Against all odds, heroic Iranians continue their resistance

By Melanie Phillips

While the west puts its feet up over the holiday season, the heroic people of Iran are continuing to put their lives on the line in their attempt to bring down the tyrannical Iranian regime.

The current wave of protests across the country started last month. The courage and determination of the people are staggering. According to a report published on the Persian-language section of the Al Arabiya news website, some 1360 people have been murdered so far by Iranian security forces, principally the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). The information is said to come from clandestine sources inside the IRGC.

The U.S. Special Representative for Iran, Brian Hook, said that many thousands have also been wounded in the unrest and at least 7,000 detained in Iran’s prisons.

Gateway Pundit has collected details that have been emerging, written by editors of The Free Iran Herald.

Corpses of missing protesters have been pulled out of the rivers, some bearing marks of torture. 150 doctors inside Iran have signed an open letter critiquing the regime for its abuses against the protestors.

“‘Regular and disguised military, law enforcement and security forces opened fire on the people and used the destruction and rioting of a few opportunists as an excuse to attribute the rightful protest of the people to foreign [powers]. Our country with God-given abundant resources should have enjoyed a much better situation than it does now. Unfortunately, our statesmen with costly and fruitless adventurism have repeatedly pushed the country to the brink of the abyss,’ the statement read.”

Yet still the protests continue. Astoundingly, the people are undaunted.

Videos on social media showed Iranian protesters chanting political slogans under the eyes of security forces during a memorial on Thursday for a man killed in the demonstrations.

Masih Alinejad tweeted: “Here people are chanting that after so many deaths we are not going to compromise with criminals, we won’t worship a murdering leader. Thousands of basij & security forces deployed in major cities today to stop any demonstrations but that didn’t stop people.”

The images showed one woman shouting “death to the dictator” as people around her ran through the cemetery in the city of Karaj. Other videos showed a helicopter flying nearby and security forces around the cemetery.

The Jerusalem Post reported that the regime once again began shutting off internet access to prevent the protesters communicating with each other.

“The semi-official news agency ILNA quoted an informed source at the Communications and Information Technology Ministry as saying the shutdown was ordered by ‘security authorities’ and covered the Alborz, Kurdestan and Zanjan provinces in central and western Iran and Fars in the south.

“Social media users are using the hashtags ‘see-you-Thursday’ and ‘December 5th’ in calls for protests and have begun using handwritten leaflets with hashtags in preparation for the internet outage, according to Radio Farda. A video on Twitter shows hundreds of leaflets that are being handed out by activists.”

These protests represent the best chance there is of avoiding a terrible war with Iran by bringing down the regime – the most lethal source of state terrorism in the world, and which has been perpetrating war against the west for the last four decades.

The protests were given a shot in the arm by President Trump withdrawing the US from the Obama-brokered nuclear deal – a shocking arrangement which would enable the regime to develop nuclear weapons with only a decade or so delay – and reimposing sanctions instead.

And yet British and western European leaders plus various elements in the US, who have pursued a policy over recent years of appeasing the regime, are attempting to undermine this attempt to neutralise it.

Despite the regime’s increasing belligerency in the region, its direct threat to western interests and the clear evidence that it is cheating on the nuclear deal, the appeasers have been trying to find ways of circumventing sanctions in order to keep trading with Iran – thereby continuing to pour money into its unconscionable activities.

America’s sanctions are badly crippling Iran. Because of the hardships these are causing, the appeasement crowd claimed they would turn the Iranian people against America. Wrong again.

“On December 15th, Ali Rabiei, a spokesman for regime president Hassan Rouhani, admitted in an interview given to a regime newspaper that Brian Hook, the US State Department official responsible for Iranian affairs, was correct when he said that the Iranian people did not oppose US sanctions against the Khomeinist regime. ‘The people did not chant slogans against the sanctions. Instead they chanted slogans against our political system,’ Rabiei was quoted as saying.”

According to Brian Hook: “There was one video I saw of an Iranian woman climbing a pole that had a ‘death to America’ banner on it, and she pulled it down. Instead of seeing images of the American president burned, you saw videos of the supreme leader’s images being burned.”

Kylie Moore-Gilbert, a British-Australian academic who has been held in Iran’s Evin prison for 15 moths of a ten year sentence believed to be handed down on charges of spying, has now gone on a hunger strike after losing an appeal.

As the Telegraph reports, she is being held in the jail next to Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian charity worker who was charged with espionage while on holiday in Tehran visiting family with her daughter Gabriella and has served more than three years of a five-year sentence.

According to Ms Zahari-Radcliffe’s family, she visited Ms Moore-Gilbert after she had been in hunger strike for two days. “Before the guards pulled them apart, Nazanin was able to tell Kylie that the world is watching her story and it will be ok.”

But that’s the point. If these prisoner-hostages are to survive this, if the regime is to be made to realise it is not in its interests to take and jail such western hostages, and if there is any chance of bringing that regime down, it is absolutely crucial that the west shows in every possible way that it is supporting the protesters and the hostages – and that it gives teeth to such support by taking condign action against the regime.

Yet apart from the US sanctions, the west has not been doing so. Appallingly, Britain and Europe have instead actually tried to give the regime support and encouragement.

Britain’s newly empowered prime minister, Boris Johnson, is suggesting he is ushering in a new kind of politics that breaks with the patterns of the past. High time, then, for Britain to break with its shameful policy of appeasing Iran’s Islamic revolutionary regime and to stand instead with the heroic Iranian people.

December 27, 2019 | 3 Comments » | 413 views

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3 Comments / 3 Comments

  1. And whom does Time magazine choose to honour as the human being of the year? Why St Greta, of course! What a travesty.

  2. From the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. Supports Melanie’s report.

    Another Economic Depression in Iran
    Jerusalem Center – Iran Desk, December 19, 2019
    Another Economic Depression in Iran
    On December 8, 2019, President Hassan Rouhani presented the proposal for the Iranian state budget for 2020 to the Majlis (parliament) – one of the most meager budgets seen since the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s. The total budget is $38.8 billion, which demonstrates that the budget has been severely cut in comparison to recent years. The rest of the economic data indicates an even more challenging situation for Iran than during the Iran-Iraq war.

    Rouhani referred to the budget as a “budget of resistance and perseverance against sanctions.”

    The budget proposal was submitted at a time when Iran’s economy is already suffering from inflation of at least 41 percent. The World Bank has recently estimated that Iran’s economic growth will plummet by 9.5 percent during 2020.1

    Mahmoud Vaezi, Chief of Staff of President Rouhani’s office, said the U.S. sanctions did not allow the government to submit a more robust budget. In fact, the budget only promised to pay the salaries of civil servants and pensioners, as well as a small subsidy to a fraction of citizens, and allocated only meager sums for projects already in their final stages of completion. The new budget proposal did not allocate any money for new projects. According to Vaezi, only returning Iran to a pre-sanctions level of oil sales of 2.8 million to 3 million barrels per day (b/d) can improve the current economic situation.2

    Recently, not only have Iran’s oil exports been nearly halted because of the sanctions, but OPEC’s latest oil export report shows a decline of 45,000 b/d in Iranian oil production. This indicates an average oil production of 2.1 million barrels a day, while domestic demand is about 1.8 million barrels a day, leaving only about 300,000 barrels a day for export.3

    The new budget proposal is based on the export of about a million barrels of oil and gas per day, but the British Kpler commodity intelligence company, which tracks global oil ship movements, reported that Iran’s oil and gas exports through November stood at only 213,000 b/d.

    The budget proposal says that if Iran will not put money into its coffers in the coming year from selling a million b/d, then the government may once again have to resort to dipping into the state’s reserve funds.4

    The Tasnim News Agency, affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards, reported that the government had asked to pull $8 billion from the state’s reserves for the coming year. The Iranian government even demanded that parliament not allocate any more money to the reserves fund,5 even though the fund’s mission explicitly states that Iran must set aside up to 36 percent of annual sales of oil for this fund for future generations.

    In addition, the budget proposal for the coming year indicates a thousand percent growth in government debt to the Central Bank in just one year. This reinforces the widespread suspicions among the Iranian people that the Central Bank, with the agreement of the regime’s leadership, is printing money without any backing, and this is causing an alarming increase in currency liquidity. Iranian economists say liquidity has risen 26 percent as compared to the summer of 2018.

    Iranian currency
    Stacks of dollar bills and Iranian currency, what amount to dollars and cents. (Iranian press)
    As explained by the Atlantic Council last year, “Among the main factors causing liquidity growth in Iran are: oil income rise, the Iranian government’s populist agendas such as the mass housing construction scheme called the Mehr Housing Project, and most importantly, the increasing ratio of quasi money—assets that can be converted into cash—to liquidity.”6

    The Atlantic Council explained that the liquidity and “quasi money” crisis can be blamed on the mushrooming role played by the “military, religious, and revolutionary foundations in the economy by establishing or controlling private banks and credit and financial institutions.”7

    The new budget will allocate only about 250,000 billion rials for the creation of jobs next year. The amount shows a 50 percent decrease over the current year in this sector.8 The government hopes the budget will allow for the growth of 955,000 jobs while at the same time, more than 60 percent of the millions of young Iranian university graduates remain jobless. As the young become more educated, the more their unemployment rates increase. More than 80 percent of the millions of female university graduates are unemployed. Even these statistics are generous. According to Iranian government data, a person who worked only one hour during an entire week is considered a jobholder and not unemployed.

    Non-Oil Exports Drop Too

    Tehran’s trading room also indicated, in its latest official figures, a 14 percent reduction of non-oil exports in March through the start of November 2019. In those eight months, Iran exported only $27 billion overseas, compared to $31.5 billion in the same period last year.9

    In addition, the latest Iranian Ministry of Industry report on the period from March to the end of October 2019 indicates a reduction of more than 50 percent in overseas investments in the Iranian automotive industry. The report notes that in the same period last year until before the U.S. exit from the nuclear agreement with Iran, the Iranian auto industry had attracted $1.884 billion of investments, while this year it plunged to $784 million. Most of the investments were from China, Iraq, and Turkey. The report adds that Iran produced far fewer vehicles this year, compared to the years before the U.S. exit from the nuclear agreement. Iran has produced only 394,000 vehicles in the last seven months, which shows a decline of more than 35 percent over the same period last year.10

    In the process, the value of the Iranian rial has dropped again in the past two weeks and plunged to a new low. A U.S. dollar sells for almost 130,000 Iranian rials. The gloomy forecast for U.S. dollars returning to Iran in the coming year as a result of the sanctions is another reason behind the recent weakening of the value of Iranian money.

    In addition, if Iran does not comply with the FATF (The Financial Action Task Force) demands by February 2020, it could face an even more difficult situation. The Iranian regime’s conservative camp has so far blocked the Rouhani government fulfilling FATF’s demands, and the decision on the issue remains stuck in the regime’s Guardian Council. President Rouhani is repeatedly demanding that the conservatives make way for state concurrence with FATF’s demands, but currently, the conservatives have the upper hand. The lack of Iran’s compliance to the FATF charter could further worsen its economic situation in the coming months, and even bank accounts of Iranian citizens abroad may be closed.

    Morteza Bakhtiari, Director of the Imam Khomeini Relief Foundation (aid to the poor), said this week that extreme poverty is expanding in dimensions not yet seen in the country. He stated that his organization’s data on the lives of the poor in 32 cities, especially in Kurdish areas, are showing that people are no longer able to buy bread, and it has been years since they could afford clothes. These figures relate to the situation two years ago, the senior official emphasized, and since then, conditions have worsened considerably. His remarks came in response to President Rouhani, who claimed this week that there was no more absolute poverty in Iran.11

    * * *


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