The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) released a report titled “Uprising In Iran 2017-2018 – Update” by A. Savyon and Yigal Carmon. Savyon and Carmon report:
After seven days of mass demonstrations across Iran, in major cities and with the participation of protestors who appear to be middle class, not only in smaller, far-flung cities with the participation of working class people, it can be said that the uprising has the following characteristics:
- The uprising is clearly against the regime of the Islamic Republic. The regime is trying to neutralize this aspect of it, by ostensibly consenting to the holding of demonstrations demanding improved economic conditions, but protestors are demanding the following: “death to the dictator,” “death to Khamenei,” the end of the regime of the Islamic Republic, no compulsory hijab, no more sending of Iranian wealth to Syria and Gaza (with the slogan “No Syria, no Gaza, my life is for Iran”), and more. On social media, the following demands are circulating: a referendum, abolition of the regime of the Rule of the Jurisprudent, free elections, no compulsory hijab, fair distribution of wealth, an independent judiciary, a free press, separation of religion and state, and gender equality.
The following MEMRI TV clip, published November 20, 2017, shows a protest in Tehran that was a precursor to the current uprising:
Protesters In Tehran: Our Money Is Sent To Iraq, Lebanon, And Syria, While Our Men Steal And Our Women Sell Their Bodies Out Of Poverty – November 20, 2017
- This popular uprising has no known leadership that speaks in its name. OnJanuary 3, 2018, announcements of cities, locations, and times of the day’s demonstrations, signed by an entity calling itself “Iran Azadi [“Free Iran”] – The Headquarters for Coordinating the Demonstrations,” were circulated on social media, but no more details about this entity are known.
- The Iranian regime has not called out the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) to suppress the uprising; it has assigned this task to the Basij and the police, apparently out of fear that extensive use of force, as in 2009, would fan the flames of the popular uprising against it.
- The most prominent figures in the reformist camp, which was banished from power and from public life, have joined the regime’s attempts to calm the people. The regime is trying to use them as a bridge to the protestors in order to prevent the uprising from spreading, and the Interior Ministry has, to this end, called a meeting of all the parties in Iran, including the banned reformist parties, to discuss the economic problems raised by the protestors.
- In contrast to the uprising in Syria, there has been no known significant defection of security personnel to the protestors. The tweeted clip below shows a policeman explaining to protestors that he did not “become a soldier to fight” his own people, and is applauded by the crowd:
- During the first days of the uprising, no member of the senior leadership of the ideological camp addressed the situation publicly. The only political figure to appear was President Hassan Rohani, to deliver a conciliatory message expressing understanding of the protestors’ motives but trying to set restrictions for the protests. For his part, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei called a conference of families of martyrs, and in his statements to them accused Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the U.S. of being behind the uprising.
Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei Blames Popular Uprising On Iran’s Enemies: ‘All Those Who Oppose The Iranian Regime… Have United’
- President Rohani blamed the regime for the economic crisis, and explained that most of the country’s budget – that is, 200 billion of a total 360 billion toman (360 billion toman is about $100 billion) – is not under his control at all. This means that most of the national budget is controlled by Supreme Leader Khamenei and the IRGC.
- In the regime, a dispute has broken out over the question of who is to blame for the uprising. The ideological camp blames President Rohani and his economic policy, which includes cutting direct public subsidies and raising taxes and the prices of basic commodities, and accuses him of corruption. Rohani, like his mentor, the late Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, has spoken out against Supreme Leader Khamenei’s and the IRGC’s policy of exporting the revolution and establishing Iranian hegemony in the region, which has for years required that tremendous resources go to military development and to funding proxies instead of to the Iranian public. The MEMRI TV clips below show statements by Rafsanjani on this subject and Khamenei’s rebuttal:
Iranian Expediency Council Head Rafsanjani Protests Against Regime’s Oppression of Its Citizens – January 22, 2016