It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t feel that Iran’s social and political situation is more fragile than any other time. An immense political explosion is anticipated, that would result in the downfall of the mullahs’ regime after 42 years. The main driving force of this change are Iran’s youths.
The major Iran protests in November 2019 and January 2020 pushed the regime to the brink of downfall. Issues such as the sudden gasoline price hike in November and the regime’s downing of a Ukrainian passenger jet in January triggered these uprisings. Yet, protests quickly turned political, spreading across Iran, with people demanding regime change. One stunning fact was the widespread presence of youths in these protests. In fact, many of the 1500 martyrs of the Iran protests in November and thousands of detainees of both uprisings were young people.
One of the regime’s think tanks, in an internal report, titled “Silent Fire,” examined the November protests and the reasons for their emergence. Here we intend to refer to some parts of this report, which show that the driving force of the protests have increased in comparison to the last year.
The state-run ISNA news agency, affiliated with the regime’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS), in an article on December 21, 2019 wrote: “Evidence shows that the majority of those present, arrested, and killed during the November protests were low-educated young people living in suburbs and were unemployed.”
An Iranian sociologist by the name of Ali Asghar Ghasemi says in this regard: “During the November protests, these youths had a strong presence. We could say they were the denominators of these protests. Because the youths, as to radicalism, typology, and awareness are different [with others]. They are also idealist. So, when they enter the scene, the deprived people do the same.”
Iran’s population is currently about 84 million. According to the website of the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution on July 7, 2019, 22% of the population, about 18.269 million, are young people aged between 15 to 29, and about 47% of the country’s population are middle-aged people, between 30 to 64 years.
In the summer of 2019, the Statistics Center of Iran reported that the unemployment rate for young people aged 15 to 29 was 28.2%. According to the population statistics of this age group, the number of unemployed, according to the regime’s statistics center, is more than 5.1 million. This center has also reported: “Youth make up half of the total unemployed population. We have an army of unemployed and frustrated youths, and their number is considerable. Many of them are university graduates.”
In a 2015 survey, the Interior Ministry reported that the feeling of financial security is down by 46.7% which is very low.
In another poll conducted by the regime in 2018, 64.1% of the young people in the society stated that the situation of the whole country is getting worse day by day.
The report acknowledges that young Iranians do not see any bright future in the current situation. Abbas Kazemi, a social science researcher, has described the younger generation as “a lost generation.”
The same sociologist adds: “If this social movement does not meet its demands, it will expand socially with more energy, more extensiveness, more level and depth of resentment, and more international support.”
Another political analyst, Mohammad Saeed Zakai, describes the state of society as follows: “Our society is pregnant with various strategies of revenge.”
Although the internal report does not address all the factors of the protests and uprisings, such as the suppression of social and political freedoms, especially against Iranian women and girls, and the overwhelming pressure on young people and the depth of their hatred of the clerical regime; it portrays a future when this fire will restart burning.
All the while, the factor that turns Iranian youths’ dissatisfaction to an imminent danger for the regime is the presence and activities of the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) Resistance Units.
The MEK, by forming Resistance Units across Iran, has organized the youths and has guided their activities toward an uprising and the regime’s downfall. Thus, the Resistance Units have turned into a parameter which channelizes and crystalizes all the protests in its own direction.
More young Iranians are joining the MEK Resistance Units, and this, more than anything else, has terrified the regime. This fear was noticeable in the remarks of the regime’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, and other officials following the Iran protests in November 2019 and January 2020. They acknowledged that the MEK had organized these uprisings.
These days, the regime’s fear of young people turning to the MEK and its “Resistance Units” and the prospect of an uprising is reflected by the state media and statements by the regime’s officials.
According to state medias and think-tanks, another uprising is looming, and certainly the defiant youth and the MEK Resistance Units will play the main role in expanding and increasing the depth of this uprising.