The regime in Iran, under the Supreme Leader, has ruled as a theocratic government for 40 years. During that time, the Iranian people have watched their middle class disappear, natural resources exploited, and their economy become chaotic. How did it all happen?
Over the years, the regime’s domestic and foreign policies have wreaked havoc on its people, yet they continue to blame countries outside of Iran for their problems. Meanwhile, the domestic economy continues to decline, corruption is on the rise, and poverty is increasing.
Every industry and class has protested the regime’s decisions, from farmers to professionals. Complaints about wages not being paid, unsafe working conditions, and more have fueled these protests. There is a risk of prison time, torture, and other human rights abuses by the regime and its security forces for those who participate in the protests.
Yet, despite these risks, protests and uprisings continue to grow in frequency and intensity. In 2017, 2018, and 2019, uprisings threatened the authority of the regime. Oppression against their people was the only way to maintain their power, but it has cost some Iranians their lives. Those who spoke out suffered, such as the mass execution in 1988 of 30,000 political prisoners. Leaving Iran did not guarantee safety, as assassinations have been routinely carried out using their vast network of embassies and diplomats to access those speaking out against the regime and living in other countries around the globe.
Like anyone in an abusive relationship, there is a point when the Iranian people will take no more. They are fast reaching that point. “Iranian society is a powder keg on the verge of explosion,” said National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) President-elect Maryam Rajavi during an email interview with the Washington Times. “More ferocious and extensive uprisings are waiting to erupt at a moment’s notice.”
The dissident movement that has been in place for decades has played a vital role in the anti-regime protests throughout Iran in recent years. “The organized resistance movement is gaining ground and momentum is building through a rapid expansion and rise in the activities of resistance units inside Iran,” said Rajavi.
There is evidence of a seismic shift happening within Iran. Support for the regime continues to fall as fast as the Iranian currency, as the people confront the realities of decades of corruption and oppression. The international community is also showing support for the Iranian people by their attendance at the Free Iran World Summit 2021. It was held virtually over three days and included leaders and activists from around the world. Governments and international institutions were invited to the event, thus standing with the Iranian people and showing support.
One of the biggest issues on the table for the Iranian people is the election of Ebrahim Raisi as the next Iranian President. He was approved by the Supreme Leader Khamenei and had the support of various factions within the regime. Yet, among the Iranian people, he is known as the Henchman of 1988, for his participation in that mass execution.
“No other outcome could more accurately display the regime’s sheer political desperation and impending overthrow. The religious dictatorship has emerged weaker and more fragile out of its presidential elections. Raisi’s emergence shows that as the regime’s death throes begin, Khamenei cannot trust even some of his closest apparatchiks and instead needs to put someone in place who has been completely and unconditionally immersed in the brutal massacre of dissidents,” said Rajavi, before calling for Raisi to face justice in an international tribunal for his participation in the 1988 massacre, a true crime against humanity.
Within Europe, a shift is occurring against the regime and its diplomats, as the recent trial and sentencing of an Iranian diplomat for his terrorist activities demonstrated. Even after the JCPOA came into effect in 2015, the regime continued its secret activities to develop nuclear weapons. Using concessions in an attempt to bring the regime in line only resulted in more destructive activities throughout the Middle East.
“Any negotiation or cooperation with this regime would simply serve the suppression and murder of the Iranian people and facilitate the regime’s attempts to develop nuclear weapons and set the region on fire,” said Rajavi.
This year’s election of Raisi was boycotted by many Iranians, who saw it as an attempt to speak out against a regime that is not interested in reform but only interested in retaining power. The official turnout from the regime’s reporting indicates less than a 50% turnout. There have been at least four rounds of massive nationwide uprisings, thousands of ongoing protests, acts of defiance, and strikes throughout the country.
The regime under Khamenei is unable to offer any solutions to the crises facing the Iranian people from the pandemic, as well as the social and economic issues. Even those working in oil and gas are protesting lack of pay and working conditions. Only those attached to the regime are benefiting financially, but if it appears they are no longer loyal to Khamenei, then they are at risk of losing their position within the government.
Organization efforts are helping to fuel the rapid expansion of resistance units throughout the country. With the resistance achieving growing solidarity with the elected representatives throughout Europe and the United States, it is clear that a seismic change is in the air.