Some of the regime’s senior officials have taken a stance concerning the protests. They argued that the state should talk with the dissidents in some way or the other… But there is another faction in this regime that is more aggressive and is calling for a brutal crackdown. How do you view these conflicts of interest inside the regime? How much of it is real? Are there two different positions within the regime? In your opinion, what does Khamenei think about any of this?
The regime has taken all steps under the supervision of nobody other than the IRGC. When we’re talking about the police or the Basij, they have run the operations under the IRGC command. Even the plainclothes agents. But tactic-wise, they utilized police gear or plain clothes on the field. You didn’t observe IRGC uniforms, but they did use the entire suppression capacity of the regime. But they failed, nonetheless. Because they were faced with courageous and forceful resistance that was operating in an organizational fashion and didn’t allow the movement to slow down.
— NCRI-FAC (@iran_policy) November 20, 2022
So, you mean that the attack of the defiant youth is a cause for the regime’s failure?
That’s exactly right. It’s those organized iconoclastic actions. Everything started with the slogan of “death to Khamenei” and it didn’t stop. This time, nobody is even chanting slogans against Ebrahim Raisi. They started by calling for regime change right away. They targeted the head of the state. And then it’s the coordination among different cities. Also, take into account the youth and the very movements who are doing organized work. That’s a fact and the regime is quite terrified.
I’d like to know how this is playing out on the forces on the ground. Those who must enforce the orders. How are they affected by the developments?
I think defections among the regime’s ranks are a very serious issue here. These forces must be kept on the field continuously. Tehran’s governor admitted that the security forces haven’t slept for several nights. That means they are exhausted. Second, these people are not totally separated from society. They have kids and neighbors. When they are back home, they are faced with the problems that stem from the current situation and they have no reason to continue their job other than the threat that their salaries might be cut.
Then you also have the rift among the higher ranks who argue that the approach so far didn’t work. On September 22, there was a meeting at the regime’s Supreme Security Council where state officials wanted to decide about carrying out a massacre. IRGC commanders and leaders of the provincial security forces stated that they don’t have the manpower to execute that endeavor and they failed to make such a decision after three sessions.
When did this meeting find the place?
It was the third week of the uprising. If you take notice, that shows that the regime didn’t hold itself back. As far as Khamenei is concerned, he is determined to crack down, but he hasn’t resorted to it yet.
But that’s what he’s opting for, right?
Yes, because he believes that backing down means falling down. But he’s constantly faced with people, both at the highest and the lowest levels, who can’t take it anymore. That’s why he is stuck in a deadlock. And this has been an advantage for the uprising.