By Hamid Enayat
On Sunday night, July 4, due to frequent power outages, people in several neighborhoods in Tehran and many other cities took to the streets chanting, “Death to Khamenei,” and “Death to the dictator.” Clips of these overnight demonstrations can be found on social media in abundance. A media outlet close to the Iranian regime says that “the people of our society are outraged, and these days the volume of bad news is so great that it has put everyone’s tolerance threshold at risk.”
It seems that if the power outage continues, the people’s outrage and discontent will not be limited to that, and the scope of the protests will expand to other social and economic issues. One could look at all the social unrests happening in Iraq and Lebanon that began as protests against power outages and has continued since. A look at the widespread demonstrations of 2017 and the November 2019 protests across the country show they were initiated by economic issues, such as the sharp spike in gasoline prices in 2019. Because of the government’s colossal corruption and mismanagement, the people’s discontent and distrust towards the government are more significant than ever before. Perhaps in November 2019, the Iranian regime had anticipated that the gasoline price hike would result in sporadic protests and demonstrations in some parts of the country. Still, it did not expect it would become widespread and bring the regime’s legitimacy under fire and protest.
The mismanagement of pandemic, resulting in the death of hundreds of thousands, high inflation that has pushed more than 80% of Iran’s population below the poverty line, severe drought in many parts of the country, frequent power outages and poverty, has brought the society to the brink of explosion and burst. A look at the growing number of labor strikes, protest sit-ins, gatherings, and demonstrations attest that the level of patience and tolerance of Iran’s people has reached its maximum, and their anger is unmeasurable.
The teachers, retirees, and stock market investors, who had listened to Khamenei and Rouhani, invested and consequently lost their livelihood in Iran’s stock market, have been staging gatherings and protest actions for a long time. Not long ago, workers of refineries and petrochemical industries in the south and some other cities staged their strikes. Then, the farmers in Isfahan began protesting regarding the lack of water for their livestock and crops. Now, protests regarding power outages are sprouting out in different cities across Iran.
Thanks to the pandemic that brought the Iranian society to a temporary standstill, Khamenei could avoid for a moment the inevitable rise of the people. That is why Khamenei banned the import of coronavirus vaccines from the U.S., Britain, and France and allowed the virus to spread rapidly and kill people in unprecedented numbers. Iran ranks as one of the least successful countries in acquiring coronavirus vaccines. One may ask if this situation will continue, and did Khamenei succeed in temporarily postponing any game-changing uprising?
Regime officials claim that they need huge investments to solve Iran’s infrastructure problems, which are not currently available. But proponents of this theory never mention the mismanagement and waste of Iran’s substantial natural resources. Nearly $1,000 billion has been spent in the 1390s. Iran’s economic growth in the last decade has been close to zero. In this decade, Iran experienced the most unprecedented waves of inflation and economic instability through the unmatched devaluation of the national currency in Iran.
An economist close to the Iranian regime claims he has worked hard to get Rouhani elected and introduces a new indicator of corruption in Iran. “Imagine having a 40,000-kilometer strip of banknotes 40,000 kilometers (the length of the Earth’s circumference) that can be fastened around the earth like a belt,” he says. The name “Banknote Belt Around the Earth” is abbreviated to “CAD.” The total amount of corruption in the privatizations of the last 30 years, after the Iran-Iraq war, is about 1440 CAD, meaning the banknote belt that is fastened 1440 times around the globe. Now, let’s consider the level of administrative corruption in the country today as equal to the past corruption and not more. We can say that the bill “Public-Private Partnership” that is now quietly approved by the parliament creates “corruption capacity” equivalent to 1560 thousand billion tomans (Iran’s currency) in the country. Equal to 6,000 CADs, “That is more than four times the total privatization corruption of 30 years after the Iran-Iraq war.”
The explosive situation in society has frightened Khamenei, forcing him to ban the import of COVID-19 vaccines. The units of resistance have spread rapidly throughout Iran after the November 2019 uprising. Like the French resistance that followed the country’s occupation by Hitler’s fascism, Iran’s resistance units have expanded significantly to counter religious fascism. As a result of their activities, the resistance units have become the driving force for recent protests and their goals and demands. The resistance units are capable of taming and guiding Iran’s explosive society. They have created an unimaginable social crisis for Khamenei, forcing him to pursue a policy of contraction.
Resistance units have mobilized insurgent youth seeking a bright future for their generation and are advocating for a secular government. These units responded positively to a call by Iranian opposition leader Maryam Rajavi to boycott the recent presidential election in Iran, tearing up photos of Ibrahim Reisi in many public places. The Iranian people received their anti-election campaigns with enthusiasm. One could refer to the number of blank votes cast, more than 4 million. Reliable sources indicate that less than 10% of the eligible voters participated in the election.
After the appointment of Raisi, who was involved in the massacre of political prisoners in 1998, the Iranian opposition of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) led by Maryam Rajavi took action to show there is a credible alternative in Iran that enjoys the support of the Iranian people. Iran’s opposition group, MEK, is planning to hold a large online gathering with more than 1,000 political figures worldwide and Iranian resistance units from inside Iran in attendance. The conference’s message is to stop any dealing and wheeling with the number one abuse of human rights in the world.