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Iran Protests and Tehran’s Fear of Organized Resistance

Youth have taken over the streets of Bojnourd, North Khorasan province, Northeastern Iran

Following the brutal murder of Mahsa Amini, a 22-years-old girl, by the morality police, protests erupted across Iran with people chanting slogans against regime officials. Simultaneously, the regime’s fear of organized resistance grows, with officials warning about the leading role of Iran’s main opposition, Mojahedin-e-Khalq (MEK), and its Resistance Units.  

 

October 28

Blaming the latest terror attack on pilgrims in Shiraz on the MEK during his Friday prayer sermon, Khamenei’s representative in Shahre-Rey Ali Shahcheraqi said: “We expect the judiciary, the security, and police forces to deal seriously and quickly with the mercenaries, the hypocrites (regime’s phrase to slander the MEK in Iran’s society) and the enemies of Islam.”

Threatening other factions and state officials who haven’t backed Khamenei since the beginning of the uprising, Alireza Tagawinia, a state-affiliated expert said on state TV: “If our national security is weakened, the infiltrator of the Takfiri terrorists will not differentiate between me and someone who criticizes the system. We are sitting on the same boat and if we dig a hole in the boat, we will all suffer. This is not just about me and you or the supporters of the state.”

“The supreme leader said to deal seriously with infiltration. After all, the enemy has influential agents, he has mercenaries from the MEK and those who are family members of the MEK and other groups,” Tagawinia warned.

 

October 16

Masoud Faruzandeh, a state-affiliated researcher told the official IRNA news agency: “The driving force behind the recent movement is leaning towards the middle class, including women, students, and artists. The core stems from students and women and a non-radical majority. Of course, radical and rebellious strains leaning towards the MEK and the Kurdistan Democratic Party are also visible.”

“In radical tensions such as arson, the role of the People’s Mojahedin Khalq Organization, the Democratic Party, and other identitarians is obvious. I doubt that foreign intelligence agencies could have played a role in organizing street movements.”

The IRGC-run Fars news agency wrote: “Today, the country is suffering from the conspiracies of the MEK and they are trying to create insecurity in the society with various lies, ranging from the murder of Mehsa Amini to the killing of people and students by the police. In the meantime, people from different backgrounds have fueled this fire and by republishing falsehoods and lies, they have caused chaos in society and destroyed the lives and property of ordinary people, and are also damaging public property.”

  

October 14

Esmail Roshantan, the Supreme Leader’s representative in Tabriz warned against MEK’s influence on Iranian youth. During his Friday prayer sermon, he said: “Don’t let them take away our children. Today is a scandalous day for those who wanted to bury the knowledge that has been awakened in the name of Islam for 43 years. The hypocrites (the regime’s phrase to slander MEK in Iran’s society) who are worse than infidels, want to defend women. Today, instead of chanting ‘woman, life, freedom’, they should be chanting ‘woman, life, awareness”. Otherwise, they would be following bad people.”

During his Friday prayer sermon, Nasser Mohammadi, the Iranian regime’s Supreme Leader’s representative in Yazd said: “The Baha’is and hypocrites (regime’s phrase for slandering the MEK in Iran’s society) are the main leaders of the recent riots and their traces are well felt in the riots.”

Acknowledging the public’s disgust of state media, he added: “Why should some people eagerly accept the words of foreigners, but refuse to accept the words of our own media and news agencies?”

Ebrahim Yaqoubian, Khamenei’s representative in Amol said: “In the recent riots, some people sought the fall of the city of Amol because with the fall of Amol, they could take over the rest of the cities.”

“The counter-revolutionary forces wanted to take revenge for the 1980s. Perhaps the people don’t know, but those in Albania had sent messages to capture Amol. This city was of great importance to the deceased Imam and this is why capturing Amol was important to them as well. And now, let me tell the MEK that if you want to fight us, we will kill you all!”

 

October 12

In an interview with Ofogh TV, Ali Abdi, a state-affiliated analyst, said: “As I said in the previous program, (in these riots) we are dealing with a triangle. In fact, we have an external layer of recent disturbances. As we already explained, the agenda and lead come from Mossad. Opposition groups organize riot cells like the hypocrites (the regime’s term to slander the MEK in Iran’s society), the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan, and the Komeleh. And then, we have the cognitive war, which is now the first and foremost frontline of the enemy.”

“What we see on the streets has two main branches: one of them is the organizational branch which are the opposition groups like the MEK, the Komeleh, the KDP, and Pejak who have apparently spontaneous units that are aligned and briefed through cognitive warfare and cyber warfare and are dispatched to the scene.”

“The protests we witness on the streets are highly organized and connected to the MEK. The MEK has a troll farm in Albania. They are supporting the riots. They are painting the police as criminals and assassins. But one shouldn’t expect the police to negotiate with people in the middle of a riot.”

 

October 10

On October 10, the IRGC Brigadier General Mohammad Bagheri, Chief of Staff for the regime’s Armed Forces, expressed the regime’s utter fear of the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) organization, adding himself to the long list of officials acknowledging the MEK’s leading role in the recent uprising.

“The very few scenes of chaos in some parts of the country, and the enemy’s focus on the ethnic and religious minority, all indicate the enemy has waged a full-fledged war on [the regime]. In this war, the evil [MEK] and other terrorist grouplets act as the enemy’s pawns,” Bagheri was quoted as saying by the state-run Entekhab website.

 

October 9

SSF commander Hossain Ashtari told the state-run Entekhab website: “Those who disrupt security and damage public property will be punished. We would decisively deal with them. Rioters, led by the MEK, are willing to instigate chaos… Some people are the leaders of these riots and have planned to harm the country’s security and public property. The State Security Force (SSF) is not alone in dealing with these elements; the judiciary and other apparatuses also take part in [oppressing them].”

Desperately trying to refrain from the organized resistance, Alireza Nadali, the spokesperson of Tehran City Council, warned: “I pledge to all families to take care of their children so that they are not played by the MEK and separatist groups or their disguised mercenaries.”

 

October 7

Ghorbanali Dorri-Najafabadi, Khamenei’s representative in Arak said: “They took the hypocrites (regime’s term to slander the MEK in Iran’s society) and brought them to Albania. All the facilities of the Americans were at their service. They were granted asylum, they were able to organize themselves, to create facilities, satellites, internet, hundreds of networks are put at their disposal, and they are used as tools.”

Mehdi Arabpour, Supreme Leader’s representative in Kerman said: “Our enemies have become united in one thing, and that is the overthrow of the Islamic Republic of Iran… Some of these people are the MEK who are well-known to the nation… Among them were a number of people at a young age. These are the same youth who do not have enough information about the revolution and the country. They are defenseless. They came to help the MEK and they are abusing these young people. As his excellency (supreme leader) has said, they should definitely be punished.”

According to state TV, Mehdi Rahimabadi, Supreme Leader’s representative in Birjand stated: “One of the very dangerous lures targeting our youth is planned by the infiltrators and the MEK. Parents have a very serious responsibility to make sure their children don’t end up in their traps.”

Morteza Aghatehrani, Chairman of the parliamentary Cultural Committee said on October 7: “We warned that if the internet is not managed, we will face many problems. We must understand the danger of an abandoned virtual space and don’t offer the field to the MEK. For 2 years, some representatives did not allow us to manage the internet, while some also push from the outside.”

 

September 27

During an interview with NPR on September 27, the Iranian regime’s foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian blamed the uprising in Iran on channels that organize the protests from the outside and stressed his regime will not be overthrown.

The NPR reporter who has been to Iran several times and has interviewed hundreds of people inside the country told Amir-Abdollahian that many people are frustrated with the regime and asked if he thinks the protests are led by the people, to which the regime’s FM claimed: “There are protesters of course and they are expressing what they demand in a peaceful way. But now, most of these people in the streets are being led and guided by well-organized channels.”

In his interview, while trying to propose his regime is still stable, the regime’s foreign minister addressed Western governments and said: “There is not going to be regime change in Iran. Don’t play to the emotions of the Iranian people.”

According to the official IRNA news agency, Amir-Abdollahian also accused the US and Europe of supporting the MEK and claimed the organization “is sending its elements inside the country”.

September 26

Abbas Abdollahi, director general of the Islamic Propaganda Organization of Semnan province, told Mehr state news agency: “The events that have taken place on the streets show that the work of trained mercenaries is led by the hypocrites (the regime’s term for smearing the MEK) and the counter-revolutionaries. Because the burning of ambulances, the desire to tear down the flag, setting fire to things, etc. are the work of trained people. This is street warfare. It is very clear that those who are on the street and vandalize public property… their concern is overthrowing the system.”

In recent days, many state officials have lied about vandalism against religious places and the Quoran to mobilize the increasingly thin ranks of their own supporters. The regime is also widely using ambulances to deploy troops or transport detained protesters.

September 23

“Riots are completely different from protests. Why a terrorist organization, with 17,000 assassinations can operate in the U.S. against the Islamic Republic and instigate riots?” the regime’s president Ebrahim Raisi said in a press conference in New York.  

In an interview with the state-run Tasnim news agency, Hasan Rezania, the political and security deputy of Hamedan Governorate said: “After the death of Ms. Mehsa Amini, the anti-establishment movement and the hypocrites (regime’s term for the MEK) found an opportunity and excuse to carry out their predetermined plan against the state, against this land and nation.”

“Among the other active groups in the riots of the past few days, there were thugs and hooligans who accompanied the hypocritical movements and destroyed public property that belongs to the nation.”

“The sworn enemies of Islam, such as the western media outlets and the MEK are spreading lies. The evil MEK has assassinated over 17,000 officials, such as the president, prime minister, members of parliament, and police forces. We stay vigilant about these seditions, and we should be, as the enemy wants to fish in the muddy waters,” Ahmad Mahmoudi, the Friday Prayer leader of Isfahan, was quoted as saying by the local TV channel.  

There are organized units which set some places on fire. These actions indicate that they are organized. They have attempted to take over governorates in some cities. These terrorist groups, now enjoying the U.S. and EU support, used to assassinate hundreds of [officials],” Ahmad Vahidi, the regime’s Interior Minister, was quoted as saying by State TV.

“The enemy has never abandoned its ominous target to seize the county and topple the system. They want nothing less. We are facing them again,” Ahmad Alam-ol Hoda, Mashhad’s Fraidy Prayer leader said.  

“The recent incidents are nothing but part of broader propaganda.  These riots are led by the MEK, who pretend to be human rights activists,” Mohammad Ebadi Zadeh, Bandar Abbas’s Friday Prayer leader, was quoted by the local TV.  

“The enemy once again plotted to create another sedition, like the ones they did in 1998. 2009, 2018, and 2019. Whenever there is a riot and sedition, we see the footprints of the MEK,” Reza Noury, Bojnourd’s Friday Prayer leader said.  

September 22

“We can see the MEK’s role in the recent riots across the country. We can clearly see they are instigating riots in the name of Mahsa Amini today, as they did with Neda Aqa-Sultan’s name in 2009,” MP Ahmad Rastineh was quoted as saying by the state-run Mehr News Agency.  

“The MEK leader issued a statement and supported these protests, and I read on Twitter that they applauded protesters and called for burning the [regime’s] flag. We are facing unprecedented riots. They chanted that Mahsa’s death is an excuse; the target is the entire system. Look at the published videos. They are burning police vehicles or beating police officers. The MEK issued a call to protest, and some riots formed,” Iran’s state TV acknowledged.   

September 21

“The MEK and its western supporters are behind the recent seditions and incidents,” the state-run Entekhab websites quoted Hosseinali Haji-Deligani, a member of the parliament’s presidium as saying.   

“The Islamic system’s authority wouldn’t be endangered by the [MEK] ‘s desperate attempts,” Mehr News, an outlet linked to the regime’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS), quoted the so-called “clerics faction of parliament,” as saying. 

“The passing of Mahsa Amini was like pouring fuel on the fire, and the MEK used against our [system]. Footages show the MEK attacking the police forces, which is a pillar to our security, and injuring some of them,” the state-run Mehr news quoted the so-called “Office for Strengthening Unity” on September 21. This organization is tasked with oppressing university students.   

“According to eyewitnesses, the units in recent protests were organized and tasked with destruction. They used new tactics to fight [security] forces, confirming they had been trained.”   

“As usual, protests were radicalized since last night, after known organized elements entered the scene. These actions starkly contrast civil disobedience,” the state-run Tasnim News agency, an outlet linked to the IRGC Quds Force reported.   

“The protests that started a day or two ago in some cities of Iran have turned to chaos. The pictures published yesterday and last night from Tehran and different cities of Iran indicate many things beyond a simple protest against Mahsa Amini’s death. These pictures are testaments to organized riots and encourage the destruction of public property,” the state-run Hamshahri daily reported. 

 

September 20  

“Some streets witnessed protests after Mahsa Amini’s death. The MEK organized these protests, and [ethnic minorities] were also present,” the State-run TV acknowledged.