Ali Safavi | Member, Foreign Affairs Committee, National Council of Resistance of Iran
“Desperate ills need desperate remedies,” Agatha Christie once said. When it comes to the regime in Iran, its focus on desperate remedies is becoming all too obvious, especially as the already weakened establishment shudders in the face of a tsunami of protests.
Is the regime finally nearing its demise? Senior officials are crying “Mayday! Mayday!” for a reason.
For months, the Iranian people have sustained wave after wave of unprecedented anti-regime protests, with one uprising following another. The economy is on the verge of collapse, poverty and inflation are out of control, the national currency is in freefall, and entrenched unemployment frustrates the hopes and dreams of millions of young Iranians.
What can the mullahs do? Nothing worth writing about.
This regime of incompetent pillagers finds itself staring down a strategic dead end. They have no solutions. Their only answer to the popular dissent has been more suppression, censorship and propaganda. None has worked, and the people come back into the streets, day after day.
Having failed to eliminate the opposition through harassment, imprisonment and execution – including the 1988 massacre of over 30,000 political prisoners — the regime has been spending millions of dollars on a misinformation campaign about the opposition and uprisings. Last month, Facebook, Twitter, and Alphabet collectively removed hundreds of accounts tied to an Iranian propaganda operation.
Ironically, these same Tehran officials using Twitter and Instagram to spread their fabrications are doing all they can to block social media tools for average citizens to avert the organization of more protests. Now, in addition to cracking down on dissent at home — including the blocking of applications like Telegram — the regime is frantically trying to castits web of censorship even in the United States and Europe!
Tehran’s foreign minister Javad Zarif has taken to Twitter with a very telling distress call, effectively begging the tech giant to block accounts he says are tied to regime opponents in Tirana, Albania, home to the principal opposition Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK). He told Twitter’s CEO: “How about looking at actual bots in Tirana used to prop up ‘regime change’ propaganda.”
But anyone with any smarts knows the regime’s opponents are not bots. They are an entire generation of young people with no prospects, the millions of Iranians living in poverty, and women tired of being treated as second-class citizens.
The regime’s officials would do well to pull their heads out of the sand long enough to hear the people demonstrating on the streets. Protestors are chanting “death to the dictator” and “down with the velayat-e faqih” (absolute clerical rule). They are demanding fundamental change.
This is not the first time that Zarif and others like him have tried to whitewash the rampant human rights violations perpetrated by the murderous regime in Iran. In 2015, he told American TV, “We do not jail people for their opinions.” And he smiled and schmoozed for years to fool western countries about Tehran’s nuclear program.
The regime’s social media campaigns are reminiscent of the Shah’s reaction to the mass protests which swept the monarchy from power four decades ago. The voice of the Iranian people was not silenced then, and it will not be silenced now.
Resistance units organized at a grassroots level by the MEK are omnipresent, inspiring the people to make their voices heard in cities and towns across Iran. Even the regime has repeatedly acknowledged the MEK’s ability to prolong, organize and lead the ongoing protest movement.
That movement is echoing from inside prisons, where dozens of political prisoners have sent inspiring messages of resistance to the outside world or launched hunger strikes to protest the mullahs.
The people’s voice is heard in the protests by striking truck drivers who cannot make ends meet, ordinary people enraged to learn their savings have been pilfered by the Revolutionary Guards, or university graduates with no job opportunities. Today, chants of “death to Khamenei” and “death to Rouhani” are as common as Persian sweets.
And the people’s voice is echoed by Iranian communities and dissidents residing in the U.S. and Europe. In September, thousands of Iranian-American supporters of the MEK held a summit in New York City to support the uprisings and to call for democratic change.
Tehran’s distress calls, amplifying its fears of the organized opposition and the Iranian people’s uprising, are a function of its desperation and lack of solutions. But history teaches us that this dictatorship’s desperate attempts at a fix are no more than telltale signs that it is in serious trouble.
Ali Safavi (@amsafavi) is a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.