By Heshmat Alavi
January 24, 2018
The recent uprising sweeping across Iran is rattling the very pillars of the ruling regime. Despite claims and analysis of this movement coming to an end, senior Iranian officials and state media continue to express concerns about its impact, and what lies ahead.
Although many of these remarks are made in line with Iran’s hardliners targeting the government of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, they reflect the undeniable reality that the people completely abhor the entire regime.
This indicates the protests, with people demanding higher salaries, employment, improved education and healthcare, an end to corruption and the regime in its totality, are far from over. The road ahead for Tehran will be very bumpy, to say the least.
‘Nothing but lies’
Saeed Zeebakalam, known for his ties to the faction loyal to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, shed more light on the people’s increasing anger.
“I believe the people are literally tired of five years of promises, deceits, we will do this and that; five years of smiles coupled with shams. This means from 2013 onward they are providing nothing but lies to the people. On a daily basis, the nation is witnessing skyrocketing prices, decreasing purchasing power and rising unemployment,” he said according to a state website.
Despite being dubbed as a moderate in the West, Rouhani’s ties with the clerical establishment dates back to the early days of this dictatorship, being one of the pupils of Iranian regime founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini himself.
Rouhani is best described as Khamenei’s latest character in his 29-year ventriloquist show. However, heard vividly in their recent chants of “Reformists, principalists, end of story,” the Iranian people have made it crystal clear their target is the regime in its entirety.
Gholamhossein Karbaschi, former Tehran mayor and close to Rouhani, is describing as useless his deceitful remarks and attempting to act as an opposition to Khamenei’s faction. The people’s daily dilemmas are the result of policies implemented by the ruling elite and now Rouhani’s cabinet, all igniting the flames of the current uprising, according to Karbaschi.
“Mr. Rouhani must target the roots of these problems. If various state officials say the protests must be taken into note, as if they are merely analysts or media commentators, no actions will be taken. The government must take practical measures to resolve the roots of the people’s demands,” he suggests.
His remarks are a stark warning to all factions of the Iranian regime to take these current protests seriously.
“It is very shameful for these protests and latest events to once again become the subject of internal quarrels between factions and individuals, and once again for the people to feel their problems have been forgotten,” he said to a semi-official news agency.
Of course, don’t be mistaken. This former Tehran mayor is not concerned about the Iranian people’s interests. He is providing advice on how to safeguard the ruling regime from the people’s growing wrath over policies and intense crackdown measures.
The current protests are a dangerously deep rift carrying an even more dangerous message for those sitting on the throne in Tehran.
Iran’s young generation establish the central, influential core of this ongoing uprising. Other state media write in this regard:
“Based on officials’ reports from a closed-door parliamentary session, the youth established the highest number of participants in the recent protests. The number of those arrested further proves this reality, meaning the detainees are mostly young and from the fourth generation following the 1979 revolution. This latest series of events show this storyline is far more complicated,” the article reads in part.
At a first glance, these remarks are made along the lines of Iran’s ongoing factional disputes. Looking deeper, we must not neglect this reality that such words reflect grave concerns among Iran’s ruling elite, all rendering from this latest wave of protests. For those familiar with Iran in the past four decades, this also indicates the clerical regime is facing a major impasse.
This regime’s officials and their media outlets all fail to provide any solution for the road ahead. The truth is harsh to accept for Tehran’s rulers, realizing the road ahead can only be navigated one step at a time, with a variety of dilemmas awaiting their every move.
Protests over intolerable economic conditions are set to continue on a daily basis, and escalate into major political demands. Put this parallel to Tehran’s increasing international isolation, from the ruling regime’s perspective you have a recipe for disaster.
Awaiting to explode
Establishing stability has now become an illusion at best in Iran. This regime is strong on oppression but institutionally fragile. This is crucial for all ruling systems, considering their needs to modernize and become effective.
Certainly, the regime has launched a major quelling. Yet the people are not showing signs of succumbing to the regime’s crackdown. The month of February will be a major faceoff, as the regime intends to hold a massive rallies in Tehran and other cities to launch its 40th year in power, and the people will most likely be boycotting the regime’s marches and seeking opportunities to voice their own protests yet again.
And the tendency is for them to become more frequent.
From a logical perspective, the Iranian demonstrators’ demands are completely attainable if the regime manages its resources correctly, rechanneling funds from the military to the economy.
Knowing this regime, this is highly unlikely, and combined with the demonstrators’ antipathy, such an outcome has the potential of inspiring more protests. It is improbable that this simmering social movement will wait much longer to make its voice heard and demands met.
Iran is a powder keg, awaiting to explode at any moment.