The latest round of street protests in Iran began on Thursday, July 15 in the cities of Khuzestan province. They spread very quickly to Bushehr, Lorestan, Isfahan, East Azerbaijan, Alborz, Tehran, Kurdistan, Ardabil, North Khorasan and Khorasan Razavi provinces. But much faster than the process of geographical expansion, it was the range of demands raised in the protests that became wider and more radical.
If in the beginning the protests included issues such as water shortage and destructive environmental policies, in Izeh, Tehran, Tabriz and Isfahan it was the Khamenei banner that was set on fire, it was the “Death to the Islamic Republic” chant that resounded at the metro station, it was “cannon, tank, firecracker [Khamenei is a pimp]” that called for Khamenei on the occasion of launching the “Hamdam (companion)” application. From the early days of the protests in the cities of Khuzestan until today, the form and dynamics of the protests have also changed: Today’s protest rallies come down striking, without prior call, unpredictable, “lightning.”
Mothers of the Bloody November 2019 victims protest in Azadi (Freedom) Square today, July 30, without prior notice. They chanted for justice and called on the people to unite and overthrow: “Hand in hand until overthrowing (the regime), we seek our rights!”.
In the face of this flexibility and dynamism, the regime’s approach was, as always, repressive, violent, ruthless, and barbaric. As always, they cut off the Internet, which is still cut off in Khuzestan or is severely disrupted. As always, the propaganda machine with reporters from Fars, Tasnim, Mehr,,,, are the only narrators who are allowed to prepare and publish field reports, which are all false and untrue. As always, the IRIB (radio & television) either does not cover or, if it broadcasts anything, defends, and appreciates the sacred system. As always, the regime puts the repression and killing machine in front of people; It arrests, even the 12-year-old Ayub Abboud al-Nomum in Shaourr and 14-year-old Milad Obaidavi in Bostan. It fires at will and murders at least eight innocent civilians, according to Amnesty International. The regime, as always, has its own BBC Persian, Elahe Hicks, NIAC and “experts in Iran affairs” outside the country to justify, trickery, tell untrue narrations, lie, censors, distort facts and…
Dr. Behrouz Khosrozadeh, a professor of political science at the Institute for Democracy Research at the University of Goettingen in Germany, is certainly not one of them.
Marie Illner, a German journalist, asks Dr. Behrouz Khosrozadeh* about the ongoing protests in Iran:
Why do Iranians take to the streets these days?
“Khuzestan, which was once the showcase of Iran’s prosperity, has become the poorest province among 31 provinces of Iran today. This region stood in the war between Iran and Iraq in the 80s as Iran’s stronghold of defense against Iraq and today it is being destroyed due to lack of attention, mismanagement, and corruption. Despite the large industries located in the region, the official unemployment rate is about 25 percent and in much of Khuzestan is over 45 percent, and more than a quarter of households live below the poverty line. No one in Iran can understand why a province with 80 percent of the country’s oil resources and 60 percent of its gas resources should be in such a miserable situation.”
Like the Iranian protesters, Khosrozadeh blames the government for the current situation: “Channeling water from Khuzestan to central parts of Iran and budling too many and subpar dams are a few of mismanagement items done by Islamic Republic governments which have driven farmers to bankruptcy and poverty.” In addition, the inefficiency and failure of government institutions in the face of coronavirus pandemic has turned Khuzestan into a sick and COVID-stricken province. The Iranian people are tired of sinking deeper and deeper into poverty and economic crisis, as their money and wealth flow abroad, to Syria and Bashar al-Assad, to Lebanon and Hezbollah, and to the countless proxy forces of the Islamic Republic in the region. To all this must be added political repression and suffocation, the main perpetrators and commanders of which are the so-called “elected” President Ibrahim Raisi and his successor Gholam-Hossein Mohseni Eje’i, the current head of the Judiciary.
How does the government react to protests?
“The mullahs did not send water and food tankers, but first sent their brutal repression machine to the area and cut off the Internet.”
Why does the regime reacts so harshly?
“In the realm of the mullahs, the situation is such that any event, especially economic hardship, has the capacity to provoke nationwide protests.” In November 2019, rising gasoline prices sparked protests, and now water shortages and power outages. “Very fast demonstrations change their nature to political protests with radical slogans against the regime, which at the same time have the potential to grow and expand very quickly. While people are living in poverty and misery, the mullahs are still dreaming of acquiring an atomic bomb and enlarging their missile depots, and they do not intend to give up their adventures in the region.”
Will the protests spread?
“Iranians’ wrath has targeted the entirety of the authoritarian system and the corrupt core of the Islamic Republic.” Since January 2017, all protests have quickly led to chants against Ayatollah Khamenei and the entirety of the regime. The current protests have spread to other parts of the country such as Tehran, Tabriz, Isfahan, Kermanshah and Bushehr. Banners of political leaders are set on fire during the protests. Protesters chant: “Unity with Khuzestan! “Death to Khamenei.” Khosrozadeh. says: “Iran is on the verge of revolution, maybe not now or in a short-term. Iran protests are currently without a leader and spontaneous. But solidarity and unity among the Iranians against the regime is stronger than ever. Fear of the wildest and most ruthless repression machine in the world is rapidly diminishing among the Iranian people today.”
What is the difference between these protests and January 2017, November 2019?
This time, the middle and affluent class is also involved. “Earlier this week, more than 1,200 artists expressed solidarity with the protests in Khuzestan.” It is too early to talk about a revolution or the fall of the regime, but the gap between the nationwide protests is getting shorter and shorter: The demonstrations and protests between these big waves of protests have never stopped. Quite different from the “Green Movement”, after which, for almost a decade, no major protest movement took shape. In the last four years, however, you have witnessed four major waves of protests in Iran.”
Demand from Europe
Addressing the Europeans, Khosrozadeh said: “Europe must reconsider its policy towards Iran. At present, appeasing the Tehran regime is the dominated policy. The Europeans relied on so-called “reformist” forces in the hope that the Islamic Republic would return to the international community and become a normal member. Reality showed that it was a huge mistake. A mistake that a number of Middle East experts and scientists as senior advisers to the German federal government made a significant contribution to. In the end, Khosrozadeh says: “The days of Islamic Republic are numbered. This is a good thing for Iran, the Middle East and the whole world.”
Translation of this post by Sahar. Interview of Marie Illner with Dr Behrouz Khosrozadeh Dr. Khosrozadeh was born in Bushehr and graduated from Saadat high school (mother of schools in south of Iran). From 1990 to 2003 studied political science, economics and law in Goettingen University in Germany. He currently works at Institute for Democracy Research of Goettingen University.