Since September 16, 2022, Iran has been consistently making headlines for those who keenly follow its unfolding events. The nation has now come to symbolize not just protests, but also change. As historical patterns have shown protests and widespread uprisings met with brutal suppression, and not everyone shares the optimism that a regime change is imminent. However, it requires a discerning eye to perceive the true pulse within the hearts and minds of both the people and the regime.
On the anniversary of the 2022 uprising, despite the regime’s heightened security measures and internet restrictions, Iranians once again showed their determination to overthrow the regime. Protests and nightly skirmishes with security forces took place in various cities, including Tehran, Kermanshah, Mashhad, Sanandaj, Junaqan, Arak, Hamedan, Rasht, Karaj, Sabzevar, Lahijan, and Dehdasht on Saturday, September 16. This occurred while the regime’s military and paramilitary forces were on high alert for several weeks. Disturbing images of regime-affiliated mercenaries sleeping on the streets circulated on social media. The regime’s media was actively issuing threats and warnings to the people.
Following months of intimidating rhetoric, for the umpteenth time, Ahmadreza Radan, the State Security Force Chief, came on state TV on September 12 and threatened the youth: “They will experience tough times if they dare to question people’s security… We fundamentally cannot tolerate this, so those who are receiving my voice and my image should learn if they make any mistakes, they will certainly be dealt with according to the law, which they would never forget.”
Simultaneously, the wave of arrests persisted until the anniversary day, with many political activists and former political prisoners either being rearrested or summoned. This also affected many supporters of the People’s Mojahedin Organization (PMOI/MEK). The regime’s crackdown extended even to cemeteries, with access routes to martyr’s shrines, including that of Mahsa Amini, being blocked and controlled and her elderly father being arrested.
— NCRI-FAC (@iran_policy) January 11, 2023
Who is afraid the most?
The regime’s increasingly stringent security measures and the atmosphere of terror had escalated to a level where even former members and insiders of the regime felt compelled to speak out. On September 17, an article by “Rahim Ghomeyshi,” a retired Revolutionary Guards member and a former prisoner of war during the Iran-Iraq war, was posted on various Telegram channels associated with the so-called reformist faction. This article sheds light on the fear that the regime harbors toward the public.
“What I witnessed today on Tehran’s streets, and by no means am I exaggerating it, if a foreign nation would invade and take control of Tehran and Iran, they couldn’t have amassed this many forces on the streets to convince the people that their country is occupied, claiming that resistance is futile. The sheer number of black and brown motorbikes ridden by the occupying forces throughout the city is astounding.
“Even an occupying force wouldn’t have been able to induce its own troops that those people who are peacefully walking by are enemies! Their uniforms, laden with black gear from neck to toe, make me question if such equipment is produced anywhere other than North Korea or Russia. It’s reminiscent of astronauts or gladiators in appearance. The prisoner transport vehicles they brought could potentially carry tens of thousands of people. The resources and display of force I witnessed today could account for a significant portion of the country’s oil revenue consumption.”
— NCRI-FAC (@iran_policy) May 9, 2023
While deliberately trying to distance himself from his peers, the IRGC veteran passionately and fearfully warns the regime, writing, “What have you done to Iran? What seeds of hatred and animosity have you sown? What mercenaries have you nurtured to bring havoc? How much of the oppressed people’s budget did you spend on protecting yourself? And you felt no shame. In confronting the people, you have outdone all the dictators in history!”
The IRGC veteran concludes, “I forgot to mention the brave girls marching in groups. Some with veils, some without, some with their mothers, some with their fathers, and some with their friends. So spirited, so carefree. I shivered with fear, but they boldly smiled in front of the security forces. I wish I could have taken a photo or a video.”
Rahim Ghomeyshi is just one of the many former state officials who have become vocal, trying to warn the regime’s leadership of an evitable fate that will force them to face justice for the atrocities they all have committed in the last four decades.
In addition to a long line of individuals who attempted to maintain the regime, often posing as moderates or reformists, the former Kayhan editor-in-chief, the former Vice President the former Evin Prison chief, former provincial officials, and MPs have joined the ranks of the quitters and are trying to craft a new narrative that might help them dodge accountability in the future.
— NCRI-FAC (@iran_policy) April 29, 2023
Another indicator of the regime’s precarious stability is its incessant propaganda machine, which is relentlessly targeting the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK). Gone are the years when the regime officially maintained radio silence on this matter, falsely claiming that the MEK had disappeared.
In just the last 24 hours, numerous reports across various state media channels have claimed the arrests of MEK members in Bueenzahra, Shahriar, and Parand, coupled with coverage of the organization’s rally in New York, alleged European hostility towards the MEK, the MEK’s perceived insecurity, their connections with Western countries, and the regime’s aggressive rhetoric against Belgium expressed by its foreign affairs ministry spokesperson. Whether it’s to intimidate the public and dissuade them from supporting the MEK or to tarnish the image of the organized Resistance movement on the international stage, the regime continues to sound the alarm against the organization 24/7.
Another indication of the revolutionary atmosphere is the persistent audacity of the MEK-affiliated Resistance Units across the country whose new recruits far exceed the number that the regime’s security and intelligence forces claim to apprehend every day and week. Their approach to challenging the regime’s vast security apparatus and the shadow of fear has become mainstream and even prison and torture have lost their effect on society. Instead, the regime is publishing reports about casualties among security forces almost every day.
For more than four decades, the Iranian regime has ruled over the country and intimidated the international community through fear and terror. Led by an organized Resistance that effectively underlined this fear at a very high cost, Iran’s society is slowly but surely moving toward the elimination of this fatal force. Now, as the regime’s insiders and former officials begin to comprehend the winds of change, it remains an open question when those Western governments will wake up and appreciate the change.