Iran’s protest crackdown the latest in a long line of abuses

by Claude Salhani

Why do government leaders in the West act surprised whenever anti-government protests in Iran are brutally put down by the government’s security forces?
 
 Why does the civilised world watch in silence as conservative circles of influence in Iran show no remorse for the harm caused to their people while  shamelessly demanding capital punishment for anyone daring to voice their frustration at their social and economic hardships.
 
That has been the norm in the Islamic Republic since its founding 40 years ago.
 
Pro-government media are asking for protesters to be hung from cranes, as was frequently done in the early days of Iran’s Islamic revolution.  
 
Western leaders profess to be astonished that such violence could be unleashed on people protesting against rising cost of living and rightfully blaming their government for mismanaging the country’s resources.
 
But isn’t that what the United Nations and United States-imposed sanctions are designed to do? Apply pressure on the people so that they in turn place pressure on the government?
 
Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and its support of extremism has led to the current standoff between the Islamic Republic and the West.
 
Iran is a rich country, one of the world’s leading oil producers. Properly managed, the country should have no reason to be mired in an economi crisis. 
 
The protests that began last week were sparked by the government’s move to increase gas prices at the pump by 50%. 
 
Gasoline shortages in a country that is the world’s seventh largest oil producer, pumping out some 4,471,000 barrels per day, is difficult to believe. Yet that is the sad reality. 
 
There are two important observations to be made about the recent protests.
 
First, is the absence of anti-Western slogans. In cities across the country where hundreds of protests took place, there were no shouts of “Margbar Amrika, margbar Israel,” (death to America, death to Israel) like in other protest movements. 

In the current demonstrations, the largest since 2017, citizens instead questioned their own government’s economic vision as well as its interference in countries like Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and Palestine.

The second important point is that security forces intervened very rapidly, an indication that the regime feels it has little slack on its security belt.
 
Western countries are watching attentively, particularly the US, but support for the protest effort has been wavering. 

As Claude Moniquet, a counterterrorism specialist based in Brussels who has been following developments in Iran, points out: “In Europe people demonstrate in support of Palestine, against Islamophobia, against ‘capitalsm,’ and against climate change. However, support for the Iranian people, support for women who want to not be forced to wear the veil, and against repression by the mullahs? Never.”

Forty years after the Islamic Republic’s founding, there are continuing cases of oppression, human rights violations, illegal arrests, kangaroo courts and summary executions.  It’s been 40 years of torture and a long list of unspeakable wrongs committed in the name of the revolution. 
 
With this in mind, it should be no surprise that the regime has attempted to put the protests down with brute force. What lies ahead is uncertain, but what is sure is that the only way that Iranians will eventually get rid of the current regime it’s from within the country.
 

Claude Salhani is a regular columnist for The Arab Weekly.

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