Iran Protests,Iran Uprising,Maryam Rajavi,MEK,PMOI,Ramesh Sepehrrad

MEK Rally in support of IranProtests

New Study Suggests Revolution on Horizon in Iran

MEK Rally in support of IranProtests

MEK Rally in Paris, in support of Iran Protests-2018

A new study was written by Dr. Ramesh Sepehrrad, a scholar-practitioner at the School of Conflict Analysis and Resolution (SCAR) at George Mason University, published in the journal E-International Relations on May 21st draws attention to the growing unrest in Iran. The uprising that began last December gave voice to a growing number of Iranians who are tired of the regime’s shallow claims of reform and are demanding regime change. Sepehrrad’s paper discusses the roots of the uprising, the reason for its widespread impact, and its potential to start a revolution in Iran.

 

The scope of the Protests

 

According to Sepehrrad, the recent uprising in Iran began with a protest in the northeastern holy city of Mashad over rising food prices and quickly spread into a massive uprising that took place in 140 cities across Iran. During the two weeks before the regime temporarily suppressed the uprising, the scope of the protests grew from economic conditions to inequality, to corruption, and finally to calls for regime change.

 

The people protesting came from all walks of life, but the first protests were led by Iranians from the lower middle-class whose standard of living has decreased dramatically in recent years. They were joined by large numbers of women and youths who rose up in solidarity with those struggling through poor economic conditions. As the uprising grew, more people joined the ranks of protesters, including members of Iran’s many ethnic groups, including Turks, Kurds, Turkmen, Arab, Taleshi, Baluch, Lor, Bakhtiari, and Ghashghai, and the uprising began to look more like a coordinated effort and less like scattered protests. The regime attempted to paint the protesters as looters and criminals, but, as Sepehrrad wrote in her paper, this argument was invalidated by the fact that no looting occurred. The uprising was well-organized and goal-oriented, not a few protests by the poor and desperate.

 

Sepehrrad pointed out that Iranian regime’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei later acknowledged the role of the MEK in the uprising in an attempt to frighten people and prevent further protests. The regime’s record of brutality to the MEK is well-documented. In the summer of 1988 alone the regime executed 30,000 political prisoners, most of whom were MEK members. By acknowledging the MEK’s role in the uprising, the regime hoped to discourage protesters who did not want to meet the same fate as the tens of thousands of MEK members who have been targeted by the mullahs, but instead, they inadvertently lent credibility to the resistance organization and its goal of regime change.

 

According to Sepehrrad, the December 2017/January 2018 uprisings were unique in several respects. For one thing, the protests were widespread, occurring in 140 cities over the course of two weeks. Protests occurred both in cities and in more rural areas. This was partially due to the use of social media, specifically Telegram, to spread the word of the uprisings. Government censorship efforts tend to cluster in the larger cities in Iran, so protesters in smaller cities were able to bypass state censors to get their message out in a way that would not have been possible in Tehran. The Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) is also more densely clustered in larger cities, meaning that protests in small cities were not quickly or easily suppressed before word could spread. In addition, the protests began because of frustrations with economic conditions. The poor are disproportionately located in smaller cities, so the places where protests could spread more easily were also the places where more people felt compelled to protest.

 

Sepehrrad found that protesters also utilized social media to collect data about the uprising. This information is an invaluable resource for predicting future acts of resistance by the people. Sepehrrad claims that the data gathered during the uprising shows a new model of protest in Iran that encompasses diverse groups and locations.

 

Sepehrrad also wrote about the unity shown by the protesters. People protested for many reasons, but all of the protesters were united by their desire for regime change. According to Sepehrrad’s research, 65% of protest signs seem during the uprising called for regime change. This was extraordinary for such a diverse group of people. The poor, women, young people, legitimate political groups, the labor movement, various ethnic groups, and representatives from every social class banded together to demand change. This sort of unity in protest has been seen historically in revolutionary settings.

 

The data collected during the uprising provided a picture of the protesters and their goals. Sepehrrad found four major themes in her analysis of the data.

 

  1. Unlike previous uprisings, the protesters in the recent uprising had no desire to negotiate with the regime for concessions. They demanded nothing less than regime change.
  2. The uprising was an organized nationwide movement, with protests occurring all over Iran, not just in the cities.
  3. Social media played a huge role in the uprising, in part because the protesters were able to flip the script and transfer the fear of retaliation from the protesters to the regime by documenting protests and communicating in a medium that could bypass the regime’s attempts at censorship.
  4. The unity displayed by a diverse group of protesters has unleashed sentiments of revolution across Iran.

 

Goals and Tactics of Protesters

 

Protesters shared the common goal of regime change, but Sepehrrad found that there were a number of different issues that led people to rise up. Economic conditions caused many people to rise up. The lower middle class made up a large percentage of protesters because this group has been forced into poverty by the regime’s policies. Under the ruling regime, economic disparities between regime officials and their families and the rest of the country have disillusioned many Iranians. The regime has been accused of financial corruption, leading to unequal access to wealth that has caused widespread poverty amongst Iranians. Numerous allegations of corruption by the members of the regime have been made, and these claims have been substantiated by a report by Transparency International, which ranked Iran 131 among 178 countries.

 

According to Sepehrrad‘s research, 40% of Iranian citizens in large cities live below the poverty line, and 60-70% of people in smaller cities and towns live in poverty. Young people, educated women, and college graduates are chronically unemployed or underemployed, with the regime acknowledging a 35% unemployment rate among the nation’s youth and a 52% unemployment rate among women.

 

In addition to the epidemic of poverty, Iran’s housing crisis has been unaddressed by the regime, leaving many living in dire conditions. Sepehrrad estimated that 25% of the population has been affected by this crisis. The environmental crisis caused by the regime has compounded the inhumane living conditions faced by the people. According to Sepehrrad, the regime’s mismanagement has led to the drying of 90% of the country’s wetlands, leaving many without access to water.

 

 

The Role of Social Media

 

 

The increased access to the Internet and social media drove many to demand change. Despite the regime’s efforts to censor online material, Iranians have found ways to connect with each other and the larger world. These people, particularly women and educated youth, see the disparity between the rights enjoyed by people in other countries and the oppression and inequality experienced within Iran. They protested for greater individual freedoms, freedom of the press and freedom of association.

 

According to Sepehrrad, the increase in access to online information has also given the Iranian people access to unbiased news, and not just the propaganda published by the state. This has drawn attention to the 1988 massacre of political prisoners, a majority of whom were MEK members. Some of the biggest sites of protests were in cities where mass graves of the executed 1988 political prisoners were located.

 

Sepehrrad added that increased access to social media has also led to greater awareness of the plight of political prisoners. Word travels fast on the Internet, and now when someone is detained for the crime of speaking their mind, the rest of Iran knows about it. Iran’s abysmal human rights record (17 out of 100 points, according to Amnesty International) has led many to feel that Iran is unreformable. For many, the only solution to Iran’s problems is regime change. This sentiment, expressed by a large and diverse group of Iranians spread across the country, is the main ingredient of a revolution.

 

Protests did not end when the uprising was suppressed and continue each day in cities across Iran. In late January of 2018, protesters began using a secure crowdsourcing tool to communicate with each other about upcoming protests, resistance efforts, and the current locations of security forces. They also take videos of events in Iran to share with the rest of the world.

 

Sepehrrad noted that the use of purposeful collective action has been a factor in the uprising and continuing protests. Protesters have unified to act against the state in a coordinated fashion. Sepehrrad wrote that targets of these actions include “local religious leaders and centers, security forces and personnel, government-controlled financial institutions and banks, judicial branches, and government offices.” Protesters have taken down and burned images of the Supreme Leader in numerous cities. This action, in particular, has energized the resistance movement. Collective action is still occurring in Iran as part of ongoing protest efforts.

 

The MEK’s Role in the Uprising

 

According to Sepehrrad and the regime itself, Tehran has placed responsibility for the uprising on the MEK, who did indeed play a large role in organizing protests. But the seeds of dissent have been present among the people of Iran for decades. The MEK is simply an expression of the dissatisfaction of the people with the current regime.

 

The usual practice of the regime is to violently suppress any dissent. But Sepehrrad noted that those calling themselves “reformers” have been more hesitant to violently act against their own people. The uprising has given these reformers pause, and they have had to backtrack on many of their “reformist” views because it is clear that the people are serious about regime change. Sepehrrad wrote that on January 24, 2018, one of the senior pundits of the so-called “reformist” faction admitted that these protests will come in waves and as they recede, “they will come back stronger.”

 

The MEK has long been a target of the regime’s wrath, wrote Sepehrrad, as they are the largest and oldest resistance movement in Iran and have had success in opposing the mullahs’ rule. The regime has spent significant time and political capital in an attempt to delegitimize the movement and have claimed repeatedly that the MEK has been diminished and has little influence or support from the Iranian people. But the recent acknowledgment by the regime of the MEK’s role in the growing unrest runs counter to their argument that the MEK does not speak for the people. The large and widespread uprising that took place clearly shows the will of the people, and their goals align with the MEK and its longstanding position that meaningful change can only happen with the end of the mullahs’ rule.

 

Conclusion

 

Sepehrrad’s paper demonstrates that the uprising and continuing protests in Iran are not scattered acts of resistance. The large-scale nature of the protests, their continuance despite attempts by the regime at suppression, their diverse makeup, and the unity displayed by the protesters point to revolution. The use of social media has made Iranians more aware of their shared concerns and has enabled them to organize more effectively. The people have no desire to negotiate with the regime. Their message is clear. Revolution is the only way to bring true reform to Iran. Sepehrrad’s paper may be read in its entirety on the E-International Relations website.

 

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MEK rally in London

America’s JCPOA Withdrawal Offers Fresh Opportunities

MEK rally in London

Iran opposition activists rally in support of MEK

On May 22nd, townhall.com published a piece by Soona Samsami on Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal. The article published under the title “After Nuclear Deal, the West Should Focus on Real Change”, highlighted the rise of the pro-democracy movement in Iran and urged the international community to reassess its stance towards the Iranian regime.

Samsami, the U.S. representative of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, argued that with the withdrawal of the US from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), there is an opportunity for the international community to broaden the discussion. The JCPOA was negotiated to curb the Iranian regime’s nuclear program, first and foremost. With the deal’s looming failure, there is an opportunity to reach international consensus on a course of action which promotes democracy, peace, and security, not just denuclearisation.

A more comprehensive approach

The leader of the Iranian opposition, Maryam Rajavi, was quoted in the article. She has often expressed concerns with the Iran deal. She believes that regime change is a prerequisite for “peace, democracy, security and stability”.

The recent wave of protests that began in December 2017, and continues to rage across the country, has shown that creating stability and security in the Middle East, depends on more than just an effective denuclearisation deal. The People’s Mujahedin Organisation of Iran (MEK) has organized highly-effective national protests which have mobilized Iranians from all walks of life.

These outbursts of dissatisfaction from the Iranian public demonstrate the unpopularity of the regime in Iran. It presents an opportunity for the international community to end Iran’s nuclear ambitions once and for all; by helping the people, and the MEK, secure regime change and restores Iranian democracy.

A regime under threat

There have been recent indicators that the position of Rouhani and his mullahs is under threat. He phoned French President Emmanuel Macron and urged him to crack down on the National Council of Resistance of Iran’s (NCRI) activities in France. A week later, Ali Khamenei conceded publicly that the MEK had planned protests across the country.

The regime has also attempted to repress dissent across the country by coming down violently on those that protest. In clear breach of international human rights laws, the regime has executed and imprisoned those that dare to protest in the streets.

Denuclearisation and human rights can go hand in hand

The American withdrawal from the Iran deal allows the international community to consider an alternative that would promote both denuclearisation and human rights in the region. Maryam Rajavi urged the international community to modify their stance towards the regime in consideration of the human rights abuses carried out by the mullahs. She said the Iranian people “are calling on the international community, in particular, the West, to support their uprising for the overthrow of the Iranian regime.”

The plight of the Iranian people has attracted support from prominent figures in the Trump administration, including Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, and John Bolton. Public events organized by the Iranian opposition across the globe also draw in large numbers in support of the cause. The annual rally in support of the Iranian opposition near Paris, which is held on June 30th at Villepinte this year, usually draws numbers of over 100,000.

The conditions in 2015, when the Iran nuclear deal was negotiated, were drastically different from those in the country today. The deal at a time when the survival of the clerical regime appeared much more concrete. International heads of state believed they would be dealing with the regime for the foreseeable future and had little margin for negotiation beyond curbing its nuclear program, which has now proved to be a mistake.

Today, the survival of the regime looks in doubt. Protests are intensifying and the well-organized opposition of the MEK are pushing for the regime’s overthrow. This is an opportunity for the Western world to support the Iranian people in their quest for democracy and regime change. Only then can they be sure that Iran will be free from nuclear weapons, and the stability of the Middle East will be improved. Allowing the regime to remain in power and pushing forward with an ineffective deal will only lead to more chaos, routine human rights abuses, and instability throughout the Middle East.

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Iran Mullahs Step up Attacks against MEK as Uprising Continues

Mullahs Step up Attacks against MEK as Uprising Continues

Iran Mullahs Step up Attacks against MEK as Uprising Continues

Foreign Policy article demonizes MEK – The continuation of the failed policy of appeasement.

On May 11th, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) published an official rebuttal to the most recent smear attack against the MEK by the ruling regime. The article, entitled “Bolton’s ascent gives Iranian group a new lease on life” was published on ForeignPolicy.com on April 30th and claimed that the MEK does not enjoy popular support within Iran and is thus not a viable alternative to the current regime. The mullahs have often used these false claims in their failed attempts to delegitimize the MEK, and it is unsurprising that they should do so again, in the wake of the uprising in Iran that began last December.

 

In the rebuttal, Shahin Gobadi wrote that the article “is a rare collection of threadbare allegations against the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) and the National Council of Resistance of Iran(NCRI) that the propaganda machine and smear campaign of the mullahs’ regime have been conjuring up for years. What is very telling is the timing of the article.”

 

The recent uprising, which took place in 140 cities across Iran in late December and January, clearly indicated a desire for regime change amongst the Iranian people, who chanted “Down with Rouhani!” and “Down with Khamenei!” This threatened both the mullahs’ regime and the regime’s lobbyists and apologists in the West, who had clearly misunderstood the will of the people in their assessments.

 

The policy of appeasement to the regime has been popular in the West for decades, a policy which assumed that the people were happy with the oppressive regime and that the best way to deal with Iran was to appease and compromise with its ruling mullahs. Part of the appeasement policy focused on going along with the regime’s demonization campaign against the opposition, specifically the MEK, which relied on lies about the organization.

 

This appeasement policy no longer works in the face of the popular uprising in Iran. The strength of the movement has become undeniable. The Foreign Policy article is an act of desperation by those who advocated appeasement, as they struggle to justify their failed policy.

 

The power and popularity of the MEK has grown to the point that Khamenei himself acknowledged it, saying that the MEK organized the recent widespread uprising. MEK members inside Iran come from all walks of life and include “academics, intellectuals, scientists, traders, and businessmen.” MEK members outside of Iran include some of the country’s most educated and productive citizens, who left Iran to escape its repressive regime. The most recent MEK gathering outside of Iran was held in Paris on July 1, 2017, and more than 110,000 people attended. The MEK is the largest non-governmental organization in Iran and has formed hundreds of associated groups.

 

The “experts” quoted in the article are known regime apologists who have touted hollow “reforms” and moderation by the regime. But the Iranian people have seen that these claims ring false and are demanding change.

 

Recently, the President-elect of the NCRI, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, revealed her 10-point plan for regime change, which was met with bipartisan support from numerous American officials and dignitaries. Military leaders from four past administrations, U.S. Congressmen, and officials dealing with national security have taken part in NCRI meetings. This diverse group of Democratic and Republican leaders has embraced the MEK’s opposition movement as the logical alternative to the dangerous and oppressive Iranian regime.

 

The article also included patently false statements about the MEK’s inclusion in and subsequent delisting from the list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations. These claims have been rejected by courts in the U.S., U.K., E.U., and France, who all delisted the resistance organization after no evidence was found that the MEK participated in any terrorist activities. In fact, the inclusion of the MEK on the terrorist lists was a goodwill gesture to the regime and was used as a bargaining chip to curry favor with the mullahs. All of this information is recorded in numerous court rulings across the West, and many Western leaders later denounced the MEK’s designation on the list.

 

Further claims that the MEK fought against the Iranian people in the Iran/Iraq war are also false and easily disproven. The MEK was an Independent presence in Iraq throughout its time in the region. According to the rebuttal, “eight American agencies confirmed this via a 16-month investigation and even the current, Tehran-controlled government of Iraq has not been able to provide any evidence to the contrary.

 

The claim that the MEK helped expose the nuclear weapons program in Iran is not in dispute. The MEK was a leading force in exposing the regime’s dangerous nuclear program, using its expansive network of members inside Iran. These members exposed the nuclear program at grave personal risk in order to prevent nuclear war. The world at large has benefited from their brave actions.

 

The regime and its apologists can no longer deny the power of the resistance movement led by the MEK, so they are once again attempting to demonize the organization. These desperate acts are the last gasps of a dying theocracy vainly attempting to hold onto power. The people have demanded regime change and will not be fooled by lies and deceptions.

 

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Iranian Regime's Weakness and The Right Policy

Time to Support MEK, in Its Quest for Freedom

Iranian Regime's Weakness and The Right Policy

Archive- An Iranian student, showing the Protester’s firm position, while regime forces fire tear gas to disperse the protesters

On Wednesday, International Policy Digest reported on U.S. President Donald Trump’s recent comments about Iran. “They will have bigger problems than they’ve ever had before,” said Trump during an Oval Office meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron. The comment was in reference to Iran’s nuclear program. Though it is unclear exactly what Trump meant with his vague threat, his remark was timely, as the current regime is already struggling with numerous problems, most notably the recent uprising in Iran.

 

In December of 2017, protests broke out across Iran, as citizens took to the streets to protest poor economic conditions. Iran’s economic crisis has led to rampant poverty and high inflation. The rial has lost half its value since September of last year, causing financial instability across the country. Economic factors lit the match that started the uprising, but politics fanned the flames of dissent. The people began to protest the regime’s atrocious human rights record, speak out against its corruption, and demand equal rights for women. As the uprising reached a fever pitch, the people began to call for regime change.

 

Though the regime was able to temporarily suppress the uprising, the stage was set for rebellion. In addition, “Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei broke with his regime’s usual tactics of propaganda, acknowledging that the principal Iranian Resistance group, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), had played a leading role in planning and organizing the demonstrations,” reported the International Policy Digest and numerous other publications. This admission inadvertently helped restore legitimacy to the MEK (PMOI), the principal opposition that had been the subject of a demonization campaign by the regime since the Revolution. However, in the face of the widespread rebellion in Iran, it was harder for people to believe the propaganda spread by the regime.

 

The report also concludes that Trump could make his threat a reality by working with European leaders to support the large and ever-expanding domestic resistance movement in Iran. Though France, Germany, and the U.K. are still in favor of the Iran nuclear deal, they have shown increasing concern about Iran’s ballistic missile program, as it has the potential to further destabilize the Middle East. The International Policy Digest also wrote that “Emmanuel Macron, the French president, underscored this alignment of American and European views by saying that both leaders would look at the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action ‘in a wider regional context.’ His statement underscores the common interests that Western countries have in preventing the Iranian regime from spreading its violent ideology to the larger region.

 

As the uprising has shown, the MEK (PMOI) shares this goal. The opposition is best equipped to turn the regime’s attention inward. Supporting the MEK (PMOI) as it works toward regime change is the easiest way to avoid the mistakes of the past. Both the French and U.S. presidents have made statements over the last two weeks vowing not to repeat the mistakes of the past with respect to Iran. This is a laudable goal, as the past policies of appeasement to the regime, including false vilification of the opposition movement, have failed repeatedly.

 

When the uprising began, analysts in Washington, D.C. predicted a swift end to the rebellion. Six months later, the protests continue, despite the regime’s efforts to suppress dissent. This is the time to leverage that dissent and support the MEK (PMOI) in its efforts to overthrow the fundamentalist theocracy in Iran and replace it with a secular democracy with equal rights for all.

 

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1988 Massacre,Maryam Rajavi,Mass Graves,MEK,NCRI

Maryam Rajavi Commemorates MEK Martyrs During 1988 Massacre

Unraveling Iranian Regime’s Deeds During 1988 Massacre of MEK Activists

Alireza Avaei, Member of Death Committee During 1988 Massacre

Alireza Avaei-Current Minister of Justice in Iran appointed by the “moderate” Rouhani

The mullahs’ crimes of the past continue to be unearthed. This week, Amnesty International published the results of an investigation into the regime’s mass executions of more than 30,000 political prisoners (mainly MEK activists) in 1988. The report revealed the sites of seven mass graves. In an attempt to hide their macabre handiwork, the regime tried to destroy all evidence of the gravesites between 2003 and 2017.

As the mullahs try to escape responsibility, Amnesty International revealed the locations of the seven suspected locations. It suspects mass graves in Mashhad, Ahvaz, Tabriz, Khavaran, Rasht, Qorveh, and Sanandaj were used to dispose of victim’s bodies. At a later date, the regime attempted to level the grave sites to mask their locations.

There are Still Unanswered Questions

Although Amnesty International’s findings represent progress into unraveling the circumstances surrounding the forced disappearances, there are still questions that require answers.

Reza Shafiee reports that the exact number of deaths at the hands of the mullahs in 1988 is still unknown. Lower estimates put the number of political prisoners executed at around 5,000. However, the Iranian opposition, the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (MEK), based on eyewitness reports and remarks by former Intelligence ministry agents, many more were killed, estimating as many as 30,000 were arbitrarily executed.

Those Responsible Must be Brought to Justice

In his article, Reza Shafiee calls for an investigation into the events that unfolded in 1988. Many of the suspects responsible for the executions still hold powerful positions in the clerical regime in Iran today.

Shafiee singles out Ebrahim Raisi and Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi. Both men allegedly were part of the “Death Commission”, a task force responsible for finding members of the MEK and administering their execution. Now, Raisi is the high-profile custodian to the Imam Reza Foundation. Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi was in Rouhani’s first cabinet as the Justice Minister for the regime. Another person involved in the executions, Alireza Avii, succeeded Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi as Justice Minister in Rouhani’s second cabinet.

The Death Commission Delivered as Many as 30,000 Death Sentences in a Single Summer

Maryam Rajavi Commemorates MEK Martyrs During 1988 Massacre

During a ceremony in Tirana, Maryam Rajavi commemorates the memory of 30,000 political prisoners slain during 1988 Massacre- July 2017

In 1988, the Death Commission was tasked to eliminate Iran of MEK supporters. They rounded up MEK activists and tried them in show trials which lasted mere minutes, before sending them to the gallows. Victims could be incriminated for the smallest details. Many of those executed had done nothing more than take part in a peaceful demonstration called by MEK, distributed leaflets, or were affiliated with the political opposition group, the MEK.

The members of the Death Commission have shown no remorse for the atrocities they committed. Shafiee reports how Pour-Mohammadi expressed pride for the crimes he committed, saying he was proud to “carry out God’s will and he has not lost sleep over what he did.”

The MEK and other human rights champions and political opposition groups in Iran have urged the international community to help bring those responsible to justice. The families of victims deserve answers to the question of what happened to their loved ones.

While the people of Iran are bravely taking to the streets to demand these answers, they need the support of the international community. Let tough actions and a firm stance towards the violent and brutal clerical regime send a message; that they will not get away with the slaughter of thousands of innocent civilians.

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MEK-IRAN:WESTERN GOVERNMENTS MUST READ THE SIGNS OF IMPENDING CHANGE IN IRAN

MEK-Iran:Western governments must read the signs of impending change in Iran

MEK-IRAN:WESTERN GOVERNMENTS MUST READ THE SIGNS OF IMPENDING CHANGE IN IRAN

MEK-IRAN:WESTERN GOVERNMENTS MUST READ THE SIGNS OF IMPENDING CHANGE IN IRAN

Recent protests in Iran will have unearthed distant memories for the Iranian population. In late December 2017, and early January 2018, protests tore across the Iranian nation. The People’s Mujahedin of Iran (MEK) had a major role in organising the protests. The nation’s men, women, and youth from all walks of life took to the streets to express their desire for regime change. The urban middle classes stood alongside rural farmers and agricultural workers, along with the rest of the population, and came together in chants of “down with Rouhani” and “down with Khamenei”.

A reminder of distant memories

Iran has heard similar chants before. Forty years ago, in 1978, after the annual Nowruz celebrations, similar chants rang out across Iran. Nasser Razil describes how protestors gathered in Tehran, shouting “down with the Shah”. Then, as now, the country was in the grip of autocratic power, with a heavily oppressed population calling out regime change.

The parallels between the climate of 1978 and that which we see today are not limited to Iran’s internal political struggle. In 1978, western governments were convinced that the Shah would emerge from the protests with his regime intact. Just weeks before Nowruz, Jimmy Carter had called Iran an “island of stability in one of the more troubled areas of the world”. The UK Foreign Office also maintained a blind faith that the Shah was in control of the situation.

Foreign powers are not reading the signs

Fast forward to today, and the same attitude can be seen towards Iran from the western powers. There has been a prevailing school of thought in western governments that Rouhani’s oppressive regime has the support of the poorer classes and possesses the strength to whether the storm and put down the dissenting population.

This has clearly shown to be false. The recent protests indicate that the poorer communities have just as much desire for regime change as the urban middle classes. In Isfahan Province, it was the farmers that triggered mass public mobilisation in early April, disgusted at the regime’s inability to handle a water crisis. The recent protests raged for ten days, indicating that the regime could not quash the dissent. There were even reports of State Security Forces abandoning their posts and joining the protestors. The regime’s strength is evaporating, and there are clear signs that, like the Shah’s regime in 1978, it will not be able to maintain its grip on power for much longer.

Washington is currently re-examining its position on Iran. It will soon have to decide whether or not to adopt a firmer stance against the Iranian regime or continue with its policy of appeasement for the ayatollahs. The appointment of John Bolton as the new National Security Advisor to President Trump is a positive sign. He has long sympathised with the MEK and its leader Maryam Rajavi and will likely push for a harder stance towards the Iranian regime.

However, those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. In 1979, when the Shah regime fell, western governments were in shock and were left scrambling to formulate a policy towards the incoming government. The same signs that were present in 1978 are visible today. Foreign governments must read them and react.

The Rouhani regime is losing its grip on power. All segments of the public have turned away from it and are crying out for regime change. The economy is still declining, and farmers have begun to strike and protest. The winds of change are on the horizon. Washington, London, and the other western governments must change their attitudes towards the regime in Iran. It will not be in power for much longer.

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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

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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.

 

 

 

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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

 

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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

 

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