January 3, 2018

Iran: People's Uprising Is Gaining Momentum

Vadym Volokhov

As of January 3, 2018, the situation in Iran remains very tense. In more than 1200 settlements of Iran, people took to the streets with the demands to change the country's economic and foreign policy. The mass protests of the population from large cities are spreading to sparsely populated areas, small towns and villages. The authorities there do not dare to use force and to rigorously clear away the protesters.

Unlike the unsuccessful “Green Revolution” of 2009, new and remarkable is the fact (not characteristic of Iran) of political radicalism — demands of the death of Supreme Leader (Rahbar) of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and public abuses of the clergy. Iranians burn his portraits, and this is a criminal offence in Iran. This means one and only thing — the Iranians have reached the extreme limit.

Another new phenomenon of today's protests is the government's having no supporters. The people are protesting against the policy pursued by the regime, and to clear away the protests, the regime mobilizes gangsters and criminals. The “Basij” militia (who may be criminals from prisons and bandits) on motorcycles and with clubs, chains and knives in their hands, break up protests. There are many wounded among the protesters. Police and law enforcement agencies are so far under the control of the authorities, but they are not diligent in dispersing the demonstrators.

It is not known by whom, but on 2 January national strike was announced. If the strike covers the whole country, this will mean a transition to a qualitatively new level. In addition, video clips on the Internet show that the protesters are mainly middle-aged people, not young people who dominated the spontaneous protests a few years ago.

Several large protest meetings were recorded in Tabriz, northwest of Iran (in Iranian Azerbaijan). We may predict that if protests do not stop but keep gaining momentum, there will be a risk of the social and political protests uniting or fusing with the national one which can become a double-strike explosion!

A similar situation is also in the Iranian Kurdistan, where 8 million Kurds are dissatisfied with Tehran's policy and have not given up the idea of an independent Kurdistan.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei
Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei

In the Iranian media there were appeals and speeches by central government officials. Thus, according to the Iranian “Mehr” News Agency, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has commented on the events of the last days and stated that “the enemies are trying to use every opportunity to harm the Iranian people using weapons and money”. He has directly accused Israel, the United States and Saudi Arabia of organizing mass protests in the country.

The “Tasnim News” Agency issued a statement by former Iran's Defense Minister and now Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council of Iran, Ali Shamkhani, in which he warned Saudi Arabia that Iran would respond to its actions “and it (Saudi Arabia — transl.) knows how serious it may be”. He also assured that the protests would be over in a few days.

The head of Tehran's Revolutionary Court Mousa Ghazanfarabadi, in his turn, warned the protesters that they all would be “severely punished”. And we know that the clerical regime, in case of a direct danger to its existence, will not stop at anything and will be ready to resort to mass shootings of demonstrators.

According to the “Al Mayadeen” TV channel, the IRGC Spokesman Brigadier General Ramazan Sharif said that the security forces were well coping with their duties and that there was no need for the IRGC forces' interference with the events.

The authorities are trying to immediately gather the session of the IRI Mejlis (Parliament) and invite public figures, but unsuccessful so far.

 

So, today's events in Iran more and more remind of the events of the 1979 revolution, when the whole people of Iran rose up against the Shah's regime. The development of the events within the next few days will show what can be expected.

The key problem is the lack of organization and protest leaders. The situation may change if one of the prominent politicians leads the protests and strives to steer the country out of the stalemate situation.