Archive for the ‘Iran – civil unrest’ category

Water Crisis Spurs Protests in Iran

March 29, 2018

Babak Dehghanpisheh March 29, 2018 via Reuters

Source Link: Water Crisis Spurs Protests in Iran

{Trouble in paradise. – LS}

BEIRUT (Reuters) – A number of protests have broken out in Iran since the beginning of the year over water, a growing political concern due to a drought which residents of parched areas and analysts say has been exacerbated by mismanagement.

The demonstrations have been relatively small, sporadic and limited to towns around the central city of Isfahan and Khuzestan province in the west. But they have highlighted an issue that played a role in earlier unrest and the authorities have cracked down, while recognizing the need for change.

In early March, the turnout was light in a town near Isfahan, with dozens of farmers chanting the tongue-in-cheek slogan “Death to farmers, long live oppressors!”, according to online videos. A week later the protests became more tense.

Dozens of riot police on motorcycles faced off against farmers in the same town, Varzaneh, another video showed. Smoke swirled around the protesters and the person filming said tear gas was being fired. A second person reported clashes. Police in the city of Isfahan were not immediately available to comment.

“What’s called drought is more often the mismanagement of water,” said a journalist in Varzaneh, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the subject.

“And this lack of water has disrupted people’s income.”

Farmers accuse local politicians of allowing water to be diverted from their areas in return for bribes.

While the nationwide protests in December and January stemmed from anger over high prices and alleged corruption, in rural areas, lack of access to water was also a major cause, analysts say.

At least 25 people were killed and, according to one parliamentarian, up to 3,700 people were arrested, the biggest challenge yet for the government of president Hassan Rouhani, who was reelected last year.

DISPLACED

In Syria, drought was one of the causes of anti-government protests which broke out in 2011 and led to civil war, making the Iranian drought particularly sensitive.

Approximately 97 percent of the country is experiencing drought to some degree, according to the Islamic Republic of Iran Meteorological Organization. Rights groups say it has driven many people from their homes.

“Towns and villages around Isfahan have been hit so hard by drought and water diversion that they have emptied out and people who lived there have moved,” said Hadi Ghaemi, the executive director for the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI), a New York-based advocacy group.

“Nobody pays any attention to them. And people close to Rouhani told me the government didn’t even know such a situation existed and there were so many grievances.”

Rouhani and Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei mentioned drought as a problem that needs to be addressed in the country during their speech last week commemorating Nowruz, the Iranian new year, while condemning “lawlessness and violence”.

An ad running on state TV which encourages Iranian citizens to conserve water shows a man sitting in a chair in the middle of a desert with the slogan, “Drought is closer than you think”.

A United Nations report last year noted, “Water shortages are acute; agricultural livelihoods no longer sufficient. With few other options, many people have left, choosing uncertain futures as migrants in search of work.”

In early January, protests in the town of Qahderijan, some 10 km (6 miles) west of Isfahan, quickly turned violent as security forces opened fire on crowds, killing at least five people, according to activists. One of the dead was a farmer, CHRI said, and locals said water rights were the main grievance.

Videos posted on social media show protesters chanting outside a police station and throwing Molotov cocktails at the building, one of the most violent incidents documented during the nationwide protests.

A journalist in Qahderijan who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the issue said the attack on the police station was not the right thing to do but that water mismanagement had deprived farmers of their livelihoods.

SECURITY

Hassan Kamran, a parliamentarian from Isfahan, publicly criticised energy minister Reza Ardakanian this month, accusing him of not properly implementing a water distribution law.

“The security and intelligence forces shouldn’t investigate our farmers. The water rights are theirs,” he told a parliamentary session.

In early March, Ardakanian set up a working group comprising four ministers and two presidential deputies to deal with the crisis.

Since the January protests, Rouhani has repeatedly said the government will do what it can to address grievances. But there is no quick fix for deeply rooted environmental issues like drought, observers say.

“These are local grievances but the solutions are with the national government,” said Tara Sepehri Far, Iran researcher for Human Rights Watch, adding that the government had limited power and widespread corruption.

Rouhani’s office was not immediately available to comment.

Iranian security forces are aware of the potential for water issues to cause instability. A senior Revolutionary Guards commander, Yahya Rahim Safavi, noted in a public speech in late February that water will play a key role for both the Islamic Republic’s national and regional security.

Environmentalists have found themselves in the firing line.

In late January, Kavous Seyed-Emami, the director of the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation, and six other environmentalists were arrested.

Two weeks later, authorities said Seyed-Emami had committed suicide in jail after confessing to being a spy for the United States and Israel. His family has denied the allegation.

State TV later aired a report saying Seyed-Emami and his colleagues were telling Iran’s enemies the country could no longer maintain domestic agriculture production because of a water shortage and needed to import food.

In late February, three more environmentalists were arrested and three weeks ago, Seyed-Emami’s wife was prevented from leaving Iran, according to family members.

“Public opinion has become sensitized to environmental issues,” said Saeed Leylaz, a Tehran-based economist and political analyst. “So the government may see the organizations and institutions who work on environmental issues as problematic.”

BIG BROTHER Iran may be spying on Brits using ‘weaponised’ phone apps downloaded from Apple and Google’s app stores, report claims

February 16, 2018

By Mark Hodge 15th February 2018 4:59 pm The Sun

Source Link: BIG BROTHER Iran may be spying on Brits using weaponised phone apps downloaded from Apple and Google’s app stores, report claims

{Invading Iran one app at a time. – LS}

An explosive new report claims the spyware-enabled messaging apps, used by the evil regime, are being used by Iranian expats in the West to communicate with their relatives in the troubled country

IRAN could be spying on Brits and Americans using “weaponised” apps which are available on Apple and Google’s online stores, an explosive new report has claimed.

The Iranian regime has created their own messaging apps which are spyware-enabled to help them hunt down anti-government protesters in the country, according to the report obtained by The Sun Online.

The most popular of these applications is called Mobogram, which is used by millions of Iranians and is available to download by westerners on Apple’s App Store.

The report by the National Council of Resistance of Iran, a political group which opposes the Iranian regime, shows that Iranian expats are using Mobogram to communicate with their relatives in the troubled dictatorship.

Deputy Director of the council Alireza Jafarzadeh told The Sun Online that the Iranian regime has “weaponised smartphones” in its bid to thwart demonstrators in the country.

He said: “When you download these apps and start using them, they have the ability to gain access to your contacts, track your location and they can see the content of your communications.

“They can find out who you are, your phone number, your address, because they gain access to information on your SIM card.

“Some of the apps have found their way into global marketplaces such as Google Play and Apple’s App Store.

“This means the Iranian regime could target the millions of Iranian expats living abroad who communicate with their relatives.”

Mr Jafarzadeh’s says that the council’s research has shown that the regime has used the spyware to “threaten, arrest, torture and kill people.”

In December and January, the Iranian regime was rocked by anti-government protests which erupted in over 100 town and cities across the Islamic Republic.

The Council’s research shows that the government has developed around 100 spyware enabled apps allegedly using tech companies which are a front for the evil regime.

Apps such as Mobogram are “forked”, or copied, from popular messaging app Telegram and “were promoted heavily” by the state-sponsored firms, claims Mr Jafarzadeh.

Last year, the founder and CEO of Telegram Pavel Durov branded Mobogram “potentially insecure” and warned against using it.

He tweeted: “Mobogram is an outdated and potentially insecure fork of Telegram from Iran. I don’t advise to use it.”

The Iranian government executes more people, including women and children, per capita than any other country on Earth.

And Mr Jafarzadeh says the regime is “experimenting” with cyber warfare on its own people but could “apply these tactics” against  western countries.

He said: “The regime has turned these applications into a spying weapon.

“They have weaponised these applications and as a result have actually weaponised smartphones in their favour.

“The Iranian regime is experimenting with cyberwar fare on its own population first – and once they have perfected that they could apply these tactics on countries outside of Iran.

“The regime feels very, very vulnerable to the uprising which is happening. They feel that the whole population is turning against them.”

The Sun Online has approached Apple and Google for comment.

Mobogram web developer Hanista has also been approached for comment.

Iranian opposition cleric accuses Khamenei of abuse of power

January 30, 2018

Bozorgmehr Sharafedin World News January 30, 2018

Source: Iranian opposition cleric accuses Khamenei of abuse of power

{Trouble in paradise. – LS}

LONDON (Reuters) – Instead of blaming others Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei should take responsibility for Iran’s economic and political shortcomings, an opposition leader under house arrest said in a letter published on Tuesday.

In rare public criticism of Khamenei, Mehdi Karroubi accused Iran’s hardline top authority of abusing power and urged him to change the way he runs the Islamic Republic before it is too late.

“You have been Iran’s top leader for three decades, but still speak like an opposition,” Karroubi said in an open letter to Khamenei published on Saham News, the official website of his reformist political party.

By “opposition”, Karroubi meant that Khamenei, head of a Shi‘ite theocracy, should not be wielding ultimate power while criticizing the government of elected President Hassan Rouhani, a pragmatist who wants to liberalize an economy dominated by the elite Revolutionary Guards and other state conglomerates.

“During the last three decades, you have eliminated the main revolutionary forces to implement your own policies, and now you should face the results of that,” Karroubi added.

Karroubi, 80, a Shi‘ite cleric like Khamenei, and fellow reformist Mirhossein Mousavi ran for election in 2009 and became figureheads for Iranians who staged mass protests after hardline conservative President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was returned to power in a vote they believed was rigged. Authorities denied this.

Karroubi, Mousavi and the latter’s wife Zahra Rahnavard have been under house arrest since 2011 without trial, by the direct order of Khamenei.

The Supreme Leader is commander-in-chief of Iran’s armed forces and appoints the heads of the judiciary. Key cabinet ministers are selected with his approval and he has the ultimate say on Iran’s foreign policy and nuclear program.

By comparison, the president wields little power.

Karroubi also criticized Khamenei for letting the Revolutionary Guards take a commanding role in the economy as this “has tarnished the reputation of this revolutionary body and drowned it in massive corruption”.

KARROUBI CITES UNACCOUNTABLE ELITE

He said that under Khamenei’s leadership, bodies formed at the beginning of the 1979 Revolution to wipe out poverty had turned into conglomerates that own half of Iran’s wealth without a supervisory organization to question their actions.

More than 10 million Iranians, among 80 million, now live in absolute poverty, Karroubi said quoting official figures.

“Under such conditions, it is natural that the lower classes, who were the grassroot supporters of the Islamic Revolution, will turn into a gunpowder barrel,” Karroubi said.

Khamenei has often accused Rouhani’s government of responsibility for the lack of headway toward reducing high unemployment, inflation and inequality. He has also blamed members of parliament, former presidents and Western powers.

Rouhani, however, was easily re-elected in 2017, suggesting many Iranians still see him as their best hope for improving the economy and easing religious restrictions on society.

Karroubi further said December’s nationwide street protests against “corruption and discrimination” were an alarm bell for the authorities to reform the economic and political system.

Goaded by soaring food prices, the protests – the biggest in Iran since the post-election unrest of 2009 – took on a rare political dimension, with a growing number of people calling on Khamenei himself to step down.

Clashes between protesters and police resulted in 25 deaths, according to official figures.

Karroubi also said that by vetting candidates in elections, Khamenei had reduced parliament to “an obedient assembly” under his thumb and the influence of Revolutionary Guards lobbies.

The Assembly of Experts, a council of elected clerics charged with electing, supervising and even disqualifying the Supreme Leader, has turned into a “ceremonial council that only praises the Leader”, Karroubi added.

Karoubi, an ex-speaker of parliament, has been accused by hardline authorities of being a “seditionist” and “traitor”.

In a public letter to Rouhani in 2016, he asked “the despotic regime” to grant him a public trial so he could hear the indictment against him and defend himself.

Protests in Iran Undermine a Key Premise of the Nuclear Deal

January 13, 2018

– The Tower

Source: Protests in Iran Undermine a Key Premise of the Nuclear Deal

{As the clouds of the Obama legacy clear, a new light will shine upon the land. – LS}

When President Barack Obama was interviewed by The Atlantic‘s Jeffrey Goldberg in 2015 about the soon to be agreed on nuclear deal with Iran, Goldberg pressed the president on the wisdom of trusting Iran to act rationally, he responded:

Well the fact that you are anti-Semitic, or racist, doesn’t preclude you from being interested in survival. It doesn’t preclude you from being rational about the need to keep your economy afloat; it doesn’t preclude you from making strategic decisions about how you stay in power; and so the fact that the supreme leader is anti-Semitic doesn’t mean that this overrides all of his other considerations.

In essence, the president was arguing Iranian practices could be called “rational anti-Semitism” and would therefore not risk violating the deal because of the consequences.

Furthermore, when Goldberg asked if Secretary of Treasury Jack Lew’s assessment that more of the sanctions relief would be used to build up Iran’s economy and infrastructure than building up its military and proxies was a bit optimistic, Obama replied:

Then [Iranian President] Rouhani and, by extension, the supreme leader have made a series of commitments to improve the Iranian economy, and the expectations are outsized. You saw the reaction of people in the streets of Tehran after the signing of the agreement. Their expectations are that [the economy is] going to improve significantly. You have Iranian elites who are champing at the bit to start moving business and getting out from under the restraints that they’ve been under.

So not only was Obama arguing that Iran’s declared anti-Semitic intention was “rational,” which would ensure that it abided by the nuclear deal, but also that there would be political constraints limiting Iran’s regional aggression. Furthermore, he added that sanctions had, in fact, strengthened Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the military organization that not only attempts to spread Iran’s revolution abroad but also is behind the regime’s repression at home. Easing sanctions “may actually lessen” the means the IRGC developed to raise money while sanctions were in full force.

The protests against the regime in recent weeks, however, show how wrong Obama was in assessing the behavior of the Iranian regime.

Rather than being rational and spending the freed up billions on civilian infrastructure, Tehran used its windfall to raise a regional Shiite army, propped up Syria’s dictator Assad and sent ballistic missiles to the Houthi rebels in Yemen. The largess Iran provided to its proxies was not lost on the protesters.

Rather than weakening Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the IRGC, the nuclear deal strengthened both of them.

The regime says that it has arrested some 3,700 protesters and at least 22 have been reported killed.

It’s pretty clear that, contrary to Obama’s assertions, the nuclear deal has strengthened the hands of those who would put down the protests.

In its pursuit of regional hegemony, Iran has ignored the needs of its citizens at the expense of its grandiose ambitions, including the destruction of Israel. Certainly, from the standpoint of its own people, Khamenei, President Hassan Rouhani, and the rest of the government have irrationally pursued its anti-Semitic goals.

There is, however, one way in which Iran’s post-nuclear deal behavior is rational: it knows what it can get away with in terms of the rest of the world.

In the Goldberg interview, Obama claimed, “we will continue to ratchet up the costs, not simply for their anti-Semitism, but also for whatever expansionist ambitions they may have.”

In fact, the Obama administration did nothing of the sort. We know now that the Obama administration allowed the pace of the slaughter in Syria to increase, stopped the investigation into Hezbollah’s drug smuggling operations, and allowed numerous Iranians connected to the regime’s proliferation efforts to go free.

In August 2015, just after the nuclear deal was agreed to, IRGC-Qods Force Commander Qassem Soleimani, who is under an international travel ban, went to Moscow to enlist Russia’s support in supporting Assad. In the past two years, the Syrian army, backed by Russian planes and Iran-backed Shiite militias, have recaptured much of Syria, killing thousands in the process. Yet at the time, neither the United States nor any of its partners in the nuclear deal took any action against this blatant violation of international law.

Even now, the European Union invited Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif for talks and everyone appeared to have a good time, despite the fact that he’s the face of a regime violently putting down dissent.

Iran is rational in this way: if it knows it will pay no significant cost for its aggression, its aggression will continue.

The challenge now is to change that equation and make Iran’s destabilizing behavior too costly for it to continue. The Justice Department’s recently announced team to investigate Hezbollah’s drug trafficking is an important step in the right direction. With the European Union besotted with the idea of doing commerce with the world’s leading state sponsor of terror, the U.S. may just have to stand alone and use its financial clout to bring Iran under control.

Iranian Officials Inconsistent in Describing Protestors’ Motives and Goals

December 30, 2017

Iranian Officials Inconsistent in Describing Protestors’ Motives and Goals, Iranian News Update, Edward Carney, December 30, 2017

Please see also, The First Anti-American President, the thrust of which is

Donald Trump is certainly the opposite of an anti-American president, and he has no affection for our enemies. He has enabled the Ukrainians to fight, perhaps effectively, against the Russians. So why can’t he enable the Iranians to fight against the ayatollahs?

In the Ukrainian case we’re talking about military weapons; in the Iranian conflict the weapons are political.

If the Iranians rose up against the regime when Obama entered the White House, you can be sure they are at least equally motivated to do it with Trump in office. There are many protests in Iran today, and the Khamenei/Rouhani regime has responded by executing half as many Iranians as in the past. We should relentlessly expose this mass murder, and we should publicize the ongoing protests.

The target audience for such exposes is the great mass of the population. Paradoxically, Iranians are better informed about events in Jerusalem and Washington than in Iranian Kurdistan, the southern oil regions, and cities like Mashad and Qom.

— DM)

[T]he protest against foreign intervention has taken on a life of its own, with activists chanting such slogans as “forget about Syria; focus on us” and “no Gaza, no Lebanon; I will give my life only for Iran.” Despite the prevalence of these sorts of messages in social media and public accounts of the demonstrations, Iranian officials continue to maintain that the regional military prestige of the Islamic Republic remains broadly popular. For instance, the Huffington Post quotes hardline cleric Ahmad Alamolhoda as claiming that only about 50 protestors had expressed regional concerns within a gathering of several hundred.

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On Friday, mass protests continued throughout Iran after having started the previous day in reaction to rising rates of inflation and other uncontrolled economic conditions that had contributed, for instance, to a doubling of the price of eggs in just one week’s time.

Deutsche Welle quotes one Iranian lawmaker as blaming these problems on “illegal financial institutions” that had been established under the administration of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The closure of one such bank, called Mizan, reportedly had a particularly marked impact on Iran’s second most populous city, Mashhad, which has been the focal point of protests that spanned much of central and northern Iran as of Thursday.

The lawmaker’s account of the protests seemingly absolves the current government of responsibility for the conditions that are being protested by victims of a widening income gap in the Islamic Republic. But the DW article also points out that a major target of those protests has been current President Hassan Rouhani’s slow progress in following through on a promise to reimburse citizens whose investments were wiped out by the collapse of state-linked financial institutions.

 

At the same time, DW and various other outlets have highlighted a trend toward broader focus in those protests, targeting not just rising prices and not just financial indicators as a whole but also the Rouhani administration’s failure to uphold a wide variety of promises regarding domestic reform. Insofar as the abandonment of these promises represents closure of the political gap between Rouhani’s political allies and those of hardline authorities like Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, the protests seemingly double as an expression of opposition to the clerical system as a whole.

Indeed, the BBC refers to the demonstrations as “anti-government” protests in its reporting on Friday, as well as identifying them as the most serious and widespread such gatherings since the 2009 Green Movement, which emerged out of protests against Ahmadinejad’s disputed reelection. Those protests lasted for eight months and ended with a severe crackdown by government authorities, but many Iran watchers have observed that the resentments voiced by that movement continued to simmer under the surface in anticipation of another mass demonstration.

 

This is not to say that there have been no major protests in the ensuing year. Indeed, the National Council of Resistance of Iran has identified thousands in the past year alone. But these have tended to be more geographically confined than the current demonstrations, and many have been focused not on politics but on specific demands such as the payment of overdue wages.

The content of Thursday’s and Friday’s protests was evidently broad enough in scope that even some Iranian officials were compelled to acknowledge the “anti-government” nature of chants and slogans, even while downplaying the scope of their appeal. The Associated Press reports that the governor of Tehran, Mohsen Hamedani, had acknowledged the spread of the protests to the Iranian capital, yet insisted that the gathering involved fewer than 50 people, most of whom dispersed after being warned by police.

Hamedani added that those who remained were “temporarily” arrested, and these remarks seemed also to downplay the severity of the government’s response to what might be regarded as a serious threat to its legitimacy. However, social media posts from various cities depicted peaceful protests being met with tear gas and water cannons, and the crowds in each of those gatherings numbered in the hundreds or in the thousands. By the end of Thursday, there had been at least 52 arrests in Mashhad alone, according to the BBC.

This is not to say that there have been no major protests in the ensuing year. Indeed, the National Council of Resistance of Iran has identified thousands in the past year alone. But these have tended to be more geographically confined than the current demonstrations, and many have been focused not on politics but on specific demands such as the payment of overdue wages.

The content of Thursday’s and Friday’s protests was evidently broad enough in scope that even some Iranian officials were compelled to acknowledge the “anti-government” nature of chants and slogans, even while downplaying the scope of their appeal. The Associated Press reports that the governor of Tehran, Mohsen Hamedani, had acknowledged the spread of the protests to the Iranian capital, yet insisted that the gathering involved fewer than 50 people, most of whom dispersed after being warned by police.

Hamedani added that those who remained were “temporarily” arrested, and these remarks seemed also to downplay the severity of the government’s response to what might be regarded as a serious threat to its legitimacy. However, social media posts from various cities depicted peaceful protests being met with tear gas and water cannons, and the crowds in each of those gatherings numbered in the hundreds or in the thousands. By the end of Thursday, there had been at least 52 arrests in Mashhad alone, according to the BBC.

 

Political imprisonment is rampant in the Islamic Republic, and the BBC report also indicates that this was one of the topics that had been advanced by some protestors. But political focus of any given participant in the demonstrations might be different from those of any other, as evidenced by media reports identifying chants as targeting economic issues, political imprisonment, Iran’s paramilitary interventions in the surrounding region, and so on.

This latter topic is closely related to the economic issues that reportedly sparked the protests, since the Iranian government has spent billions of dollars in recent years on propping up the Syrian dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad, as well as on promoting the growth of the Houthi rebellion in Yemen and the various Shiite militias operating in Iraq. A recent editorial in Forbes points out that the new Iranian national budget, introduced by Rouhani in early December, includes the provision of 76 billion dollars to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and its foreign special operations Quds Force, at a time when tens of thousands of victims of a November earthquake are still awaiting basic shelter and government services.

 

But the protest against foreign intervention has taken on a life of its own, with activists chanting such slogans as “forget about Syria; focus on us” and “no Gaza, no Lebanon; I will give my life only for Iran.” Despite the prevalence of these sorts of messages in social media and public accounts of the demonstrations, Iranian officials continue to maintain that the regional military prestige of the Islamic Republic remains broadly popular. For instance, the Huffington Post quotes hardline cleric Ahmad Alamolhoda as claiming that only about 50 protestors had expressed regional concerns within a gathering of several hundred.

Interestingly, the same report also quotes Alamolhoda as advocating for an intensified crackdown on the protestors. In absence of this, he suggested, enemies of the regime would claim that the government had lost its “revolutionary base”. The Huffington Post indicates that Tehran security personnel have promised that any demonstrations in the capital would be “firmly dealt with”. This seems to be at odds with the Tehran governor’s commentary about temporary arrests and also with the initial reaction from Mashhad Governor Mohammad Rahim Norouzian, whom the AP quoted as saying that security forces had shown “great tolerance”

 

Since that initial reaction, Iranian officials seem to have increasingly justified crackdowns through acceptance of the broader characterizations of the protests’ grievances and goals. Norouzian himself came to describe the protests as having been organized by “counter-revolutionaries”, according to DW. According to other sources, officials have also referred to the organizers as “hypocrites,” a term often applies to members of the leading Iranian opposition group the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran.

The PMOI has also been a driving force in a number of activist campaigns within the Islamic Republic, including the push for international attention and independent inquiry into the 1988 mass execution of political prisoners, which primarily targeted that same resistance organization. In a Huffington Post editorial on Friday, former US Ambassador Ken Blackwell sought to connect that massacre, which killed an estimated 30,000 people, to the current protests. He said that Thursday’s and Friday’s chants of “death to the dictator” emerged out of “a political climate punctuated by growing demands for justice for the regime’s massacre.”

But even if the initial economic focus of the latest protests had been voiced in isolation, there is an argument to be made that this also would constitute an expression of opposition to the continued rule of the clerical regime. In fact, this argument was made by historian Ellen Ward on Friday in an editorial published by Forbes. Ward observes that despite some officials’ efforts to blame the previous presidential administration for ongoing problems, it is really the underlying clerical system that is responsible for the economic future of the Iranian people.

This is to say that it is the clerical authorities, and not the elected branches of government, who establish and enforce policies with tremendous economic impact, including the interventionist foreign policy. Ward’s argument is reminiscent of the statement put out on Thursday by the PMOI’s parent coalition the National Council of Resistance of Iran. That statement quoted NCRI President Maryam Rajavi as saying that the economic prospects of the Iranian people cannot be expected to improve until the resistance movement has brought about the emergence of democratic governance in place of the theocratic dictatorship.

 

Iranian Protesters Hit the Streets Against President Rouhani, Ayatollah Khamenei

December 29, 2017

Iranian Protesters Hit the Streets Against President Rouhani, Ayatollah Khamenei, Jewish PressDavid Israel, December 29, 2017

(Please see also The First Anti-American President which, after a brief discussion on the Iran scam, suggests what President Trump should do to get the Iranian people to rebel. Here are the guts of it:

There are many protests in Iran today, and the Khamenei/Rouhani regime has responded by executing half as many Iranians as in the past. We should relentlessly expose this mass murder, and we should publicize the ongoing protests.

The target audience for such exposes is the great mass of the population. Paradoxically, Iranians are better informed about events in Jerusalem and Washington than in Iranian Kurdistan, the southern oil regions, and cities like Mashad and Qom.

All Iranians need this information, which shows them that they are not alone. The technology for such a campaign exists. It is the same as it was when we deployed it against the Soviet Union with such powerful consequences: our broadcasting network, starting with the Voice of America. Today, Farsi-language VOA is often a vehicle for anti-American polemics, since personnel is virtually unchanged from the Obama years. We need a thorough housecleaning, but there are few signs that our national security team understands its urgency.

— DM)

Thousands of Iranians in several major cities, including Mashhad, Neyshabur, Shahroud, and Yazd, rallied in the streets on Thursday against poverty, unemployment, and the rising cost of living. They carried signs with the slogans “Death to Rouhani, and Death to the Dictator,” the term “dictator” referring to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. The protesters also denounced Iran’s promotion of violence around the Middle East.

The country is holding its breath in anticipation of events on Friday, the Muslim day of rest.

 People chant: “Akhoonds [Mullahs/ Shia clerics] be ashamed, and leave Iran”. Today when a Mullah popped up among crowd of people protesting financial corruptions of Islamic regime authorities in Mashhad, 2nd largest city of Iran
(Video at the link — DM)
 Journalist and author Babak Taghvaee tweeted on Thursday that when a Mullah (Shia cleric) popped up among crowd of people protesting financial corruption of Islamic regime authorities in Mashhad, the second largest city in Iran, people chanted, “Akhoonds (the Mullahs) be ashamed, and leave Iran.”

“Protesters in Iran chant ‘Reza Shah, Bless Your Soul’ – referring to Reza Shah the Great, the founder of the Pahlavi dynasty, the nemesis of the clerics, the modernizer of #Iran,” Taghvaee tweeted, adding, “People of Mashhad shout ‘Islamic revolution was our mistake’ during their protests against corrupted authorities of Iran Islamic regime today.”

According to Taghvaee, calls for peaceful rallies to protest poor living condition and the corruption of the regime can be found in Instagram. Not only in large cities of Iran such as Tehran, Shiraz, Isfahan, and Tabriz, but people in small towns also support people of Mashhad ahead of Friday’s rallies.

According to IranFocus.com, Thursday’s demonstrators pointed to the billions the regime has spent on the war to keep Assad in power, and chanted, “Leave Syria, think about us.”

President Rouhani expected the nuclear deal of 2015 to restore Iran’s economy, as most international sanctions were lifted. But those economic benefits did not trickle down to ordinary Iranians, who believe their desperate economic situation is the result of government corruption and mismanagement.

An estimated 3.2 million Iranians are unemployed, out of a population of 80 million, with unemployment rates rising to 12.4% in 2017.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei blamed President Trump for Iran’s economic woes. Trump refused to certify that Tehran is complying with its nuclear deal and warned he would eventually terminate the deal. Trump also promised a more aggressive approach to Iran over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, as well as its spreading terrorism in the Middle East.

Taghvaee tweeted Thursday that Iranian Police completely suppressed the protests in Mashhad people at 4 PM local time. Almost 50 people are arrested and tens of others were slightly injured. No one died.

The First Anti-American President

December 29, 2017

The First Anti-American President, PJ MediaMichael Ledeen, December 28, 2017

Donald Trump is certainly the opposite of an anti-American president, and he has no affection for our enemies. He has enabled the Ukrainians to fight, perhaps effectively, against the Russians. So why can’t he enable the Iranians to fight against the ayatollahs?

In the Ukrainian case we’re talking about military weapons; in the Iranian conflict the weapons are political. If the Iranians rose up against the regime when Obama entered the White House, you can be sure they are at least equally motivated to do it with Trump in office. There are many protests in Iran today, and the Khamenei/Rouhani regime has responded by executing half as many Iranians as in the past. We should relentlessly expose this mass murder, and we should publicize the ongoing protests.

The target audience for such exposes is the great mass of the population. Paradoxically, Iranians are better informed about events in Jerusalem and Washington than in Iranian Kurdistan, the southern oil regions, and cities like Mashad and Qom.

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Barack Obama will no doubt be chronicled, among other things, as the first anti-American president. No wonder; he’s the product of an educational system that has become increasingly radical and anti-American with each passing decade, and his mother was a stereotypical leftist anthropologist with a passion for the Third World.

The pattern is unmistakable. As Luis Fleischman notes, Obama wanted to make deals with our enemies, Iran being the most dramatic example. But just look at Latin America:

The Obama Administration tried to avoid confrontations with anyone it wanted to make a “historic deal” with. Most of these “historic deals” were intended to be made with enemies, as Obama desperately sought an agreement not only with Iran, but also with Cuba and reconciliation with Venezuela.

Thus, Obama failed to insist on the extradition of Venezuelan military and drug trafficker Hugo Carvajal from Aruba and the Syrian-born Venezuelan drug lord Walid Makled from Colombia. Carvajal was the chief of Venezuelan military intelligence and Makled is one of the most notorious drug traffickers in the Western Hemisphere. Makled himself disclosed his own cooperation with scores of the highest officials within Chavez’s government — including Carvajal himself, with the chiefs of the Venezuelan army and navy, as well as with dozens of Venezuelan generals.

The Obama people did not want to know the details of Venezuela’s collusion with the drug Mafiosi. If you have followed the story of the obstruction of the DEA investigation of Hezbollah, you will recognize the pattern. Indeed, it is part of the story.

It is also part of a bigger story: What is Trump going to do about Iran? The rhetoric on Iran is great. Inspirational, even. But as even “Mad Dog” Mattis says, there’s, well, more rhetoric, along with some sanctions:

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says Washington will deal with Iran through a “diplomatically-led effort,” a day after a top U.S. diplomat said Tehran was supplying weapons to the Huthi rebels in Yemen.

So we still don’t have an Iran policy worthy of the name, despite the welcome clarity the Trump people have brought to the subject. “Everywhere you find turmoil,” Mattis said following our UN Ambassador Nikki Haley’s expose of Iran’s role in Yemen, “you find Iran’s hand in it.”

But then the secretary of Defense went on to embrace consciousness-raising.

Consciousness has long been suitably raised. There is no confusion about the nature of the Iranian regime or its intent to develop nuclear attack weapons or its savage repression of seventy-plus million people who would undoubtedly enter the ranks of the West if they could. But if we do not directly challenge the regime, no one else is going to do it.

Donald Trump is certainly the opposite of an anti-American president, and he has no affection for our enemies. He has enabled the Ukrainians to fight, perhaps effectively, against the Russians. So why can’t he enable the Iranians to fight against the ayatollahs?

In the Ukrainian case we’re talking about military weapons; in the Iranian conflict the weapons are political. If the Iranians rose up against the regime when Obama entered the White House, you can be sure they are at least equally motivated to do it with Trump in office. There are many protests in Iran today, and the Khamenei/Rouhani regime has responded by executing half as many Iranians as in the past. We should relentlessly expose this mass murder, and we should publicize the ongoing protests.

The target audience for such exposes is the great mass of the population. Paradoxically, Iranians are better informed about events in Jerusalem and Washington than in Iranian Kurdistan, the southern oil regions, and cities like Mashad and Qom.

All Iranians need this information, which shows them that they are not alone. The technology for such a campaign exists. It is the same as it was when we deployed it against the Soviet Union with such powerful consequences: our broadcasting network, starting with the Voice of America. Today, Farsi-language VOA is often a vehicle for anti-American polemics, since personnel is virtually unchanged from the Obama years. We need a thorough housecleaning, but there are few signs that our national security team understands its urgency.

Faster, please.