By Kayhan Life Staff
The nationwide protests in Iran sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa (Zhina) Amini – who died on Sept. 16 while in the custody of the morality police — have entered their third month.
Despite the brutal crackdown against the protesters, the Islamic Republic riot police, plainclothes Basij (volunteer militia), security teams, and various law enforcement units have failed to scare people off the streets.
Iran’s security apparatus is facing four serious problems.
There have been reports of desertion in the rank and file of the various forces deployed to crush the recent protests, with others having resigned or failed to report for duty.
Most police, Basij, and security forces have been spread too thin in the past two months, with many working long shifts while the number of deaths among those deployed to the streets has increased.
There have also been reports of an increasing number of sabotage operations of the Islamic Republic’s strategic installations.
In addition, the Islamic Republic has faced a marked increase in cyber-attacks on its institutions by foreign sources.
The protesters’ innovative tactics to defy security units deployed to the streets have posed a new challenge to the state. Some tactics are particular to the new generation of street protesters.
According to Brigadier General Mohammad Abdollahpour, the commander of Gilan’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Qods Force (IRGC-QF), most protesters have been aged between 15 and 25 years old.
In comments reported on Oct. 11 by the Diyar-Emrooz news agency, based in Rasht, northern Iran, General Abdollahpour said: “Reports show that most agitators in the country are between 15 and 25 years old, and 95 percent of the leaders of the unrest were trained in this province.”
Generation Z (Gen Z for short, born between the mid-1990s and early 2010s) are joined by older Iranians who have participated in previous protests, including the wave of demonstrations in the summer of 2009 disputing the reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and the December 2017 unrest which marked a new chapter in the fight against the Islamic Republic.
The inability of the regime to crush recent protests even after blocking the internet has baffled think tanks at various Islamic Republic Institutions.
Some officials argue that most street protesters are “gamers,” hobbyists who play interactive video games. As a result, they have banned computer games.
By blaming computer games for the ongoing protests, Iranian officials fail to understand that their incompetence and brutal treatment of the public are the source of anger, discontent and frustration expressed by the young generations.
Iranian authorities argue that young protesters have been using computer games as models to practice their fight strategy and tactics.
The Islamic Republic’s usual heavy-handed methods to silence the public are no longer working.
Discontents and deaths among the state security forces, particularly those involved in crushing the recent protests, are far greater than authorities expected.
According to unofficial sources, there has been a significant increase in the number of military rank and file charged with dereliction of duty, acting against national security, and working against the state.
State officials have reportedly lost confidence in the units in charge of brutalizing protesters, particularly security forces personnel.
Meanwhile, the dispute between the families of the disabled veterans, and those killed in the Iran-Iraq War (1980-88) and the Islamic Republic has reportedly grown into a full-blown conflict in the past two months.
The Basij forces are also spread too thin. Many families have reportedly forbidden a household Basij member from participating in operations that brutalize protesters. Some reports even suggest that several families of Basij members have turned against the regime.
The Islamic Republic state has lost its principal social support, prompting Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to issue stark warnings in his lengthy speeches and the commander-in-chief of the Iranian Army, Major General Seyyed Abdolrahim Mousavi, to describe the “unexpected deterioration” of the military as a divine test.
The death of 70 of its members in the past two months has delivered a massive blow to the country’s security forces, who have posed a small challenge to the mass protests.
In comments reported by the Tehran-based Farda News on Nov. 26, Ahmad-Reza Pourkhaghan, the head of the Armed Forces Judiciary Organization, said: “No harm will come to the state as long as there is the Basij.”
“Unfortunately, enemies’ elements have infiltrated the state,” He added. “There are many officials in various areas who have not heeded the words of the wise old man.”
Islamic Republic officials refuse to accept or admit that no one has infiltrated the state apparatus. While many in the security and law enforcement forces do not want to side with the state against the protesters, others have joined the people.
The new wave of resistance against the Islamic Republic regime includes autonomous “localized uprising” in various neighborhoods across the country and “honorable sabotage,” targeting government-owned companies and military installations.
Kayhan London understands that acts of sabotage have not been limited to refineries, power stations, and military installations but also to government-owned industrial and mining companies, many of which have beefed up security at their buildings and offices.
Some military organizations have reportedly asked the Iranian Army for help.
On Nov. 23, Kayhan London tweeted: “Honorable sabotage disrupted the Mobin Petrochemicals’ seawater pipeline and the Damavand Petrochemicals’ second steam unit, causing a massive drop in the production of ethane gas, costing the regime $2.5 million every day.”
“Security has increased at the South Pars [north Dome Gas-Condensate] field in Asaluyeh [in the southern province of Bushehr]. Employees are closely monitored.” Kayhan added.
Another tweet on Nov. 26 by Kayhan London included footage of a building engulfed in fire. The caption said: “The office for Islamic Propaganda in Pole-Dokhtar in [the western] province of Lorestan.”
In January, the sudden resignation of Colonel Holako Ahmadian, the commander of the Iranian Army’s 65th Airborne Special Forces Brigade (NOHED) — commonly known as the “Green Berets” — shocked and surprised people in Iran and abroad.
Ahmadian’s problems with the senior military commanders started after he refused to send his troops to the streets to crack down on protesters in November 2019.
A tweet on Jan. 14 by Kayhan London said: ‘Exclusive report: ‘Colonel Holako Ahmadian knows to say what, where and when.’ A source told Kayhan London: ‘After the embezzlement case against [the former commander of the armed forces Major General Attaollah] Salehi’s son [Ammar Salehi], many people in the Army realized that some senior officials are lining their pockets.”
In a meeting with members of the Basij forces on Nov. 26, Mr. Khamenei said the country’s officials must “be vigilant,” adding “they must be alert to what happens in, outside, and around the country. What happens around the country is important to us.”
“Be mindful of the enemy infiltrating the Basij force,” Khamenei said at the gathering. “You must be alert to this. Sometimes a corrupt or devious person gains access to a group.”
Khamenei also said that some regime insiders suggested that he talk to the U.S. to end the current unrest. The idea seems to have originated with reformists who want to save themselves and the regime.