Moon of Alabama — Dec 31, 2017
In Iran – Regime Change Agents Hijack Economic Protests we looked at the developing U.S.-Israeli operation to instigate a revolt in Iran. What follows are a few more background points and a view on the developments since. A color revolution or revolt in Iran have only little chances of success. But even as they fail they can be used as a pretext for additional sanctions and other anti-Iranian measures. The current incidents are thus only one part of a much larger plan.
The “western” democracies are used to distinguish political parties as left or right with fixed combinations of economic and cultural policies. The “left” is seen as preferring a social economy that benefits the larger population and as cultural liberal or progressive. The right is seen as cultural conservative with a preference for a free market economy that favors the richer segments of a nation.
The political camps in Iran are different.
The simplified version: The conservatives, or “principalists”, are cultural conservative but favor economic programs that benefit the poor. Their support base is the rural people as well as the poorer segments of the city dwellers. The last Iranian president near to them was Mahmoud Ahmedinejad. One of his major policies was the implementation of cash payments to the needy as replacement of general and expensive subsidies on oil products and foodstuff. The current Iranian president Hassan Rouhani is a member of the “reformist” camp. His support base are the merchants and the richer parts of the society. He is culturally (relative) progressive but his economic policies are neoliberal. The new budget he introduced for the next year cuts back on the subsidies for the poor Ahmedinejad had introduced. It will increase prices for fuel and basic foodstuff up to 30-40%.
The protests on December 28 and 29 were about these and other economic issues. Such protests have regularly occurred in Iran throughout the decades. But the current ones were soon hijacked by small groups which chanted slogans against the Iranian system and against the strong Iranian engagement in Syria and Palestine. These are not majority positions of the 80 million inhabitants of Iran:
According to the poll, 67.9% say Iran should increase backing for anti-IS groups, up from 59.8% a year ago. Meanwhile, a majority of 64.9% backs the deployment of Iranian military personnel to Syria to help the regime of Bashar al-Assad, up slightly from 62.7% a year ago.
The small groups that hijacked the protests against Rouhani’s economic policies were heavily promoted by the usual suspects of U.S. influence operations. Avaaz, the RAND cooperation, Human Rights Watch and others immediately jumped onto the bandwagon. (True to form HRW’s Ken Roth used a picture of a pro-government rally to illustrate the much smaller anti-government protests.) The smaller groups that hijacked and publicized the demonstration seem well coordinated. But they are far from a genuine movement or even a majority.
On the morning of December, 30 large demonstrations in support of the Iranian republic were taking place in several cities. In Tehran several thousand people took part.
The self described “Iran junkie” of the Brookings Center for Middle East Policy, Suzanne Maloney, interpreted these as counter-demonstrations to the small gatherings the night before:
Suzanne Maloney @MaloneySuzanne – 12:40 PM – 30 Dec 2017
The Islamic Republic has a well-oiled machine for mobilizing pro-regime rallies (Rouhani himself headlined one in 1999 after student protests.) What’s interesting is that it was deployed almost immediately this time.
The “Iran junkie” and “expert” did not know that yearly pro-government demonstrations are held in Iran on each 9th of Dey (Iranian calendar) since 2009 and are planned well in advance. They commemorate the defeat of the CIA color revolution attempt in 2009. That attempt had followed the reelection of the president Ahmedinejad. It had used the richer segment of the Iranian society in north Tehran as its stooges. It is not yet clear what social strata if any, this attempt is using.