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Iran’s regime is at dead end in dealing with social protests

Protest of retirees in 28 cities checkered across Iran against regime’s institutionalized lootings and corruption – Sunday March 7, 2021.
Protest of retirees in 28 cities checkered across Iran against regime’s institutionalized lootings and corruption – Sunday March 7, 2021.

Analyzing by PMOI/MEK

Iran, March 10, 2021—Last week on Sunday, March 7, deprived and angry retirees took to the streets in 28 cities across the country shouted anger and protest.

Referring to the corrupt economic policies of the regime, which have resulted to utter poverty and deprivation for the people, the protesters chanted: "The result of the government's work, looting the nation's money" and "Our country is sitting on treasure, but the retired are living in misery." The retirees also referred to the resistance of the Iranian people to oppression and looting, and shouted, "Retirees are awake and they hate injustice." They also exposed the deception of the mullahs with the slogan "Our enemy is right here; they are lying that it is America."

This is the seventh nationwide protest rally of retirees in the past three months. This is a nationwide movement that is constantly spreading in more and more cities, and the number of rebellious people participating is increasing at every rally.

Fearing the consequences of taking repressive action against the rallies, the regime had stayed its hand until this week and did not dare send security forces to crack down the nationwide protests of retirees. Instead, the regime tried to prevent rallies and demonstrations by threatening and intimidating the pensioners. But having realized that threats will not deter the protesters in their demands, the regime revealed its true colors this week, sending security forces to suppress people who have spent decades serving the public and are now demanding their most basic rights to carry out a decent minimum living. In Shahrud, the regime sent guards and plainclothes agents to suppress the deprived and protesting retirees. But these attacks met with resistance and outrage.

The growing number of nationwide protests is a manifestation of widespread anger in an oppressed and looted society in which "child sales (due to poverty) have reached catastrophic point and retirees and low-income employees have removed meat, poultry, and fruit from their diet," according the state-run daily Arman on March 6.

This is the disastrous situation of a country that, according to the Iran Daily website in June 2015, is “one of the most important holders of minerals in the world with 68 types of minerals, 37 billion tons of proven reserves and more than 57 billion tons of potential reserves worth $770 billion in 2014 and is among the 15 largest mineral-rich countries in the world.”

But due to institutionalized corruption in the regime, even “vegetable oil has become rare in the country,” according to a March 8 piece by the daily Arman. The state-run newspaper added in its report: “Buying bread on loans and installments has become a common practice and officials' eyes are accustomed watching garbage gatherers.”

This paper continued to criticize the situation and wrote “a capital that should be spent on living with dignity is spent by some officials in luxury houses in Turkey, Greece, etc.”

In a society of 80 million people fed up with the mullahs’ rule, "workers' wages are not even enough for a week" and "employers say that they are breaking down under the frustration of rising inflation and cannot pay their workers," according to the Jahan-e Sanat, March 7.

In this plundered land, "suddenly the price of a house rises a thousandfold," and "in one night all the savings of many years become worthless with the devaluation of the national currency," according to Mostaghel daily. Salaries are in Rials, but one must buy all goods at dollar prices. People get poorer every day. Even those workers who have not yet joined the army of the unemployed and are still receiving salaries below the poverty line don’t even know if they will have work the next day or be expelled.

The result of unimaginable poverty and misery resulting from 42 years of mullahs’ dictatorship is a highly inflamed society that shows its rage in the continuation of protests by deprived classes, such as the recent uprisings in Sistan and Baluchestan.

This explosive situation has now become a nightmare for regime Supreme leader Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani. It is not without reason that Khamenei is shedding crocodile tears for the people, feigning sympathy by saying, "Unfortunately, the living conditions of the people are not good today! This is a great sorrow for us! The costs are high.” Meanwhile, Rouhani admitted on March 7 that "management of prices is not done properly and has put pressure on people's living conditions." Rouhani then warned regime factions competing for a bigger share of national wealth, saying, "The current situation in the country, especially the economic situation and the livelihood of the people, requires that disputes be settled.” He further suggested to avoid  “actions, behaviors, and words that undermine the security and social trust of the people and causes destructive and pessimistic waves!" Basically, Rouhani was implying that instead of quarreling among themselves, regime factions should unite to face the growing public outrage at the regime.

For three months, the mullahs’ regime has been witnessing that even the coronavirus outbreak is not preventing social protests. The people feel the struggle with growing poverty and hunger threatens their lives far more than the virus.

Now the regime is at a crossroads: to either suppress the protests or ignore them. Suppressing protests will result in more radicalized protest movement, especially as was shown in Baluchestan, where the regime  saw how repressive action such as killing deprived fuel porters led to fiery uprisings for a week.

Meanwhile, waiting out and doing nothing will result in the growing spread of protests, especially as virtually every segment of the society have grievances that they want addressed. This is what has happened during the last three months, as more and more people are taking to the streets to show their protest to the regime’s corrupt and destructive policies. The regime also knows that the process of the expansion of the protests and their growing frequency can eventually converge to a nationwide uprising that will dwarf the protests of January 2018 and November 2019.

Therefore, for the regime, the crossroads is in fact a dead end. Both paths will lead to more uprisings and protests. The regime is incapable of handling its social and economic crises and this will lead to its overthrowing.