Archive for the ‘Iranian resistance’ category

The Ladies vs. the Mullahs

January 14, 2018

The Ladies vs. the Mullahs, American ThinkerManda Zand Ervin, January 14, 2018

The theocratic tyranny in Iran is, by all definitions, international laws and United Nations resolutions, a gender apartheid regime, vehemently and actively opposed by the people of Iran.  Isn’t it past time for Western democracies and women to cease support for Tehran?  Instead, shouldn’t support go to the legacy of the Ladies’ Secret Societies and the brave women who are its descendants?

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No one knows her name, but a young Iranian woman waving a white scarf has become a symbol of almost forty years of struggle by Iranian women, protesting the gender apartheid that clerics brought to our country, overnight, in the winter of 1979.  She waved a white scarf in the air as a symbol of peaceful defiance and a campaign, #MyStealthyFreedom, of women fighting for their right to feel the wind in their hair in Iran, the country of my birth.

The reaction of the paramilitary forces of the regime has not been so peaceful, with this young woman allegedly detained and other protesters killed by the dictatorial theocracy of Iran, which demands that women cover their hair.

The young woman’s struggle is part of a longer battle that Iranian women and men have fought against the Shia clergy’s thirst for power and wealth since the 1840s, when a band of organizations, the Ladies’ Secret Societies, emerged to take Iran back from occupying clergy.  They prevailed with the 1906 Constitutional Revolution that established a secular system of governance and separation of religion and state.  They hearkened back to a secular philosophy that has defined the Persian Empire since the year 539 B.C., when the emperor of Persia, Cyrus the Great, wrote the first proclamation of human rights and separation of religion from the state.

However, a few clerics, like the ayatollah Khomeini, would not give up.  He knew that the Iranian people did not want clerical rule and that he would never be able to take over Iran through a democratic process.  Khomeini needed America’s power and shopped for the support of U.S. presidents, beginning by writing to John F. Kennedy but succeeding only in fooling former president Jimmy Carter’s administration, which took the bait and helped Khomeini take Iran in 1979.

Today, the people of Iran call the ideology that controls every aspect of their lives “political Islam.”  You cannot convince a single Iranian that his dictatorial rulers care about Iran and Iranians.  Khomeini told us, “Iran is only a base and financial source for us to establish the rule of Islam throughout the world.”

The uprisings of the people of Iran, trending now with the hashtag #IranProtests, are nothing new.  The women of Iran have been fighting since the day Khomeini announced the imposition of his regressive sharia law on the people, making the free and equal women of Iran and their children property of men, perhaps better defined as “slaves.”  We marched day after day, in the rain and snow, with little support from the West.  I lost friends to prison, assassination, and exile.  My father begged me to go into exile, and I did, fleeing with my young daughter, tears in our eyes.

Iranians endured eight years of a bloody and inhumane war between Khomeini and Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, with an estimated one million young boys and men of Iran dying.

The women of Iran have constantly protested in defiance of sharia laws, to be arrested, tortured, and abused in prisons.

In 1998, Tehran University students rose up in protest, in support of a professor who was fired and replaced by an illiterate, elderly cleric.  The protests lasted for weeks and ended with over 8,000 dead young students of Iran, with unknown numbers in prisons.

During the decades of 1990s and the 2000s, as the West entertained handpicked presidents of Iran, the women of Iran continuously demonstrated for their human rights and were beaten, arrested, and imprisoned.

On Sept. 18, 2001, defying the regime’s warnings and pressure, brave Iranians were the only people in the Middle East to hold a candlelight vigil in solidarity with America.  The thousands who marched peacefully down one of the main boulevards of Tehran were brutally attacked by Revolutionary Guards and paramilitary forces.  Many paid a high price for their bravery.  They were arrested and hauled off to prison.

In 2006, women organized a march and handed out 5,000 brochures that explained that sharia laws imprison the people.  They were attacked and arrested.

In 2007 and 2008, women began the One Million Signature Movement, a petition against sharia laws.  In one week, more men and women volunteered to collect signatures in every city of Iran.  The One Million Signature Movement brought to life the brave women of Iran, who quickly established organizations and websites.  But the inevitable happened.  In the early morning, paramilitary forces kicked in the doors to the women’s homes and beat them up in front of their husbands and children before taking them away to prison with their collected signatures.

In 2008, many Iranians, backed by world human rights organizations, proposed that the Nobel Peace Prize be given to the women of Iran for the One Million Signature Movement for courageous acts of defending human rights.  The academy gave it, instead, to the new president of the United States.

The next year, fearless women led the Green Movement of the people of Iran.  All they wanted was for Western democracies to stop empowering the dictatorial regime.  For days, they chanted, “Obama!  Obama!  Are you with them or with us?”  The world watched, mostly in silence, as they were killed.  I gasped in horror as I watched a young woman activist, Neda Agha-Soltan, take her last breaths after being shot by a sniper in a video captured by her friends.  Obama decided to stay aligned with the gender apartheid tyrants of Iran.

The theocratic tyranny in Iran is, by all definitions, international laws and United Nations resolutions, a gender apartheid regime, vehemently and actively opposed by the people of Iran.  Isn’t it past time for Western democracies and women to cease support for Tehran?  Instead, shouldn’t support go to the legacy of the Ladies’ Secret Societies and the brave women who are its descendants?

Manda Zand Ervin is a human rights activist, born in Iran and living in exile in the United States.  She is the author of the forthcoming book The Ladies’ Secret Societies.

House Passes Resolution Supporting Iranian Protestors 415-2

January 10, 2018

House Passes Resolution Supporting Iranian Protestors 415-2, BreitbartPenny Starr, January 9, 2018

AP Photo/Frank Augstein

The crowd in Los Angeles also expressed thanks to President Donald Trump for his outspoken support of the protesters, according to tweets posted during the weekend.

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The House of Representatives approved House Resolution 676 on Tuesday, putting into the Congressional Record its support for the protesters that have taken to the streets in cities across Iran in opposition to its oppressive radical Islamic government.

HR 676 reads: “Supporting the rights of the people of Iran to free expression, condemning the Iranian regime for its crackdown on legitimate protests, and for other purposes.”

House approves resolution in support of Iran protests, 415-2

Two Republicans voted against the resolution: Reps. Walter Jones (R-NC) and Thomas Massie (R-KY).

The House Radio and TV Gallery confirmed to Breitbart News the vote count and the two members who voted “no” on the resolution.

 The regime in Iran has insisted the protests have been put down, but supporters — including those who have held rallies across the United States in recent days — say the protesters need support for their cause to bring about a Democratic Republic in the country.

Hundreds gathered in Washington, DC, and an estimated 2,000 in Los Angeles, California, over the weekend in support of the protesters.

“Let us declare our solidarity with the people of Iran,” Amir Emadi — whose father was one of 52 Iranian refugees killed in 2013 by Iraqi security forces in Camp Ashraf, Iraq — said at the rally in the nation’s capital.

“We are gathered here to say to the international community; you must recognize the legitimate right of the people of Iran and overthrow the ruling religious dictatorship and establish a secular, democratic, Republic of Iran,” Emadi said. “You must strongly condemn and hold accountable the Iranian regime for murder and mass arrest of defenseless protesters.”

“You must impose sanctions on the regime for killings and arrests during current uprisings,” said Emadi, who supports the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).

At least 21 protesters have been killed since protests began on December 27, but some say the number is much higher. Authorities in Iran have said that at least 450 people weredetained, but the U.S. Department of State said the number could be as many as 1,000, CNN reported.

The crowd in Los Angeles also expressed thanks to President Donald Trump for his outspoken support of the protesters, according to tweets posted during the weekend.

Iranian Resistance Sends a Message to the UN Security Council

January 5, 2018

Iranian Resistance Sends a Message to the UN Security Council, Iran News Update, January 5, 2018

(Please see also, Russia: US demand for UN meeting on Iran is ‘destructive’.  The Iranian Resistance movement does not have a chance at the UN. — DM)
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INU – On January 5, 2018, the Secretariat of the National Council of Resistance of Iran issued an important statement regarding the today’s UN Security Council session on the current uprising against the Iranian regime, the following is the full text of the statement:

Security Council upbraids Iran regime for mass murder and arrest of protesters

  • Legitimate right of people to overthrow religious fascism and establishment of democracy must be recognized

The Iranian Resistance asks today’s UN Security Council to defend the legitimate and natural right of the Iranian people to overthrow the religious fascism ruling Iran and to achieve the freedom they have been uprising for, and to strongly condemn and hold accountable the mullahs’ regime for killing defenseless and unarmed demonstrators; measures that are a clear indication of a crime against humanity, and confronting them is  the responsibility of the United Nations Security Council.

According to reliable reports obtained by the Iranian Resistance, at least 50 demonstrators have been martyred by the direct fire of the Revolutionary Guards since the beginning of the uprising (during eight days) and more than 3,000 have been arrested. Children and teenagers as young as 12 or 13 years old are among the martyrs. The actual number of martyrs and arrestees is much more; a reality that the Iranian regime is trying hard to hide.

The clerical regime has blocked social networks in Iran since the first days of the uprising and cut off the Internet or has boosted severe restrictions on it. The IRGC commander, major general Jaafary, and the Minister of Communications, Azari Jahromi, and many other officials in the clerical regime officially acknowledged cutting off internet communications and announced that they would continue it until the unrest ends.

Welcoming the convening of today’s UN Security Council on Iran’s uprising, the Iranian Resistance emphasizes the need for the following actions to be taken by the UN Security Council:

  1. Recognizing the legitimate right of the people of Iran to overthrow the ruling religious fascism and establish freedom and sovereignty of the people.
  2. Strongly condemning and holding accountable the Iranian regime for massacre and mass arrests of defenseless and unarmed protesters.
  3. Sanctioning the regime for the systematic violations of human rights, including the 1988 massacre and the killings during current uprising.
  4. Condemning cutting off the Internet and social networks, and ensuring the free access of the public to the Internet.
  5. Enforcing binding decisions for the release of thousands of arrested demonstrators and for establishing a monitoring system; and warning the Iranian regime that more serious actions will be taken should such trend continues.

Secretariat of the National Council of Resistance of Iran

January 5, 2018

International Responses to Iran’s Mass Protests are Beginning to Emerge

January 3, 2018

International Responses to Iran’s Mass Protests are Beginning to Emerge, Iran News Update, January 3, 2018

Perhaps equally important is the escalation in the overall tone of protesters’ messages, respective to the 2009 demonstrations. While the earlier movement was primarily focused on the disputed reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, current slogans include calls for “death to the dictator,” in reference to Supreme Leader Khamenei and, by extension, the entire system of clerical rule.

It is reasonable to conclude that the suppression of previous demonstrations combined with the regime’s inability or unwillingness to address the underlying grievances is leading a growing number of Iranians to the conclusion that regime change is a necessary prerequisite for the improvement of their own future prospects.

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INU – International coverage of Iran’s nationwide protests continued on Tuesday and began to display common narratives as the demonstrations entered their sixth day. The initial protests in the city of Mashhad, allegedly organized around economic issues by conservative opponents of President Hassan Rouhani, led to unexpected expansion in both the geographic and ideological scope of subsequent gatherings. This in turn led to highly predictable government crackdowns, resulting in numerous arrests and several deaths.

CNBC was among the outlets to report that nine people had been killed in the midst of the demonstrations on Monday night. One hundred people were reportedly arrested that night in the capital city of Tehran alone, after 250 others had been arrested in the same locality over the previous two nights. Figures for the total numbers of deceased and arrested protesters appeared more inconsistent as of Tuesday. It was generally agreed that the nine deaths from the previous night had raised the total to more than 20.

Al Jazeera placed the figure at 22 and also reported that at least 530 people had been arrested. But the National Council of Resistance of Iran, drawing upon its intelligence network inside the Islamic Republic, specified higher figures in both instances, saying that at least 30 people had been killed and 663 arrested. The NCRI also provided a breakdown on the location of a number of these arrests, in addition to the 450 that took place in Tehran.

That breakdown demonstrates one key fact that has been widely observed about the current wave of protests: they are different from the 2009 Green Movement and generally unusual among Iranian protest movements insofar as they are not geographically diffuse, involving a number of rural areas that are considered to be conservative strongholds rather than being focused primarily on socially progressive urban areas like Tehran.

In fact, Iranian officials appear to have responded to the growing protests in part by insisting that their original economic focus remained the only significant driving force and that the demonstrations held limited appeal in the capital and in other major cities apart from Mashhad.

Following the first day of protests, it was reported that Tehran officials had declared that only 50 people attended a local gathering and that most of them dispersed immediately following police warnings. Similar messaging seemed evident in quotations cited in the Los Angeles Times, with officials asserting that despite 450 arrests in three days, the demonstrations in the capital were naturally dying down. Those remarks went on to speculate that the rest of the country would soon follow suit.

The nearly simultaneous claims about mass arrests and waning popularity are not the only instances of self-contradiction in the regime’s response to the protests, Al Jazeera raised this issue in the context of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s personal response to the situation, which emerged for the first time on Tuesday. Khamenei sought to portray the protests as primarily the work of outside agitators. Business Insider quoted him as specifically blaming “wicked enemies backed by westerners, easterners, as well as reactionaries of the region”.

In the first place, his decision to weigh in is at odds with other officials’ attempts to downplay the significance of what is happening. At the same time, Al Jazeera notes that by giving credit to foreign infiltrators for such widespread demonstrations, Khamenei is contradicting the regime’s official position that such infiltrators have little real influence in the Islamic Republic. In fact, Al Jazeera asserts that the latter position is correct and that Khamenei’s claims regarding a foreign hand in the protests are not at all credible.

This, of course, is not to say that there hasn’t been an outpouring of foreign interest as the demonstrations have stretched on. Neither does this observation lead to the conclusion that foreign support for a domestically-driven movement hasn’t been welcomed by Iranian activists. Indeed, aBBC report consisting of direct commentary from Iranian citizens includes one quotation embracing the supportive remarks delivered by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu via Instagram.

The Iranian activist, identified only as Zahi, addressed Netanyahu directly and then turned his attention to other countries: “Thanks a lot for supporting the oppressed. I expect the same from all other countries. This cruel regime is harsh on its own people. We shouldn’t be under batons and bullets. This isn’t our destiny. We have the right to protest and we ask other countries to support us.”
Netanyahu’s use of social media to express support for the protest movement was predictably emulated on Twitter by US President Donald Trump, who has posted on the topic several times since the demonstrations started. His messages repeated familiar condemnations of the Iranian regime and praised the Iranian people for speaking out about the misappropriation of their wealth for terrorism and projects of regional intervention. These issues had previously been raised by many of the protestors themselves with slogans such as “forget about Syria; think about us!”

Apart from offering personal support for the protesters’ cause, Trump has also overseen responses from the White House that are passing through more official channels. ABC News reported on Tuesday that the administration was keeping up pressure to prevent Iran from blocking the social media platforms that have been used as effective organizing tools for the ongoing demonstrations. The Associated Press added that the White House was actively encouraging Iranian citizens to use virtual private networks in order to evade some of the new blockages that the Iranian government is imposing on specific websites.

Both outlets quoted Undersecretary of State Steve Goldstein as saying that the US has “an obligation not to stand by.” He added, “We want to encourage the protesters to continue to fight for what’s right and to open up Iran.”

Much of the international press has criticized President Trump over his direct commentary on the protests, suggesting that any American effort to influence their trajectory would feed into the Iranian supreme leader’s efforts to discredit the demonstrations as the work of foreign agents. Nevertheless, many of the same outlets have expressed earnest support for what the Trump administration is doing at the policy level, as opposed to at the level of pure public relations.

The Atlantic, for instance, insisted that any active American interference would help hardliners, but then advocated for Western powers the help facilitate the free flow of communication within Iranian society. Also, in an interview with PBS NewsHour, Karim Sadjadpour of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace recommended that the US could help to inhibit Iran’s ability to control communication, adding that one way of doing this would be by censuring any information technology companies that provide Iranian leaders with the tools to limit access within their country.

Sadjadpour also highlighted the considerable impact that the continued flow of information could have on the future of the still-emerging movement, which has reportedly been spreading in absence of centralized leadership or specific, across-the-board demands. He pointed out that whereas Twitter had been a highly successful organizing force in the 2009 Green Movement protests, those protests took place at a time when only one million Iranians could access the platform via smartphones. Today, 48 million Iranians have such devices.

The continued use of those devices as organizational tools would no doubt contribute to a situation that the BBC described as an “unpredictable challenge” for the ruling regime. The BBC also observed on Tuesday that momentum was still building for the grassroots movement. According to theIndependent, that momentum is such that protesters in some areas have actually overpowered security forces and members of the basij civilian militia, disarming and dispersing some of the forces that might otherwise have violently repressed the gatherings.

Of course, it is still widely expected that state authorities will implement a campaign of such repression on the orders of the supreme leader. Sadjadpour noted that the weeks-long protests in 2009 were a case study in the regime’s highly developed capacity for violent repression, which has likely grown since then. And the Washington Post described the office of the supreme leader as having “many loyal and ruthless troops at his disposal.”

This fact, combined with the lack of any notable defections near the top of the regime, leads the Washington Post to conclude that the current demonstrations are unlikely to lead directly to a political tipping point. But the same report suggests that the suppression of those demonstrations will lead to the later recurrence of the same. Other outlets agree with this assessment, and Reuters cited the likelihood of repression leading to further protests as one of the main points of interest for Western leaders who are watching the situation unfold.

Perhaps equally important is the escalation in the overall tone of protesters’ messages, respective to the 2009 demonstrations. While the earlier movement was primarily focused on the disputed reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, current slogans include calls for “death to the dictator,” in reference to Supreme Leader Khamenei and, by extension, the entire system of clerical rule.

It is reasonable to conclude that the suppression of previous demonstrations combined with the regime’s inability or unwillingness to address the underlying grievances is leading a growing number of Iranians to the conclusion that regime change is a necessary prerequisite for the improvement of their own future prospects.

Would Iranians really bring back the Shah?

January 3, 2018

Would Iranians really bring back the Shah? American ThinkerMonica Showalter, January 3, 2017

[T]here once was another Iran, one where women had freedoms; living standards were rising; human rights were improving (he learned that the Shah’s much vilified SAVAK secret police, for instance, committed far fewer crimes than Soviet-linked propagandists had claimed); and the country was integrated with, not isolated from the world community.  The Shah, Cooper argued, really did want to see his country advance in the world, and he enacted many democratic reforms.

Is it really that far-fetched that the [deceased] Shah[‘s son, Reza Pahlavi] might be seen as a legitimate alternative for Iran?  Not with these current things going on.  Right now, U.S. policymakers should be ignoring the Stanford establishmentarian elites on Iran and reading Cooper’s book as fast as they can.

He appears to have no ulterior motive other than doing what he can to help his countrymen in Iran and his willingness to become the necessary catalyst to dislodge the current brutal regime.  Reza Pahlavi wants the Iranian people to rise up against the regime and establish a parliamentary democracy based on democratic values, freedom, and human rights.

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Pundits have marveled at what a big surprise it is that ordinary Iranians have revolted against the mullahs.  It’s a surprise to them, but no surprise to American Thinker’s readers, whose Iranian contributors have kept us posted for years about what is really going on in Iran.

Just look at these pieces by Hamid BahramiReza ShafieeHassan MahmoudiAmil Imani, and Shahriar Kia.  Over and over again, these writers warned there is a problem, and now Iranians’ protests against corruption, soaring prices, environmental ruin, Revolutionary Guards thuggery, poverty, and bank collapses have become the “surprise” story of the day.

One writer at Politico correctly noted that the “surprise” stems from reporters covering only Tehran’s elites, not the doings in the hinterlands.  The hinterlands, of course, are where the trouble started, beginning in Mashhad, and these are the parts of the country American Thinker’s writers have been bringing us information on.  These writers showed long ago that what we are seeing now isn’t your garden-variety protests of city elites seeking “reform” or “fair elections.”  These protests are smaller, but they’re the real kind, revolutionary ones, actual calls for the overthrow of the regime and the initiation of a new government.  Protests now aren’t coming from the comfortable elites who just want a little bit of tweaking.

Now with eyes on Iran, one essay, published six months ago at American Thinker, stands out: Amil Imani’s piece titled “Is Reza Pahlavi the Only Hope to Overthrow the Mullahs?

On the surface, it sounds ridiculous that anyone would want to bring back a king, even as a constitutional monarch in a democracy.  But it’s real.  Here is an account by Voice of America about the rise of the late Shah’s son, Reza Pahlavi, a smart, photogenic, democracy-oriented leader, waiting in the wings as an alternative to the corrupt, sneering mullahs.

 As Imani noted:

Reza Pahlavi is the son of the late Shah of Iran.  I have never had the honor of meeting or speaking with him, although I judge any man based on what he says and what he does.

As I watched this man grow and become a seasoned politician, my admiration for him grew stronger.  In my opinion, Mr. Pahlavi has become the very asset that the opposition has needed for many years.

He appears to have no ulterior motive other than doing what he can to help his countrymen in Iran and his willingness to become the necessary catalyst to dislodge the current brutal regime.  Reza Pahlavi wants the Iranian people to rise up against the regime and establish a parliamentary democracy based on democratic values, freedom, and human rights.

American Thinker’s writers, most recently Hassan Mahmoudi, have noted that in the shouted slogans in the crowds, many were calling for the return of the Shah.  Russian propaganda organ Sputnik has noted the phenomenon in the streets, too.

It’s worth noting that kings are easily understood by average people and for that reason have appeal, especially in light of the failure of the current regime.

I have one story of my own that suggests that a return to the Shah may not be as far-fetched as it seems.

An old friend, Andrew Scott Cooper, spent years of research to write a fascinating scholarly book about the last days of the shah of Iran, titled The Fall of Heaven, published by Henry Holt & Co. last year.  He actually managed to reach and interview the former shabanu, or, queen, of Iran, Farah Diba, who was living in exile in Europe.  From that, he wrote a fascinating, unique account of the Shah’s last days, largely told through her eyes.

It was a sympathetic analytic history, intended, as he told an audience at the Nixon Library last year, to show that there once was another Iran, one where women had freedoms; living standards were rising; human rights were improving (he learned that the Shah’s much vilified SAVAK secret police, for instance, committed far fewer crimes than Soviet-linked propagandists had claimed); and the country was integrated with, not isolated from the world community.  The Shah, Cooper argued, really did want to see his country advance in the world, and he enacted many democratic reforms.

Naturally, saying something out of the ordinary, or contradicting the conventional wisdom, is a good way to get panned, and so publication of the book was followed by several critical book reviews – in the top papers, often by Iranian-Americans affiliated with the elite establishment centers of Iran research, such as Stanford.  These were scholars who had an interest in maintaining the conventional wisdom and who may have had interests getting contracts from the mullahs.  These are the same people whom policymakers and newspaper editors tend to consult as experts and were the people who said all was well; just stay out of Iranian affairs and let them handle it.  In addition, there was a creepy campaign on Amazon to drive down the ratings of the book by similar people who had never even read it – and Amazon put a stop to it.  What this all showed is that there existed a large entrenched establishment with an interest in maintaining the status quo, and its operators were aghast at the idea – now being shouted in the streets of Iran – that maybe bringing back the Shah could be good.  Of course, they hated this louche idea.

But this came against another subplot of the publishing of this book, which was that a hell of a lot of those books, thousands of them (showing Iranians their own history and teaching them that Iran was once a very different place), somehow got smuggled into Iran, and the locals lapped them up.

As a result of this, within a few days, a full Farsi translation of the book will be coming out, which should stoke conversation about this in Iran even further, given the interest shown.  Publishers don’t publish books in non-Western languages if they don’t think they will sell.  Obviously, the publishers knew that something big is going on and published the costly translation.  Iranians, starved of information about their own history, are likely to lap this up just as they lapped up the English-language version.

Given what is going on in Iran now, call it fat on the fire.

Don’t think there hasn’t been wild interest on this side of the hemisphere, too.  Iranian-Americans on the West Coast flooded an author’s event held at the Nixon Library last year in September, shortly after the publication of Cooper’s book.  It was standing room only, and it’s important to note that the Nixon Library is not all that close to where most Iranian-Americans live in the Los Angeles area, which is Beverly Hills and its outskirts.  The Nixon Library is about an hour’s drive away from that in Yorba Linda, Calif., and it’s an arduous drive, through a truck-convoy-route highway.  Here is a photo I took of how the audience that night looked:

Here is Andrew Cooper signing copies of his book – which sold out with a line waiting.

Is it really that far-fetched that the Shah might be seen as a legitimate alternative for Iran?  Not with these current things going on.  Right now, U.S. policymakers should be ignoring the Stanford establishmentarian elites on Iran and reading Cooper’s book as fast as they can.

Finally, an Iranian Spring

January 2, 2018

Finally, an Iranian Spring, Al ArabiyaDr. Khaled M. Batarfi, January 2, 2017

Over 60 towns have joined the rebellion, so far. Iran is awakening. Iranians are demanding their freedom, democracy and rights. They regretted supporting a revolution that turned against them.

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When Iranians protested, mostly in Tehran, for the best half of 2009, they were angry about the rigged presidential election in which Mahmoud Ahmadinejad defeated his “reformist” rival Mehdi Karroubi. The “Green Revolution,” was about the government —not the regime change. It was led by an elite, educated and well-to-do metropolitans supporting to the reformist movement.

Recent protests are different in many ways. It started in Mashhad, a conservatively religious city, and the birthplace of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, where some 160,000 angry investors lost their life savings in a fraud residential project.

Banks owned by the Revolutionary Guards suddenly closed down wiping out all deposits. And many companies haven’t paid salaries for up to a year! For a couple of years, after the burning of the Saudi Embassy, Shiite tourists from wealthy Gulf region ceased to come and hundreds of business closed down.

Poor, unemployed and hungry people went out to call for a new revolution. They were calling Khamenei a dictator who lives in luxury while his people suffer, wishing him and President Hassan Rouhani death, as both of the are two sides of the same coin.

The city is governed by two of Khamenei top allies, Ayatollah Ahmad Alamolhoda and Ayatollah Ebrahim Raisi. The latter had participated and lost in the last presidential elections as representative of the supreme leader’s camp and the hardline movement.

Instead of calming the crowd, Alamolhoda advises the authorities: “If the law-enforcement agencies do not punish the troublemakers, the enemies will publish tapes and pictures telling the world that the regime of the Islamic Republic has lost its revolutionary spirit in Mashhad.”

These slogans summarize the sentiments of the Iranian people about their regime’s foreign policies and their devastating repercussions on development, economy and society

Dr. Khaled M. Batarfi

A religious and conservative town

Other cities followed. Isfahan, the third largest city in Iran, after Tehran and Mashhad joined the ranks. Teachers and retirees came out demanding their salaries and money lost in the failing banks and projects. The city is also a religious and conservative town. Its support of the Khomeini revolution in the late seventies was a decisive factor in its victory. Tens of thousands of their sons were killed in the Iran-Iraq war.

One protester has lost four sons in Iraq, and a fifth in Syria. Instead of rewarding him, they took away his pension, he complains. Now, he cannot support what is left of his family. He is not alone, according to official statistics, 20 percent of the population is below poverty line and 40 percent of them need food aid, that is 60 percent of the 80 million Iranians.

Twenty millions live in shantytowns. Not to mention an inflation rate exceeding 20 percent, and a currency rapidly losing value. The result is a hike in rates of crime, drug addiction and prostitution.

The slogans raised in the demonstrations are telling: “Neither for Gaza, nor for Lebanon, my life is only for Iran,” “Forget Syria, remember us!,” “May your soul rest in peace, Reza Shah,” “freedom or death,” “Release political prisoners,” “Leaders live in paradise, people live in Hell,” “Death to Hezbollah.”

Sentiments of the people

These slogans summarize the sentiments of the Iranian people about their regime’s foreign policies and their devastating repercussions on development, economy and society. While austerity measures worsened an already tough life, the Syrian regime received $20 billion to kill its own people, and Hizbollah gets $1,200 billion a year to do the regime’s dirty business.

Not to mention other costly expenses to support militias in Iraq, Yemen and Bahrain. As a protester put it, “We give an Afghan, Pakistani or Arab terrorist up to $1500 a month, with accommodation, food and transportation, while I live in a shack, and my hard-earned income of $250 is delayed or stolen.

Few former Iranian leaders sided with their people. Former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has just revealed the existence of 63 bank accounts for the head of the judiciary Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani and the corruption of his brother Ali Larijani, the Parliament Speaker.

Others exposed the extent of criminality that reached the highest offices. Top bosses in ministries, banks, charities and religious institutions were found guilty of embezzlement, fraud, sexual harassment and child abuse. Worse, the leadership, including the Supreme Leader, has protected and defended the guilty and tried to hid their crimes.

If the large, industrial and commercial metropolitans groan, imagine the suffering in the remote and marginalized areas. The racist and sectarian regime has always ignored the mostly Sunni Kurdish, Baluchi, Kurdish, Azeri, Turkmen and Afghan communities. Shiite Arabs fared no better.

Over 60 towns have joined the rebellion, so far. Iran is awakening. Iranians are demanding their freedom, democracy and rights. They regretted supporting a revolution that turned against them. The world is watching, as it did in the spring of 2008. This time around it should interfere if the regime terrorizes its own people. Since they pretend to be a democracy, they should be held to its standards.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on January 2, 2018.
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Dr. Khaled M. Batarfi is a Saudi journalist and writer based in Jeddah.

The Regime Chants “Death to America”, Iranians Chant “Death to Mullahs”

January 1, 2018

The Regime Chants “Death to America”, Iranians Chant “Death to Mullahs”, Gatestone InstituteMajid Rafizadeh, January 1, 2018

(Please see also, Anti-government protests grow more violent in Iran. — DM)

Protesters, risking their lives, have been chanting, “Death to Khamenei” — a serious crime according to the clergy, and punishable, according to the Sharia law of the regime, with death.

People are also chanting, “Death to Rouhani”, “Shame on you Khamenei, step down from power”, “Death to the Dictator” and “Death to the Islamic Republic”. Protesters are tearing down the banners of Iran’s Supreme leaders, Khomeini and Khamenei.

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Now, people in Iran are demanding not just limited reforms but regime change. The government has been doing all it can to stoke the flames of hatred, but has been trying to deflect it to “Death to America” and “Death to Israel”.

The Trump administration is taking the right side by supporting the Iranian people; they are the principal victims of the Iranian regime and its Islamist agenda.

Let us not be on the side of history that would remain silent in the face of such crimes against humanity, let us not join the ranks of other dictators, terrorists, and criminals, that turned a blind eye to violence, and the will of brave, innocent people.

Protests have grown and have spread across Iran in cities such as Tehran, KermanshahShirazRashtQomHamedanAhvazIsfahan, Zahedan, Qazvin, and Sari.

The political nature of the protests has been made clear from the outset and the regime is experiencing a political earthquake. The regime’s gunmen have been out in full force. Despite the brutal power being deployed to crush these peaceful demonstrators — four protestors have already been reported killed — more people are flooding the streets in defiance of the regime.

The scale of these sudden protests is unprecedented during the last four decades of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s rule.

These demonstrations, however, are different from other protests in Iran since 1979, when the theocratic regime was established. In 2009, during the popular uprising in the name of the “Green Movement,” people were protesting against rigged elections and the presidency of the anti-Semitic politician Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Chants echoed through the streets, “Where is my vote?” while the government ratcheted up its power to silence the protestors.

Pictured: People in Tehran, Iran, protest against rigged elections during the popular uprising in the name of the “Green Movement,” on June 16, 2009. (Image source: Milad Avazbeigi/Wikimedia Commons)

Now, people are demanding not just limited reforms but regime change. After almost four decades of living under a theocracy — with Islamist mullahs controlling them, rampant corruption, and the regime’s persistent dissemination of propaganda — the people have reached the boiling point. The government has been doing all it can to stoke the flames of hatred, but has been trying to deflect it to “Death to America” and “Death to Israel”.

Protesters, risking their lives, have been chanting, “Death to Khamenei” — a serious crime according to the clergy, and punishable, according to the Sharia law of the regime, with death.

People are also chanting, “Death to Rouhani”, “Shame on you Khamenei, step down from power”, “Death to the Dictator” and “Death to the Islamic Republic”. Protesters are tearing down the banners of Iran’s Supreme leaders, Khomeini and Khamenei.

Chants being heard all over the nation are, “Forget about Palestine, forget about Gaza, think about us”, “Death to Hezbollah”, “The people live like beggars / [Khamenei] lives like a God,” and “Leave Syria alone, think about us instead”.

The outcry leaves no question about the needs of the people, and the real voice of Iran. Demonstrators are making a clear distinction between the Iranian people’s desired policies and those being carried out by the regime. All political and economic indications are that protests in Iran will continue to grow.

The Trump administration in the United States is taking the right side by supporting the Iranian people; they are the principal victims of the Iranian regime and its Islamist agenda.

US President Donald Trump tweeted:

“Many reports of peaceful protests by Iranian citizens fed up with regime’s corruption & its squandering of the nation’s wealth to fund terrorism abroad. Iranian govt should respect their people’s rights, including right to express themselves. The world is watching! #IranProtests”

In another statement, the U.S. State Department said:

“On June 14, 2017, Secretary Tillerson accurately testified to Congress that he supports ‘those elements inside of Iran that would lead to a peaceful transition of government. Those elements are there, certainly as we know.’ The Secretary today repeats his deep support for the Iranian people.”

Let us be clear. The fault lines are completely visible. If you are on the side of justice, freedom, and basic human rights, and if you respect humanity, you will not be able to remain silent. Let us at least give moral support, if not more, to the Iranian people. Justice and truth need to prevail. This is what history has repeatedly shown us. Let us not be on the side of history that would remain silent in the face of such crimes against humanity, let us not join the ranks of other dictators, terrorists, and criminals, that turned a blind eye to violence, and the will of brave, innocent people.

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh, is a business strategist and advisor, Harvard-educated scholar, political scientist, board member of Harvard International Review, and president of the International American Council on the Middle East. He is the author of “Peaceful Reformation in Iran’s Islam“.