Resilient Resistance Units Supercharge Iran Protests
Earlier in January mass protests resumed in Iran. Some 40 cities in 20 provinces were overtaken by thousands of protesters, particularly university students, initially furious over the shooting down of a passenger plane by the regime’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). “Death to Khamenei,” the regime’s embattled supreme leader, “IRGC murders, Khamenei supports,” and “down with mullahs’ rule” became the popular rallying cry.
The latest round of demonstrations unfolded against the backdrop of a major nationwide uprising that shook the regime’s foundations last November. Those rallies were so momentous that they triggered unprecedented paranoia within the regime. In response to popular demands, state suppressive forces viciously murdered 1,500 protesters, including minors, teenagers, and dozens of women. Thousands more were injured or arrested.
January 11 – Tehran, #Iran
Crowd chanting: "Down with the mullahs' regime principle!"
The Iranian people are determined to uproot the regime ruling Iran in its entirety.#IranProtestspic.twitter.com/qmgFqOuWZb
— People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) (@Mojahedineng) January 11, 2020
While the regime shut down the internet and imposed a total news blackout in November, it was unable to do so in January. Videos were immediately distributed on social media. They showed the activities of Resistance Units, made up of young activists, who are organized and led by the main opposition Mujahedin-e Khalq (PMOI / MEK Iran). Among the most prevalent scenes were the tearing apart or torching the posters of Qassem Soleimani, the regime’s terrorist-in-chief, who was eliminated earlier this month.
The January protests were significant for several reasons.
- First, they signaled that what occurred in November was not a fleeting moment. The situation in Iran is like a powder keg, ready to explode with a single trigger. In recent protests, people showed that they will neither forget nor forgive the regime’s crimes against humanity. They chanted “1,500 are our martyrs in November.”
- Secondly, the protests directly, openly, and vociferously condemned and lambasted Khamenei. Demonstrators chanted, “Commander-in-Chief (Khamenei), resign, resign,” “Death to Khamenei,” “Death to the principle of the velayat-e faqih (absolute clerical rule).”
- Third, protesters openly blamed and challenged the IRGC, the regime’s primary power base for decades, and expressed their abhorrence at Soleimani, whom they called a “murderer.” Their slogans severely undercut the state-orchestrated propaganda circus after the termination of Soleimani. They chanted “IRGC, you are the DAESH (ISIS) to us,” “Soleimani is a murderer, so is his leader.” Targeting IRGC was yet another sign that the regime’s “strength” is crumbling.
- Fourth, in many protests, people chanted “No to the oppressor, be it the Shah, or the supreme leader (Khamenei),” This showed that the Iranian people reject the past dictatorship of the Shah just as much as they defy the current one.
- The Iranian people are not content with the current situation, but they want to move forward and be the master of their fate in a free and democratic republic.
- Fifth, women played an astoundingly prominent role in these protests as they did in November. In many video clips from the protests in Tehran and other cities, they are seen leading protests and chants. In other scenes, they are ripping apart loathed posters of the “murderer” Soleimani. And still, in others, they stand face-to-face with security forces and openly shout their hatred toward the regime: “death to Khamenei.”
— People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) (@Mojahedineng) June 1, 2020
All this leaves the regime paranoid and at a strategic impasse.
These protests and the November uprising lead to one unmistakable conclusion: The MEK’s strategy of establishing Resistance Units has been quite effective in organizing and directing the protests nationwide. In and of themselves, protests are necessary but not sufficient. They need leadership, sustained communication, organization, and strategy.
Resistance Units do just that. They ensure that protests are sustained and organized. They have become role models for the younger generation, showing them the way forward on how to challenge the regime. So important is their role that during his Friday prayer sermon, Khamenei lamented that “a few hundred insult posters of martyr Soleimani,” which was followed by repeated chants of “death to the MEK” by the thugs bused to the event from across Iran.
Earlier in 2019, the regime’s Minister of Intelligence, Alavi, had spoken of the arrest of 116 (PMOI / MEK Iran) teams inside the country. Subsequently, the General Manager of the intelligence department in Eastern Azerbaijan announced the arrest or dealing with 110 individuals linked with the (PMOI / MEK Iran) in only one province who were later sentenced to death or long-term prison terms.
Despite the arrests and intimidations, the regime has not been able to prevent the resistance from advancing or break their morale. The resistance units have grown both in quantity and in quality. They have also spread in geographical terms and improved their level of missions.
This explains why the regime’s leaders, including Khamenei, his president Hassan Rouhani and other senior and junior officials, constantly express alarm over the growing role of the (PMOI / MEK Iran) and its resilient Resistance Units inside Iran.
On Sunday, May 17, 2020, Khamenei held a video conference with a group of paramilitary Basij forces at the universities. In the conference, in an unprecedented and astonishing way, he spoke about the main issues that the regime is facing in Iran.
Iran’s regime Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei called for the establishment of a “young and Hezbollahi” government during his speech at the meeting with young members of the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) Basij on Sunday May 17https://t.co/2MaM0Y04Ng#Iran #MEK #coronavirus @USAdarFarsi
— MEK Iran (Mujahedin-e Khalq) (@MEK_Iran) May 26, 2020
The important aspect of Khamenei’s remarks was his expression of concern over the role and influence of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI or MEK), among young people since the outset of the anti-monarchic revolution. Refusing to mention the MEK by name due to his fears of drawing more direct attention to the group, he talked about young Muslims who joined the ranks of a group with eclectic ideology (a term used by the regime to demonize the (PMOI / MEK Iran) after the fall of the Shah and then fought against the regime. His concern, though expressed implicitly, was his fear of the new generation being attracted to the MEK.
Why Khamenei is compelled to acknowledge the realities that were taboo for years in the regime? Why is he so terrified and calling on his entire regime to mobilize against this enemy and be on high alert?
The answer is the extremely shaky and fragile conditions of the regime, on the one hand, and the other hand, the widespread support for the (PMOI / MEK Iran) and their path among the youth.
Tags: 1988 Massacre, Iran human rights, Iran Opposition, Iran Protests, MEK, Mujahedin-e Khalq, National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), People's Mojahedin organization of Iran, PMOI, Regime Change