By Hossein Beizayi
On May 16, the Iran-based newspaper Etemaad Daily reported that 72 million people in Iran needed subsidies. These staggering numbers are observed in a country that is known to possess a vast amount of natural resources, including energy products and by-products. Since the inception of the regime of terror in Tehran, the country has traveled on the roads of demise, despair, high inflation, employment, terrorism, torture, execution, and injustice among other things.
This is the direct result of an incapable, incompetent, and corrupt regime that has brought the country’s economy to the brink of collapse has forced its people to deal with a more than 40% inflation and high employment and has spent Iran’s resources and capital on supporting its terrorist proxies in the region financially and militarily.
As a result of such incompetency, domestic unrest has been a feature of public life in Iran for many years in the past and has intensified lately. The trend of such protests and social unrest began in earnest at the end of 2017 when a protest over the state of the economy began spreading from the city of Mashhad to more than 100 other cities across Iran while also taking on anti-government slogans such as “death to the dictator.” The 2017 nationwide protests were brutally suppressed by the regime’s security forces, which resulted in deaths and arrests.
Remarkably, this did not halt the trend toward more large-scale Iran protests. On November 15, 2019, another wave of protests was ignited, this time broader and more widespread than the 2017 ones. The protests, which began over an abrupt fuel price increase and lasted for a week, transformed into a broader expression of popular discontent with the government’s repression. The government imposed a near-total internet shutdown from November 15 to 19 and embarked on the most brutal crackdown against protesters in decades. The country’s security and intelligence apparatus, in partnership with Iran’s judiciary, harshly cracked down on dissent, including through excessive and lethal force against protesters and reported abuse and torture in detention.
After days of nationwide Iran protests in November 2019, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei appeared impatient. Gathering his top security and government officials together, he issued an order: Do whatever it takes to stop them. About 1,500 people were killed during less than two weeks of unrest that started on November 15. The toll, provided to Reuters by three Iranian interior ministry officials, included at least 17 teenagers and about 400 women.
Less than two months after the 2019 uprising, activists took to the streets once again in response to the regime’s attempted cover-up of a missile strike that brought down a commercial airliner near Tehran in January 2020. Many participants in those demonstrations set their sights squarely on the entity responsible for the strike, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, even though it was also the primary perpetrator of mass shootings the prior November.
From January 2020 and throughout the ensuing year, protest actions were seen all over the country, and they were met with violence and repression. However, the spread of these protest actions proved that the government’s crackdown and the bloody response were ineffective. In June 2021, the vast majority of the Iranian public refused to participate in the sham presidential election that led to the installation of a leading perpetrator of the 1988 massacre, Ebrahim Raisi.
The year 2022 witnessed the growing trend of people’s dissatisfaction and dismay, and they employed every possible tactic to show their anger and rage. In the month of May 2022, massive protests emerged in response to the regime’s refusal to raise poverty-level wages for teachers and other government employees, its decision to cut food subsidies and spark sharp increases in the price of staple commodities, and the role of government corruption in a building collapse in the city of Abadan which killed more than 40 people. In each case, angry protesters chanted slogans against the entire regime as well as the specific officials involved with the issues in question.
Other common features of Iran’s protests over the past five years include the involvement of people from all walks of life, particularly poor and rural communities that were once perceived to be strongholds of support for the clerical regime. Conversely, women have also played a strong role in the protests. This has been an alarming sign for the regime of the mullahs.
Today’s situation for the regime is so critical that Haddad Adel, the former speaker of parliament who is very close to Khamenei, said on May 23, 2022, that “everything is in disarray.”
Qassem Saedi, a member of Iran’s parliament, has warned that “it is possible that more dangerous events than the uprisings of 2018 and mid-November 2019 will occur.”
These protests and demonstrations are no longer about people’s economic despair and have largely turned into anti-regime political protests. Slogans such as “death to Khamenei, Raisi”, “mullahs get lost”, “death to the dictator,” “shame on the state-run radio and TV,” “Khamenei is a murderer, his rule is illegitimate,” “Raisi, shame on you, leave the country alone,” among others have become common chants.
As always and as expected, the regime of the mullahs sees the people of Iran and their resistance movement as its dire and imminent enemies. It has employed all its military and suppressive might to crack down on Iran’s recent waves of protests. The escalation of the protest actions in different cities and its spread has so far proven to become an unescapable nightmare for the regime of the ayatollahs and its IRGC commanders.
The Iranian people will bring the regime down; Sooner rather than later.