Iran’s real explosive front is at home
Iranian officials have been warning against a major incident. In a gathering of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commanders, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said: “In terms of alertness and preparedness, negligence is absolutely unacceptable and must stay on alert and be vigilant constantly.”
“In terms of tools and devices, you must be equipped to the latest ones,” he said. “There must be a variety, on the ground, in the air and space, in the sea, on borders and at the heart of the country, everywhere. We need instruments for intelligence and operation, all sorts of instruments. Variety in instruments is among things that need to pay attention to. Social media are also among instruments.”
Khamenei’s fear is not a war with the United States. He has repeatedly said he despises war and the United States will refrain from engaging in a war considering next year’s US elections.
What Khamenei fears most is an explosion of public discontent and Iran is in an explosive state. A spark in a remote village could rapidly escalate to a fire and then a wild uncontainable inferno.
The best indication of this is that protests against economic and welfare shortcomings rapidly turn into political moves followed by calls for the downfall of the regime.
Former Iranian Interior Minister Mostafa Tajzadeh described the state of society as “difficult” or “not normal.” He was quoted by Arman news website saying: “Due to implementation of some policies, if we do not want to use the term ‘critical state,’ we are at least in a very difficult state. The social problems in the country have the potential to turn into greater problems.
“For example, the issue in Chenar Mahmoudi village of Lordegan, which was a social issue turned to a political one. Another issue… is about whether women should be allowed in sports stadiums. Reactions to this issue also took a political tone.
“Going back a little more, the unrest that started in late December 2017 had the same character. All these issues indicate that our society is not in a normal state.”
The domination of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and institutions affiliated with the supreme leader over the country’s economy has allowed them to import commodities exclusively entailing colossal profits of up to $30 billion. This money is primarily spent on the regime’s extraterritorial terrorist adventures and funding proxy groups in various countries.
However, this has massively undermined domestic production, leading to closure of many companies and eliminating the middle class. This has created a parallel or black economy leading to destruction of Iran’s economy.
The shattered economy, astronomical embezzlement and institutionalised corruption have led to a situation in which two-thirds of the population lives under the poverty line in this rich country.
Following the nuclear agreement in 2015, $150 billion was given to the regime in addition to the country’s oil revenue of 2 million barrels a day but the people continued getting poorer and poorer. Instead, proxy militia forces developed in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon and elsewhere with sophisticated weapons.
In early 2018, protests against economic hardships and poverty in Mashhad rapidly turned into a major uprising that spread to 160 cities across Iran rattling the regime’s foundation. Slogans used in these protests included “Down with the Dictator.”
Khamenei’s representative in Mashhad and his close associate, Ahmad Alamolhoda, said in his Friday sermon: “Look what they say against our devout officials in social media and satellite networks… Animosity of our enemy has become stronger and fiercer over the last 40 years, especially in recent years, surrounding us from six directions and our revolution has been swamped in various new conflicts.”
Khamenei’s warning against the storm comes at a time when the situation is very different from early 2018. The state of the regime and its organs has deteriorated and weakened, even IRGC members are defecting in groups. Simultaneously, resistance units of the People Mujahideen of Iran, who are sworn enemies of the regime, are spreading rapidly across the country.
Activities of resistance units include burning large portraits of Khamenei in public places, denting the clout of the dictator. At the same time, large portraits of Maryam Rajavi, president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, a coalition of opposition groups and personalities, have been posted in public places.
The appearance of the Rajavi portraits heartened oppressed youth and women, giving them hope and courage to stand against the regime. Their incentive, combined with the army of jobless and hungry people in conjunction with resistance units scattered around the country, explain the regime’s genuine anxiety and Khamenei’s desperate warnings of an inevitable explosion.