Protests in Iran

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Political Observation - Protests in Iran

The protests in Iran have entered their second week since the 22-year-old girl Mahsa Amini was killed after she was arrested by the “moral police” for wearing “inappropriate clothes”. The Iranian opposition mentioned that the young girl, who came from the Kurdish region of Iran, had received a blow to the head which plunged her into a coma for three days before she died. America did not shy away from openly backing these protests; the US State Department stressed that it “supports the rights of Iranians to peacefully assemble and express themselves, without fear of violence and detention by security forces.” It also explicitly stated it “will be able to provide more digital services to people in Iran, from access to cloud computing services to better tools to enhance their online security and privacy.” Antony Blinken for his part tweeted on 23 September, “We took action today to advance Internet freedom and the free flow of information for the Iranian people, issuing a General License to provide them greater access to digital communications to counter the Iranian government’s censorship.”

Consequently, the US Treasury issued a host of directions “to expand the free flow of information and access to fact-based information to people in Iran consistent with the new ways people use the Internet today.” For his part, SpaceX founder Elon Musk said he would activate the firm's satellite internet service, Starlink, in response to the Iranian government’s restrictions to prevent the opposition from disseminating news and clips condemning the police forces and Revolutionary Guards. The Iranian interior minister, Ahmed Wahidi, said “some social networking sites have directed the riots and ignited the fires”; he clarified that “several stages of the riot acts were the result of training received from those sites,” stressing that the interior ministry has “applied some restrictions on social media to preserve the security of the country and the safety of the masses.” As for the Iranian army, it issued a communiqué on Friday 23 September in which it stated “these desperate acts constitute part of an evil strategy by the enemy to weaken the Islamic system” and “the army will resist them.”

What is remarkable is that the protests and demonstrations were portrayed as a "revolution against the hijab", and against Khamenei's government. Videos circulating on social media showed women in gatherings taking off their headscarves and then burning them.

The clips also showed protesters in Tehran and other cities setting fire to police stations and their vehicles, and even an exchange of fire, despite the campaign of arrests and killings carried out by the security forces against demonstrators.

On the other hand, the Iranian regime mobilised its supporters on Friday, September 23, in counterdemonstrations in support of the wearing of the hijab, chanting: "The call to abolish the veil is an implementation of the policy of the Americans."

It is no secret the protests in Iran this time differ from what was witnessed in 2009, in what was known as the "Green Movement" and the demands of which were political, or the 2018 and 2019 demonstrations which had economic demands after the rise in gasoline prices. These recent protests bear a cultural character, dominated by the removal and burning of the hijab which represents religious symbolism, in addition to burning pictures of Khamenei and Qassem Soleimani, who represent the conservative "religious" movement. This indicates that there is American backing for the rival "modernist" reformist forces with the aim of exerting pressure on the conservatives. The government authorities met the protests with repression which included the arrests of "reformist" Faezeh Rafsanjani two days ago on charges of inciting the demonstrations. These widespread protests have come at a sensitive time for the Iranian regime, which has been weakened by international economic sanctions related to its nuclear program, in addition to the stalled negotiations to return to the 2015 Vienna Agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which the Biden administration is trying to invest in before the upcoming midterm elections.

Based on these facts, these demonstrations, whose flames are being fanned by America, fall within the context of extreme pressure on the mullahs’ regime in order to twist its arm into making concessions in the negotiations on the nuclear file, to curb Iran and its surrogates in the region, especially in Iraq, restrain it from seeking a rapprochement with China and Russia and curb its stubbornness and its recent transgressions in the Iraqi file. This explains the eruption of protests on the borders of Iraqi Kurdistan to reset the “Kurdish-Shiite” alliances in favour of the Iraqi government and the Sadrist movement, and also their eruption in the hotbeds of tension planted in the southern flank of Russia related to the ethnic setup, including the Iranian-Azeri people, which could set the Russian Federation on fire, as well as the impact of the Azeri and Persian ethnic conflict on the Turkish-Iranian relationship and its intersections in the Syrian and Kurdish files.

However, these demonstrations do not seem to be a prelude to the process of overthrowing the Iranian regime, as much as they are extreme pressures to undermine the “religious” foundation on which the regime is built, and which lends it the justification to pursue its expansion into neighbouring countries. The protests are designed to downsize the regime in favour of spreading the liberalism adopted by the Biden administration, and using it to remove religious barriers and achieve its interests; this explains the focus of news coverage on the scenes of burning the hijab and symbols of the conservative movement, and on the support of the arts, journalism and sports circles for the protests which prompted Iran’s Chief Justice, Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Eje'i, to attack celebrities, saying: “Those who became famous thanks to the regime’s support during the difficult days have joined the enemy instead of standing by the people, and they should compensate for the material and moral damage they caused to the people.”

The United States, which is behind these protests, is the same one that stood behind the Iranian regime since the Khomeini revolution until Iraq was handed over to Iran and its militias, and the green light was given to it to support the Syrian regime, Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Ansar Allah movement in Yemen, and even the Hamas and the “Islamic Jihad” movements in Palestine. While it remained supportive of the mullahs’ regime and exchanged benefits and interests with it at the expense of the people of the region, it did not stop maximising the opposition’s momentum, striking it with the conservative regime forces, and then choosing the winner among them to serve it in implementing its policies in the region. The mullahs’ regime in Iran could have sided with the nation’s religion and the interests of the people, continued to build military power, exploited the turmoil of relations between the major powers for its benefit and freed itself from international restrictions, had it not been for the treachery and suspicious foreign relations fuelled by nationalism and sectarianism, narrow interests and historical hatred against the people of the region, despite the theatrics it carries out occasionally to show false hostility to what it calls the Great Satan.

Were it not for the fact that the regime and the opposition follow the line of America and present a distorted image of Islam, the resentful youth would not have dared to burn the hijab as an expression of their discontent with a religion in whose name the most heinous crimes are committed. The Muslims of Iran are like the children of the Islamic Ummah, thirsting for unity and the return and application of pure Islam and for getting rid of the collaborators and religious merchants, repelling the aggressors, and putting an end to humiliation and subservience. Undoubtedly, this is the demand of this Ummah, despite the deception practised by America and its agents to hide this fact and promote its secularism and liberalism, which made Western peoples like beasts in the butchers' sheds.

6 Rabi’ al-Awwal 1444h                                             
2 October 2022