Iran Protests 101 #iranprotests
Nevşin Mengü Sums Up the Iran Situation in 4 Questions
Are the protests in Iran supported by the US?
We are all orientalists. We wrongfully assume “If the peoples of the East revolt, there has to be something behind it. And more often than not, an American influence.” We are being unfair, because in the end, we’re all human. And Iranians cannot comprehend why they are so poor when Iran has those large reserves of oil and gas, and they get upset. Iranians are angry that the regime spends their tax money on Syria, and they have difficulty coming into terms with all the funds their rulers funnel to Hamas. They get angry and they react. There is no need for the Americans to lift their finger. All oppressive regimes are based on injustice and when injustices are accompanied by hunger, people get angry.
Also, even if the West is aiding the protesters, the regime itself is buoyed by Russia and China. The Iranian regime is not “fully independent”, it is simply anti-West.
The templates we have formed in our heads are shaped with: “If it has something to do with America, it has to be bad.” Does that mean that it is good if it has something to do with Russia? Is the Russian government all birds and butterflies?
The difference of Protestors from 2009
The activists in the 2009 uprising were leftists, so it was relatively easy for the conservatives to call them USA-backed traitors and bashibazouks.
In 2017, however, the rebellion began in the conservative city of Mashhad. The activists were opponents of Rouhani, and they were revolting against the growing cost of living. As the protests spread towards Tehran, various groups started to join the cause and the slogans started to turn from being those against Rouhani towards being those against the Religious Leader, Khamanei. Still, the protests, which began in Rouhani’s reign, continue to serve the conservative agenda, and therefore they refrain from saying “the insurgents are conservatives.”
In 2009, the revolts had visible leaders: The reformist Moussawi and Kerroubi who are currently under house arrest. There is no such leader on pedestal in 2017. The conservatives, on the other hand, do not possess a figure that can topple Rouhani. Former President Ahmadinejad seems to pop up every now and then, but it is almost impossible for Ahmadinejad to put his foot in “legitimate” Iranian politics since he has joined the camp against the Religious Leader Khamenei. In a sardonic twist of fate, his chances to become an actor again would only be possible with a regime change.
Pro-regime Demonstrators on the Streets
A similar scenario was put in play in 2009. When the youth poured out onto the streets, Iranian regime wanted to show the world its strong hand by pushing its supporters on the streets against the uprising. These people are typically brought to Tehran, Isfahan or other big cities by government vehicles. Civil servants are obliged to participate. Students are amassed, etc. They are made to shout and believe something like, “Death to those who oppose the Religious Leadeship”.
They are revolting, so what?
Well, probably nothing. Autocracies are not toppled by protests. Dictators do not come and go via protests and/or elections. They go if and only if military and law enforcement agencies withdraw their support from them. Otherwise the regime will use these very forces to steamroll the protests in a jiffy. Autocracy is evil, my friends, and it is very difficult to get rid of it once it has taken hold.
Originally published in Turkish in https://www.birgun.net/haber-detay/iran-eylemleri-101-198173.html