But make no mistake, this is merely for show. The militias have really shown up because Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is terrified that the Iranian people will rise up and overthrow the mullahs and he knows that his foreign militias will do whatever it takes to stop that, including intimidation, harassment, torture, and murder.
However, this shows that Khamenei has a major weakness and it may be his biggest mistake.
The floods and the Regime’s lacklustre reaction have caused widespread anger in Khuzestan and Lorestan provinces, where many of those affected as ethnic minorities such as Arabs, Lors, Bakhtiaris, etc, who have long been subject to harsh discrimination.
Khuzestan is an oil-rich province, but the people are poor. Still, they are resilient and like millions of Iranians over the past year-and-a-half, they’ve been taking part in the massive uprising against the Iranian Regime. Of course, the mullahs are scared. They know these are the end times for them.
But Khamenei’s recruitment of foreign militias to suppress the people shows that he may not trust Iran’s suppressive forces, the Basij and the Revolutionary Guards; who may be slightly more reluctant to kill their fellow citizens. Indeed, many IRGC members left the group to join the protesters last year.
The floods have come at the worst time for Khamenei because he is also besieged by US sanction and a populace that wants his Regime gone, but how can the world increase pressure on the Regime and decrease it on the people?
Simply put sanctions pressure on Hezbollah and the Hashd. This would decrease their ability to harm the Iranian people and their pro-Regime influence in Lebanon and Iraq, which would help stabilise the Middle East as a whole.
It’s also a wise idea to take a look at the Regime’s lobbies and influence networks in the West, which are engaged in shady activities to manipulate public opinion and politicians.
Another idea is to increase financial support for independent journalism in Farsi media so that the Iranian people have free and fair access to information.
However, the most important thing of all is to publically stand with the Iranian people and support their calls for freedom.