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A Year On: The Ongoing Impact of Iran’s Nationwide Uprising

Iran Protests February 7 2023 696x391 1Executive Summary

This report delves into the nationwide uprising that occurred in Iran during 2022. It meticulously examines the root causes behind this event, its profound impact on society, and the potential it holds for fostering democratic change. The uprising, which erupted following years of suppressed dissatisfaction, was triggered by a society that bore a striking resemblance to a highly volatile powder keg, just waiting for the smallest spark to set it ablaze.

Iran’s society, akin to a powder keg, was ignited by an array of grievances encompassing political oppression, economic turmoil, and systemic corruption. Since the 2017 uprising, several significant incidents, such as the massacre of at least 1500 protesters in the 2019 crackdown, mishandling of the pandemic response, and the appointment of a notorious executioner as president, only served to further contribute to the combustible mixture. The prevalent issues of widespread inflation, unemployment, and poverty further stoked the flames of societal unrest.

Key to driving this uprising were women, who played a pivotal role in propelling the movement forward.  ‌Being inspired by tens of thousands of women who were arrested, endured torture, and many were executed during the past four decades, women exhibited remarkable leadership and resilience, thereby significantly amplifying the movement’s overall impact.

The sustainability of this uprising hinges upon the volatile climate within society and the catalytic influence of the organized resistance. While the regime strives to suppress the MEK and its network of Resistance Units, this very effort underscores the movement’s appeal, particularly among Iran’s younger generation.

Caught in a strategic quagmire, the regime finds itself unable to address public grievances or return to the previous state before the uprising. The yearning for transformation within Iranian society rejects both the current clerical dictatorship and the former monarchy. The regime’s attempts to suppress the movement have proven ineffective in quelling the uprising, thus leaving society in a state reminiscent of a powder keg on the brink of explosion.

Beneath the regime’s suppression tactics lies an underlying societal volatility, with economic hardships, political repression, and corruption collectively fueling a widespread sense of discontent. As the anniversary of the uprising approaches, the regime finds itself grappling with a society teetering on the edge, where the likelihood of a democratic spark igniting becomes increasingly plausible.

Introduction

Iran is fast approaching the first anniversary of the latest round of popular uprisings that waged across the entire country, continued for several months, and changed the country’s socio-political landscape for good. As the people and the state are preparing themselves in opposite ways, the circumstances and underlying dynamics have fueled the society with more reasons for revolt.

In addition to enduring grievances such as the severe repression of political dissent, the erosion of civil liberties, and pervasive censorship, the regime has rendered life unbearable for the majority of Iranians who have been thrust below the poverty line in recent years. At the anniversary of the nationwide uprising, the core question is: has the regime managed to quell the protests, and are we back to the status quo before the start of the protests, or do the protests live on, and is the Iranian society getting ready for even bigger events?

In this paper, we will shortly examine Iran’s 2022 nationwide uprising, its root causes and its impact on Iranian society, and how the future will unfold.

The Root Causes of Iran’s Uprisings

Iran, under the rule of the mullahs, is a hotbed of human rights abuses, torture, execution, and the killing field for innocent men, women, and children.

The uprising is not a sudden event that lacks any roots. Instead, it is the product of the Iranian people’s struggle for freedom over the past four decades, for which 120,000 freedom fighters have sacrificed their lives.

Since the 2017 uprising, several significant incidents have built up substantial and explosive anti-regime rage in Iranian society. The first was the massacre of at least 1,500 protesters in 2019, followed by the IRGC’s deliberate downing of a Ukrainian passenger airliner. Then came 550,000 deaths caused by the spread of the coronavirus, exacerbated by Khamenei’s decisions.

Iran protests in 2021: Growing tensions hint at what is to come

Another was the appointment of Ebrahim Raisi, the executioner of the 1988 massacre of 30,000 political prisoners, as the regime’s president.

High inflation, which sometimes reaches 100% for some commodities, rampant and horrible unemployment, state corruption that affects all aspects of life, and discrimination against women and religious and ethnic minorities have created an explosive society.

In the past five years, the country’s low-income population has tripled. The brutal suppression of women and youth, as well as the worsening poverty and unemployment, have dismayed everyone.

There has been zero economic growth over the past decade, the investment rate is negative, and the value of the national currency has plunged by 34 times.

Therefore, this uprising has its roots in the explosive state of society, poverty, unemployment, and, above all, the catastrophic situation of women.

The 2022 uprising was an eruption of anger and pain caused by these factors.

The Role of Women

The historical trajectory of women’s involvement in the battle against the mullahs is rich and enduring. Iranian women have been steadfast participants in the quest for freedom for over four decades, actively engaging in the struggle. Furthermore, within the ranks of the Iranian Resistance, women have consistently held positions of authority and responsibility.

In the context of the uprising, Iranian women’s defiance extended beyond merely discarding the mandatory veil; it encompassed a resolute rejection of all forms of coercive and autocratic governance, whether perpetrated by the Shah or the mullahs.

The uprising’s emergence was not a sudden occurrence, and the pivotal role assumed by women was not a happenstance. On one hand, the uprising was the culmination of more than 40 years of relentless struggle by the Iranian populace and the resistance, a struggle marked by significant sacrifices. On the other hand, the influence of women in the leadership echelons of the resistance over the preceding decades significantly contributed to the movement’s development.

The prominent involvement of women in propelling the uprising stems from a reaction to 44 years of suppression. This catalytic role is deeply intertwined with the efforts of countless freedom fighters and female members of the main opposition group, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), who, over the course of these years, endured imprisonment, torture, and execution in their pursuit of emancipation.

The engagement of women at all tiers of the Iranian Resistance has yielded a substantial reservoir of capability among Iranian women. Across nearly four decades, women from diverse strata within this movement have demonstrated adept leadership and managerial skills, drawing wisdom from invaluable, often blood-soaked experiences.

In essence, the saga of women’s involvement in this narrative of resistance underscores the depth of their commitment, the caliber of their leadership, and the unwavering solidarity that they have exhibited throughout.

Sustaining the Uprising: Factors at Play

The ongoing persistence of the protests can be attributed to two primary driving forces. Firstly, the explosive state of Iranian society leaves a vast majority of its populace deeply disenchanted. Pervasive issues such as soaring inflation, rampant and dire unemployment, widespread state-level corruption, and a backdrop of discrimination targeting women, religious minorities, and ethnic groups have collectively engendered an atmosphere of explosive tension within the society.

Secondly, a well-organized resistance movement operates across diverse domains. On one front, this resistance lends tangible support to the grassroots revolution while also serving as a guiding influence for the ongoing uprising, exercising a significant impact. The network of Resistance Units established by the MEK has emerged as a potent impetus behind the wave of protests, a reality even acknowledged by the regime itself.

On August 2, 2023, IRNA, the Iranian regime’s official news agency, organized a roundtable with five of the regime’s so-called “experts” on the occasion of releasing a new book, the latest chapter in the regime’s endless demonization campaign against the MEK. The participants confessed to important points about the MEK. It is worth noting that these individuals are security and propaganda officials and sometimes interrogators and torturers of the regime’s suppression apparatus. But the regime’s news agency, as usual, presented them with titles such as university professor, history researcher, and author.

Mohammad Atrianfar asked the question: “Why is the MEK so important? What kept it alive?”

Other participants in the roundtable each tried to answer this question.

Ebrahim Fayyaz said, “History repeats itself, and I think the MEK will probably return.” He admitted that the youth have turned away from the regime and are gravitating to the MEK and added, “Unfortunately, the Islamic Republic is not transparent to the new generation and has not been able to explain this to the youth. The fact that the MEK is structurally still alive and a group [of people] want to join them shows that it is not just because of the support of the United States and Britain. We haven’t yet destroyed the MEK.” Of course, regime authorities always have to rehash debunked claims of associating the MEK with foreign powers because not doing so would further drive the point that the ME is a movement rooted in Iranian society.

“The fact that the MEK are alive today should be important for the government and should be examined to understand it better,” Fayyaz said.

Mohammad Quchani made the point that “the MEK has split the country.” His later explanation and the phrase “dual government and opposition” made clear that he meant that the MEK had polarized the society between the people and resistance on the one hand and the ruling regime on the other.

Quchani said, “We have to know that the Mojahedin-e Khalgh issue is the issue of our day and it is not just a historical issue.” He implicitly admitted that the MEK is a key player in leading protests against the regime, saying that “wherever the people’s rightful protests were diverted, the organization was involved.” Of course, by “diverted,” he refers to slogans that call for the overthrow of the entire regime, which is being chanted by millions of people in Iran. He also said, “The separation of clergy and state from the people is the work of this organization.” He concluded by stressing the urgency of dealing with the Iranian Resistance: “So the issue of the MEK is today’s issue.”

Abbas Salimi Namin summarized the discussions of the roundtable as such: “Our main issue in the country is the MEK, and we must address it.”

The events of the 2022 uprising served as an unequivocal testament to the influence of the MEK on Iranian youth. The methods and tactics employed by MEK resistance units in their struggle against the regime have resonated with the younger generation. Strategies such as the symbolic incineration of regime symbols, massive propaganda billboards, and daubing walls with protest slogans have gained traction. The MEK’s sustained involvement has galvanized nationwide protests, fostering an increasingly radicalized societal stance against the regime. Over the span of five years, the MEK Resistance Units have fearlessly challenged the regime’s sprawling security apparatuses, and their approach has progressively gained popularity among the nation’s youth.

Extracting Lessons from the Uprising

The nationwide upheaval that erupted across Iran in September 2022 has reverberated through the country’s political landscape, jolting its foundations. The historical significance of such uprisings in Iran underscores a seismic shift away from an untenable status quo. The prevailing balance of power has undergone a marked transformation, leading policymakers to acknowledge that the present regime confronts an existential crisis bereft of viable remedies for its escalating predicaments.

Lesson 1: The Iranian regime is in a strategic deadlock.

The recent uprising has laid bare a glaring reality: the Iranian regime finds itself ensnared in a strategic impasse. Its failure to address the people’s grievances has left it grappling to sustain its authority. Presently, the regime grapples with an array of setbacks, from a faltering economy and internal schisms within its ranks to the attrition of personnel within the IRGC and Basij, as well as the looming specter of the nuclear issue. These multifaceted challenges have converged, rendering the regime incapable of instigating any reforms lest they undermine the power structure upheld by Khamenei and precipitate the regime’s total collapse. The regime’s actions, ostensibly designed to preserve its control, inadvertently deepened public discontent, stoking the uprising. The prospect of returning to the pre-uprising status quo has grown untenable, ultimately paving the way for the regime’s overthrow at the hands of a resolute populace and their organized resistance movement.

Lesson 2: Iranian society is primed for fundamental change.

The protests have provided unequivocal evidence that Iranian society is primed for sweeping transformation. The populace’s collective rejection of the entire regime underscores a palpable yearning for a new system that permits genuine representation. This reflects a profound yearning for a democratic revolution, firmly rejecting any form of dictatorship, including vestiges of the former Shah’s regime. The unwavering determination for a more inclusive and participatory political structure propels the ongoing protests.

State media official admits Iran protests are led by people against Khamenei

Lesson 3: The Iranian society is like a powder keg, ready to explode at any moment.

Iranian society simmers like a powder keg, poised to ignite at any moment. The volatile atmosphere implies that the next phase of uprising may be imminent, sealing the regime’s fate. The persistent outpouring of protests across Iran underscores the entrenched grievances and frustrations of the people, which the regime remains unable to mollify.

Lesson 4: Networks of resistance within the social fabric have undergone substantial advancement.

Networks of MEK resistance units woven within the social fabric have undergone significant advancement. The heart of the uprising predominantly comprises the youth, especially women, forming the nucleus of this rebellion. These networks have orchestrated approximately three thousand counter-suppression operations within the past year alone. As of April 2023, the Iranian resistance has reported that over 3,600 members of the Resistance Units have either been imprisoned or gone missing since the onset of the uprising. A noteworthy development is the stark disparity between those joining this network in Iran and those who have been apprehended, reflecting a marked achievement.

The “Iran newspaper,” linked to the regime’s President Ebrahim Raisi, expressed a desire for the regime to neutralize the MEK’s network within Iran. This underscores the collaborative nature of the uprising’s leadership, both in physical and digital realms, between the Iranian populace and the MEK.

Internal documents from the regime’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs attest to the MEK’s unity, organized structure, and significant intelligence capabilities. The MEK’s ambition to topple the regime through the establishment of Resistance Units positions it as the solitary entity capable of presenting an alternative.

Indeed, this organized movement, driven by the Resistance Units, garners an increasing number of oppressed individuals daily. Its dual goal is the regime’s overthrow and the inception of a revolution rooted in freedom, democracy, and equality.

MEK Resistance Units march in Iran's cities on anniversary of 1979 revolution

Lesson 5: The uprising needs an organized resistance force ready to make sacrifices.

The explosive situation of society does not lead to the regime’s overthrow by itself. It needs an organized resistance force that is ready to make sacrifices. The uprising has shown that the Iranian people are willing to make sacrifices for their freedom, and the existing organized resistance, namely the MEK and the NCRI, is the only force that can effectively channel this energy.

Lesson 6: The regime’s fear of MEK and its last-resort maneuver: Elimination of the MEK

The events of the past year and the undeniable role of the MEK’s Resistance Units in organizing or further fomenting the protests once again demonstrated the regime’s growing fear of MEK as the force for change.

Consequently, the regime has undertaken a comprehensive campaign to eliminate the MEK, resorting to suppression, demonization campaigns, and collaboration with so-called opponents to quell its primary adversary.

In this vein, the regime unsuccessfully attempted, through its undeclared agents, to overshadow the democratic alternative by promoting remnants of the previous regime, which essentially amounts to a “transition” from the current to the former dictatorship.

Lesson 7: People of Iran reject fake alternatives

Extensive efforts by the regime or others who do not want to see a democratic republic in Iran, in an unwritten agreement, worked hand in hand to create confusion and promote the narrative that a united opposition and viable alternative does not exist. Some Farsi language broadcasting, financed by other countries, were also used to promote the false narrative as if there might a desire to return to the previous dictatorship.

Ultimately, these efforts proved ineffectual in influencing the uprising, backfiring and inadvertently aiding the regime. As a result, Iranian society categorically rejected these initiatives.

The Iranian populace recognizes that monarchy in Iran has historically embodied fascism. The Shah’s era saw the imprisonment or execution of all freedom fighters, facilitating the mullahs’ rise to leadership. The people categorically reject all forms of dictatorship, including a return to monarchy, with chants resonating, “death to the oppressor, be it the Shah or the mullahs.”

Protesters in Iran's cities chant: Down with the Oppressor, Be it the Shah or the Supreme Leader

Regime’s Officials and Media Acknowledge Iran’s Eruption Risk

The clerical regime claims to quell the uprising through a harsh and unrelenting campaign of suppression. However, as both state-controlled media outlets and key regime figures acknowledge, this apparent control masks a deeper truth – the Iranian society simmers as an ember-laden fire beneath the surface, primed to erupt into an even more vehement conflagration at the slightest provocation.

The root of this combustible state, which has gotten worse since last year, lies in a complex interplay of economic, social, and political factors.

Scrutinizing the discourse within state-affiliated media across diverse domains provides a clear indication of the society’s powder keg state. The narratives disseminated, whether implicitly or explicitly, paint a vivid portrait of a society on the brink of eruption. These expressions, often guarded and framed within the regime’s perspective, inadvertently serve as a testament to the mounting pressure beneath the surface.

State-run daily Jomhouri Eslami- July 16, 2023: “Do not think that the people’s patience is endless. Fear the day when the army of the hungry will rise against you. At least think about your survival and your rule.”

State-run website Bahar News – May 22, 2023: “We should be prepared for the unpredictable return of protests in the streets,” and “Today, any incident can lead to protests.”

State-run Didar website – May 31, 2023: “Ashraf Boroujerdi, Former Deputy Minister: “…The society now has an inflamed atmosphere. It’s not as you think that you see calm now, and there’s nothing beyond this calm. No! The fire is under the ashes, and rest assured that with a spark, these things can take a different form again.”

Former Keyhan Newspaper Official Mehdi Nassiri – July 25, 2023: “In my view, this could be a combination of cracks at the top of the government competitions. Then, the issue of the street [i.e., protests] may be added to the equation at that moment, given the preparedness of public opinion. An event, an incident, a wrong decision can ignite such a spark.”

Mohammad Bagheri-Bannai, a member of the Economic Commission of the Parliament: “Even with $100 billion of foreign exchange resources that, according to the Central Bank, we have in other countries, we cannot accomplish significant tasks for the country. The government’s expenses have escalated to a staggering level that these amounts might be sufficient for only a few months, but they are not enough for long-term projects.”

Ensaf News website – July 12, 2023: “Jafarzadeh Imanabadi, a former member of the Parliament’s Planning and Budget Commission: ‘Corruption in the country has become systematic. No matter how much we try to hide this issue, it has become an undeniable reality. Systematic corruption arises when there is no will to tackle corruption.'”

On August 3, 2023, the state-run Arman newspaper wrote: “A minimum wage worker must work for more than 170 years and save part of his income every month in order to be able to buy an 80-meter apartment, while in reality is impossible because workers who don’t have homes and are tenants cannot afford to save monthly. In fact, he is lucky if he can even pay for rent.”

Why is Ebrahim Raisi constantly warning about the enemy?

The official ILNA news agency reported on August 2, 2023, that the average price per square meter of residential property in Tehran has increased from 47 million rials in the winter of last year to 65 million rials in the spring and early summer of this year. The forecasts of economic experts indicate that “the growth of housing prices in 2023 will be around 40-50%,” according to ILNA.

On July 23, many members of the Majlis (parliament) who were strong defenders of the Khamenei-Raisi project questioned the government in fear of the explosive conditions of the society.

Referring to the fact that time is not in favor of the regime, MP Jalal Rashidi said to the government, “Are you aware that a kilo of chicken costs 120,000 tomans? Mr. President, I told you two years ago… be careful; time passes much faster than you think.”

On the same day, MP Javad Hosseinikia also said: “Mr. President! High prices are rampant, save the disastrous market, the people are raising their voices.”

On August 3, 2023, Mehdi Nasiri, the former managing editor of Kayhan newspaper, described the failure of Khamenei and Raisi’s policies as such: “In my opinion, this could be a combination of division at the top of the state, then the element of the street may add to it. Given the state of public opinion, one incident, one hazardous event, a wrong decision can create such a spark.”

Parliament Research Center July 2023: In 1929, one gram of pure gold was valued at three Iranian rials. Ninety-two years later, the value of the rial had declined by 6 million times and reached 18 million rials to one gram of gold in February 2022. In comparison to the U.S. dollar, it has declined as much as 16,000 times.

In a recent report, Forbes magazine classified the Iranian rial as “the weakest currency in the world” despite being “a leading global exporter of oil and natural gas.” Forbes reported that 1 rial is buying “just 0.000024 US dollars (or, put another way, $1 equals 42,273 Iranian rials).” The reality is much worse, with the US dollar trading at around 500,000 rials.

According to data from the Bonbast, a website that tracks the value of the rial, Iran’s currency rial lost 51.6 percent of its value against the dollar in the open market in just one year.

In July 2023, Eghtesad Pouya news website quoted Ehsan Soltani, an economic researcher, as saying, “The downfall of the national currency, from 2018 to 2022, equaled to twice as much as the 53 years of the Pahlavi reign, nearly twice of a century of the Qajar dynasty, or nearly three times as much as the eight-year war. Currency price shocks have become the main pillar of Iran’s corrupt and ineffective economic governance.”

Regime’s Radio ‌ Farhang – May 23, 2023: “According to statistics published by the Central Bank, housing prices in Tehran have increased by over a thousand times in the past 30 years.”

State-run newspaper Shargh – May 18, 2023: “Some impoverished families are renting out their children for labor.”

Daily Mail Online: Desperate Iranians are selling ORGANS due to the country’s economic crisis. Illegal sales ‘reach alarming levels’ with body parts exchanging for £5,500 to £12,000

Donya-e Eqtesad website – May 13, 2023: “The number of doctors and nurses who left the country last year has exceeded 10,000 individuals.”

State-run website Faraz – July 29, 2023: “Thousands of families have stored their household belongings and become homeless. The population of people living in underserved areas in the country has reached 20 million. Two years ago, the average price per square meter of housing was 330 million rials, and now it has reached 780 million rials.”

State-run newspaper Arman Emrouz – July 26, 2023: “A minimum-wage worker must work for more than 170 years and save a portion of their income every month to afford an 80 square meter apartment. This is while in reality, such an equation has no answer because a homeless worker who is a tenant usually cannot afford monthly savings; paying the rent itself is a great feat.”

The economic and social situation is so dire that the regime lacks the ability to provide drinking water during this hot summer. Water is cut off in more than 13 provinces for extended periods of time: On the evening of July 31, 2023, the people of Divandareh protested against several days of water cuts by gathering and demonstrating outside the regime’s governorate and the Water and Sewage Organization of the city. Young people clashed with oppressive State Security Force agents, lighting fires, blocking streets, and chanting slogans. SSF agents fired tear gas at protesters demanding drinking water.

Member of Parliament Reza Aryanpour – July 22, 2023: “The province of Golestan is currently in the worst state of drinking water, and every day, we hear reports and protests from dear people in various urban and rural areas of the province, especially in the eastern counties, about days-long drinking water cuts.”

State-run website Eqtesad 24- March 27, 2023: “300 cities are facing water stress, and water supply is being carried out through tankers in over 8,000 villages. Even experts in water resources and hydrology have reported water bankruptcy.”

State-run website Entekhab – June 28, 2023: “The negative water balance in Isfahan is 13 billion cubic meters, which is approximately equal to 20 rivers the size of Zayandeh Rud. There are other provinces with higher negative balances than Isfahan. Fars province, with a negative balance of 15 billion cubic meters, holds the record for the world’s largest sinkhole at 54 centimeters per year.  Fars province has a big potential to collapse suddenly.”

Former Iranian official describes huge scale of Iran’s Revolution

On July 22, 2023, Reza Arianpur, a member of the Majlis (parliament) referred to the explosive conditions of the society in the waterless summer and said, “Golestan province is currently in the worst drinking water situation, and every day we witness the reports and protests of people from different urban and rural areas of the province, especially the eastern cities of the province. We have been cut off from drinking water for several days”.

Gholamreza Montazeri, another member of the parliament, had warned against “turning water tension into social tension.”

On March 27, Eghtesaad 24, a state-run website, warned, “300 cities are under water stress, and more than 8,000 villages are supplied with water by tankers. Even experts in watershed management and hydrogeology have warned about water bankruptcy.”

On July 28, the state-run Entekhab newspaper wrote, “The amount of negative water balance in Isfahan is 13 billion cubic meters, which is equivalent to 20 times the size of Zayandeh Rud river. There are other provinces whose negative balance is more than Isfahan. In Fars province, which has a negative balance of 15 billion cubic meters, we have recorded the world’s largest sinkhole with 54 centimeters per year. Fars province has the potential to collapse all at once.”

State-run media Shargh – July 15, 2023: “Following the extensive government advertising about launching the Ghadir Water Project last year and the promise that the water problem in the cities and villages of Khuzestan Province has been permanently solved, the residents of Malashiya in Ahvaz have been without water for over 30 days. The water brought by tankers is only for drinking, not other needs.”

Member of Parliament Moin al-Din Saeedi – July 23, 2023: “For three months, the people of Kalani village have not received a single drop of water, and distributing water with a tanker priced at 12 million rials there has caused numerous problems for the people. The people’s cry of thirst has become routine to the ears of officials.”

The Regime’s Futile Suppression Efforts Amidst Escalating Tensions

In the face of mounting discontent and escalating calls for change, the Iranian regime’s desperation has once again manifested through repressive measures aimed at curbing any potential protests during the anniversary of the 2022 uprising. However, the regime’s attempts seem to be in vain, as the root cause of the uprising—the volatile state of Iranian society—continues to simmer, ready to ignite at any spark.

As the anniversary of the 2022 uprising looms, the regime is intensifying its suppressive tactics to prevent the resurgence of the widespread protests that once shook its foundations. Universities and students, who played a pivotal role in the previous uprisings, are now being singled out. These students, acting as the intellectual compass of society, have thwarted the regime’s historical tactics of manipulation and deceit.

A recent document circulating within Iran’s universities sheds light on the regime’s concerning strategy. Ebrahim Raisi’s government has initiated the recruitment of 15,000 Basij members and regime loyalists as academic faculty members, a move outside the existing academic framework and on an urgent basis. The response from Raisi’s Ministry of Science was belated and centered on denying “covert and unauthorized appointments.” This reveals the regime’s apprehension about the backlash its recruitment strategy has sparked.

To quell the explosive anger of a populace demanding the overthrow of the clerical regime, Khamenei is accelerating executions, aiming to create an atmosphere of fear to deter potential uprisings, particularly within the Baluch community. The execution of 10 prisoners, including 6 Baluch compatriots, in various prisons across Iran on August 21 is a stark testament to this grim strategy.

As the regime approaches the anniversary of the nationwide uprising, its persistence in carrying out a relentless spree of executions speaks volumes about its apprehension. Since July 25, 2023, over 56 prisoners have been executed by the regime.

However, these suppressive tactics appear futile in the face of an explosive society. The regime’s efforts to prevent protests on the anniversary of the uprising are overshadowed by the underlying truth: the societal conditions that led to the initial uprising remain largely unaddressed. With Iranian society a powder keg awaiting a spark, the anniversary serves as but a backdrop. The truth remains that at any given moment, a spark has the potential to set off a seismic explosion of protest and usher in a new wave of uprising.

The Regime’s Desperate Attempts to Quash Resistance On the Global Stage

The regime’s fear of both the MEK and the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) goes beyond Iran’s borders. In reality, the regime has taken extensive international measures aimed at suppressing the Resistance’s activities outside Iran, all while operating within the framework of the West’s policy of appeasement.

On June 19, days after the NCRI had announced plans to hold the Free Iran Summit 2023, Paris police issued a statement to Reuters confirming that they had informed the organizing committee of the decision to ban the rally as it could “generate disturbances to public order due to the geopolitical context.”

Political analysts linked the decision to a 90-minute call between French President Emanuel Macron and the clerical regime’s President Ebrahim Raisi on June 10, 2023. Some French outlets speculated about European hostages being involved.

Abdol-Reza Farajirad, the regime’s former ambassador to Norway and Hungary, confirmed that during the negotiations to release French, Danish, and Iranian-Austrian prisoners in Iran, agreements were made about controlling the MEK’s activities in Europe.

The NCRI issued a statement and declared it would challenge the French government’s decision in court.

“The clerical regime’s pressures on France to impose this ban reveals the mullahs’ paranoia over the popular sentiment towards the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) and the organization’s pivotal role in the nationwide uprising,” the statement partially read.

The wave of incidents undertaken against the Iranian Resistance was met with joyful enthusiasm in Tehran as well as all public stages that Iranian state officials could use to address the regime’s tight-knit follower base. From the regime’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the Judiciary, down to Friday prayer leaders and IRGC field commanders, the regime claimed it had successfully persuaded the West to “turn their backs on the hypocrites” [regime’s pejorative term to defame the MEK in Iran’s society] and instead to capture, dismantle, expel and deliver members of the MEK back to Iran.

Perhaps the regime’s greatest fear was to prevent a restive society from witnessing a Free Iran Summit that showed how an Iranian organization has managed to merge domestic resistance cells with international backing. But eventually, as the fight between the clerical regime and its major opposition movement turned out, the people of Iran witnessed the forbidden scene combined with excessively more defiance, steadfastness, and daring resilience.

The day prior to the scheduled demonstration, the Paris court reversed the decision to ban the event. In under a day, the MEK successfully mobilized tens of thousands of Iranians for the Paris demonstration. The annual Free Iran Summit took place, attended by over 500 prominent international figures.

During this summit, notable international figures delivered speeches discussing the National Council of Resistance of Iran’s alternative and Mrs. Rajavi’s 10-point plan for Iran’s future. These discussions highlighted the significant international backing for Iran’s resistance movement and the potential for an uprising and revolution within Iran.

The Quest for a Viable Alternative to the Theocratic Regime

One of the prominent features of the NCRI’s plan is that more than 20 years ago, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of NCRI, introduced a program for a free and democratic republic of Iran based on the basic principle of rejecting all kinds of dictatorships and establishing a democratic republic. This progressive program, known as the Ten-Point Plan, has been supported by many parliaments, elected representatives of the people in different countries, former heads of state, and prestigious political figures. Many recognize the Ten-Point Plan as a guarantee to overthrow the ruling regime and build a free and democratic Iran. In the Free Iran 2023 World Summit, the support of Maryam Rajavi’s ten-point plan reached a new peak.

Free Iran World Summit Day 2- Onward to a Democratic Republic

The majority of 29 parliaments of the world, more than 3,600 people’s representatives from 40 countries from Europe, North America, Australia, and Arab countries in 61 legislative assemblies, more than 120 former world leaders and 75 Nobel laureates declared their support for the Ten-Point Plan.

In their joint letter, the former heads of state wrote: “We believe it is for the Iranian people to decide their future. However, we recognize that for four decades, the democratic coalition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) has constantly and tirelessly pursued democratic change. In this respect, we believe the Ten‐Point Plan articulated by the NCRI President, Mrs . Maryam Rajavi, deserves support. Its commitment to free elections, freedom of assembly and expression, abolition of the death penalty, gender equality, separation of religion and state, autonomy for Iran’s ethnicities, and a non‐nuclear Iran is in line with our own democratic values.”

In his speech at the Free Iran World Summit, former US Vice President Mike Pence said, “The 10-point plan for the future of Iran guarantees freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and the freedom of every Iranian to choose their elected leaders. Last month, I was honored to join a group of 100 former world leaders who called on President Joe Biden and European Union leaders to support Iran’s resistance, especially Maryam Rajavi’s 10-point plan.”

Stephen Harper, the former Prime Minister of Canada, said: “It is time to stand in solidarity with the people of Iran in their desire for a free, secular, and democratic state. Friends, that is the future that you, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, have consistently and tirelessly advocated. A commitment to free elections, freedom of assembly and expression, pluralism and the rule of law, human rights and gender equality, the separation of religion and state, and the autonomy of Iran’s ethnic minorities and, of course, a non-nuclear state at peace with the world. ”

Mr. Peter Altmaier, the head of the German Chancellery, Federal Minister for Special Affairs, and Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, described the Ten-Point Plan of the National Council of Resistance of Iran as “a universal declaration of the basic value of individual freedom and democracy.” Mr. Altmaier expressed hope that Iran would be liberated soon and called upon the Iranian Resistance to be prepared for better days ahead.

General James Jones, former US National Security Advisor and former NATO commander, described the Ten-Point Plan as a “beacon of hope” and said, “Mrs. Rajavi’s Ten-Point Plan which mirrors the democratic values cherished by the international community, which Americans recognize as being truly Jeffersonian, stands as the beacon of hope, illuminating the path towards a democratic Iran where freedom, justice, and human rights will prevail.”

Senator Joseph Lieberman, the candidate for the vice presidency of the United States (2000), said, “[The Ten-Point Plan] is a great plan, a plan for freedom, equality, opportunity for the people of Iran. It’s one that every civilized democratic nation in the world should enthusiastically support.

“But the NCRI and Mrs. Rajavi have something else. They have a transition plan. It is out there for everybody to see. And it is a selfless plan that shows that this organization is not about seizing power. It is about making sure that the people of Iran seize power when this regime falls.

“It’s a plan that begins with a transition to early elections, to have a constituent assembly from the people in Iran that will then adopt the constitution, hopefully very much like the Ten-Point Plan, and will elect leaders of the country.

“In my opinion, in the history of uprisings and rebellions for freedom in the world against dictatorships, there has never been a group of revolutionaries that are prepared to avoid chaos and provide a smooth and peaceful transition to freedom than this group, NCRI, MEK, and the people of Iran.”

This is just a glimpse of the opinions and descriptions of prominent and well-known figures and officials about the Ten-Point Plan of the Iranian Resistance, which itself shows the validity and gravity of this plan as a road map for overthrowing the mullahs’ regime and realizing freedom and democracy in Iran.

Conclusion

Over the course of four decades, the authoritarian rule of the mullahs has stifled freedoms, resulted in mass imprisonments and executions, triggered severe inflation and economic turmoil, exacerbated poverty, and eroded the societal fabric of Iran. This has brought the nation to a critical juncture. In September 2022, this simmering tension erupted explosively, impacting over 280 cities in all provinces. The subsequent six-month uprising led to over 750 deaths and nearly 30,000 arrests, propelling Iran into an irreversible status. As the anniversary of the 2022 uprising approaches, Iran faces exacerbated socio-economic challenges, with the regime significantly weaker both domestically and internationally. The potential for further uprising remains high, poised to ignite at any provocation.