Activists in cities checkered across Iran are reporting tense atmospheres. Regime authorities are disrupting and/or completely shutting down the internet in a number of provinces to prevent reports of anti-regime protests from leaking to the outside world.
Despite these measures, people are finding methods to send their reports and footage indicating widespread protests and clashes between angry locals and the regime’s forces in many cities, especially in the southwest province of Khuzestan.
Youths in the cities of Izeh, Masjed Soleyman, Susangerd, Qom and others are seen chanting:
“Death to Khamenei!” in reference to regime Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei
“Death to Raisi!” in reference to regime President Ebrahim Raisi
And “Khamenei must die!” as protesters are standing up to the regime’s repressive forces.
Regime officials are also voicing repeated warnings about the country’s powder keg society.
“Conditions across the country are critical,” said Alireza Habibi, head of the state-run Culture Radio station, said on May 7. “The society’s status quo, considering skyrocketing prices, is as such that we should not provoke [protests]. You need to be on full alert” and “even the smallest mistake will be unforgivable,” he added.
In his remarks, Habibi stressed that the current tensions have “security” nature, which means the regime is concerned about protests developing into a nationwide uprising.
“We are facing prices that are increasing by the minute” and more than 60 percent of the country’s population is living in poverty, according to the state-run Arman daily on May 9. “Media networks affiliated to dissident groups are depicting the current situation as turbulent.”
“The enemy is attempting to place the people in a faceoff against the state,” said Tehran Mayor Alireza Zakani.
“They want to position the society against Raisi,” warned Gholamreza Mesbahi-Moghaddam, a senior member of the regime’s Expediency Council.
Khamenei has responded to these warnings by dispatching a large number of state security forces into the tumultuous cities and areas reporting unrest, in parallel to shutting down internet connections. When cities across Khuzestan province of southwest Iran reported protests, authorities sent anti-riot units from Isfahan in central Iran to the cities of Izeh, Susangerd, Ahvaz, and Masjed Soleyman. The very fact that authorities are forced into shutting down the internet is proof that popular protests are escalating, and regime officials fear a repeat of nationwide protests similar to those witnessed in November 2019.
The question is can Khamenei prevent further protests and another nationwide uprising through domestic crackdown and internet censorship?
If he could, Khamenei should have been able to prevent these initial sparks of unrest. He and his regime officials know very well that any of these protests can incite a larger and widespread movement across the country. This is exactly why the regime’s security forces have been on high alert as prices of basic goods, even bread, has been skyrocketing recently. Security forces have been stationed in city squares and other key areas to prevent any and all signs of possible popular protests.
Recent unrest are over high prices of the people’s most basic daily needs, going beyond the gasoline price hike that ignited the November 2019 uprising, water shortages for the country’s farmers, and the environment.
On the other hand, from late March to this day Iran has witnessed an expanding trend of popular protests along with an increasing volume of anti-regime measures carried out by members of Iranian “Resistance Units,” a network associated to the Iranian opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) inside the country. This ongoing campaign is injecting new spirit and lifting the will of resistance among the Iranian people against the ruling mullahs’ regime.
As a result, despite the fact that the mullahs’ regime has rallied all its forces and is employing its long slate of oppressive/crackdown measures against Iran’s restive population, protests are spreading to more cities across the country.
Accordingly, more regime officials are voicing concerns and warnings. The state-run Arman daily wrote on May 9: “We are all in the same boat! If it begins to sink, none of us will survive!”