Not only has a rift within Iran’s political establishment become more noticeable recently, but public dissent against the political establishment also continues to mount, posing a significant threat to the ruling clerics’ hold on power.

The regime last week arrested several high-profile figures, including Mostafa Tajzadeh, one of the best-known political reformists in Iran who served as the deputy interior minister during former President Mohammed Khatami’s administration. The Iranian authorities have accused him of “a conspiracy to act against the country’s security” and he has been charged with “publishing falsehoods to disturb the public mind.” Tajzadeh, who recently criticized Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, was previously disqualified from running for the presidency by the regime’s Guardian Council.

Two prominent filmmakers, Mohammed Rasoulof and Mostafa Al-Ahmad, were also arrested and accused of “association with counterrevolution,” as well as “inflammation and disrupting the psychological security of society.”

Such developments indicate that the Iranian regime is seriously concerned about a potential uprising or a revolt against the political establishment. After all, the regime has been shaken by several major protests in recent years. In the final days of 2017, protests broke out in Iran’s second most-populous city, Mashhad, and immediately spread to dozens of others, with democratic change being the rallying cry. Another uprising in November 2019 presented the clerical regime with an even greater challenge. Terrified by the breadth and organized nature of these protests, authorities opened fire on crowds, killing approximately 1,500 people.

While criticizing the presidential office has become common among Iran’s lawmakers and state-controlled media outlets, pointing a finger at the supreme leader is considered taboo by politicians across the political spectrum, including the moderates, reformists and hard-liners.

Iran’s hard-line President Ebrahim Raisi, who is widely believed to be the cleric who will ultimately succeed Khamenei as supreme leader, has also been a target for criticism by government officials. Poverty, unemployment and inflation have reached record highs during his presidency. Even Mostafa Eghlima, a social worker expert for the Iranian government, recently warned about a potential revolt.

He wrote: “In recent months, every day a section of the community has been protesting their living conditions. Teachers and retirees were among the groups protesting their living conditions. The same is true for other occupational groups. People are unable to tolerate this situation and, if this situation continues, you will have to wait for the explosion of the starved. Do not doubt that if this situation continues, if the explosion of those starving does not happen this year, it will happen next year.”

Unfortunately, the regime continues to spend the nation’s wealth on its militia and terror groups across the Middle East, as well as on funding the military adventurism of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and its elite branch, the Quds Force, which carries out operations beyond Iran’s borders in order to export and advance the regime’s revolutionary ideals.

In fact, the Iranian leadership has offered little or no response to the people’s demands for an economic policy that shrinks the gap between their stagnant incomes and the rising cost of living.

Instead of addressing the nation’s grievances, the authorities resort to their modus operandi of cracking down on the opposition. The regime frequently deploys its police and security forces to use tear gas and batons and fire shotguns at protesters, which normally results in innocent people being injured or killed.

In its latest report on the situation of human rights in Iran, the UN acknowledged and expressed concern over the regime’s use of excessive force. It reported last month: “Concerning potential violations of the right to life allegedly by the state, including arbitrary executions, use of deadly force by security forces against peaceful protesters and border couriers, as well as arbitrary deprivation of life in detention as a result of torture or denial of timely access to medical care.”

Many Iranians have been asking the international community, particularly the Western powers, to assist them in their goal of fighting the regime’s theocracy and setting up a democratic system of governance. For example, human rights defenders Narges Mohammadi and Alieh Motallebzadeh last month wrote a message from the notorious Qarchak women’s prison to the Melbourne branch of the writers’ association PEN International, stating that the “costly international policies of the regime have paralyzed the economic foundations of the country and social and political suppression has weakened the civil society… We expect you and the international community to support the efforts made by the Iranian civil society and its activists in any way possible.”

One of the most effective methods to counter the Iranian regime is for Western policymakers to support Iranian activists and civil society, as well as to make it clear that they support any effort by the Iranian people to push back against state repression and advocate for democracy.

Source » arabnews