After four decades in power, the Islamic Republic is at a crossroads.
Demonstrations have become a reality of daily life. Iranians routinely voice their furious dissatisfaction over the economy, inflation, high unemployment, corruption, currency devaluation, empty promises, lies and deceit. The Islamic Republic has depicted their incompetence when it comes to management.
In the past four decades, the Islamic regime has managed to ruin Iran’s relationship with the free world by choosing to build close relations with Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Assad regime.
Recent estimates suggest oil exports have dipped well below 500,000 bpd and steep discounts are almost necessary to find buyers. At this juncture, the regime has nowhere to go: it needs funds to keep the government running, but with falling oil and gas revenues, Iran’s economy has quickly deteriorated. As a result, the regime has resorted to desperate acts to rally some international support. A notable example: last summer’s Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea in Kazakhstan. This convention is vague about the littoral states’ specific rights to the sea. Most importantly, Iran forfeits much of its previous share to the sea’s resources. This forfeiture comes as the Islamic Republic desperately needs diplomatic support from Russia during this current period of international isolation.
Given Iran’s extensive experience with Russian deceitful behavior, Iranians are rightfully distressed over the convention’s vague components.
In 1921, Iran signed a treaty with the Soviet Union, which granted each nation equal rights to the Caspian Sea for the purpose of resource use and shipping. At the time, neither country was aware of seabed resources, which are estimated at some 48 billion barrels of oil and 292 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
Under the recent convention, Iran would now share its rights to the sea with all of the other littoral states, significantly decreasing its interests. Iranians wisely ask why their share of the sea should be shared with the independent ex-Soviet states. And it does not stop there. Iran will get the smallest share of the sea and the part that includes insignificant or scant resources, according to experts.
This agreement is expected to ease regional tensions, and could accelerate the development of lucrative gas and oil projects, but all at Iran’s expense. Of course, Russia is the clear winner of the convention as it both restricts foreign navies from entering the sea and obtains the right to position naval assets in the sea as it wishes. Russia also gains 10% of Kazakhstan’s share and 5% of Azerbaijan’s share of seabed resources. This convention was drafted by the Russians. Furthermore, since the convention does not define the Caspian Sea as a sea or a lake, it is not governed by UNCLOS or any other relevant international agreement.
This despicable agreement exemplifies why Iranians have lost faith and respect for their rulers and demand systemic change. We strongly condemn any ratification of this convention by the Islamic parliament, as it would be a national tragedy.
Dr. Saeed Ganji
National Union For Democracy in Iran
President & Chairman