by Brandon Turbeville, Activist Post:
A familiar sight is taking place across Iran tonight and it has been for the last three days. Protests are taking place in numerous cities citing grievances and demanding that the Ayatollah and Iranian President step down. For a few days, the protests remained non-violent but now violence has indeed flared up as protesters have laid waste to a number of government properties and those belonging to “pro-government militias.”
The reason this sight is familiar is because we have seen it in Egypt, Libya, and Syria in the past as well as in Iran itself in the late 2000s. Protests that turn violent, a subsequent crackdown that either is violent or is reported as such, and the weight of American propaganda against the target government are all “Arab Spring” repeats that are themselves nothing more than the color revolution/destabilization apparatus that has been used by the West in countries all across the world for decades, particularly in the last twenty years.
What Do The Protesters Want?
The alleged demands of the protesters seem reasonable and legitimate enough. The Western media has, up until this point, been reporting that the main argument being made by the demonstrators center around economic concerns, i.e. falling living standards, unemployment, and rising food prices. However, as the third day of protests took place, the Western media began reporting that the protesters are demanding an end to religious dictatorship and policies of both the Ayatollah Khamenei and President Rouhani. According to some reports, female protesters have gone so far as to shout “death to Khamenei” and shed their hijabs in order to construct makeshift flags. Others say the protesters are focused on government corruption.
However, there is much question about these protests. The first question is “Are they organic Iranian protests?” This question has yet to be answered fully. Iran is most certainly a religious dictatorship and many Iranians want freedom from religious rule. However, it should be remembered that the United States and Israel have openly stated a desire to see Iranian influence broken and as recently as 2009, the United States attempted to engineer a color revolution in the country. The first three days of the Green Movement in Iran looked very much like the first three days of this current movement.
Clearly, economic concerns are a major issue in Iran, a country whose economy has been suffering for years under Western sanctions and whose own inability to capitalize on a state-owned National Bank. Official unemployment in Iran is around 12% and it is likely that the real rate is much higher. Despite lifting of some sanctions, there is hardly economic growth in the country, another result of neo-liberal economic and trade policies. Yet, it is also worth noting that Khamenei has also been critical of the poor economy and the handling of economic issues by the government yet Khamenei is being insulted at the protests.
These demands are not unreasonable by any stretch of the imagination. However, the religious protests come at a very odd time. Iran recently liberalized its laws regarding women’s forced head coverings, so why protest now over religious laws?
In addition, special attention must be paid to the concept of “government corruption,” a hallmark of color revolutions since government corruption is often more of a conceptual issue than anything concrete. A step down from power from a few key people, wrist slaps, and token reform can all achieve an “end” to corruption while more concrete demands need concrete applications and thus present a minor loss to those who will taking over the rains of power after the demonstrations have ceased.
There are also more concerning demands that can be found in the slogans being chanted by the demonstrators. First, in case it could be missed, the demonstrators are calling for the Ayatollah and the President to step down. In other words, they are calling for regime change. This is precisely what the United States, GCC, NATO, and Israel also want to see happen.
Second, numerous demonstrators are chanting “Let go of Palestine,” and “Not for Gaza, Not for Lebanon, I’d give my life (only) for Iran.” Again, protesters are now chanting foreign policy demands identical to that desired by the United States, NATO, GCC, and Israel. All this in a protest that is supposed to be about economic concerns.
Moon of Alabama, in its article entitled “Iran – Regime Change Agents Hijack Economic Protests,” reveals a number of important reports regarding the beginning of the protests and where they stand currently. MOA writes,
Protests against the (neo-)liberal economic policies of the Rohani government in Iran are justified. Official unemployment in Iran is above 12% and there is hardly any economic growth. The people in the streets are not the only ones who are dissatisfied with this:
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has repeatedly criticized the government’s economic record, said on Wednesday that the nation was struggling with “high prices, inflation and recession”, and asked officials to resolve the problems with determination.
On Thursday and today the slogans of some protesters turned the call for economic relief into a call for regime change.
. . . . .
Today, Friday and the weekly day off in Iran, several more protest took place in other cities. A Reuters report from today:
About 300 demonstrators gathered in Kermanshah after what Fars called a “call by the anti-revolution” and shouted “Political prisoners should be freed” and “Freedom or death”, while destroying some public property. Fars did not name any opposition groups.
Footage, which could not be verified, showed protests in other cities including Sari and Rasht in the north, Qom south of Tehran, and Hamadan in the west.
Mohsen Nasj Hamadani, deputy security chief in Tehran province, said about 50 people had rallied in a Tehran square and most left after being asked by police, but a few who refused were “temporarily detained”, the ILNA news agency reported.
Some of these protests have genuine economic reasons but get hijacked by other interests:
In the central city of Isfahan, a resident said protesters joined a rally held by factory workers demanding back wages.
“The slogans quickly changed from the economy to those against (President Hassan) Rouhani and the Supreme Leader (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei),” the resident said by telephone.
Purely political protests are rare in Iran […] but demonstrations are often held by workers over layoffs or non-payment of salaries and people who hold deposits in non-regulated, bankrupt financial institutions.
Alamolhoda, the representative of Ayatollah Khamenei in northeastern Mashhad, said a few people had taken advantage of Thursday’s protests against rising prices to chant slogans a
gainst Iran’s role in regional conflicts.
“Some people had came to express their demands, but suddenly, in a crowd of hundreds, a small group that did not exceed 50 shouted deviant and horrendous slogans such as ‘Let go of Palestine’, ‘Not Gaza, not Lebanon, I’d give my life (only) for Iran’,” Alamolhoda said.
Media and Neo-Con Support
While it is to be expected from a virulently anti-Iran administration and mainstream press in the United States, it is interesting how the U.S. President immediately has latched on the protests, encouraging Americans to stand with the protesters and their demands. This is coming from a man who rarely sees a protest that isn’t directed at him. Meanwhile, Neo-Con organs like FOX News are also repeating calls for Americans to support the brave “freedom fighters” in Iran. It is seldom, if ever, true that evil does good in the world so when Neo-Cons call for support to protests, eyebrows should be raised in skepticism.
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