Iran is marking the 43rd anniversary of its 1979 anti-monarchical revolution that brought an end to the Shah’s dictatorship but was later hijacked by the clerics led by Ruhollah Khomeini. While the mullahs’ regime is hell-bent on portraying a strong image with a firm grip on power, the realities on the ground tell a completely different story. A look back at the past 12 months sheds light on the deepening conflict between Iranian people and their organized resistance seeking freedom on the one hand, and a weakening regime desperately trying to stay in power on the other.
Mass boycott of presidential elections
Iran’s sham presidential election, held on June 19, 2021, turned out to be yet another farce and a strategic defeat for the mullahs’ regime that sought to portray the vote as a popular mandate. According to information obtained by the Iranian opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), less than 10 percent of eligible voters cast their ballots, many of whom were forced to do so, displaying the Iranian people’s utter contempt for the regime in its entirety. This was the lowest voter turnout in any elections since the 1979 revolution, a fact to which even the regime’s own officials have admitted.
This was yet another reminder that there are no free or fair elections in Iran under the ruling medieval theocracy. The regime’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei was seeking a “hezbollahi” president with “jihadi performance” to unify his regime. He showed his concerns and directly intervened to eliminate rivals—and even those long seen as members of his inner circle—by preventing them from running for office. Since then, the campaign to “boycott of the mullahs’ sham elections” has evolved into a massive and unstoppable movement, reinforced by people from all walks of life.
A cabinet geared for repression and terror
Following the historic boycott of the regime’s sham presidential election, Ebrahim Raisi’s cabinet lineup, consisting of security and military veterans who have been involved in decades of financial corruption, repression, and terrorism, signals a regime gearing up to face a restive population with an iron fist.
Many of Raisi’s ministers are under U.S. sanctions for their role in the regime’s illicit activities and human rights violations. Two of his key officials are wanted by Interpol for involvement in international terrorism. Raisi himself is blacklisted by the U.S. for his human rights violations as the head of the Judiciary, making him the first regime president to be the subject of foreign sanctions before taking office.
Hossein Amir Abdollahian, Raisi’s foreign minister, has made no secret of his ties with the regime’s terror apparatus and intention to pursue a terror-focused foreign policy. He vowed to the regime’s MPs to support the “resistance front,” an umbrella term the regime uses to refer to its proxy terrorist groups in the Middle East. Amir Abdollahian also pledged to “continue the path” of Qassem Soleimani, the eliminated commander of the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) Quds Force and the mastermind of the regime’s terror operations.
This is quite evident in the rising number of attacks carried out by the regime’s proxy forces in Yemen, with the Houthis constantly targeting Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates using weaponry provided by the Iranian regime, as well as Iran-backed militias in Iraq targeting U.S. forces and Washington’s Embassy in Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone.
Desperation among the regime’s loyal base
Despite their efforts over the past four decades, the mullahs are acknowledging escalating public anger and dissent over their rule. In a recent editorial, the Kayhan newspaper, the supreme leader Ali Khamenei’s mouthpiece, warned about “opening the way for the enemies” and “internal inefficiencies” that have “caused the people to become wary and pessimistic toward the principles of the  revolution.” The daily added that “with every passing moment, the republic fades away and republic-conforming Islam becomes marginalized.”
Officials are constantly warning that the people are infuriated about the role of the mullahs in the country’s politics and economy. Millions of people see the stark contrast between their impoverished lives and the lavish and opulent lifestyle of the mullahs; they see their non-existent freedoms contrasting with the unearned privileges that the mullahs and their children enjoy. They can easily connect the dots and see the role of the so-called clergy in destroying the country’s economy and culture.
Ongoing protests across Iran
The Iranian people have also been voicing their hatred toward the mullahs’ regime through expanding protests by all sectors of the society. This includes the following protests during the past 12 months alone:
– massive protests in Khuzestan and other provinces over severe water shortages
– farmers taking to the streets in Isfahan province demanding their share of water for their lands, which eventually led to heavy clashes with security forces opening fire on protesters, leaving many blinded and wounded
– several rounds of nationwide protests by teachers demanding equal pay as inflation continues to skyrocket
– locals in the impoverished Sistan and Baluchistan Province took to the streets for several days in protests over the regime’s security forces killing impoverished fuel porters
– and even employees of the regime’s own judiciary branch have been voicing their economic woes over low and delayed paychecks, indicating the regime lacks the financial power to provide even for those working in its own apparatus
Amid these developments, the PMOI/MEK network inside Iran, known as the “Resistance Units,” are both expanding and delivering strategic blows to the mullahs’ apparatus. On January 5, Resistance Units torched a statue of Qassem Soleimani, the eliminated commander of the terrorist Quds Force, unveiled on that very same day in the city of Shahrekord in central Iran.
On January 27, the regime’s state TV/radio network suffered severe disruptions across the board, airing footage of Iranian opposition leaders. This continues to raise grave concerns among regime officials regarding the PMOI/MEK’s influence inside Iran, especially through their Resistance Units network. This becomes all the more important as protests evolve into more organized movements, bearing the potential of being guided to specifically target the regime and seek fundamental political objectives and regime change.
As the regime is using the revolution anniversary to claim public mandate and support, the increasing number of executions paints a different picture. A state enjoying popularity would never need to execute a single individual, let alone 12 in two days, and 45 in the span of 30 days. This was the regime’s execution report card from December 22, 2021, to January 20 of this year. And from November 22 to December 21, 2021, seven women were among those executed.
Terrified of protests and uprisings, the clerical regime has accelerated executions to instill an atmosphere of terror. The regime is also emboldened by the appeasement policy of the West, which includes seemingly ceaseless concessions for Tehran to entice it to return to the highly flawed 2015 nuclear deal.
Despite the regime’s crackdown and ongoing appeasement from the West, the past 12 months have made crystal clear for the regime the threats to their core from the Iranian people.