To do a color revolution, you generally need:
- Significant proportion of the population going out into the streets (not just university students and office plankton).
- Some degree of elite defection.
Trump’s bombast regardless – congratulations to him on learning Farsi and becoming an Iran expert in the past 48 hours – I don’t see either being true. As I noted in December 2017, the (mostly emigre and Anglophone) Iranians (as well as Chinese, Russians, etc.) on Twitter or /r/Iran are not “normie” Iranians. For instance, Soleimani had an approval rating of 82% as of August 2019. I don’t see how whacking him would have made them more sympathetic to the US.
- ~75% oppose ending nuclear enrichment
- 38% blame foreign sanctions for Iran’s economic decline, vs. 55% who blame mismanagement and corruption (but there’s no different amongst the two groups on the nuclear question)
- 86% negative towards the US… so Trump getting involved isn’t going to do the protests any good
- 64% approve of Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi, “the conservative candidate for president in 2017″… above the “liberal” Rouhani.
- 81% of Iranians think the IRGC have “have made Iran more secure.”
The only elite faction that may have a chance of implementing a coup are the IRGC… indeed, Soleimani himself reportedly threatened to do that unless the government put down student protests in 1999. Needless to say, an IRGC-led Iran can hardly be expected to be more amenable to US diktats than the mullahs.
Finally, the reasons for the recent protests strike me as uniquely lame and unconvincing. The US took 8 years to compensate the victims of the Iranian airliner downed by the USS Vincennes in 1988 (without ever acknowledging formal responsibility). Iran acknowledged its guilt within 3 days. Considering that you need to make split second decisions in air defence, it is tragic but not altogether incomprehensible that one SA-15 battery faltered. Considering who began this escalation, the US must be considered at least equally culpable for the downing of PS752.
And from what I can tell, the protesters, such as they are, are 9% university students where they are not 90% astroturfed. It would be very surprising if it was otherwise, given the above polls. And the fact of America’s implacable hostility to Iran under Trump.
I certainly don’t expect anything interesting to come out of them except a new round of atrocity propaganda (anybody seriously believe the figure of 1,500 killed in the recent protests?).