By Kayhan Life Staff
Fearing that the chronic economic crisis could spark another nationwide protest, the country’s security apparatus, particularly the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and the Basij (volunteer paramilitary forces), have been trying to reassure supporters of the regime that they are ready to crush any unrest.
Security forces appear to be conducting exercises in anticipation of further protests in cities across the country. By delivering revolutionary speeches, conducting nationwide anti-riot drills, and fast-tracking executions, the regime appears to be looking to intimidate the public and dissuade them from engaging in any future protests.
According to the Tehran-based Khabar Online news agency, Hojatoleslam Jaffar Raayati — representative of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to the IRGC forces in the northern province of Golestan — said: “The enemy has been trying to pervert our culture and change the revolutionary mindset of our youths. We must fight against this onslaught.”
Mr. Raayati made the comments at a “gathering of the associate professors of the moral education system” on July 14, during which he praised “Imam Khamenei” for defending Islamic values and revolutionary principles.
A day earlier, Colonel Siavash Moslemi, the commander of the Karbala Division in the northern province of Mazandaran, chaired a meeting held in the provincial capital Sari of retired and veteran IRGC officers who served in the Iran-Iraq War (1980-88).
“Today, the anti-revolutionary forces continue to plot against the Islamic Republic,” Colonel Mohammad Aghajari was quoted by the Mehran New Agency as saying at the meeting. “The IRGC safeguards the revolution and the Velayat-e Faqih [the supreme Islamic Jurisconsult].”
Mr. Khamenei’s former representative to the IRGC in Mazandaran, Hojatoleslam Abolghasem Yaghoobi, who was also at the meeting, said: “There is no retirement in the IRGC. We must cherish the sacrifices of 6,000 veterans and martyrs in Mazandaran.”
Another veteran of the Iran-Iraq War, Brigadier Seyyed Mohammad Kasaian, reassured Colonel Siavash Moslemi that all former IRGC commanders would work closely with the Karbala Division in Mazandaran to protect and promote the revolution and the IRGC.
In an interview with the Tehran-based Borna News Agency on July 11, Lieutenant Colonel Zatollah Fathi, the commander of the Basij forces in the city of Mahmoudabad, in Mazandaran, said his forces were ready to deal with any unrest. He also announced a series of security and crowd-control drills and exercises.
Footage recently shared on social media reportedly showed members of the Basij force conducting an antiriot drill around the Babaei Highway in the eastside of Tehran. Most of those in the clip work at factories owned by the IRGC.
Mahabad Prison authorities in Mahabad County (northwestern province of West Azerbaijan) conducted antiriot exercises on July 6, according to the Young Journalists Club (YJC). Prison guards, local firefighters, provincial security units, and emergency services took part in the drill held in the prison yard.
“Every country’s security forces have to deal with people who, for various reasons including being manipulated by others, incite civil disturbance,” the YJC quoted Colonel Alizadeh, the acting commander of Mahabad security forces, as saying. “It is imperative that trained units be ready at all times to restore law and order while protecting lives.”
“The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has revised its growth projections for the Middle East and Central Asia downwards, as economies were hurt worse than expected by the double blow of lower oil prices and the coronavirus crisis,” Reuters reported on July 13.
Some political observers predict a fresh wave of nationwide protests in Iran. Workers at the Haft Tapeh Sugarcane Argo Industrial Complex, near Ahvaz, the capital of the southwestern province of Khuzestan, have been protesting for weeks, demanding back pay and better work conditions, according to the Tehran-based Nasim Online news agency.
In comments reported by Asr-e Iran news website on July 8, Seyyed Hamidreza Ghoreishi, the head of the Basij units for the ministries and the administrative offices of the IRGC’s Army of Mohammad Rasulullah, said: “The Supreme National Security Council has ruled that Basij forces should safeguard ministries and government offices. Their rapid-reaction units are ready to deal with any situation.”
A recent statement by the Prosecutor’s office in West Azerbaijan Province regarding the execution of two prisoners convicted of bombings in 2010, said: “During the transition phase, the Judiciary would deal decisively with agitators who threaten the country’s security and others whose hands are drenched in the blood of our innocent citizens.”
This article was translated and adapted from Persian by Fardine Hamidi.