Iranian regime likely to survive the protests, Israeli official predicts

Iran has been engulfed in widespread protests against the regime since mid-September after 22-year-old Mahsa Amini was killed in police custody.

 Members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) attend an IRGC ground forces military drill in the Aras area, East Azerbaijan province, Iran, October 17, 2022. (photo credit: IRGC/WANA/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)
Members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) attend an IRGC ground forces military drill in the Aras area, East Azerbaijan province, Iran, October 17, 2022.
(photo credit: IRGC/WANA/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)

The Iranian regime will likely survive the protests that have roiled the country for the past three months and will continue to remain in power for years to come, according to Brig.-Gen. Amit Saar, head of the IDF Military Intelligence Research Department.

The Iranian regime will manage to survive these protests,” he said Monday at the Gazit Institute Conference in Tel Aviv. “It has constructed very strong tools for dealing with such protests.”

Iran has been engulfed in widespread protests against the regime since mid-September when 22-year-old Mahsa Amini was killed in police custody after she was detained by the “morality police” for not properly wearing a hijab.

The Islamic Republic has been hit by nationwide protests in the past, Saar said, adding that the length and violence of the current riots, along with the young ages of those taking part and their willingness to use violence against regime figures, makes them different.

The reason behind the protests – the legitimacy of the regime itself rather than elections or the economy – is a big worry for those in power, he said.

 Protesters in Iran remove their head coverings in defiance of the Islamic Republic's laws as protests continue to grow despite regime crackdown, November 2022. (credit: 1500tasvir) Protesters in Iran remove their head coverings in defiance of the Islamic Republic's laws as protests continue to grow despite regime crackdown, November 2022. (credit: 1500tasvir)

The lack of fear by the young generation – at least 50 members of Iranian security forces have been killed by protesters across the country – will remain a major concern for the regime, Saar said.

But, he said, “I think that even if these protests wane, the reasons for them will remain, and thus the Iranian regime will have a problem for years to come.”

In addition to dealing with the ongoing protests, Iran is entering the coming year facing global crises including the war in Ukraine.

“For the first time ever, we are seeing Iran providing Russia with advanced weaponry for its war in Ukraine,” Saar said. "The rapprochement between Iran and Russia comes from a Russian need - this is a dramatic change. They knew that there would be international condemnation but it was a clear strategic decision."

Iran is supplying not only attack drones to Russia but has been reported to be prepared to send short-range ballistic missiles which would give a significant battlefield boost to Moscow.

But, he said, "the Iranians will exact a price from the Russians for their assistance in the war in Ukraine, this is what we need to look at.”

Iranian personnel has also been deployed to the area to help Russian forces use the Iranian loitering munitions.

Tehran bulding its capabilities for a war against Israel

With Israel remaining the central enemy, Tehran is continuing to build its capabilities for a war against the Jewish state. While Iran continues to strengthen its proxy groups across the region, it is also building up its power to fight a symmetrical war against Israel.

Iran is also at the most advanced stage in its nuclear program than ever before with more knowledge, centrifuges and plants.

“Iran has complete control over the enrichment process, and it only requires the political decision to go for the bomb, there is no technical impediment,” he said, adding that though it will still take “a few years” to weaponize, “it’s a totally different program than what we’ve seen in the past.”