Amid the continued popular protests throughout Iran, what will the future hold for the country’s terror-funding Shi’a regime?
“The bottom line: Does the regime have both the will and ability to keep itself in power? If it lacks both, it is finished. If it has either, it should be able to weather this crisis,” said Dr. Harold Rhode, senior fellow at the Gatestone Institute and a former U.S. Department of Defense adviser on Islamic affairs.
Ephraim Dardashti, who was born and raised in Iran and now lives in the U.S., and is a published expert on Iranian history, told JNS that usually at this time of year, Iran’s government “is organizing parades boasting their support for the [ayatollah] and cursing the Americans
and Israelis, so in essence these spontaneous demonstrations are counter-demonstrations and show how the people truly feel.”
Iran analyst Ali Alfoneh, author of the 2013 book “Iran Unveiled: How the Revolutionary Guards Is Transforming Iran from Theocracy into Military Dictatorship,” told JNS that the regime “seems in control.” There is unrest in poor suburbs of urban population centers, but important cities such as Tehran, Isfahan and Tabriz were calm this week, he said.
Dardashti explained that there are three main tactics the Islamic Republic uses to control and pacify its population: drugs, sex and fear.
Illegal drugs are widely available and very cheap in Iran, “from the old-time opium that the grandparents used to smoke, to crack packed in a glass container ready for consumption,” Dardashti said.
Iranian women are widely used as “sexual toys,” according to Dardashti.
“When they visit the homeland, Iranian-American men indulge — they ‘marry’ someone for the duration of their stay,” he said. In Shi’a Islam, there is a concept of temporary marriage known as mut’a.
To instill fear among the population, Iranian clergy have consistently killed dissidents from the start of the Islamic Revolution. Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, the anointed successor to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, was deposed after criticizing the regime’s tactics.
Behnam Ben Taleblu, an Iran analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies think tank, told JNS that while the protests “initially began over economic grievances, they soon mushroomed across Iran, drawing on the wellspring of discontent with the revolution that has existed in that country since the regime’s inception.”
Dardashti said Iran’s kleptocracy has played a major role in the public’s dissatisfaction with the regime.
“The corruption is so bad and widespread that hardly a day goes by without more revelations,” he said.
Many have observed that the current demonstrations are starkly different than the 2009 “Green Revolution” protests that were mainly carried out by young and affluent Iranians in large cities such as Tehran.
Despite their geographic and demographic differences, Ben Taleblu does see a connection between the protests of 2009 and 2017.
“These protests build on the ones from 2009, since those grievances have simply compounded with age,” he said.
Dardashti said that if the Iranian regime falls, a new government would likely align itself with the West.
On the other hand, he said the leadership vacuum could be filled by a Marxist Iranian opposition that is currently exiled in France and is partially represented by the People’s Mujahideen Organization of Iran (PMOI), which has been removed from the official U.S. list of terrorist organizations, but remains controversial due to its radical ideology. JN