Rufat Ahmadzada
Observing the Caucasus, Iran and Middle East

Iran protests are movement for freedom and democracy

18 November 2019, Iran.

The protests in Iran are not only an expression of public anger at increased gasoline prices. The growing demonstrations almost in every city and town show that Iranians are fed up with four decades of the regime’s failed economic and political policies. Peaceful protestors are expressing their dissatisfaction with the regime and chanting the late Shah’s name. Crown Prince Pahlavi showed swift solidarity with the Iranian people by calling for political change in Iran. In a tweet, Crown Prince Pahlavi clearly showed the root causes of the protests. It is not simply public anger at the gasoline prices, contrary to the claims of some Western experts on Iran. Although they started that way, the demonstrations have become a movement for the rights of the people, and the public chants show that the protestors are demanding political change and are dissatisfied with the regime’s policies in general.

Amidst the protests, the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei lashed out against the protestors, branding them “thugs”, “bandits” and “enemies of the state”. Once again the regime showed its unwillingness to hear public demands and chose the characteristic way of threats. Khamenei’s threats show that the Iranian regime is about to suppress the demonstrations with the notorious security apparatus, mainly the paramilitary Basij and other military units. Several innocent protestors have already been shot and killed by regime snipers.

The claims of some Iran “experts” of a power struggle in Iran between the so-called “reformists” and “conservatives” have once more turned out to be wrong. Indeed, many Western leaders and politicians believed this nonsensical idea due to the pro-regime lobby group propaganda in Western political capitals. Iranians are against the regime’s Middle East adventure in which billions of dollars have been invested in pumping out pro-regime militias in Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen and Syria. As money has flowed to sustain the regime’s proxies in the region, Iran’s economy and infrastructure have been crumbling, water resources have been drying up, unemployment has been surging and poverty increasing due to negligence and mismanagement. The people have said “enough” and bravely taken to the streets once again to demand that the authorities respect their dignity and rights.

The international community must support the people of Iran in the face of the coming brutal crackdown, as this is a human obligation for every free-thinking individual. So far the US government has come out with strong support for the protestors. Human rights organisations, the European Union and other well known-respected political institutions are obliged to support the ongoing demonstrations and warn Iranian regime officials of the consequences of a brutal crackdown on the people.

Crown Prince, Reza Pahlavi


Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi is a well known advocate for democratic political changes in Iran and has dedicated his life to defending the rights of the people. In recent years Iranian protestors have been chanting his name, which is a sign of his growing influence among society. This time people from all ethnic backgrounds and religions in towns and cities across Iran are taking to the streets and protesting. It is clear that the Iranian youth consider Mr Pahlavi the true and only representative of the opposition in the entire country. His views and visions resonate strongly among young people, as democratisation, freedom, prosperity and respect for human rights are centrepieces of his general approach to facilitating political change in Iran. Today, Mr Pahlavi can be called the only political leader capable of uniting Iranians, regardless of ethnic background and religion. Despite some efforts to promote other political groups and leaders abroad, Iranians are mainly concentrated around Reza Pahlavi. Over the years others have failed to become attractive political leaders who can defend the rights of the people.

The Iran protests are a political movement for democracy and political change and where they will lead is uncertain. But they have shown that there is strong mobilisation within society and Iranians have taken to the streets, risking their lives. The international community’s response is going to be crucial and unlike the weak responses to violence in Iraq by Iranian controlled militia groups, this time there is no excuse. Khamenei justified his brutal interventions in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq on the grounds that if those countries spun out of their control, they would see protests inside Iran. He knows that the people are against the Velayete Faqih system and keeping them under pressure for a long time is not sustainable.

About the Author
A native of Azerbaijan, I write extensively on political developments in the Caucasus, Iran and the Middle East, including for the website I have a Masters' degree in International Politics & Human Rights from City, University of London.
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