The Iran and Iraq Protests: Links, Roots and Perspectives
Scenes of protest in Iran and Iraq-November and December 2019
The nationwide Iran protests calling for the downfall of the religious dictatorship began more than two weeks ago. As Iran Protests continue, more of its strategic consequences emerge. The periodic relative calm is just the calm before the storm. The battle between the Iranian people and the regime is going on in other forms and other places.
Prisons are one scene of this battle. The regime is trying to break prisoners’ morale, while they continue to resist. The mullahs use various forms of torture to force the detained protesters to confess in order to show that the regime has been able to dismantle the core of the uprising, which it claims was “provoked by foreign countries.”
Yet, despite these trite shows, the regime’s top officials admit to the continuation of the uprising and show the regime’s utter fear of it.
Mullah Alireza Harati Motlagh, the regime's Friday prayers leader in the city of Borujen, while calling the uprising a conspiracy, said: “These incidents won’t end and will continue.”
Asghar Beigi, Friday prayers leader in Ardabil, also warned the regime’s officials: “The enemy never sleeps, so we should be alert at all times.”
In addition, Ali Rabie, the government’s spokesperson, in an article published in the state-run Iran daily, on November 30, while expressing his concern over the regime’s increasing crises said, “The great Satan of our time is our citizens’ presumed unrests and insecurity. The danger of this mindset for our national security is incomparable with any domestic or foreign threats.”
This is interesting because the regime for years has presented the United States as the “Great Satan” and its main enemy. Now the government’s spokesperson calls the “citizens’ presumed unrests and insecurity,” or rather the popular uprising, the regime’s real threat and enemy, incomparable with any other domestic or foreign threat. He further warned the regime’s officials: “It took two years from [the uprising] in 2017 to 2019. Now if we don’t find a solution, we will witness another incident.”
The state-run Farhikhtegan daily, in an article published on December 1, called the army of young protesters, who are between 15 to 22 years old, a “time bomb” and urged the regime’s authorities to “take this time bomb serious.”
It is not difficult to fathom the possible eruption of another nationwide uprising. Because the same factors which triggered the Iran protests in November are still present. The most important factors are:
1- Economic sanctions. In his article, Rabie reiterated: “In the current situation, the U.S. sanctions will remain and, in my opinion, will intensify.”
2- The increasing infighting between the regime’s factions which has intensified after the uprising. For example, some members of the rival faction to the regime’s president, Hassan Rouhani, have called for his removal from office and prosecution.
3- The escalating popular outrage and social unrest and utter hatred towards the regime, especially after 750 martyrs.
4- Another important and inspirational factor is the Iraqi people's uprising and their heavy blows to the Iranian regime, particularly their two recent victories.
Two important victories of the Iraqi people's uprising
During the last few days, the Iraqi people had two significant victories. First, they torched and destroyed the Iranian regime’s consulate in the city of Najaf which was the symbol of the regime’s deadly meddling in Iraq. Secondly, they forced the resignation of Iraq’s Iranian-backed Prime Minister, Adel-Abdul Mehdi. This was the beginning of the dismantling of the corrupt and sectarian government structure in Iraq. The Iranian regime quickly realized these two important factors and tried in vain to prevent them from happening, via threats, oppression, tricks and conspiracies. But these tactics have failed.
The regime’s authorities have expressed fear of the developments in Iraq.
Mullah Felahati, the Friday prayers leader in Rasht, called for the execution of the Iraqi protesters and said: “Those who torched the Islamic Republic’s consulate in Najaf were thugs, and they should be executed because they waged war against the Islamic republic.”
The Keyhan daily, known as the Supreme Leader’s mouthpiece, in an article published on November 30, showed the regime’s utter fear of the uprising in Iraq and wrote: “We urge the faithful and revolutionary Iraqi forces, such as those in the Popular Mobilization Forces, to not lose a second in saving Islamic Iraq from bloodthirsty thugs.”
These reactions, however, have an internal use for the regime to pacify its desperate forces. This is because the resignation of the Iraqi Prime Minister means the collapse of the regime's so-called “strategic depth” in the Middle East.
For this reason, other state-run newspapers describe the downfall of the Iranian regime as the ultimate goal of the Iraqi uprising.
For example, Ali Bigdeli, one of the regime’s experts, said in an article published on November 30 in the state-run Jahan-e Sanat daily: “The recent incidents in Iraq send different messages. Yet, the most important message is to Iran. If this crisis continues in Iraq, Iran will receive more disappointing messages.”
While forced to admit to the Iraqi people’s uprising and outrage, Bigdeli stated: “Despite the presence of (Iraqi) government forces, the (Iran-backed) Popular Mobilization Forces suppressed this crisis. This has directed this crisis to Iran.”
Even though the blood of the Iraqi protesters is shed by the Iranian regime’s thugs, it is important to underline this reality that the Iraqi people’s uprising is not separate from the nationwide Iran protests. Because from Iran to Iraq, to Yemen, Syria, and Lebanon, the people have one common enemy: the religious fascism ruling Iran.