Iran’s observers believe that in a fair survey and beyond the state censorship, there would be no one to defend the Islamic Republic regime except those who benefit from the religious tyranny. In this context, state media frequently warn officials about society’s volcanic situation, leading to fundamental social-political changes in Iran.
Today, the range of regime’s supporters and loyalists is limited to the state-aligned mullahs and their relatives; high-ranking officials; oppressors such as Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) members and paramilitary Basij forces, the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) agents, and plainclothes agents affiliated with the Supreme Leader’s Office (Beyt); as well as the state-backed mafia members.
In such circumstances, to counter the growing rate of public rage, authorities divide around 96 percent of the population—according to then-Presidential candidate Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf at the 2017 debate—into distinct classifications.
“Demander, dissident, social protester, political protester, anti-establishment protester, subverter, and rioter,” state media classify fed-up people.
Indeed, authorities differentiate between social protesters and political ones. They measure protests based on whether they are in the framework of the Islamic Republic or are anti-establishment. They weigh whether the demonstrations have been shaped spontaneously or have been organized? Were there any calls and collaboration, or are they a mere reaction to an official’s failure or mismanagement?
In other words, authorities’ deep concern is over anti-establishment protests, particularly those linked to the main opposition Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK/PMOI), the sworn enemy of the religious tyranny in Iran. In such cases, the ayatollahs show no mercy to protesters and employ any means to quell grievances immediately.
It may be odd; however, the authorities attempt to divert society’s demands from fundamental political changes to passive desires. For instance, in his May 17, 2020, meeting with Basij students, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei urged them to be claimants; but under one consideration.
“Do not allow your demands and grievances to be deemed as a protest against the Islamic State… The enemy is waiting for this. Through your protests, the enemy concludes that you protest the state or images it against the state. Do not allow the enemy and prevent it from finding such an opportunity,” Khamenei said.
He later clarified his purpose and highlighted his adversary with the MEK, saying, “I do not mean that you attract MEK members.” He explicitly underscored his red line due to anti-establishment protesters, particularly the MEK and its expanded domestic network called “Resistance Units.”
Following Khamenei’s comments, the IRGC-run Fars’s news agency shed crocodile tears for citizens’ financial dilemmas. However, it rapidly warned about ‘rioters,’ who seek to misuse people’s rightful rallies for promoting their political objectives.
“This is the fixed method of anti-revolutionary forces those who influence a number of their affiliates into regular protests; then they chant anti-establishment slogans,” Fars wrote. However, the Fars author does not explain why other protesters immediately welcome and repeat anti-revolutionary forces’ slogans.
In a nutshell, Iran is currently sitting on a socio-political volcano. Society is looking for those who can organize and lead protests toward fundamental political, financial, and social changes far beyond the autocrats’ capability to improve the country’s situation. In such circumstances, the MEK’s “Resistance Units” are the only force that organizes, trains, and leads people’s demonstrations for freedom, justice, and equality in Iran.