Iranians protest again: Is the regime going down a slippery slope?

The scenes of protests and rallies in cities across Iran on Tuesday night are a major reminder. This regime is on thin ice.

Many cities became scenes of people using the national “Fire Festival” to stage anti-government protests. Tehran, Tabriz, Mashhad, Rasht, Ahvaz, Kermanshah, Sanandaj and many others became witness to such major acts of protests.

This proves Iran’s nation will not rest until they realize their ultimate objective of regime change.

State measures

Very telling is how state security forces remain on high alert in cities across the country, including Qom, central Iran, known as the Iranian regime’s hub where numerous seminaries are located.

Protests are continuing daily across the country. Marking International Women’s Day, several protesters outside the Labor Ministry in Tehran were demanding equal rights for women. Marginalized farmers east of Isfahan continue to protest authorities’ rerouting of river waters and destroying their agriculture products as a result. All the while strikes and protests continue to mushroom across the country.

Understanding the nation will continuously discover new methods to express their protests, Iran’s authorities have taken numerous precautions.

“State police is using 5,000 officers, 10 million accomplices, 1,100 traffic police vehicles, 27,000 special police patrols, installing 1,330 police trailers, 3,770 patrol vehicles, 2010 motorcycle patrols, 2,900 on-foot patrols, 1,700 temporary inspection centers, 104 permanent inspection centers and 30 helicopters,” according to Iran’s state police spokesperson in an interview with state TV.

The Supreme National Security Council, chaired by the so-called “moderate” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, most certainly adopts and approves such actions.

Iranian parliament speaker Ali Larijani depicts the road ahead best by indicating challenges lay ahead for the clerical regime.

Driving force

What superficially began as a protest over poor living conditions quickly swelled into an uprising growing nationwide aiming to overthrow the Iranian regime in its entirety.

As proven again on Tuesday night, these protests can no longer classify as isolated incidents of unorganized nature. This grassroot movement is proving conditions will never be same following the uprising born on December 28th.

The driving force behind these protests, rapidly spreading to over 140 cities and towns through Iran, are women and the deprived social sectors.

Protesters have been chanting and writing in graffiti, ‘Death to Khamenei’ and ‘Death to Rouhani,’ formally referring to the regime’s supreme leader.

“Despite any ups and downs, the uprising will move on. The regime is incapable of stopping it. There are signs of alarm and concern even inside the IRGC and Bassij militia. The wall of fear has been cracked, and nothing including arrests, killings and torture can prevent the advancement of the protests to overthrow the regime,” Iranian opposition leader Maryam Rajavi said back at a February session in Paris held by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).

The stakes at hand are grave, to say the least. The West has finally begun to acknowledge the threats Iran poses for its Middle East neighbors through ballistic missiles and regional meddling.

It is time the entire international community realizes the undeniable fact that the Iranian people are demanding sweeping regime change.

Tuesday night’s protests also prove a direct link between the protests and the Iranian resistance movement, following a call made by the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), the largest member of the NCRI coalition.

The NCRI is pioneering the struggle to realize regime change in Iran and that is what the people of Iran want. It is high time for the West to realize appeasement vis-à-vis Tehran is not welcome as protesters express their abhorrence of this clerical rule.

Known for blowing the whistle on Iran’s clandestine nuclear weapons program, the PMOI/MEK is the spearheading protest organization inside the country. Khamenei went public on January 9 acknowledging the PMOI’s leading role behind these protests.

Effective measures

The European Union and each member state should not only recognize the Iranian people’s legitimate demand for regime change, but to adopt effective measures aimed at compelling Tehran to release all recently arrested protesters, guarantee freedom of speech and assembly, end suppression targeting women and abolish laws imposing compulsory veil.

Iran’s regime is currently on shaky grounds.

As a result, the EU should refrain from any deals with companies and individuals affiliated to Iran’s crackdown apparatus, most specifically the Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

As the people voice their demands ever so clearly, the future of political and economic relations with Tehran should hinge on the release of all political prisoners and an end to executions.

In line, it would be quite encouraging to witness the United Nations launch a commission missioned to investigate the arrests, disappearances and mysterious suicides of Iranian protestors while in custody.

Europe should jump on board with its Middle East allies and the United States in adopting a firm Iran policy. Silence in regards to Tehran’s unrestrained quelling of protestors simply seeking their God-given right of freedom is unacceptable.


A Close Look At Iran’s Budget

A country’s budget is the government’s fiscal plan for that state for a period of 12 months. All the country’s revenue and resources to provide credit are forecasted, placed alongside anticipated costs and expenses. The intention of this piece is to provide a much-needed close examination of Iran’s budget.

Iran’s next fiscal budget (from March 2018 to March 2019) is equal to around $350 billion. How is this money provided for? In general, Iran’s budget is funded through oil, taxes, increasing bonds and eliminating cash handouts or subsidies.

Oil, a natural resource belonging to the Iranian people, is currently being plundered by the ruling mullahs for foreign expenditures.

The second source of Iran’s budget is taxes. The government of President Hassan Rouhani has decided to increase taxes by 11%, equaling to $55 billion. This means Rouhani intends to take $55 billion out of the people’s pockets and use it for the government’s expenses. For a better understanding, we should compare these numbers to that of oil revenues.

Iran will have sold $50 billion of oil from March 2017 to March 2018, according to Deputy Oil Minister Amir Hossein Zamani. This means Iran’s regime seeks to extract $5 billion dollars more than their oil revenue in taxes from the people.

This is not an ordinary government with a live economy asking for people to pay their taxes. This is “Plundering 101” by Iran’s mullahs.

This is also something to think about for those European companies seeking to economic contracts with Iran, despite senior U.S. officials warning this being tantamount to sending a check to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC). Moscow should also take this into consideration, especially after providing a major concession to Tehran this week.

These taxes are being demanded from the Iranian people when the economy is already suffering under heavy recession. The country’s industry is literally nearing a complete halt.

In any other country undergoing such conditions taxes are relieved and the industry/production branch is provided necessary loans. Rouhani, however, is raising taxes.

Bonds are another source of providing for a government’s budget and Rouhani’s cabinet intends to escalate this amount by at least $45 billion.

Bonds, however, are only applicable in a popular government, last experienced in Iran under Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh back in the early 1950s. This is not the case in today’s Iran where protesters are heard chanting, “Death to Rouhani” and “Death to Khamenei,” in reference to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

Another source from which Rouhani seeks to provide for his budget is through slashing cash handouts/subsidies. This “moderate” figure intends to deprive 30 million people, providing an additional $5 billion to his budget. This is tantamount to taxes, being nothing but plundering millions of Iranians already living in poverty.

The question now is where the oil revenue, being the main source of Iran’s budget, is actually allocated?

The semi-official ILNA news agency wrote Rouhani’s cabinet has significantly increased the IRGC’s suggested budget by 42%, parallel to a 33% elevation of the defense budget. All the while the country’s construction budget will witness a nosedive.

The IRGC will receive $8 billion from Iran’s fiscal budget. This is equal to cash handouts for 49 million people a year. If Rouhani had not increased the IRGC’s budget by 42%, at least 21 million people would be receiving subsidies.

In a country where its rulers consider ballistic missiles more important than the people having something to eat, it’s only natural that the nation’s money is poured into the pockets of IRGC members and other security personnel.

Now that we’re here, it’s good to take a look at the budget allocated to Iran’s notorious Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS). These spies are being provided a $1 billion budget from the Iranian people’s pockets, only to focus mainly on spying on the Iranian people. The irony.

This amount should be compared to a number of entities, intended to serve the people, yet apparently are of lesser importance for the ruling state: The Social Security Organization, the Environment Protection Organization and the Organization for Research, Education & Agriculture Promotion.

The budget of all these entities combined are no match to the money provided to the MOIS. It is crystal clear that the security of Tehran’s mullahs are far more important for Rouhani than the drying Lake Urmia and Zayande River, retirees’ pensions, employees’ insurance and ….

Iran’s semi-official Jahan-e San’at daily analyzed the country’s next fiscal budget as: “Iran’s oil revenue is being allocated to foreign obligations and our presence in regional developments. Even the National Development Fund, intended for future generations, is not provided its share. In such circumstances when no money is coming from abroad to manage the country, the officials have seen no solution other than placing their hands into people’s pockets…”

To make a long story short, if up to now people were managing to make ends meet, with prices skyrocketing across the board, all families throughout the country will be facing major challenges.

This is the end result of Rouhani strengthening the IRGC at the price of the poor becoming poorer and the very few rich becoming richer. This will keep the fire burning beneath the ashes, igniting again and again until the people overthrow this regime.

While Washington has reversed Obama’s destructive appeasement policy vis-à-vis Iran, Europe must understand that investing in Iran is not only betting on the wrong horse, but standing alongside the murderous mullahs’ regime against the will of the Iranian people.

Iran’s Future, In Its Own Words

On the very sensitive subject of how Iran plans to confront ongoing protests, described by some as an uprising, all the while attempting to resolve the very issues engulfing the ruling regime, there are critical concerns raising from various voices within.

And considering U.S. President Donald Trump’s powerful State of the Union message, underscoring “America stands with the people of Iran in their courageous struggle for freedom,” the stakes at hand in the months ahead for Tehran are extremely high.

Iran’s state-linked media are a good source, shedding significant and noteworthy light on the seemingly obscure nature of the Iranian regime.

The common tone heard in all such messages is hopelessness. Those loyal to the faction of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei see the solution in sacking the regime’s president, Hassan Rouhani.

Arguments from the other side of the aisle in Tehran’s politics rely on warning the Khamenei camp that such a scenario will not end the regime’s escalating quandaries. This is only the beginning and there is no stopping this train, adding the entirety of this regime is in the crosshairs.

There are those who believe dark days await those sitting on the throne in Tehran, speaking of future uprising waves. Providing no solutions, their words can mean nothing but succumbing to an inevitable downfall.

“Those who have continuously spread despair and anxiety through their platforms in state TV/radio and Friday prayers (in reference to the Khamenei camp) seek to portray Rouhani as incompetent. They issue and chant slogans of ‘Death to Rouhani,’ failing to answer the inescapable question of who after Rouhani. The answer is obvious: surpassing Rouhani means overcoming the government, reaching the very principle of our state, and finally surpassing the Islamic republic itself,” according to the Tadbir24 website, known for its affiliation to the Rouhani camp.

Interesting is how this piece considers Rouhani a synonym of the ruling state, or at least the velayat-e faqih regime’s last chance of survival, warning surpassing Rouhani is tantamount to the end of the clerical rule altogether.

Protesters in the streets, however, are crystal clear in their intentions and how they view the overall regime apparatus. Chanting “Death to Rouhani,” “Death to Khamenei,” and most interestingly, “Reformists, principalists, end of story,” the Iranian people are demanding sweeping changes, accepting nothing short of regime change. This ends Iran’s scheme of portraying a system established on two parties of conservatives and reformists.

“The issue at hand is not limited to merely surpassing Rouhani. More grave ends may be awaiting us,” according to the Jamaran website, explaining how these protests are raising eyebrows across the board amongst senior Iranian officials.

“Let us be frank: Taking into consideration the current heading, our destination will be nothing but all out ruin,” according to the Asr Iran website, another Rouhani camp mouthpiece.

“The society has become a cradle for numerous crises that will surface in other forms (read in further nationwide protests),” according to Rouhani’s economic advisor Hossein Zaghfar.

Warnings of other crises in the making and Iran anticipating further calamities are indicating signs of Iran’s ruling elite understanding very well there the harsh reality of these protests’ refusal to ever melt down.

To add insult to injury for the mullahs, the brave Iranian people are showing how the regime’s crackdown machine no longer enjoys its previous teeth. For forty years the clerical regime has been relying on this entity to remain intact and in power. Scenes of protesters tearing down Khamenei posters and attacking sites of the Revolutionary Guards Basij paramilitary force, parallel to a wave of Basij members burning their IDs and credentials, speak for themselves.

Iran’s protests will continue despite the fact that authorities killed 53 protesters and sent over 8,000 others behind bars, reports indicate.

The Iranian people are proving to the world over their objective of seeking regime change and establishing a republic based on democratic values rightfully cherished by most of today’s countries.

History shows those movements presenting a specific alternative to the ruling state have a far better chance of realizing victory for the people. A leading entity with a publicized plan for the future and the courage that the populace can rely on.

The time has come to set aside the “reformist” mirage in Iran. For decades, Maryam Rajavi, as President of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, is providing the sole, realistic alternative for Iran with a ten-point plan that enjoys the support of thousands of elected officials across the globe.

For starters, however, there are certain duties and obligations before the international community:

  • Demand the release of all recently arrested protesters & political prisoners.
  • Provide free internet access to all of Iran to allow activists report the truth about this regime, unfortunately cloaked by mainstream media.
  • Continue cutting off Iran’s access to the global financial system. This will deprive the IRGC from the financial sources it desperately needs to continue its slate of domestic and foreign belligerence.

This is a noble launch of standing shoulder to shoulder with the Iranian people in “their courageous struggle for freedom.”

Iran: How The People Suffer As Billions Go To Waste

As we gear to welcome 2018 with celebrations across the globe, it is morally correct to take a moment and think about the lesser fortunate in such times.

The world’s most powerful earthquake in 2017 shook Iran’s western province of Kermanshah, leaving at least several hundred people killed – while posts on social media showed locals speaking of the death toll being in the thousands – and scores more injured.

For the survivors, despite living in a country sitting on an ocean of oil and gas, their hardships continue as we speak. Iran, being the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, stands accused of allocating billions to prop the Assad regime in Syria, funding the Lebanese Hezbollah, supporting Yemen’s Houthis and backing Shiite militias in Iraq.

This goes alongside further billions pumping into a controversial and unnecessary nuclear program, and a dangerous ballistic missile drive.

The Iranian people are continuously seen protesting the regime’s policies. On Thursday a large number of protesters took to the streets in the cities of Mashhad, Neyshabur, Kashmar and Birjand in northeast Iran, protesting unemployment, poverty and skyrocketing prices. Protesters were also seen chanting, “Death to Rouhani” and “Death to the Dictator,” in reference to the regime’s president and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, respectively.

As we speak, at least 85,000 earthquake victims are enduring dire circumstances, while longing meaningful government aid after more than six weeks into this ordeal.

Evaluations show around 18,000 homes are completely destroyed in this area and another 50,000 have suffered major damages, according to Iran’s official news agency.

The mayor of Sar Pol-e Zahab, the main town targeted by the quake, says many of those whose lives have been ruined remain waiting for trailers. The situation has also been discussed in the country’s parliament.

“Only 1,500 trailers have been sent and installed in the quake-stricken area by people’s charity,” Heshmattollah Falahat-Pishe, a member of Iran’s parliament said according to the semi-officials ISNA news agency.  “Arrangements were made for 400 trailers to be installed daily. This has not been realized and people are very unhappy with the process. Some villages have not received a single trailer…”

A man injured following the 7.2-magnitude earthquake in Iran’s Kermanshah province. (IRNA)

The province of Kermanshah is also known as the center of Iran’s kidney market. As the media sporadically covers the earthquake’s aftermath, unknown to many even inside Iran is the fact that this province faces a wide range of other difficulties.

“Our cities are tantamount to war-torn areas. No major factories, no source of employment… This fuels unemployment and poverty, making many in Kermanshah willing to sell a body part,” said Hossein Bigleri, head of the Kermanshah Kidney Patients Support Society, according to a state-run Iranian website.

The irony lies in the fact that with such a high percentage of Iran’s populace living in utter poverty, those who need kidney transplants the most lack the procuring ability. The price of a kidney now stands at around $5,000 in Iran, and at times even higher, reports show.

Lines are long at Kermanshah’s dialysis clinics, as both sides of a kidney transplant are facing serious jeopardy. As a result, many of those looking to sell their kidneys are seen seeking markets in other cities across the country.

For a society such as Iran, further disturbing is the rising number of women seeking to sell their kidneys, including women as young as 20 to 35 years of age. There are cases of such desperate women who are even willing to sell their kidneys for as low as $1,500 to desperately make ends meet.

As such numbers portray a drastic image, Iran’s next fiscal budget will provide the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) around $76 billion of the total $114 billion allocated to the regime’s armed forces. The IRGC and its extraterritorial unit, the Quds Force, enjoy a priority in the new budget, according to reports.

While claiming to be a moderate, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani submits the budget plan a month after the quake and presses the parliament to urgently approve the bill.

Mohammad Jamali, a member of the parliamentary defense committee, considers the Quds Force and the provocative missile program that has bought the regime numerous condemnations, deserving the utmost priority in the armed forces’ budget.

This MP argues regional and international threats demand Iran upgrade its capabilities, while continuously failing to provide the attention earthquake victims deserve.

Further concerning is the fact that Tehran is spending about $15-20 billion a year in Syria, revelations indicate.

Making a long story short, many in Iran face no choice but selling their body parts to provide for their daily needs. This regime, however, is designating 150 times the budget of a province such as Kermanshah to maintain a ruthless dictator such as Bashar Assad in power.

The Iranian regime’s aggression result in the people at home paying the price with their flesh and blood, and millions across the region losing their lives, being injured and/or displaced.

This must come to an end and all crosshairs must focus on the ruling elite sitting in Tehran. A TIME piece back in July explains how such measures are effective against Iran’s regime.

“Sanctions on Iran, on the other hand, have shown some results, because unlike North Korea, Iran wants a deeper commercial and political engagement with the rest of the world.”

Will Iran’s Troubles In Yemen Propagate Elsewhere?

Recent developments in Yemen and the killing of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh has highlighted what Iran has sought long to cloak. Tehran’s campaign in Saudi Arabia’s backyard has stumbled upon major political and military setbacks, providing the opportunity for Washington to correct a policy in need of strong amending.

How the future unfolds in Yemen has the potential of sparking a series of major defeats for Iran across the region, spilling into the country’s shaky politics and fueling further domestic unrest.

Senior Iranian officials, however, have gone the distance to portray Saleh’s death as a step forward against their regional archrivals, mainly Saudi Arabia.

Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) chief Mohammad Ali Jafari described it as the end of a “sedition” or “treason.”

Ali Akbar Velayati, the international affairs advisor of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, even described Saleh as the agent of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, who deserved such a fate.

The two, considered members of Khamenei’s inner circle, describe the latest events in Yemen as a conspiracy. The bigger picture, however, reveals a major rout for Khamenei’s ambitions in the Arabian Peninsula.

Saleh’s forces have separated from the Iran-backed Houthis, depriving Tehran of a large bulk of vital manpower on the ground. Saleh enjoyed the support of a large segment of the armed forces, many tribes and the Popular Congress Party with all its branches in cities across Yemen.

The Houthis, being a militia entity, have now lost this key source of support and legitimacy for their cause. To add insult to injury for Iran, a large portion of Saleh loyalists have pledged allegiance to the Saudi-led coalition, providing crucial ground forces and intelligence to their effort against the Houthis.

Huthi supporters brandish their weapons during a protest against US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, in the Yemeni capital Sanaa on December 8, 2017. Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Muslim and Arab countries across the world to protest against Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, in a show of solidarity with the Palestinians. / MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP/Getty Images

This renders meaningless Iran’s claims of now enjoying full control over Sanaa. Even after Saleh’s death Iran sought to seal all resulting rifts in Yemen’s landscape, understanding the meaning of losing Saleh’s boots. This can also be considered a signal of the Houthis’ fragile and vulnerable status quo.

It is safe to say these turn of events have terminated any hope of negotiations for the Houthis, as they have revealed their true nature. It has become crystal clear for all parties in Yemen, and across the Middle East, of the fate awaiting those who mingle with Tehran. To begin with, Yemen’s long slate of tribes will now – if not already – have deep suspicions over Iran’s intentions on their soil.

Comprehending the lack of any tangible future for his regime’s Yemen initiative, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has twice called for engagement and negotiations with regional states.

This marks a stark change in strategy for Iran, as Yemen for Khamenei resembled a bargaining chip, based on the alliance they previously enjoyed with Saleh’s loyalists.

Yemen has now become the most vulnerable piece of Iran’s Middle East puzzle. Tehran’s position in the region is also downgrading and weakened deeply, making Rouhani’s call for talks more understandable.

The setbacks in Yemen has had its impact on Iran’s other political endeavors. Following the recent missile launch from Yemen targeting Riyadh, and evidence showing the missile being of Iranian origin, France and other European countries have voiced positions far different from their stereotype calls for engagement with Tehran.

Parallel to French President Emmanuel Macron seeking talks to curb Iran’s ballistic missile program, his top diplomat Jean-Yves Le Drian in a recent interview signaled Paris will not accept Tehran’s military expansion to the Mediterranean.

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BEIJING, CHINA – NOVEMBER 24: French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian speaks during a meeting with China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi (not pictured) at Diaoyutai State Guesthouse on November 24, 2017 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Jason Lee – Pool / Getty Images)