The Persian empire was almost invincible at the time. It was expanding, conquering neighboring countries, confronting other empires, and ruling over foreign people without really understanding what makes them tick.

Nowadays it looks quite the same. Iran is ruling over Iraq, parts of Afghanistan, and de facto over Lebanon and Yemen, has ruling influence on Oman and Gaza. Iran has strongholds in Africa and South America and is considered a nuclear threshold country if there is such a thing. Like always, when something grows out of proportion, you will find cracks. If it were a life-form, you’d claim that the circulation is not sufficient, that the blood is not reaching all extremities, and that there is no oxygen supply for the inner organs. The fact is, that the Iranian regime has lost the grip on the population. There are more and more upheavals, protests on the streets in provinces, shortage of water and electricity, and above all, an economic disaster when people lose all faith in local currency. The Iranian worker asks himself, how come my government invests in wars in Syria and Lebanon, sends weapons and ammunition to Yemen, paid from taxpayers’ money, but doesn’t provide medical care or even drinking water to whole provinces.

The human rights situation is a catastrophe, that of women above any other. Not only do they suffer abuse and discrimination, they are brutally beaten if they speak against it, ever so often with a lethal outcome. The population has long lost faith in their leaders, refusing to take part in elections, especially as candidates who criticize the regime are simply rejected by an organizing committee. In fact, any serious opposition is taken into the Evin prison, tortured, and executed, almost 900 known cases over the last year.

First signs of serious mutiny are seen in far-off provinces. Only very little reaches the media, as was in the case of the attack on an IRGC facility in the cities of Rask and Chabahar in the province of Sistan and Balochistan. The Sunni organization called Dschaisch al-Adl took responsibility for the at least 20 dead, although the number is not important. The idea of local combatants fighting against the Shiite regime hitting their strongest units, not their weak-points, makes it clear, that this is meant to overthrow the Mullahs.
Protests and riots in Khuzestan and Khorasan province are not considered news, but reoccurring phenomenon the regime has to get used to. After Mahsa Amini, the Kurdish province is in constant unrest, and now the Tabriz area is going to be a problem too. The big cities already show advanced signs of unrest, of discontent, and anger, not breaking out yet, but smoldering slowly, waiting for the right moment.

Meanwhile, the regime tried the old trick of “united under a common threat”. Directly hitting US facilities in the area didn’t do it, supplying Russia with drones and missiles didn’t do it, so Iran decided to sponsor a little Middle-Eastern war. Acting through proxies, Iran will get the undivided attention of the administration and after a slap on the hands, the Iranian leadership thought it might be able to face the United States as an equal, negotiating on Middle-Eastern peace, or at least a non-aggression pact.

Very soon the little war turned into a world-wide reported spectacle, a hot spot of interest that included cruelties that Iran didn’t want to take part in. Hezbollah was told to do only what was needed, the Houthis were sent to rearrange safety measures in the Red Sea region and Iran took the back stage. Soon enough the US knocked at their door, starting to negotiate the new order in the region. This could have played very much the way the Mullahs planned.

It all changed when Israel decided to “out” Iran’s involvement, making Iran pay the price. Anyone connected to the Iranian scheme was put on a short-list, and people started dying. Recently the IRGC commander of Lebanon and Syria (as if Lebanon and Syria were provinces of Iran, or are they) and his second in command was assassinated in Syria, which apart from weakening the status of Iran in the region and a statement to the fact that nobody is safe, forces Iran to take the center stage.

Now Iran has to choose whether to retaliate or to play the game. Iran has a lot to lose and very little to rely on. Nasrallah and Hezbollah have to cope with heavy criticism coming from the local population, fearing the destruction they see in Gaza. Syria couldn’t keep it together if it weren’t for Russia and frankly had enough of Iranian intervention on her soil. Assad is starting to plan ahead, reorganize, and stand on his own. Yemen, on the other hand, is just another arm of Iran.

Time is running out and Iran is not really capable to plan, train, and produce a successful terror attack on an Israeli Embassy. So, all they can do is some kind of missile attack or drone swarm from either Iranian soil or from one of the new provinces, like Syria or Iraq. This is very tricky, as failure might bring not only a slap on the hands from the US but a complete stop of negotiation and a further collapse from within while losing face in all proxy countries. The fact that President Biden is addressing the subject straight on and warning Iran, doesn’t help Khamenei make a decision. Soon we’ll know.

Could it be that the gamble of October 7th was the beginning of the end of the Iranian mullah’s dream ?