Conflict: The Iran Regime and its Citizens

Posted on 12/27/2021, 2:20:05 PM by Kaslin

In July, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) hosted a three-day conference to discuss the future of the Islamic Republic and the prospects for a change of government facilitated by the domestic activist community. Those prospects already appeared substantial in the wake of the previous month’s boycott of the country’s presidential election, which reportedly caused voter turnout to be the lowest in the four-decade history of the clerical regime.

The boycott inspired NCRI members and supporters to conclude that pressure on the regime had not been seriously alleviated over the past year in spite of the fact that the coronavirus pandemic caused a decline in large-scale public unrest. Prior to the pandemic, Iran was experiencing a virtually unprecedented growth in that unrest, with one nationwide uprising encompassing more than 100 localities in January 2018 and another being nearly twice as large in November 2019.

Both uprisings featured slogans like “death to the dictator” which evoked public support for the goal of regime change. This message was reinforced afterwards by smaller-scale demonstrations and by the boycott not only of the presidential election but also earlier elections for parliament seats and governorships. In each case, “Resistance Units” affiliated with the NCRI’s main constituent group, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (PMOI/MEK), promoted non-participation as a means for Iranian citizens to “vote for regime change.”

The MEK’s influence over those boycotts was clearly an extension of the influence it had demonstrated in the midst of the uprisings. Although regime authorities had long sought to dismiss the democratic opposition as poorly organized and lacking in popular support, this narrative effectively evaporated in 2018 when Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei acknowledged that the MEK had “planned for months” to popularize anti-government slogans and lead protests in every province.

This message was reinforced by Khamenei and others in the context of the subsequent uprising, and even after that movement was suppressed via an extraordinary outpouring of violence, authorities continued to warn about the potential for the MEK to lead further protests and continue expanding its social profile. Such warnings persisted even during the pandemic-related downturn, and have since been proven prescient by new waves of protests.

While many of those protests have been focused on specific grievances such as poverty-level government wages, poor resource management, water shortages, and blackouts, many of them have still featured the demands for regime change that defined the uprisings in 2018 and 2019. Those demands have also been repeated by Resistance Units in the form of public displays that risk arrest for their creators by featuring images of Mrs. Rajavi, or by burning pre-existing public images of the supreme leader.

Behind all of these activities, there appears to be a growing sense that the problems currently facing Iranian society can only be solved through the ouster of the clerical dictatorship. Mrs. Rajavi highlighted this perception in the July conference and concluded that it would be a driving force behind the unprecedented increase of “hostility and enmity between the Iranian regime and society” throughout the year to come.

In offering that prediction, she recognized and praised the very same trends that regime authorities had recognized with a sense of mounting dread. The regime and the Resistance appear to be in agreement about the vulnerability of the clerical dictatorship, though the former is working to conceal it while the latter is working to exploit it. The outcome of this competition may very soon be determined by whether Iran’s foreign adversaries are also able to recognize the same vulnerability, and whether they choose to facilitate Tehran’s concealment or to join the NCRI in adding to pressure on the regime.

Such recognition shouldn’t be difficult to achieve. The Iranian regime’s actions both at home and abroad have frequently betrayed its own vulnerability for all to see. Even the installation of Ebrahim Raisi as president, over the clear objections of the Iranian people, was indicative of just how much the regime felt threatened by the recent growth of unrest.Raisi’s primary claim to fame is as one of the leading perpetrators of a massacre of 30,000 political prisoners in the summer of 1988, and this legacy of human rights abuses was reinforced during the 2019 uprising, when Raisi was elevated to the presidency.

Even the installation of Ebrahim Raisi as president, over the clear objections of the Iranian people, was indicative of just how much the regime felt threatened by the recent growth of unrest.

Raisi’s primary claim to fame is as one of the leading perpetrators of a massacre of 30,000 political prisoners in the summer of 1988, and this legacy of human rights abuses was reinforced during the 2019 uprising, when Raisi oversaw key aspects of the crackdown as head of the judiciary. His ascension to the presidency was characterized by Mrs. Rajavi as an emerging source of the aforementioned “hostility and enmity.” And even before Raisi was inaugurated in August, the growth of unrest lent support to that conclusion.

Of course, Supreme Leader Khamenei wouldn’t have chosen Raisi as president if he did not believe that the “butcher of 1988” would be capable of overcoming that unrest. But his ability to do so may depend in large part on whether the international community choses to turn a blind eye to his culpability for crimes against humanity, or whether it opts instead to exert more pressure on his administration and on the regime itself.

Only by adopting the latter option will Western powers be fulfilling their solemn duty to safeguard human rights for vulnerable groups throughout the world. But what is just as important is the fact that this strategy will challenge Tehran’s longstanding impunity and thus make it less likely that the regime will expand its nuclear activities, its financing of international terrorism, or any of its other malign activities.

Beyond that, new international pressure on the Iranian regime would go a long way toward supporting the democratic opposition in its efforts to facilitate regime change. This goal has been absent from Western policymaking for a very long time, but the ongoing trend of domestic unrest in the Islamic Republic should awaken lawmakers to the fact that regime change is closer at hand than ever before, and more attainable than many observers ever thought possible.

Iran has Taken Over Syrian Golan Heights

Veteran journalist and Middle East analyst Ehud Yaari recently came out with the disturbing statement that just across the northern border, the Iranian military is becoming firmly entrenched in the Syrian Golan. Yaari noted that for the past two months, these combined forces besieged the city of Daraa, occasionally shelling the city. Inside the city are rebel groups who refuse to surrender. The Syrian army intends to exile the rebels to the Turkish-controlled region to the north. Russian attempts at mediation have failed.

Daraa holds particular significance as it was the scene of the first protests against the Assad regime in 2011.

The tense situation threatens to explode at any moment. Another Syrian army bombardment of Daraa on Sunday killed six rebels. The Syrian army declined to comment on the reports but said in a statement it was losing patience with what it called “armed groups and terrorists” in the neighborhood.

Syria loomed as a belligerent threat to Israel until its civil war began a decade ago. But Yaari claims that even in its weakened state, it is still a threat Israel would be reluctant to aggravate. concern.

Though Jordan has expressed a willingness to renew ties with Syria, a powerful Iranian-Hezbollah threat on its border is unappealing to King Abdullah according to Yaari. He claimed that the Syrian army’s 4th and 7th divisions are now essentially controlled by Iran and Hezbollah, further amplifying the threat to Jordan.

Yaari notes that the situation has become even more complex as Israel cannot depend on US support under the Biden administration. The prospect of a dominant Iranian military presence in the Golan is, of course, unacceptable to Israel but with Russia firmly entrenched with the Khmeimim Air Base in Latakia, the IDF is limited in its ability to act against the Iranian presence.

“Israeli efforts to disrupt, prevent or delay the deployment of Iran and Hezbollah in the Syrian Golan region has not been completely successful,” Yaari said.“They’ve inserted themselves into the Syrian army’s nervous system – its chain of command – and into the everyday lives of the local population.”

Israel is caught in a delicate balancing act, caught between Russia, Syria, Hezbollah, and Iran. Yaari warned that a Hezbollah rocket attack targeting Israeli cities could be the match that sparks a major inferno in the region.

“Iran knows that once it erects a military outpost in the area, the IDF will not hesitate to strike,” he explained.“If Israel does not act soon, Iran and Hezbollah will establish a significant military presence in the Golan,” he concluded.

“The result will be that due to tacit approval of the other powers, through cunning and sophistication, Iran will continue to turn the Syrian Golan and the Houran in southern Syria into a branch of the Lebanese front line,” Yaari wrote. “Hezbollah and its patrons will be deployed from the Yarmouk River to the Mediterranean. Putin, despite his promises, is not thwarting this plan and Assad will certainly not stand up to those who saved him from an uprising that began a decade ago and has yet to subside.”

Yaari’s analysis was supported by a recent report published by a Turkish think tank that claimed that Iran has doubled its presence in southern Syria’s Golan Heights, while building military infrastructure in the region, specifically for a future conflict with Israel.

Adam Berkowitz

Iran is the World’s Greatest Executioner

As the leading executioner per capita in the world, it is perhaps appropriate that a notorious killer, known as ‘The Butcher of Tehran,’ has ascended to the presidency. Following his rigged election, Ebrahim Raisi was inaugurated as president on August 5th. Listed as an international terrorist in the USA, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have called for his indictment for violations of human rights and crimes against humanity. He has boasted of his role as a member of the ‘Death Commission’ appointed by the then Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini in 1988, which oversaw the massacre of more than 30,000 political prisoners, mostly supporters of the People’s Mojahedin of Iran (PMOI-MEK) opposition movement. For his work as a ruthless executioner, Raisi was promoted to the position of Tehran Prosecutor in 1989, where he earned his ‘butcher’ sobriquet. He held that position for five years. In 2012 he became Deputy Head of the Judiciary. Raisi became head of Iran’s Judiciary in March 2019. Since then, he has directed the execution of 281 people in 2019, and 251 people in 2020, and 220 executions in the first eight months of 2021, including 23 in the first two weeks of August alone, according to the NCRI.

Three prisoners were hanged on the eve of Raisi’s inauguration, bringing to at least 22, the number of prisoners executed since July 23. From June 19, when the fake elections installed Raisi as the regime’s new president, and Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei replaced him as the new Judiciary Chief, at least 62 prisoners have been executed. The intensification of executions, particularly of political prisoners and opponents of the theocratic regime, is a favorite tool of repression used by the mullahs to frighten the population into submission. But ongoing mass uprisings in Khuzestan Province, where water shortages have caused a crisis and protesters have been gunned down by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, the regime’s Gestapo, have sparked huge street demonstrations in towns and cities across Iran, in solidarity with their Khuzestan cousins. Clearly the people have lost their fear of this repressive regime and are determined to see it overthrown.

It was an utter disgrace that some Western nations sent senior representatives to Tehran to attend Raisi’s inauguration. The mullahs trumpeted that the ceremony was attended by 10 presidents, 20 speakers of parliament, 11 foreign ministers, 10 other ministers, envoys of presidents, vice presidents and parliamentary delegations. The heads and officials of 11 international and regional organizations also attended, as did the representative of the UN Secretary-General, the President of OPEC and officials from the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), the European Union, the Eurasian Economic Union, the Parliamentary Union of the OIC Member States, the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) and the D-8 Organization for Economic Cooperation. Such a cringing act of appeasement to a regime that continues to finance proxy wars across the Middle East, sponsors terrorism internationally and has become a pariah state, is simply unacceptable.

The ceremony took place less than a week after a British and a Romanian national were killed in an Iranian drone strike on an Israel-operated oil tanker in the Arabian sea. In February this year, Assadollah Assadi, an accredited Iranian diplomat, was sentenced to 20 years jail in a Belgian court, after he was caught red-handed in a terrorist bomb plot. Assadi flew to Vienna from Tehran in a commercial airliner, with a fully primed bomb in his diplomatic pouch. He and his co-conspirators had planned to kill leading European and international political figures at an Iranian opposition rally in Paris. His murderous plot must have been condoned by the clerical regime’s leadership. Assadi’s jailing followed the expulsion of the Iranian Ambassador and First Secretary from Albania, for plotting to bomb an MEK gathering.

Repeated intelligence briefings have exposed how the mullahs have accelerated their race to build a nuclear weapon, enriching uranium to 60 percent purity, a hair’s breadth away from weapons grade, while building ballistic missiles capable of reaching Tel Aviv. The theocratic regime’s estimated $16 billion support for Bashar al-Assad’s bloody civil war in Syria, their provision of money and arms to the Houthi rebels in Yemen, their sponsorship of the brutal Shi’ia militias in Iraq, the terrorist Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza, should all have provided Western nations with pause for thought before accepting invitations to attend Raisi’s inauguration. But after each Iranian outrage there is an ominous silence from the West. The EU made no comment following the jailing of the Iranian diplomat and when criticized for failing to condemn a state-sponsored plot to kill and maim European citizens, lamely replied that they could not comment on the court proceedings of individual EU Member States. Such kow-towing acquiescence has simply emboldened the mullahs to further aggression abroad and repression at home.

It is surely unthinkable that the West should waste any further energy on trying to resurrect the defunct Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal? Talks in Vienna have stalled at Iran’s insistence that all sanctions imposed by former president Donald Trump under his ‘maximum pressure’ campaign must be lifted before any negotiations can take place. The deal was a failure from the outset and never stopped the mullahs’ efforts to build a nuclear bomb. Lifting sanctions would simply re-energize the corrupt regime, re-invigorating their sponsorship of proxy wars and international terrorism.

With protesters chanting “Death to the Dictator” and “Mullahs must get lost,” the time has come for appeasement to end and for Western nations to demand the indictment and prosecution of Ebrahim Raisi and the other mass murderers who have ruled Iran for the past four decades. Turning a blind eye to the brutal suppression and escalating death toll in Iran simply provides impunity to this criminal regime, encouraging them to slaughter more people.

Struan Stevenson,

The Mullahs Have Lost the Iranian People

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.

Hanid Emeyat