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In wake of recent protests, Iran’s regime struggles to regain its balance

Intense crackdown in Iran
Intense crackdown in Iran

Analysis by PMOI/MEK

Iran, November 23, 2019—The regime of Iran continues to reel in the aftermath of the protests that have shaken the country in the past week. The regime’s waning control across the country manifested itself during Friday prayers, where the representatives of the supreme leader Ali Khamenei reflect his views on the situation in the country.

Following Khamenei’s dictates, the Friday prayer leaders tried to show sympathy with the impoverished masses who poured into the streets during the protests and feign agreement with “peaceful criticism” of the regime's decision to increase gasoline prices. At the same time, these regime officials tried to separate the protesters from the people. Parroting Khamenei’s lines, they described the protesters as “thugs” and thanked the regime’s suppressive forces for cracking down on the protests.

Iranian officials express fear

Interestingly, while Friday prayer leaders were instructed to try to pretend the regime was in control of the situation, they couldn’t hide their fear of the implications of the latest round of protests, which continue to this day.

Ahmad Khatami, the Friday prayer leader of Tehran, alluded to the role of the PMOI/MEK in the protests and said, “They themselves had said that they had prepared three years in advance. They had trained people outside and inside the country.”

Khatami added, “They damaged the security, they imposed thousands of billions of tomans in damage. All factions within the establishment agree that we must stand against the thugs. They are outlaws, they are mohareb [meaning people who wage war on God]. They must be chased house to house. They must be presented to the authorities and punished in the most severe way.”

Ahmad Alamolhoda, the Friday prayer leader of Mashhad, admitted that the main constituents of the protests were impoverished people and said, “The impoverished people who are living on the margins of cities are living in very tough conditions. These poor people came to protest and the enemy took advantage of the situation.”

Some of the regime’s authorities compared the situation to the eight-year war with Iraq. Mohammad Mehdi Hosseini Hamedani, the Friday prayer leader of Karaj, compared Khamenei’s acceptance of the increase of gasoline prices to the acceptance of ceasefire with Iraq in 1988 by Ruhollah Khomeini, the regime’s founder. “The latest sedition was like the chalice of poison that the leader of the Revolution accepted at that time. This is how the security of the country was preserved and the collapse of the government and parliament was prevented.” In 1988, Khomeini, who had vowed to fight against Iraq to the last brick in Tehran, had described the ceasefire as a “chalice of poision.”

Yusef Tabatabai Nejad, the Friday prayer leader of Isfahan, reflected the regime’s utter fear of the protesters' attacks on the regime’s centers of suppression and corruption. Tabatabai Nejad demanded security forces to prevent attacks on military centers.

Aside from the regime’s Friday prayer leaders, other officials also confessed to the regime’s horror of the ongoing situation.

Ali Fadavi, the deputy commander of the terrorist-designated Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), compared Iran’s latest protests to the Karbala 4 operation (during the Iran-Iraq war), in which the regime suffered heavy losses. “It was a 48-hour battle,” he said.

Ali Rabiei, the spokesperson of regime president Hassan Rouhani, said, “[The protesters] were targeting military and security centers… they created chaos and returned to their hideouts.”

Hesamodin Ashna, Rouhani’s advisor and former deputy intelligence minister, compared the protests to the Eternal Light operation of the MEK in 1988, when the Iranian opposition launched a massive military assault against the regime and brought it on the verge of downfall. “They thought they had launched Eternal Light No. 2,” Ashna said.

Other Iranian officials went further and described the regime’s survival as divine intervention. “There was incredible coordination during the protests. They were just waiting for a spark to destroy the entire country. Further information will be revealed after the arrested confess,” said Salar Abnoush, a senior IRGC commander. Abnoush added, “We had seen miracles in the revolution and during the sedition, but this sedition was of a different scale… as a person who was on the ground, I believe that God saved us.”

The implications of recent protests

Despite the regime’s attempted show of force, we can draw some clear conclusions from the current situation:

  • The regime failed miserably at containing the protests and the rage of the people. Contrary to previous uprisings, there was no element of surprise in this round of protests. The regime already knew that the price hike would result in mass protests, proven by extensive security measures it took in the days prior to declaring the decision. The regime even delayed the implementation of the gasoline price increase by two months to further have time to prepare for the definite backlash it was expecting. Security forces were dispatched in gas stations, government buildings and other sensitive locations. But despite all these measures, the regime failed in preventing the devastating effects of the uprising.
  • The people of Iran are determined to overthrow the regime. The large number of cities that took part in the protests, the slogans targeted directly at Khamenei, and the people’s courage in confronting the repressive security forces prove that the people are fed up with this regime and want to get rid of it in its entirety.
  • Regardless of the ups and downs that the Iranian uprising will face in the future, neither the people nor the regime will return to their previous status. As Iranian resistance leader Massoud Rajavi has said, the people of Iran and the Resistance Units will determine the fate of their nation.