The recent uprising in Iran, which began on December 28 and quickly spread to more than 140 cities and towns around the country, sent shockwaves around the world and started debates within Iran policy circles in the United States and Europe. More importantly, it shook the regime in its entirety.
One significant factor was the acknowledgment by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei about the role of the main Iranian opposition group, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), in this uprising.
IRAN'S UPRISING IS ORGANIZED AND HEADING FOR A SPECIFIC OBJECTIVE
By Shahriar Kia
Whilst some of Iran’s political observers presume the most recent anti-government protests spontaneous and decrease it to a level of a chaos due to the harsh economic conditions, Shariar Kia, the Iranian political analyst, has a deferent point of view. He wrote an op-ed in Alriyadh Daily and pointed to the important features of the Iranian uprising.
Referring to the Iranian official's statements and also the prominent member of the Iranian resistance, Mr. Abrishamchi, Mr. kia points to the main demand of the protestors that had put the cross-hair on the entirety of the mullahs' regime.
The senior board of Iran's so-called Assembly of Experts recently expressed grave concerns regarding the consequences of Iran's latest uprising.
In this session assembly chief, Ahmad Jannati and spokesman Ahmad Khatami referred to three important crises facing the regime in regards to these protests.
The legitimacy of the people's demands
Analyzing the Position of Iran Resistance Movement, Is the Recent Uprising Down and Out?
Statement of the Pro-NCRI University students in support of recent uprising
Started in Mashhad and some other cities on December 28, 2017, the brave Iranian people’s uprising soon turned nationwide, spreading across the country at an amazing speed, with the protesters’ initial merely-economic chants turning as quickly to radical political ones.
Targeting the root of all problems, the uprising went a long way in just two weeks, putting Iranians’ 100-year-long ‘freedom and democracy’ goals – sought ever since constitutional revolution to date-- on the table.
The recent nationwide uprising has some features that differentiate it from all other uprisings in the past 40 years, giving it a unique character that needs to be described before we can discuss the current position of the movement.
1. The uprising’s first characteristic is that it refines the movement of any reactionary pollution and reliance on the anti-human ruling regime. For the first time, the uprising emerged with a public nature and away from any kind of dependence on regime’s internal factions or groups, putting an end to all deceptions of the anti-human, totalitarian regime through the slogan “moderates, hardliners, it’s over now!”
The regime used to flagrantly confiscate all prior uprisings to its advantage, representing them as factional clashes within the absolute Vilayat-e Faqih system while trying to convince public opinion that the protests were consistent with regime’s principles and that they confirmed regime’s democratic nature. The recent uprising, however, put an end to this deception, showing in the clearest way that these are the fed-up and discontented Iranian people who have risen up against the entire regime.
The uprising made it clear that the only way to avoid foreign aggression is to reject the regime in its entirety, including all its mafia groups and internal factions.
247 Demonstrations, 90 Cities, 14 Days: Iran’s Upheaval
How the most significant bout of unrest in nearly a decade spread from a single city to shake the country
Wall Street Journal, Jan. 19, 2018 - This exclusive account of 14 days of unrest in Iran reveals at least 247 protests rallies across 90 cities. The protests were fueled by working-class grievances, and they swept through provincial cities and towns. But Tehran didn't see massive marches that it did during the 2009 Green Movement.
Day 1: The First Protest Erupts
Thousands of people took to the streets on Dec. 28 in Mashhad, Iran’s second-most-populous city. People demonstrated against high prices and failing financial institutions.
Day 2: Global Attention
“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”
— U.S. President Donald Trump began tweeting in support of the protesters as unrest spread.
Day 3: The First Deaths
Two people died during protests in the western city of Dorood, the first deaths linked to the unrest. Marchers’ complaints about economic woes quickly morphed into calls for the ouster of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Iran Regime’s Weakness and Its Fear From Pmoi/Mek Exposed During the Uprising
London, 18 Jan - At the beginning of 2018, Citing Iran's "state television", AFP reported that while making a clear allusion to the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), Rouhani told President Macron, "We criticize the fact that a group has a base in France and acts against the Iranian people and encourages violence. We expect the French government to act against this terrorist group ".
These remarks reflected above all the anxiety of the mullahs' regime in the face of the expansion of the uprising against the religious dictatorship and the growing popularity of the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK).and the Iranian Resistance. Rouhani accused the MEK of violence, while the European Union, its member countries, as well as the United States, strongly criticized the Iranian regime for the repression of demonstrations, killing and seriously injuring many people and President Macron has expressed concern on the death of the protestors. To date, dozens of unarmed protesters have been killed by Revolutionary Guards and thousands more arrested.
As stated by Kasra Nejat in Columbia tribune, according to the opposition coalition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), at least 8,000 people were detained within the first two weeks; the regime admits to approximately half this number. Its judiciary was quick to threaten death sentences for “those most responsible.”
There is little mystery about what sort of charges will be used to justify such killings; a wide range of political offenses can result in execution in the Islamic Republic, including membership in banned organizations and the crime of mohabareh, or “enmity against God.” In fact, the latter was codified in Iranian law largely for the purpose of establishing death as the default punishment for members of the leading opposition group, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK).
Tehran has made every effort to suppress and destroy MEK since the advent of the Islamic Republic. The organization played a role in the 1979 revolution against the Shah, but opposed the establishment of absolute clerical rule.
Since then, it has been a tireless advocate for regime change in favor of a democratic system.
In the wake of the 2009 uprising, as dozens of people were executed, assassinated or tortured to death, some were singled out for harsh treatment on the basis of alleged connections to the MEK. The actual role that the organization played in those protests is difficult to determine with certainty, but given the widespread popularity of the MEK, it was no doubt significant. That popularity has only grown since 2009, as has the organization’s roster of allies in foreign governments and international policy circles.
The latest protests are a prime example. Iran’s highest authority, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, weighed in by placing much of the blame upon the MEK. Referring to the group by the familiar pejorative term “hypocrites,” Khamenei declared that they had been “ready for months” to instigate the mass protests which spread to more than 100 towns and cities in a matter of days.
He attributed one of the protesters’ slogans, “no to high prices” exclusively to the MEK. People in various localities were also heard to chant “no Syria, no Iraq; I will give my life only for Iran,” signaling that they were taking their cue from the MEK in condemning Tehran’s activities in the broader Middle East.
Here’s a brief chronology of semi-official Iranian state outlets pinpointing this reality:
FORBES, January 14, 2018
The future of Iran’s protests is on the minds of many as the fate of this strategically important state remains in limbo. This subject gains even more importance considering U.S. President Donald Trump’s upcoming Friday decision on the controversial Iran nuclear deal.
Iran’s state media claims the protests have come to an end, a result similar to that of 2009. Yet the world is witnessing how further cities and towns are expressing their abhorrence over the ruling elite.
This status quo is a struggle between the Iranian people literally fed up with this regime and a dictatorship weakened from domestic unrest, internal rifts and international pressures.
Escalating matters far beyond previous scenes of nationwide protests in 2009 and 1999 is the clear reference made by Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to the party behind these rallies.
“As well as Washington and London, Khamenei blamed the violence on Israel, exiled dissident group People’s Mujahedin of Iran and ‘a wealthy government’ in the Gulf, a probable reference to Iran’s regional rival, Saudi Arabia,” according to Reuters.
Tehran pointing fingers at Washington, London, Israel and the Saudis is nothing new. Yet Khamenei mentioning the Iranian opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) is of quite significance, indicating the main source of his regime’s concerns.
We Should Tie Support for the Iran Nuke Deal to Human Rights
Since before the conclusion of nuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 in the summer of 2015, European policies toward the Islamic Republic have been badly misguided.
The desire for that nuclear deal contributed to the development of an overwhelmingly conciliatory approach by Western leaders, ultimately leading to an ineffectual agreement that gave away tens of billions of euros in sanctions relief, plus the promise of new revenue streams, without getting much in return from Iran.
The nuclear negotiations also shifted other important issues to the back burner.
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Many international human rights organizations have called attention to the fact that many of the domestic indicators in the Islamic Republic actually got worse during and after those negotiations.
In the first place, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) oversaw an escalation in the regime’s crackdown on political dissent. Additionally, the deal’s economic benefits for the IRGC and other state-linked institutions failed to trickle down to the public, which continues to suffer under double-digit rates of unemployment and out-of-control inflation.
This disconnect between the impact on the Iranian people and the Iranian regime has been given appropriate emphasis in much of the coverage of the ongoing protests that emerged last week, threatening the mullahs’ hold on power and surprising much of the world.
The impetus for those protests, which spread to upwards of 80 localities, was the public’s economic discontent. But the scope of the demonstrations quickly grew to encompass calls for “Death to Rouhani” and “Death to the dictator,” in reference to the country’s president and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, respectively.
As the slogans clearly called for the overthrow of the clerical regime, the authorities underscored the role of the activists of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), which has an active underground network inside Iran and has been seeking this objective for years.
Trump is witnessing an unfolding Iranian revolution — time to act
By Ivan Sascha Sheehan and Raymond Tanter,
As 2018 begins, several large metropolitan centers in Iran are ablaze with major anti-government demonstrations roaring in the streets.
Protestors are chanting slogans indicative of a revolution: “Death to the dictator,” “Death to (Hassan) Rouhani,” “Don’t be afraid, we are all together,” “Forget about Syria, think about us,” “Not Gaza, nor Lebanon, my life for Iran.”
After multiple days of demonstrations spread to Tehran, President Rouhani said Iranians are “free to protest but must not jeopardize security.”
Around the world many are asking whether the Arab uprisings have given way to a Persian Revolution, while analysts in Washington are wondering whether 2018 will bring regime change to Tehran.
The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and its leading constituent group, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), have played a key role in organizing the major protests in Iran for decades. Their intricate network inside Iran has been critical to informing the world of Tehran’s malign behavior from nuclear pursuits to terrorism and human rights abuses to proxy violence.
Scholars understand regime change by the people of Iran is within reach but is best achieved by those in the resistance with the organizing capacity, determination, and political wherewithal to achieve it. The White House has all the necessary elements to assist the Iranian people in bringing about the democratic change they seek: capability, credibility, and an organized opposition to facilitate regime change from within.