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Iran: Fear has changed sides

Dictators still rule with the support of repressive forces
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In Iran, popular discontent, ignored for decades, is increasingly difficult to hear, says Hamid Enayat, a political scientist and Iran specialist.

On 28 December, in Qom, the seat of the Iranian mullahs, a woman kicked a mullah's turban in the face. The mullah had just insulted her by attacking the way she dressed. The clip was widely shared on social media. The woman was arrested and her fate is unknown.

On 28 December, at a rally of pensioners in front of the Iranian parliament, a woman shouted: "We gave our youth to make this country a (beautiful) homeland. But you have destroyed everything, and now it is your turn to be destroyed".

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Mohammad-Reza Zaeri, a well-known regime cleric whose name was mentioned in the failed Villepinte bombing case in the Paris suburbs in 2018 for travelling to Paris with diplomat Assadi, the bomber, to try to determine the location of the attack, said on Instagram that anger and hatred had reached the point that in ten days he had been cursed at twice and spat at once.

Demonstrations by workers, pensioners, teachers and other social groups continue every day across Iran over unpaid wages or wages below the poverty line.

Popular discontent has been ignored and dismissed for four decades, the age of the Islamic Republic. But Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and other elements of the ruling class believe that the hand of the US and the West is involved in these protests. Linking the protests to a foreign hand gives them an excuse for savage repression.

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Executions continue unabated. 350 hanged in 2021. But the regime cannot stop the outbreak of general anger.

Dictators always rule with the support of repressive forces. After years of coercion and pressure on the people, the king has been exposed, with only the illusion of popular support remaining. Ibrahim Raisi's government has more than 30 members of the Revolutionary Guard, and every day a Pasdaran commander replaces a governor. Iran is now run by numerous operational headquarters. The government claims to have installed cameras and patrols on every street to prevent the fire of discontent, burning in the ashes, from spreading.
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But when it was unveiled in Chahrekord in Iranian Kurdistan, the statue of Qassem Soleimani, an icon of the Iranian regime's regional influence and terrorism, vilified for killing hundreds of thousands of Syrians and for the massacre of the Iranian opposition, was burned a few hours later.

And it is a response of the population to the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and his projects, such as the production of an atomic bomb that has already swallowed 2000 billion dollars, or the regional interference with the formation and maintenance of a network of militias in the Middle East that has pushed 60 million Iranians below the poverty line in an Iran whose subsoil abounds in wealth.

Iranians found themselves in a country occupied, like France by the Nazis. From then on, resistance units developed to save their country from this religious dictatorship.

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Referring to the resistance units, the Supreme Leader said in his 9 January speech that "there are those who try to undermine the hope of the youth and make them distrustful of the future. Do not allow some people to act in cyberspace and non-cyberspace with their temptations in a direction contrary to the hope that should be given to the youth".

There is a time when dictators do not listen to the people. But when their anger ignites protests, then it is the people who no longer listen to the dictators.