Some in Tehran’s ruling circles, including former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, openly fret that the regime may collapse. Watching Nicolás Maduro’s regime flailing, Iranian officials must wonder if they are next.
President Trump is only heightening their fears. His administration has adeptly used pressure points in support of Venezuelan and Iranian regime opponents.
The Iranian dissidents confront a more uphill battle, to be sure. In Venezuela, “there’s still space for some opposition,” says Alireza Nader, president of the New Iran Foundation, a Washington-based group supporting dissidents. By contrast, he says, anti-regime Iranian leaders are instantly imprisoned, tortured and often killed.
While the Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who was sworn in as interim president, enjoys support from democracies everywhere, Iranian opposition leaders inside the country are cut down. US-based figures, like Reza Pahlavi, the son of the late shah, are popular inside — but they aren’t there.