Iran protests, November 2019

Fearing the restive Iranian society and a nationwide uprising, the Iranian regime, instead of helping people amid the coronavirus outbreak, is increasing its suppressive measures only to prolong its rule.  

In an interview with the state-run news agency IRNA, Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) Brigadier General Hassan Karami, Commander of the regime’s Anti-riot Unit tasked with the suppression of the uprising, announced the readiness of this force to suppress possible protests in 2020. 

The Anti-riot unit of the Iranian regime’s repressive police force is tasked with suppressing popular uprisings and widespread protests with the cooperation of Basij militia mercenaries and IRGC Anti-riot forces. 

In this interview, IRGC Brigadier General Hassan Karami said that in 2020, “special attention” had been paid to the infrastructure of the anti-riot force and its equipment and that this “unparalleled” support had increased the force’s responsibility. “2020 is the unique year for the Special Forces in terms of infrastructure and equipment,” he said. “The support of the Anti-riot unit is excellent, and this unit is well provided with the equipment and facilities. This unit also enjoys vast support in the field of infrastructure in the country, including the completion and development of barracks, tools and training facilities required by barracks, and having access to the necessary specialized equipment and manpower.”  

Hassan Karami said that in all the years that he has been in the Anti-riot unit for suppressing the protests of the Iranian people, this repressive force has never received such an important attention as it has received in 2020. 

The main question is what is the reason for this statement of readiness to suppress the protests of the Iranian people amid the coronavirus crisis in the country? Another question is why the regime’s officials, while this year are grappling with economic hardships, and experiencing their worst economic situation, have paid attention and resources for equipping the Anti-riot units? 

The current economic situation in Iran, due to the regime’s corruption, has increased the pressure on the Iranian people. The coronavirus outbreak, and the regime’s cover-up which has resulted in over 41,000 deaths and the rapid spread of the virus across the country has increased people’s dissatisfaction.  

The regime refused to quarantine the cities at the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, and when it reluctantly did, the mullahs’ regime refused to financially back the Iranian people. Therefore, more people quickly joined the army of hungries, and this could have resulted in massive protests. So, the regime forced people back to work amid the coronavirus outbreak.  

The regime’s president Hassan Rouhani’s remarks in this regard elucidates the situation: “The coronavirus is a disease, yet unemployment is a great danger. The coronavirus death should not be contained while there will be deaths due to poverty and unemployment.” 

Ahmad Naderi, one of the regime’s officials told the state-run Resalat daily on March 7: “I am worried about the social and security outcome of this crisis. Soon, rebellions, much larger than the ones in 2018 and 2019 and certainly much larger than the ones in the 1990s, will happen.”   

In recent months, many economists close to the regime have warned of a new round of protests and popular uprisings due to growing poverty, unemployment, regime’s institutionalized corruption and its plundering of national wealth for funding its illicit activities.  

In the latest example of these warnings, 50 regime economists issued a letter to the regime’s president Hassan Rouhani, predicting that “there is a possibility of unrest and unhappiness at the outskirts of cities in the second half of 2020 and 2021.”  

They announced the reason for the riots to be “the escalation of the recession, the increasing of unemployment, poverty, government budget deficits and the inflation rate,” and suggested to Hassan Rouhani a package of measures. 

On Monday, the state-run daily Sharq wrote: “It is predicted that between 2.8 and 6.4 million people will lose their jobs due to the Coronavirus crisis, of which 70% do not have any insurance coverage … Workers, laborers, and self-employed people will suffer the most. Most of them will be pushed below the poverty line, and if the government does not offer effective support, the unemployment crisis and poverty will turn into other issues.”  

Therefore, the regime’s suppressive forces are on full alert to confront possible social outrage.  

The commander of the Anti-riot unit of the repressive police force also called the force’s record in suppressing the protests of December 2017-January 2018 and November 2019 “acceptable” and said that “advanced equipment” would deal with this year’s riots. He said: “Due to the [forces] acceptable record in December 2017-January 2018 and November 2019 and other incidents, including the issue of water in Isfahan province, the Special Unit has become more determined to implement deterrent strategies and use advanced equipment to control riots.” 

In addition, IRGC Brigadier General Hassan Karami described the participants in the December 2017-January 2018 protests as “enemies” and said they were using the experience of repression in the uprising to prepare for new riots. 

It should be noted that in December 2017-January 2018, nationwide Iran protests sparked because of to the high prices and the regime’s economic corruption, but quickly turned political with people targeting the regime in its entirety in their slogans. According to the spokesman of Rouhani’s government, Ali Rabiee, the Iran protests spread to 160 cities in Iran.

Major Iran protests erupted in November 2019 triggering the greatest existential crisis in the regime’s 40-year history. Protesters took to the streets in at least 191 cities calling for regime change. The regime resorted to brute repression, killing at least 1500 protesters and arresting thousands more. It also shut down Iran’s internet completely for a week, blocking images of the protests from reaching the outside world. 

The Iranian regime used weapons, ammunition, and military force to suppress the uprisings of 2017-2019. The videos and many statements of witnesses at the scene of the uprisings confirm this issue and the inhumane crimes of the Iranian regime. 

Another essential question is whether the Iranian regime could control the restive Iranian society and prevent further protests by resorting to violence and killing people and equipping the repressive forces. 

The regime is engulfed with unprecedented political, social, and economic crises, particularly amid the coronavirus outbreak, and the widespread dissatisfaction and anger of various segments of the Iranian people against the regime have reached its peak. 

Another critical factor is the existence of organized and nationwide resistance in Iran, and the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI, Mujahedin-e Khalq or MEK) Resistance Units also play a leading role in this organized resistance. Therefore, in such a situation, such statements by the repressive agents of the regime will not cure any pain of the mullahs’ regime. These horrific statements are a testament to the regime’s growing weakness and appalling fear of its inevitable fate, and some desperate efforts to prevent its inevitable downfall.