A look at breaking points in Iran

The Islamic Republic of Iran has seen a year of growing protests against the theocratic rule.

The assassination by the Regime’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) – Gestapo of fuel carriers in Sistan and Baluchestan provinces in February sparked widespread unrest that lasted for weeks despite a crackdown brutal action by the authorities and a province-wide Internet failure. .

In July, the mullahs’ regime ordered the IRGC to open fire on unarmed civilian demonstrators in Khuzestan province who were protesting the ongoing power cuts during the intense summer heatwave.

Dozens have been killed. In November, tens of thousands of Isfahan farmers joined a mass protest against the drying up of the Zayandeh Rud River, depriving them of essential irrigation resources for their crops. Farmers criticized the IRGC for diverting water from the river to neighboring Yazd province, where they corruptly looted the profits from a series of heavy and water-hungry military factories.

Once again, the demonstrators were violently attacked with batons and tear gas. The IRGC also opened fire with shotguns, injuring more than 300 farmers, many of whom were shot in the face with shotgun pellets and lost one or both eyes. Now, protesters across Iran are wearing eye patches over one eye in sympathy for their injured compatriots.

As the year 2021 drew to a close, tens of thousands of teachers took to the streets of towns and villages across Iran to protest legislation that allocated only a fraction of the budget needed to meet their needs and left most of them in extreme poverty.

Nationwide protests were joined by impoverished workers and retirees, swindled investors, frustrated students, angry health workers and ordinary citizens dismayed by soaring inflation and the collapsing economy .

Deaths from the coronavirus pandemic now stand at 500,000. There is a growing realization that venal corruption and the incompetence of the ruling mullahs have brought Iran to the breaking point.

Eighty million besieged Iranians know their once-rich country was plundered by the mullahs to fund their proxy wars in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Lebanon and Gaza. They know that while they starve, billions of dollars are wasted on the bid to build a nuclear bomb and the ballistic missile systems necessary to transport it.

But instead of facing these challenges and seeking to resolve them, the instinctive reaction of old Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has been to order more repression, more arrests, more executions and a increased use of intimidation and assassination of dissidents and critics. abroad.

The Iranian regime’s diplomatic service has become a de facto branch of its security and intelligence services, deploying registered diplomats to transport sophisticated bombs to Europe in their diplomatic bags on commercial airliners and plotting deadly attacks on rallies opposition on European soil. Assadollah Assadi, diplomat at the Iranian embassy in Vienna, is now serving 20 years in a Belgian prison for his involvement in an attempted terrorist attack in Paris, while the ambassador and the first secretary of Iran have been expelled Albania for their involvement in a bombing plot.

In 2021, Khamenei organized the mock election as chairman of the ultra-hard line Ebrahim Raisi, known as “The Butcher of Tehran”, for his leading role in the massacre of over 30,000 prisoners. politicians in 1988. Khamenei clearly believes that the elevation of this former prosecutor and head of the judiciary to the presidency will terrify the West to end the sanctions and approve further acts of slavish appeasement.

In his role as prosecutor, Raisi often oversaw the torture of men and women and then witnessed their hanging. He was the head of the judiciary when orders were given to shoot protesters during a nationwide uprising in Iran in November 2019.

Over 1,500 have been killed and thousands injured. Many of the injured were dragged from their hospital beds by IRGCs, then imprisoned and tortured. Several were subsequently executed on Raisi’s orders.

Raisi was placed on the Treasury’s blacklist on November 10, 2019 for these and other serial human rights violations. His inability to attend in person either the UN General Assembly in New York in September, or the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow in November, is perhaps an indication of his fear of being arrested and charged for crimes against humanity and genocide by the International Criminal Court.

It’s hardly surprising, then, that the regime is now desperately trying to persuade the Biden administration to revive the old Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal. The extravagant masquerade of the talks in Vienna continues.

The Iranian regime has made unfulfillable demands for the Biden administration. The mullahs are so desperate to revive their dormant oil and gas sales that they are demanding the immediate lifting of all sanctions, including those aimed at the regime’s proxy wars in the Middle East, which Biden, politically, said. can not admit. They also want a guarantee that no future US administration will ever withdraw from the deal again, a guarantee that no president is able to give.

The JCPOA was deeply flawed from the start.

Signed by Obama in 2015, it was only meant to run until 2025, after which time the Iranians were to be allowed to resume their full nuclear program. Over the remaining three years of the original deal, the mullahs are unlikely to open their doors to maximum unfettered inspections of their nuclear facilities by the International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA). They have already boasted that their uranium enrichment program has reached 60% purity, a hair’s breadth of military grade, and that any pledge or guarantee they could provide to Vienna would be worthless.

The only way the mullahs can hope to stem the rise in protests is to address the real needs of the Iranian people. They must end corruption, fix the economy, roll out the COVID-19 vaccination program, create jobs, improve production, solve infrastructure and environmental problems, end their proxy wars and the export of terrorism and abandon plans to build ballistic missiles and a nuclear weapon. .

But as the world knows, the regime has neither the will nor the intention to meet these demands. The theocratic regime was built on repression, crime and corruption and like any other dictatorship in history, its days are numbered.

Hopefully 2022 will see the restoration of freedom, justice and democracy for the Iranian people.

Struan Stevenson is the Campaign for Change in Iran (CiC) coordinator. He was a member of the European Parliament representing Scotland (1999-2014), chairman of the Parliament’s delegation for relations with Iraq (2009-14) and chairman of the Friends of a Free Iran intergroup (2004 -14). Struan is also chairman of the In Search of Justice (ISJ) Committee on the Protection of Political Freedoms in Iran. He is an international lecturer on the Middle East and president of the European Association for the Freedom of Iraq (EIFA).

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