The Iranian regime faced several crises this past week, all of which had the potential to trigger major protests, and that was before the announcement of new sanctions by the United States targeting the regime’s metal sector.
A major crisis was triggered by the announcement of a spike in fuel prices. That led to extraordinary queues and protests at gas stations. Fearing larger-scale protests, the regime was forced to announce that they won’t be raising gas prices.
Meanwhile a soccer match in Tabriz last week turned into skirmishes between fans and police. After witnessing anti-regime chants a week earlier, this time the regime’s suppressive security forces prevented anyone from outside Tabriz from entering the stadium.
Another major incident was a large protest by workers, teachers and pensioners outside the regime’s Majlis (Parliament) and its House of Workers. Chants included “Imprisoned teachers must be freed” and “Workers, teachers, unite.” While on previous occasions the regime tried to contain the protests, this time the mullahs feared the situation could get out of hand and sent in shock troops to beat and arrest protesters from the get-go.
Chants at a similar protest by teachers and academics in Mashhad on May 2 laid blame on the mullahs for the nation’s woes. Chants included: “Our enemy is in the homeland. They’re lying when then says its abroad,” “Our enemy is right here. They’re lying when then say its America,” “Our problem could be solved if there was just one less case of corruption” and “Leave Syria alone; think of us instead”.
On their own, each of these incidents may not seem consequential, but since Iranian society is at a melting point and ready for change, any one of them could trigger a huge uprising.
In recent weeks there has been a significant rise in the number of anti-regime acts by activists of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI, Mujahedin-e Khalq or MEK). That includes setting ablaze portraits of the regime’s founder Khomeini and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and writing slogans on walls in support of regime change in Iran.
The regime’s Intelligence Minister mullah Mahmoud Alavi announced last month that 116 of the MEK’s Resistance Units had been arrested in the past year.
Separately, the head of the Intelligence Ministry in East Azerbaijan Province on April 24 said: “In 2018, the activities of the MEK in the province became more widespread, and for the year 2019, they have missions such as gathering and collecting information on the agenda. Last year, the Mojahedin (MEK) expanded their activities by exploiting the economic and social conditions, and 60 elements associated with the MEK communication hubs were arrested” and 50 more were “cautioned.”
That, of course, is a sign of the MEK’s strength and the regime’s weakness.
The MEK (PMOI), Iran’s main democratic opposition group, is organizing all sorts of social protests and channelling them into major acts of rebellion against the mullahs. The regime’s failure to assist victims of the recent nationwide flood crisis has only roused people’s anger.
The latest U.S. sanctions targeting the regime are making matters even worse for the mullahs.
This month the Trump administration ended sanctions waivers for countries buying oil from the regime. On Wednesday, it imposed sanctions on the regime’s steel, iron, aluminum and copper sectors.
In April, the U.S. State Department added the regime’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) to its list of foreign terrorist organizations (FTO), highlighting that the mullahs run an outlaw regime that uses terrorism as a key tool of statecraft and that the IRGC has engaged in terrorism since its inception. And the U.S. warned of further sanctions to come after the regime announced this week that it would be curbing its commitments to the 2015 nuclear deal.
By every definition of the word, Iran’s regime is at its weakest state of four decades of rule. Public resentment of the mullahs is at its highest level, factional feuding is tearing the regime apart from within, acts by the MEK’s network are shattering people’s fear of the regime, and the regime is increasingly running out of lifelines from abroad.
What the international community should do now
Iranian opposition leader Maryam Rajavi has urged the world community to take the following six steps:
1. Recognize the right of the Iranian people and the Resistance to overthrow the ruling religious fascism and to establish freedom.
2. Add the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) and the regime’s other branches of suppression and terrorism to the State Department’s FTO list and on the EU’s terror watch list.
3. Expel the agents of the MOIS and the terrorist Quds Force from the U.S. and Europe.
4. Refer the dossier on the Iranian regime’s human rights violations and the massacre of political prisoners to the United Nations Security Council and the International Court of Justice.
5. Expel the illegitimate clerical regime from the UN and recognize instead the Iranian Resistance as the true representative of the Iranian people.
6. Evict the Iranian regime and its forces from Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon and Afghanistan.