to China.
Despite being financially unstable, Iran is a major military power in the middle east. Iran’s military has been described as the Middle East’s “most powerful military force” by retired US General and former CENTCOM commander John Abizaid. Iran’s military ranks 14th in the world. The defense budget of Iran is 19.6 billion dollars, which is almost 7.5% of its total GDP. Due to sanctions, Iran is not able to buy modern weapons from the world. It had to rely on its local weapons. In 2017 Iran announced the local development of 800 Karrar advance battle tanks. It is reported that Iran is one of the five countries that had a cyber Army capable of conducting cyber warfare operations. Iran’s main deterrence is its ballistic missiles capable of hitting Israel and some parts of Europe.
Let’s look at the military strength of Iran.
Total Personnel: 873,000
Active Personnel: 523,000
Reserve Personnel: 350,000
Tank Strength: 2,056
Rocket Projector: 1,935
Armed Fighting Vehicles: 4,300
Air Strength: 509
Fighter Air Craft: 155
Naval strength 398
Iran’s military establishment, especially the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), does not depend merely on the state budget for its funding, according to the Washington-based FDD Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “The military establishment controls [one-fifth] of the market value of companies listed on the Tehran Stock Exchange and owns thousands of other companies, all of which generate revenue for the armed forces,” the FDD reported. “