Are the Iranian demonstrators revolutionary? -Washington Times

Since 2009, several waves of riots and near-revolutions have devoured Iran. A few, like the “Green Revolution” of 2009, weren’t revolutions at all. This time the protests look very different.

Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian, was reportedly beaten to death on September 16 while in the custody of Iran’s “morality police”. Her offense would have been to not adequately cover her hair.

Since Amini’s death, massive violent protests have erupted in many Iranian cities. Fires were set in mosques, banks and police cars. Shootouts with the police took place and the unrest in the Kurdish region was severely suppressed. At least 1,500 people were arrested and no less than a thousand people killed. In an October 3 statement, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei blamed America and Israel for the riots.

Iranians have suffered greatly since the ayatollahs came to power in 1979. Repression by the religious police and corruption at all levels of government are the norm. Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps – Tehran’s main terror wing that reports directly to Supreme Leader Mr. Khamenei – controls perhaps 80% of Iran’s economy. He does this for his own benefit and that of the ayatollahs.

We have seen what could have been real revolutions come and go in Iran. The 2009 “green revolution” was born to protest against the obviously rigged re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Hundreds of thousands took to the streets to protest, but leaders of the movement said they were not trying to override the system.

We could have convinced the Iranians of the “Green Movement” that the best way forward was to overthrow the ayatollahs. President Barack Obama decided not to even try. Instead, he reportedly ordered the CIA to stand down and cut off all contact with Green Movement leaders.

In 2018, more protests – much smaller than those in 2009 – were against economic corruption and, at first, protesters directed their anger at the ayatollahs themselves often calling for Mr Khamenei to be killed. The regime was scared, but the protests died down when America did nothing.

In 2019-20, the “Bloody November” protests against economic conditions also targeted the government and its endemic corruption. Again, we did nothing.

The ongoing riots seem more intent on overthrowing the regime. On September 30, students and teachers at the seminary in the holy city of Qom in Iran reportedly issued a statement saying that the fundamental ideology of the ayatollahs’ regime – “rule by the jurisprudent” – is no longer valid.

This statement, if disseminated beyond Qom, could condemn the regime for its illegitimacy.

A few American commentators have suggested that the Iranian people are crying out for our help. It’s highly dubious, but the riots show deep dissatisfaction with Iran’s economic conditions, sparked by sanctions imposed by former President Donald J. Trump when he revoked the arms deal. Mr. Obama’s nuclear weapons with Iran.

President Biden, who is still obsessively pursuing a new nuclear arms deal with Iran, will do nothing to hinder, let alone overthrow, the regime in Tehran. Nevertheless, if we had a competent president, we would try to do so by the many secret means at our disposal.

Before we descend down this particular rabbit hole, we need to determine the answers to the questions of whether the Iranian protesters are aiming for revolution and whether they would accept our help if they did.

It is not at all clear that the Iranians would accept American aid or aid from any Western country. Two generations of Iranians have been chanting “death to America” ​​since 1979 and have been brainwashed to distrust us in every way. Moreover, their fear of the ayatollahs and their IRGC may far outweigh their desire to overthrow the regime.

Every dictatorship is inherently unstable, and Iran’s is no exception. The fear expressed by Mr. Khamenei on October 3 showed this, as did the statement by the speaker of the Iranian parliament, Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf, who warned that the demonstrations were aimed at overthrowing the government. This fear was further demonstrated by the regime’s blocking, at least partially, of internet availability in Iran.

Whether or not the current series of protests and riots can turn into a real revolution, we should secretly look for ways to do so now and in the near future.

We should start by gaining the trust of potential revolutionaries. Iran is a closed nation. Getting people in or getting information out is nearly impossible. We should provide protesters with secure communications, internet service and, at some point, weapons. We should train Iranian expatriates and others to help foment and organize a revolution that would rid the world of the ayatollahs’ regime. However difficult the task, perhaps we should try to get them into Iran.

Additionally, we should wage relentless cyber warfare against the Iranian government, attacking their computer networks to find out what the regime is doing, and spreading malware to harm Tehran’s ability to govern and foment terrorism. The regime is our enemy, not the Iranian people.

We can do a lot more, but it would be a very good start. But we need a capable president who has the will to make these things happen. 2025 can’t come soon enough.

• Jed Babbin is a national security and foreign affairs columnist for The Washington Times and a contributing editor to The American Spectator.

Thelma J. Longworth