On the one side there is the Islamic regime, armed with the Revolutionary Guard and the Basij forces. On the other side there are the demonstrators, armed with increasing enthusiasm and a strong desire to bring about a real change in the political order in Iran but lacking visible leadership and a cohesive ideology. Two points: firstly why did the riots break out and secondly how it is being handled.

Firstly: Why did the riots broke out now? There seems be a wide and diverse range of plausible causes that are a combination of several main factors: cost of living, anniversaries, student activism, mosque and state and even environmental. May I suggest that the progressive liquidation of ISIS also known as Da'ash was the important catalyst?

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On November 21 2017 the Iranian Qods Force commander Qassem Suleimani announced the liquidation of Da'ash. Despite this declaration the Islamic regime led by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei didn’t approve any cutting in the costs of the trans-national Shiite militia system. On the contrary Iran has stepped up its aid. The Iranian population pay for these at the expense of their standard of living, a legitimate cause to demonstrate and riot especially in a cold winter.


Hamas and Hezbollah that Israel knows operating in Gaza, Lebanon and Syria are a tip of the iceberg. There are the Houthis in Yemen and the Fatimiyat Fadhim (Afghan Shiites). Some of whom are Afghan migrant workers in Iran, and some who are Afghans recruited in Afghanistan. Although the Islamic regime claims that it is a holy mission in the form of guarding the tomb of Zaynab, it has been proven that this is a purely political mission - the rescue of Assad's regime. These mercenaries were recruited thanks to economic incentives.

In addition to this militia, the Iranian MASHAM also operates militias composed of Pakistanis (Zinibion) and Iraqis. The majority of who are subordinate to the umbrella organization, al-Shazib al-Sha'bi, and local Syrian militias and even Indian Malaysians.

Money may not be everything but it is when the average Iranian is suffering. Local politics are linked to money in this regard through the death of former President Rafsanjani's. Rafsanjani was a balancing figure in the regime; he was careful to preserve the republican character of the regime, and warned that emphasizing the Islamic character alone would keep the public away from the regime.

President Rouhani was unable to replace Rafsanjani in the eyes of the public. On the contrary as has been evident from his statements in recent months, as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He has expressed support for Iran's expansion program in the region, in which Iran finances various and diverse militias. This is at the expense of the standard of living of the average Iranian.

Secondly: How is the situation being handled? Internationally very little is being done, other than American verbal support the rest of the world is by and large being quite.Domestically the Islamic regime, armed with the Revolutionary Guard and the Basij forces do not want to repeat the Shah's mistake of 1979. So the orders are to kill as few demonstrators as possible in order not to fuel the demonstrations in two ways: the funeral turns itself into a demonstration; and killing demonstrators creates alienation between the people and the regime.

Then there is the external scapegoat to unite the people with the regime. In a speech on January 2 Ayatollah Khamenei also demonstrated waving "Death to Saudi Arabia" and "Death to America" flags. This was followed by denials; where the commander of the Planning and Budgeting Committee Ja'afari attributed the anti-regime demonstrations to Da'ash, Saudi Arabia, the United States and Israel.

Even if the demonstrations do not succeed, and apparently they are unable to rise to a national level, the regime will not be what it once was. The public will be under more surveillance. This will generate a pressure pot likely to erupt in further protests. Especially when opponents of the regime notice that an opportunity exists for example, at the future time of Khamenei's death.

Past experience in Iran shows that there is mood for change and maybe even a revolution but to succeed but it needs a cross-spectral coalition and this is lacking.The protests are circling in the bazaar without the apparent active participation of intellectuals and clerics. If these don’t join the demonstrators, then it will be difficult to bring about a real change in the current regime in Iran.


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