Barbara Slavin writes in The American Conservative (abridged):
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has pleaded for medical supplies and a suspension of American sanctions to allow Iran to more effectively combat the virus. So far, however, support for Iran has come mainly from the country that was the source of the pandemic—China.
It would be a true silver lining if COVID-19 were to trigger an outbreak of global diplomacy, including between the U.S. and Iran.
Unfortunately, tensions have only risen following a new spate of tit-for-tat attacks between Iran-backed militias and U.S. forces in Iraq. And while the Treasury Department has taken several steps to ease financial transactions for the supply of medicine and medical devices to Iran, there have been no indications that the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” policy is being reconsidered
It appears that the crisis will only push Iran deeper into the arms of China and Russia and strengthen those in the regime who reject reconciliation with the West. The Revolutionary Guards, who are handling much of the response to the virus and building emergency medical facilities, will grow even more powerful as Iran comes to look less and less like a theocracy with a thin republican veneer and more like a military dictatorship.
The likelihood of massive protests also seems slim given government directives to stay home and rational fears that mass gatherings will only spread the virus.
Barbara Slavin directs the Future of Iran Initiative at the Atlantic Council and tweets @BarbaraSlavin1.