A year has elapsed since the nationwide 2022 uprising in Iran, but a distinct element prominently marked that upheaval which left the ruling elites and media unsettled are the focal points of rebellion, often referred to as Resistance Units.
Since December 2017, when the spark of nationwide protests was reignited in Iran after years of relative dormancy, significant uprisings, and nationwide protests have occurred in Iran every two to three years, each holding paramount significance.
The radical and widespread nature of the protests in November 2019, triggered by the gasoline price hike, shook Iran’s political and social landscape, and the September 2022 nationwide protests, in terms of broad demographics and sustained protests, were unprecedented in the history of the theocratic regime.
These three prominent elements—proficiency, universality, and the unrelenting nature of the uprisings—arise from a well-structured and scientifically guided struggle, which has an organizational structure and is well-entrenched in Iran’s society.
This fact is underlined by the consistent emphasis, explicit statements, and warnings made by state officials and the regime’s security apparatus during the uprisings of 2017, 2019, and 2022. Scarcely a day passes without authorities and state-controlled media lamenting about the Resistance Units linked to the MEK.
In video messages that were displayed at the #FreeIran2023 world summit, 10,000 MEK Resistance Units expressed their desire to overthrow the regime and establish a secular democratic republic.https://t.co/bsEHr8IEoj
— People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) (@Mojahedineng) July 9, 2023
On the opposing end, the regime perpetually strives to suggest that these organized formations are misguided and will eventually “evoke a Syria-style scenario in Iran“
Implicit in the fearmongering of this “Syria-zation” is an initial admission of the regime’s anxiety. In the last four decades, the clerical dictatorship has effectively stifled all sorts of efforts for peaceful change or even genuine reform. Should these attempts transition into a revolutionary demand calling for fundamental change and the overthrow of the current ruling establishment, the regime sees its existence threatened.
However, the success and effectiveness of the Resistance Units’ strategy in recent years’ uprisings lie in its organized nature, relying on a well-coordinated and structured revolutionary entity. Only within the framework of the Resistance Units, encompassing neighborhoods and rebellious cities, can such a well-organized and powerful cohesive force effectively withstand the armed forces of the ruling theocratic regime.
Due to the diverse composition of these units, comprising ordinary citizens from various social classes, professions, and backgrounds, state security forces have encountered significant challenges in combating them. Over the past five years, the number of new recruits into these units has far surpassed the number of those apprehended by the authorities.
In the absence of Resistance Units and an organized structure, the society must pay a much heavier price in its struggle against the regime. At the same time, the regime’s heavily organized suppressive forces will make it very unlikely for unorganized resistance to bear fruit.
Hence, it can be argued that the tactics, procedures, and strategy of the Resistance Units, well-structured and supported by leadership, can swiftly demonstrate their effectiveness against suppressive forces, revealing and ultimately restoring their weaknesses and inefficiencies.
Therefore, the clerical regime, using its intelligence, security bodies, and media under its influence, consistently pursues an approach to undermine the Resistance Units and instill fear about organized resistance. It employs its propaganda machinery to advocate a narrative of “spontaneous” and “symbolic” actions, often referred to as “civil disobedience” which are primarily promoted by concocted alternatives from abroad.
Fighting for a democratic #IranRevolution after over 120 years of struggle against tyranny of monarchs and clerics, the Iranian protesters in cities & universities chant “Down with the Oppressor, Be it the SHAH or The SUPREME LEADER"!#مرگ_بر_ستمگر_چه_شاه_باشه_چه_رهبر pic.twitter.com/Kmg72xxZjO
— NCRI-U.S. Rep Office (@NCRIUS) January 6, 2023
An evident display of the extensive network and agility of the Resistance Units was the swift and widespread adoption of the slogan “Down with the oppressor, be it the Shah or the leader.” This motto effectively dismantled a large-scale propaganda effort abroad to promote the remnants of the Shah regime and successfully revealed the true weight of the deceptive alternatives within Iranian society.
Ironically, the very entity igniting societal violence is the ruling system itself. If it wouldn’t suppress popular demands of freedom, equality, and justice, no sane soul would look for other ways to change.
However, empowered by the global backing and expertise of a well-resourced and seasoned movement, the Resistance Units possess ample capabilities and determination to outlast a weakening regime, which sustains itself solely through dwindling power and rampant corruption.