NCRI - The anti-regime rallies that began in Mashhad on Thursday, spread to the major cities of Tehran, Tabriz, Isfahan and Shiraz, as well as dozens of towns across the country.
These rallies are different from those that occurred in 2009, when the reelection of former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sparked nationwide rallies. These protests beagn with economic demands, and demonstrators have escalated to an ultimatum of fundamental regime change. Demonstrations have spiraled into a general outcry against the ruling elite and policies inside the country and abroad.
Crowds have taken to the streets in Kermanshah, Rasht, Isfahan, and elsewhere. Social media is providing up-to-date reports of rallies. Slogans display the peoples’ resentment, exposing the regime’s vulnerability far beyond the scope of many Western analysts’ prior arguments. Cries of “Death to Rouhani,” and “Clerics Must Go” along with chants of “Leave Syria, start thinking about us,” as well as, “Not Gaza, Not Lebanon, my life for Iran,” are heard.
Tehran allocates billions of dollars in revenue from oil and gas to meddling in the regions, including assisting the Assad regime in Syria, the Lebanese Hezbollah, Shiite militias in Iraq and the Houthis of Yemen. The benefits believed to follow the lifting of sanctions via the nuclear deal have not been seen by ordinary Iranians.
What differs in Iran today, compared to 2009, is that Khamenei placed his weight behind Ahmadinejad and directed a massive crackdown quelling the protesters’ demands. In 2018, the Iranian regime understands very well how opening fire on protesters will fuel the protests’ flames. In fact, posts on social media seem to indicate low morale among the security forces, who are unwilling to open fire upon protesters even if ordered to do so. On a video, a member of the regime’s ultraconservative Basij, a paramilitary unit of the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), is seen placing down his baton and taking off his jacket, indicating that he is no longer willing to attack his fellow countrymen.
Meanwhile, in various cities, protesters attack police stations, tip over police vehicles and set police motorcycles on fire. The people in Iran are reportedly threatening to take up arms in response to any crackdown by the regime.
Iranian opposition leader Maryam Rajavi is hailing the protests, saying, “The ongoing protests in different cities against the regime reveal the explosive state of Iranian society and the people’s desire for regime change.” The Iranian opposition hopes that the international community will formally recognize the Iranian people’s demand for regime change and the legitimacy of the organized resistance pursuing this objective.