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Iranian Regime on Edge as Protest Anniversary Looms
A terrified and desperate tyranny.
By Majid Rafizadeh
As Iran edges closer to the anniversary of the September 2022 uprisings laden with historic significance, the regime faces an unsettling reality: the prospect of renewed massive street protests reminiscent of the seismic upheavals of September 2022. Within Tehran’s inner sanctums of power and among its suppressive forces, an uneasy apprehension looms.
Against this backdrop, an intricate web of orchestrated actions and narratives by the Iranian regime against its principal opposition, is captivating global attention. The regime’s strategic orchestration of these narratives unveils a profound storyline — one that crumbles under the weight of scrutiny, exposing the regime’s underlying vulnerability and growing desperation.
Implicit in this tense atmosphere is the understanding that the oppositional group, the MEK, remains a potent catalyst behind such monumental social movements. During the 2018 uprising, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei himself conceded, based on internal intelligence assessments, that MEK activists had meticulously planned for months to orchestrate the widespread demonstrations that reverberated across the nation.
The subsequent 2022 protests further underscored the MEK’s influence, as the commander of Iran’s State Security Force candidly asserted that “rioters, led by the MEK, are willing to instigate chaos.” Such declarations, along with acknowledgments of MEK-orchestrated protests, expose Tehran’s alarm and its recognition of the MEK’s role as the main architect of unrest.
As the Iranian regime stares down this impending milestone, it artfully maneuvers its tactics to counteract the potency of the MEK during this critical juncture.
Among the recent measures, the regime has invoked INTERPOL mechanisms to apprehend MEK members. July bore witness to Tehran’s announcement of summoning 107 MEK leaders and officials for prosecution, while spreading rumors that the MEK is unsafe and scrambling to relocate to Canada. A thread of “suspicious deaths” among MEK members at Ashraf-3, the group’s residence in Albania, was deftly woven into the regime’s propaganda. Even Iran’s Judiciary Chief publicly proclaimed the regime’s determination to repatriate MEK members from foreign jurisdictions.
Within the regime’s strategic calculus, the expanding MEK-affiliated Resistance Unitsemerge as foci of dissent. These agile and coordinated units, acting as crucibles of uprisings, steer the course of popular mobilization across the country. Recognizing the power of these organized units, the regime strategically shifts to suppress them, employing tactics ranging from calculated repression to an all-out psychological warfare.
A central facet of Tehran’s strategy centers on eroding the perception of the MEK’s cohesion and staying power. The regime’s arsenal of misinformation crafts a narrative that portrays the MEK as perpetually imperiled, even within the supposed safety of Albania’s Ashraf-3. These narratives, artfully spun and spread through hundreds of websites and newspapers, aim to inject an aura of uncertainty into the MEK’s standing and are amplified by swirling rumors, including whispers of travel bans and shadowy incidents within Ashraf-3.
As Tehran grapples with internal morale erosion and the specter of looming protests, a palpable unease courses through the regime’s ranks. This sentiment reverberates from leadership to the lower echelons, compelling the regime to portray organized opponents and activists as teetering on the edge of instability.
Crafted with strategic precision, this narrative serves a dual purpose: staunching the concerning exodus of loyalists from within the regime’s ranks, as well as quelling any inclinations among suppressive forces to question their allegiance. In other words, Tehran seeks to erect a psychological bulwark against the tidal wave of defections and dissent, stemming the hemorrhaging of allegiance and confidence that threatens to weaken its hand against looming uprisings.
For years, the regime diligently toiled to undermine international support for the democratic opposition, spearheaded by the MEK. However, the reverberating endorsements from 124 former world leaders, 3,600 parliamentarians across 40 nations, and the global fraternity of Nobel laureates have rattled this narrative. This tidal wave of international backing has shaken the core of the regime, underscoring its precarious equilibrium. Tehran’s acknowledgment of this reality is evident in its strenuous efforts to counteract the MEK’s influence, both within Iran and beyond its borders.
This evolving saga unveils Tehran’s preoccupation with the MEK — a potent force of transformation. The regime’s calculated maneuvers and desperate narratives bear witness to its recognition of the MEK as a viable alternative, exacerbating Tehran’s discomfiture while simultaneously validating the Iranian people’s potential to establish a free, democratic, secular and non-nuclear government.