At the end of 2017, thousands of anti-regime protesters came out onto the streets of Iran to demand regime change and denounce Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, and attracted the attention of the world.
Despite a brutal crackdown, these protests are ongoing, albeit not attracting quite as much media coverage, and still pose a real, considerable threat to the rule of the mullahs. The protesters do not come from just one social class or age group or religion, making them much harder for the Regime’s security forces to suppress. These protesters are teachers, farmers, factory workers, truck drivers, shopkeepers, students, religious minorities, women, and human rights advocates. They recognise that their problems are caused by the Regime and will only be solved by the removal of the Regime.
The labour protests are perhaps the best example of the ongoing anti-regime action by the people. Truck drivers led nationwide strikes for much of 2018, over their low pay and high costs, and these proved effective by blocking major roads and gas stations. While Isfahan farmers, who are protesting the lack of water access, made it clear during a protest at Friday prayers that they see the Regime – not America – as the enemy. Workers at two factories in Ahvaz led strikes that nearly the entire city joined in with, in protest to the alleged criminal actions of the owners and unpaid wages.
Of course, the social protests have also been incredibly important in Iran, with women being arrested for removing the compulsory hijab in public and human rights advocates imprisoned for demanding justice for the 30,000 political prisoners massacred in 1988.
While the reasons for the people’s protests are diverse; one thing unites all of the problems and that is the Regime’s inability to fix the problems it caused. The people see that so-called moderates like President Hassan Rouhani have no intention of reform; indeed that was only a façade meant to distract the world from the Regime’s destruction of Iran.
Many have predicted the downfall of the Iranian Regime at various points during its 40-year rule, including during the Iran-Iraq War and the 2009 uprising, but these protests are the single biggest problem that the Regime has ever faced and there is no way for the mullahs to escape it. Even Regime insiders, like former President Mahmoud ¬Ahmadinejad and senior cleric Javadi-Amoli, believe that a popular revolt by the people could spell the end of the regime.
While the Iranian people will, no doubt, bring this revolt in the coming months, the US should step up to help and support the Iranian people’s right to self-determination, but how?
• Keep up sanctions on Iran to weaken the mullahs against the people
• Refuse diplomatic engagement with the Regime until they allow political freedom in Iran
• Provide assistance to the Iranian Resistance who are fighting the Regime inside Iran