Iran Protests,Isfahan,Maryam Rajavi,MEK,ProfessorIvan Sascha Sheehan

Recent Protests Mark a New Era for Iran’s Opposition

Recent Protests Mark a New Era for Iran’s Opposition

Recent Protests Mark a New Era for Iran’s Opposition

Recent Protests Mark a New Era for Iran’s Opposition

The continuation of recent protests despite the Iranian regime’s repressive measures, including mass arrests, the killing of protesters, and torture, shows that these protests have taken on a different, more resolute tone. Rather than protesting individual incidents, like the 2009 protests, the nation-wide protests that have rocked Iran since December have been directed at the regime itself and its repressive reign of terror.

Prof. Ivan Sascha Sheehan is the incoming Executive Director of the School of Public & International Affairs at the University of Baltimore, and an award-winning scholar and Iran expert. He has published a very comprehensive analysis of the recent uprisings in Iran, the reasons for their continuation and the differences between these protest with their predecessors like the 2009 uprisings in Iran. Given the continuation of the protests, a summary of this study has been reported below:

The spread of discontent

At the end of December 2017 and the beginning of January 2018, Iran experienced the largest national uprising since 2009. What started as localized and isolated protests in Mashhad, quickly spread to 142 cities and towns in all 31 of Iran’s provinces.

Although this initial wave of disruption has ended, since January 2018, a steady stream of protests has continued to erupt across the country. In February, another wave of protests broke out in the capital over the mandatory wearing of the hijab. Then, at the beginning of April, farmers took up their shovels to protest the mismanagement of water resources, leading a fresh round of protests which have since spread to five major cities.

Like the most recent farmer’s protest in Isfahan, the national uprisings in December were ignited by a triggering incident. In December, rising prices of staple food products ignited civil unrest. Also, like the most recent Isfahan protests, the triggering incident was soon marginalized, and the protests took on a more political tone, with anger and frustrations directed squarely at Rouhani’s repressive regime.

This regime-targeted anger sets these most recent protests apart from their predecessors. It indicates that public appetite has shifted from temporary protests directed at individual policies, to widespread anger with the entire regime.

This has been most apparent in the slogans adopted by the protestors. Protesters across the country engaged in chants of “down with Rouhani” and “down with Khamenei”, along with “Khamenei is a killer, his rule is illegitimate” and “we will fight to wrest back our country Iran.” These demonstrate the full extent of public dissatisfaction. The chants did not reflect the initial trigger of the protests; the rising price of eggs. They indicated a strong public desire for regime change, unlike anything Iran has seen before.

In his article, Professor Sheehan noted that the demographic that took part in the most recent rounds of protests were also of interest. He wrote, “the overwhelming majority of those who engaged in the uprising were from poor and underprivileged backgrounds”. This is particularly damaging for the mullahs. They have always maintained that they are “the defenders of the abased”. Previous protests, like those in 2009, featured a majority middle-class demographic. However, the most recent protests indicate that both the poor and middle-classes alike are angry at the regime and there is discontent across all segments of the Iranian population.

Sheehan describes how the recent protests have been effective at uniting people from all walks of life. Women, farmers, rich and poor all walked together. This also extended to ethnic unity. People from Iran’s multitude of ethnicities showed solidarity against the regime. The slogans adopted by protestors had no ethnic undertones. They showed a united Iranian population with one Iranian identity. From Kurds to Balochs, the entire spectrum of Iran’s rich population joined the protests.

These protests also challenged the very heart of the clerical regime. The December protests began in Mashhad and quickly spread to Qom within a matter of hours. These two cities have traditionally been regime strongholds. With discontent spreading to these “bastions of the clerical rule”, the regime must know it’s very survival is under threat.

The violent response

The extent of the threat to the Iranian regime from this new generation of protests is apparent in its aggressive response. The government officially states 22 protestors were killed in response to the protests. However, opposition groups, like the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), assert the figure is closer to 50.

The head of the Iranian Prisons Organisation said the government arrested 4,972 protestors. Again, opposition groups have claimed that this figure is a vast understatement, putting the true number of arrested protestors at around 8,000.

Although the government arrested a significant number of protestors, Sheehan suggests there were indications that the December protests stretched the regime’s military force to its limits. In 2009, the government was able to restore order through the deployment of one IRGC division to each province and two divisions to Tehran. However, the 2017/2018 protests spread too fast and were too geographically dispersed for the IRGC to immediately bring them under control. The protests raged for ten days and, according to Professor Sheehan, after the first day had “no element of surprise and all the details of the protests including locations and times were announced in advance on social media”.

This indicates the IRGC was stretched beyond its capabilities. It could not prevent or stop well-advertised protests from occurring, and once they had sprung up, could not bring the situation under control for ten days. There was also chaos within the IRGC and the Basij militia. Reports of soldiers burning their membership cards and joining the protestors have emerged.

This will have far-reaching consequences moving forward. The protests showed the Iranian people that the regime and its IRGC are not invincible and cannot establish control when all segments of the population protest in unison.

Why are the protests gaining momentum now?

The timing of the protests is also significant. The protests have evolved and become more threatening now because of the regime’s own failings. The extension of Khamenei’s control over the Iranian economy has left many individuals in conditions of financial hardship. The nuclear agreement with the US unfroze tens of billions of dollars, but the average Iranian is no better off.

This is because more than 50% of Iran’s GDP is now under state control. The private sector has been marginalized, inflation is still high, and unemployment remains in double digits, particularly among Iran’s youth, which has unemployment levels of up to 50% in some areas.

Nepotism and corruption are strangling social mobility. Graduates from the country’s top universities are performing manual labor and washing dishes, while the children of the country’s elite secure the top jobs.

The regime’s spending has also left many communities deprived of basic social needs. Iran’s healthcare spending is approximately a third of its military spending. Tehran has prioritized spending on foreign military and extremist groups overspending on the basic social needs of its population. The regime has created the discontent that has fuelled these anti-government protests by neglecting its population.

Beyond neglecting its population, the regime has extorted money from them through manipulation and deceit. The regime lured middle and lower-income Iranian people into investing in government institutions under the promise of high investment returns. These investments were embezzled into Rouhani’s regime, leaving the institutions bankrupt and many Iranian’s without their life savings. The regime’s deceit impacted a large segment of the population and has contributed to the discontent of a large segment of the Iranian population.

The economy shows no sign of improving, and in many parts, could get a lot worse. The regime’s looting of Iran’s financial institutions means that several principal banks face imminent bankruptcy. Should these banks bottom out, more of the Iranian population will find themselves without their savings, looking to vent their frustrations at the regime that left them penniless.

Increased connectivity and mobile penetration have also contributed to the evolution of the Iranian protest movement and the emergence of a new breed of protest. The movement is more organized and efficient. Half of the Iranian population now uses the instant messaging service, Telegram. It was essential in facilitating the mobilization of the population in the December and January protests and in the coordination and spread of civil unrest.

The role of MEK in Protests

In his report, Prof. Sheehan discusses another reason for the increased momentum and success of the public protests in Iran, which is the presence of an organized and structured opposition movement. He emphasized that leaderless movements are easier to curb and eradicate through the use of government intimidation and oppression. “The People’s Mujahedin Organisation of Iran (MEK), lead by Maryam Rajavi, has been a lightning rod for opponents to the Iranian regime”. The MEK’s continued presence in Iran helps mobilize and inspire the population into organized resistance.

The MEK has also played an integral role in bringing the full extent of the regime’s atrocities to light. It has worked tirelessly to shed light on the regime’s massacre of 30,000 political prisoners in 1988 and the officials involved. It also exposed the location of nuclear weapons research facilities and the progress of the regimes nuclear weapon development program.

Without the MEK, the full extent of the regime’s atrocities and crimes may never have been exposed to the Iranian public. It provides a constant voice for the opposition and a beacon for the nation’s youth who are dissatisfied with the status quo and eager to be a part of the opposition.

Prof. Sheehan reiterates that the MEK has played a key role and been a driving force behind the spread of recent protest movements. It is one of the few organizations that provides comprehensive coverage of the protests, broadcasting video clips and giving interviews to international media outlets. Its coverage of the protests undoubtedly contributed to the spread of the protests and will be a driving force in the re-emergence of protests in the near future.

 Changing international attitudes

Not only did the December and January protests represent a new dawn for Iranian opposition, but they also represented a new dawn in international attitudes towards the Iranian regime. Before the protests, Prof. Sheehan describes how the prevailing thought in the west and among international leaders was that the Iranian poor supported the regime. They believed Tehran had effectively suppressed the opposition and enjoyed unrivalled dominance and control over the population. The west also believed the easing of economic sanctions would provide a cash windfall for the Iranian people and reduce their appetite for dissent.

The 2017/2018 protests challenged these assertions. They showed that the population was harboring ill sentiment towards the regime and crying out for an opportunity to express its discontent. Sheehan alluded to a new school of thought that is reinterpreting Iran’s support for foreign militias not as a sign of strength, but as a sign of weakness. He said it is “maintained to cover up the shortcomings and failures at home.”

In the international community, the effectiveness and magnitude of the December and January protests have led to a reinterpretation of the situation in Iran. Maryam Rajavi, leader of the MEK, offered some insight into the situation. She said, “Iranian society is simmering with discontent and the international community is finally getting closer to the reality that appeasing the ruling theocracy is misguided.”

The future

In the wake of these ground-breaking developments, Sheehan asserts that we may see an increasingly firmer stance taken by the international community, particularly from the Trump administration.

The MEK in opposition will continue to work tirelessly to organize outlets for the disheartened population to vent their frustrations. The MEK has supported the establishment of secret centers of resistance which will connect like-minded protestors and attempt to orchestrate the downfall of the repressive regime.

This platform of an organized opposition taking practical steps towards regime change provides the Iranian population with the best possible chance of success. It puts the mullahs and Rouhani in the difficult position where they have no option but carry out widespread reforms or face the collapse of their regime under the weight of public discontent. Given Rouhani’s reluctance to reform, we can conclude that protests will continue and intensify.

Prof. Sheehan’s article vividly depicts the changing Iranian political landscape. It demonstrates that is has been irreversibly altered by the December and January protests. The regime cannot afford to continue with its repressive ways without acknowledging public frustrations. The next wave of protests will be louder, larger and more powerful and the regime will soon be unable to maintain a grip on power.

Last year, Maryam Rajavi summed it up. She told a crowd gathered in Paris that “the light of change is shining on Iran.” These protests have shown the world that light and demonstrated that the Iranian regime is staring down the barrel of collapse.

Staff Writer

Please follow and like us:

Continue Reading

Iran Opposition,Iran Protests,John Bolton,MEK,Regime Change

John Bolton represents a new chapter in US-Iran relations

John Bolton represents a new chapter in US-Iran relations

John Bolton represents a new chapter in US-Iran relations

John Bolton represents a new chapter in US-Iran relations

Donald Trump’s appointment of John Bolton as the president’s national security adviser is a strong indication of the stance Trump will adopt towards the Iran deal. The president has until May 12th to amend the Iran nuclear deal with his Chinese, European and Russian partners. John Bolton’s tough, no-nonsense approach will be a valuable addition to the negotiations.

Who is John Bolton?

John Bolton is a highly principled adviser with experience in the Reagan and George W. Bush administrations. He was undersecretary for Arms Control from 2001 to 2005 and also completed a brief spell as ambassador to the United Nations, where he promoted non-proliferation resolutions towards North Korea and Iran.

He has previously been a prominent supporter of regime change in Iran and expressed solidarity with the Iranian opposition, the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (MEK). He spoke at a MEK-organised event in Paris last year where he discussed the importance of regime change in Tehran.

He is a shrewd adviser with a deep knowledge of the balance of power and influence around the globe. His experience in both the UN and previous presidential administrations has also equipped him with a comprehensive understanding of governmental bureaucracy. In what is arguably the most influential position in the US foreign policy mechanism, he should be able to bring US foreign policy to apply further pressure to the oppressive Iranian regime.

Bolton represents a new chapter in US policy towards Iran

Rather than persist with the decades-old policy of appeasement towards the Iranian government, Bolton’s appointment could indicate the beginning of a firmer policy towards Iran.

The Iranian regime has been uncooperative to demands from the international community. Bolton would prefer to take a more aggressive stance with Hassan Rouhani. While he does not advocate military intervention, he would prefer to see tougher sanctions that would leave Rouhani’s regime with no other option but to comply and abandon their hard-line, disruptive policies, or face economic ruin.

This would bring US policy into alignment with the position of the Iranian people

Recent MEK-organised demonstrations show the appetite of the Iranian people for change. Tens of thousands of protestors flooded the streets across the country demanding regime change. This was just the beginning. Maryam Rajavi, MEK leader and president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), has called for the new year to be a “year full of uprisings”.

It is in the interests of the United States to adopt a stance towards the Iranian regime that reflects the will of the Iranian public. The mullahs in Iran have tried to suppress the democratic message of the MEK. However, it is now resonating across Iran’s rural and urban populations.

The MEK also enjoys bipartisan support across the US Congress and Senate. Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich, Howard Dean and Bill Richardson have all expressed solidarity with the MEK and supported regime change in Iran. Senior advisers in the Obama administration, like James Jones, also advocated a tougher stance against Hassan Rouhani’s government. With both the Iranian public and both sides of the House demanding a tougher attitude towards the Iranian regime, the time is right for Trump to adjust the position of the White House.

John Bolton might be the man to steer the US ship towards regime change in Iran. The title of his memoir, Surrender Is Not an Option, says it all. In Iran, surrender is not an option. The stakes are too high. The people have spoken. They want regime change. Now it is time for the international communities to help bring the will of the people to fruition. The days of US appeasement to Iran may be numbered. It is time to usher in a new chapter in US-Iran relations.

 

 

 

Please follow and like us:

Continue Reading

Ana Gomes,Anne Singleton,Camp Ashraf,Camp Liberty,MEK

ISJ Report Warns of Potential Attack on MEK in Albania

ISJ Report Warns of Potential Attack on MEK in Albania

ISJ Report Warns of Potential Attack on MEK in Albania

ISJ Report Warns of Potential Attack on MEK in Albania

On Wednesday the International Committee In Search of Justice (ISJ) reported that the Iranian regime has launched a new campaign against Iranian refugees living in Albania. This campaign is the latest effort by the ruling regime in Iran to demonize and suppress the MEK, the principal opposition movement in Iran. The ISJ is concerned that these actions on the part of the Iranian regime could lead to a violent attack by Tehran.

 

The refugees are members of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI or MEK), an opposition group that fled Iran’s oppressive regime to escape persecution, imprisonment, torture, and death at the hands of the ruling mullahs. The MEK is the largest and most popular Iranian opposition organization and has the goal of bringing democracy and equality to Iran. Because of this, the MEK has been the primary target of the theocracy’s ire. Over the past 30 years, the regime has killed over 120,000 MEK members in its efforts to suppress and demonize the resistance organization.

Iranian refugees in Albania, former residents of Camp Ashraf and Liberty in Iraq

Many of the Iranian refugees in Albania are former residents of Camp Ashraf and Camp Liberty in Iraq. The Iranian regime waged a years-long series of attacks on MEK members in these camps, cutting off access to food and medical supplies and coordinating deadly air raids. 178 camp residents died as a result of these attacks.

 

In response to the continued assaults on Iranian refugees in Iraq, an international campaign to protect and relocate MEK members in Iraq was mounted. Thanks to the bipartisan efforts of American dignitaries, U.S. Senators, and Congressmen, European politicians, members of the European and national Parliaments and international entities including the United Nations, the remaining residents of Camp Liberty were finally moved to locations outside of Iraq, with the largest number settling in Albania.

 

A series of demonstrations took place in Iran in December 2017-January 2018. Protesters chanted, “down with [Supreme Leader] Khamenei,” and “down with [President] Rouhani” in demonstrations in 140 cities across Iran. The fundamentalist regime was rattled by this uprising and acknowledged that the MEK played a large part in organizing the protests.

 

The Iranian regime has now focused its efforts on the Iranian refugees in Albania. Two Iranians were arrested on March 22 by Albanian police for espionage and attempting to gather intelligence about the refugees. Similar actions in the past have often lead to terrorist actions, so these arrests are cause for concern.

Iranian regime’s new conspiracy against MEK

In addition, the Iranian regime is once again disseminating misinformation about the MEK in an attempt to undermine its efforts to bring regime change to Iran. It is currently preparing actions in the European Parliament to demonize the MEK.

 

British national Anne Singleton is currently being used by Tehran to sow disinformation about the MEK. She and her Iranian-born husband Massoud Khodabandeh were recruited by Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) in 2002, according to a Pentagon-commissioned report released in December 2012. They have since led numerous efforts to demonize the MEK. Singleton has traveled to Iraq and Albania several times as part of the smear campaign on the Iranian refugees. She attempted to spread false information about the MEK in front of British Parliament in September 2005 but was disinvited after protests from Members of Parliament. She is now scheduled to speak next week at the European Parliament to make more false allegations against the MEK.

 

The ISJ expressed grave concern about these events, fearing that they will lead to more assaults on MEK members in Albania. The organization urges authorities to take action against the ruling regime to prevent them from endangering the refugees and security in Europe as well.

Staff writer

 

Please follow and like us:

Continue Reading

Bill Richardson,Iran-Iraq War,Jason Rezain,Khomeine,MEK,PMOI

Iran’s Regime Continues to Spread Misinformation Against MEK

Iran’s Regime Continues to Spread Misinformation Against MEK

Iran’s Regime Continues to Spread Misinformation Against MEK

Iran’s Regime Continues to Spread Misinformation Against MEK

In an op-ed in the Washington Post on March 24, Jason Rezaian, an apologist for Iran’s regime, once again parroted disinformation by the regime’s Intelligence Ministry against the principal opposition group, People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (MEK).

This desperate attempt to discredit the main opposition is a bid to legitimize the continuation of the policy of appeasement.

According to Razaian, the MEK and Maryam Rajavi lack public support in Iran. This overlooks the huge turnout in the major organized anti-government protests which the regime’s Supreme Leader has pointedly said had the hallmarks of the MEK as the main organizer. Most recently Iranians took to the streets across 142 cities to call for regime change and denounce the Iranian government.

The government itself has also taken serious measures to curb the public support for MEK. In nearly 40 years, it has arrested and killed more than 120,000 MEK members. This not only attests to the large popular support the MEK enjoys but also the extent that the Iranian government perceives the group as a threat to its authority.

Jason Rezaian went on to regurgitate the often-repeated line that the MEK supported the Iraqi invasion of Iran in the Iran-Iraq war. This is untrue. When the war broke out in 1980, like others in Iran, MEK members rushed to the battlefront to defend the country against the Iraqi invaders. (see www.mulahswar.com for more details)

Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini used the conflict as an opportunity to quell domestic opposition, arguing that all challenges to the ruling mullahs should be disregarded since the country was at war. After Iraqi troops retreated out of Iranian soil, in January 1981, everything was ready to end the much hated and destructive war that had left millions dead or displaced on both sides, but Khomeini refused to end the conflict, bringing needless misery and suffering to millions of Iranians.  The MEK (PMOI) strongly disagreed with the mullahs’ decision to continue hostilities and began a campaign to bring an end to the conflict.

The Iranian Regime’s Intelligence Ministry (MOIS) and the Iranian lobbies never give credit to the MEK for presenting a peace plan that garnered broad international support or recalls Khomeini’s refusal to accept a United Nations ceasefire (Resolution No. 514) proposal in July 1982. Iraq endorsed the initiative, but this action is never acknowledged by the MOIS fabricators.

Razaian’s piece goes on to assert that the MEK is hoping for a US-Iran war, which is again a blatant lie. MEK has always emphasized that the Iranian people and their resistance are capable of regime change and do not need any military intervention by any third party. Their request to the international community is to stop the policy of appeasement and to recognize the Iranian people’s aspirations for change, which was resonated widely during the recent uprisings across Iran.

Former Governor of New Mexico, Bill Richardson, expressed the MEK’s objectives, saying “they are anti-nuclear” and stand for “separation of church and state” and “individual rights”. This is at the heart of the MEK movement. It does not promote war or violence.

It is clear the government perceives the MEK as a serious threat to its authority. This is why it has embarked on an international smear campaign abroad, combined with a repressive crackdown on the group’s operations within Iran.

Jason Rezaian and others are perpetuating the lies of the Iranian regime and thereby furthering the government’s objectives. The lies stem from fear. The government’s authority has been undermined by large-scale protests in recent months.

Staff Writter

 

Please follow and like us:

Continue Reading

Protesters Seek Change in Iran During Fire Fest Demonstrations

Protesters seek change in Iran during fire fest demonstrations

Protesters Seek Change in Iran During Fire Fest Demonstrations

Protesters Seek Change in Iran During Fire Fest Demonstrations-Photo ArchiveProtests erupted in Iran on Tuesday as people across the country rose up to protest the mullahs’ rule.

 

Demonstrations were staged in cities across Iran to take place during the yearly Fire Fest celebration, which marks the last week of Iran’s calendar year. A network within Iran associated with the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) issued a call for citizens to use the occasion to protest the ruling regime, and the people heeded the call to action.

 

The Persian Festival of Fire, or Chaharshanbe Suri, has long been the subject of the mullahs’ ire, as it predates Islamic rule, with the ruling regime attempting to prevent public gatherings for the celebration.

 

The Fire Fest combines the mullahs’ disdain for cultural celebrations with their fear of free assembly by the Iranian people. Clashes between the government and its people are common during cultural celebrations, and the backlash was severe this year, with the recent uprisings fresh on everyone’s minds.

 

Since the uprising beginning in December of 2017, the mullahs have been increasingly fearful of further public demonstration. The authorities claimed that people were free to celebrate their cultural traditions as long as they did not pose a threat to public order, but the dissident organization PMOI/MEK reported that the ruling regime dispatched Revolutionary Guard-controlled civilian militias to municipalities across Iran in advance of Chaharshanbe Suri in a failed attempt to quash another uprising.

 

The previous large-scale uprising was only quelled after 50 protesters were killed and 8,000 more were arrested, according to the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).

 

The December 2017/January 2018 uprising began as a protest against the economic plight of Iranians but soon spread to a call for regime change. That call was echoed in Tuesday’s protests. The backlash to the demonstrations was swift and severe, with many protesters detained or injured. Those who were detained will be held until the end of Nowruz, the Iranian New Year.

 

The West has become more aware of the growing unrest in Iran and is working toward measures to support Iran’s people. In the U.S. the Trump administration is becoming receptive to the movement and could help by targeting the Central Bank and the Revolutionary Guard. Europe can strengthen its current efforts to curb Iran’s ballistic weapons program and focus on Tehran’s record of human rights abuses to hasten change in Iran.

 

The oppressive theocratic regime in Iran is harmful to everyone who allows it to continue. Iran’s opposition seeks to create a free and democratic society in which all people are valued. This is a goal that all people can support.

 

Staff writer

Please follow and like us:

Continue Reading

Copyright © 2018 MEK-Iran.com. All Rights Reserved
Assign a menu in the Left Menu options.
Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial