Israel’s intelligence agencies have devoted most of their efforts, budgets and energy for the past two decades to monitoring developments in Iran. While much of the emphasis has been placed on Iran’s nuclear ambitions, weekly discussions and assessments have also been devoted to the stability of the ayatollahs’ regime and prospects of its survival. One of the last optimistic assessments on this score — from Israel’s point of view — was voiced in 2002 by outgoing Mossad Director Efraim Halevy, who predicted that the regime in Tehran was near collapse.
In the ensuing 20 years, at least five Mossad directors and five prime ministers have come and gone in Israel, but Iran’s top leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, continues to hold the reins of power. Only now, 35 years since taking office, are some Israeli experts daring to voice guarded optimism regarding changes in Tehran.