Analysis by PMOI/MEK
Iran, December 9, 2019—In the days that followed the eruption of Iran’s November uprisings, spurred by a sudden hike in the prices of gasoline and a decades-long resentment of the population toward their tyrannical rulers, Iranian authorities tried to downplay the scale of the protests and claimed to have quickly regained control over the situation.
But the continuation of the uprising despite a brutal crackdown by Iranian security forces and a near-total internet blackout have served as a terrifying reality check for the regime’s authorities, who have now switched their rhetoric to warnings of another large-scale protest movement looming near.
Remarks by regime officials
In last week’s Friday prayers, the representatives of Iranian regime supreme leader Ali Khamenei made it clear that, in no terms, do they see the threat of the protests as having passed.
Ali Shahcheraghi, the Friday prayer leader of Shahr-e Ray, said, “When we put an incident behind, let us not think that it is finished. Let’s stay wary and keep an eye out for the enemy sitting in ambush… the riots continue in some corners [of the country].”
“In the past 40 years, the enemy has employed all its might in this regard, and experience shows that the enemy will never remain silent,” Ali Khatami, the Friday prayer leader of Zanjan, said.
Ahamd Mousavi, the Friday prayer leader of Shahreza said, “The enemies of the establishment are sitting in ambush. The sedition that happened has not ended.”
Abbas Masoumi, the Friday prayer leader of Roudian, said, “A big sedition lies ahead, which the enemy has banked on for more than two years. After Iraq and Lebanon, they will come for you. The goal is to overthrow the establishment.”
And these were just the terrified remarks of Friday prayer leaders. Everywhere you look, regime officials are, in one way or another, expressing their fear of the current situation and the prospects of more protests taking place.
In recent remarks, Mostafa Pourmohammadi, prosecutor and former justice minister of Iranian regime president Hassan Rouhani, said, “This sedition has repeatedly happened in the past and will repeat itself in the future. We must be wary… and avoid making decisions that will exacerbate the problems of the people.”
Ironically, Pourmohammadi is one of the renowned members of the “death committees,” groups of regime appointed judges who, in 1988, sent more than 30,000 political prisoners to the gallows. Pourmohammadi was among the most vocal defendants of the 1988 massacre and has time and again expressed pride in having killed thousands of MEK prisoners. But now, in light of the crisis that engulfs the regime, even Pourmohammadi is calling for caution.
Siasat-e Rooz, a state-run newspaper, drew attention to a placards held by the regime’s thugs on the Students Day ceremony in Tabriz: “Officials, wake up before the people wake you up.”
And Arman, another state-run newspaper, observed that the “life of the poor and vulnerable layers of the society has worsened” and warned, “If we don’t pay attention to what they're saying, the next round of protests will be more disastrous.”
Why so much panic and fear?
What are the facts and realities behind the terrified remarks of the regime’s authorities?
First, the regime knows that it has, in no way, been able to restore its control across the country. Despite its brutality and the killing of more than 1,000 protesters, the regime has not yet been able to quell the protests. And neither has it been able to stop the activities of the Resistance Units, which have played a pivotal role in keeping the flame of resistance and rebellion alit across the country.
The boasts about arresting the “leaders of the protests” turned out to be hollow propaganda efforts to conceal the defeat of the regime’s intelligence apparatus and the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) in maintaining the regime’s security.
Second, economic bankruptcy, poverty, unemployment, high prices and other factors that triggered the protests have not improved. On the contrary, the pressure continues to mount on a daily basis. In this regard, a regime official said, “The chain that we have thrown around our own neck becomes tighter by a link every day. One day, it will wrap around our own throats. Every link of this chain represents a part of the Iranian society.” This official, who spoke to Arman Daily, also warned that if the regime does not respond to the needs of the people, they will return to the streets.
The regime is clearly in an economic deadlock. It is in dire need money to fill a 3-trillion-rial government budget deficit. Will it raise taxes on the people? It has already seen what such a move will yield in the November uprisings. Will it instead cut back on the expenses of terrorism and meddling in the affairs of other countries? It is already losing its power in Iraq and Lebanon. Limiting resources on those fronts will cost dearly for Tehran.
Third, Rouhani and other regime leaders are already expressing concern about the upcoming parliamentary elections. Elections have historically been an environment where inner rivalries among regime factions come to a boil. Under the current circumstances, such an environment can set the spark for another round of popular protests, and even the regime's own officials don't think they can hold back another wave of public outrage.