The supreme leader of the Iranian regime, Ali Khamenei addressed security officials in a speech on Sunday, warning them about ‘the hard threat of the enemies’ and the ‘enemy within’, and stressed that all security forces, including the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) and the State Security Forces (SSF), must be prepared to act as a shield against these threats.
The regime’s fear of enemies within is ever-growing, especially as widespread rallies continue to take place across Iran to protest the destructive policies of the regime. Recent protests have involved teachers, pensioners, and other workers, who have all raised their outrage at the recent social and economic crises.
In Tehran, teachers held a large rally in front of the Majlis (parliament). Similar protests were held in Isfahan, Shiraz, Ahvaz, Zanjan, Kerman, and other cities.
Iranian teachers began their protests as the new academic year began as many are struggling with unemployment and low wages, leaving much living below the poverty line. Despite the protests taking place for several months, government officials are still yet to satisfy the demands of protesters.
Other protests, featuring hordes of pensioners and retired government employees, took place in Tehran, Ahvaz, Isfahan, Rasht, Kermanshah, Khorram Abad, Mashhad, and Qazvin for the same reasons.
These kinds of protests movements are happening across Iran every day and involve all segments of society. And every day, the protests are growing and number, which is causing much concern for regime leaders and officials.
As previous protests, notably the 2019 uprising, have brought the regime to the brink of collapsing, it is no wonder that Khamenei is worried about the threat of future protests bringing down the regime entirely. Other regime officials also share his concerns, including a commander of the IRGC forces based in Qazvin. He said, “The conflict has been transferred from beyond our borders to within our home.”
This is fear is even expressed by the regime’s main official. Ahmad Khatami one of the regime’s clerics in his latest speech showed the regime’s frustration as he said: “The capital of this system and revolution is the people, the enemies are attacking this revolution. They try to show the country messy. They are showing Iran somehow in the foreign cyberspace, that who is listening to it thinks that tomorrow the system will collapse.”
Then about the people’s boycott of the recent presidential election which makes clear why the regime is forced to interfere in other countries, he said as an excuse for the regime’s failure: “That 48% of the people who came, I don’t compare it with 98%, but with those conditions, it was an epic. There was the coronavirus, and the people were right to fear the coronavirus.”
The regime is notorious for exporting terrorism across the Middle East as a way of maintaining order in Iran, but as the crises continue at home due to the regime’s corruption, the mullahs are slowly losing their grip on power. They are making it worse for themselves when the simple solution is to address the problems faced by the Iranian people, instead of trying to repress them.
But Khamenei, who has been the regime’s unchallenged and undisputed leader since 1989, knows full well that corruption and violence are the foundations on which his regime has been built.
Khamenei understands that if he diverts away from these foundations, that will spell the end of the regime, so his only solution has been to continue to suppress the citizens of Iran with force. The appointment of Ebrahim Raisi as the new regime president has only further established Khamenei’s plan to consolidate power to protect what is left of the fragile regime. Raisi is well known for his role in the 1988 massacre which saw the mass murders of 30,000 political prisoners.
Today, the people of Iran have nothing to lose and thus nothing to fear. They are returning to the streets every day despite the heavy presence of security forces, despite the regime’s constant threats to arrest and harass protesters, and despite the unbridled spread of the coronavirus, exacerbated by the regime’s criminal policies.