Saturday, 30 December 2017

Media coverage of civil unrest in Iran

There is very little across the western media right now and naturally there is silence from Iran’s Press TV and indeed I can find nothing yet from RT or Sputnik.


This analysis was done by the very good Moon of Alabama. However, I think the disturbances have taken on a political nature since this was written.

I have not doubt that this is an attempt at regime change/colour revolution with American and Saudi-Israeli fingerprints all over it.

Iran - Regime Change Agents Hijack Economic Protests



29 December, 2017


Yesterday and today saw some small protests in Iran. They are probably the first stage of a large "regime change" operation run by the U.S. and Israel with the help of Iranian terrorist group.

Earlier this month the White House and the Zionist prepared for a new assault on Iran:
A delegation led by Israel's National Security Adviser met with senior American officials in the White House earlier this month for a joint discussion on strategy to counter Iran's aggression in the Middle East, a senior U.S. official confirmed to Haaretz.
Another report about the meeting quotes Israeli officials on the result:
"[T]he U.S. and Israel see eye to eye the different developments in the region and especially those that are connected to Iran. We reached at understandings regarding the strategy and the policy needed to counter Iran. Our understandings deal with the overall strategy but also with concrete goals, way of action and the means which need to be used to get obtain those goals."
This is probably a result of the above meeting:
Hundreds took to the streets of Iran’s second largest city of Mashad on Thursday to protest over high prices, shouting slogans against the government.
Videos posted on social media showed demonstrators in Mashad in northwest Iran, one of the holiest places in Shia Islam, chanting “death to (President Hassan) Rouhani” and “death to the dictator”.
The semi-official ILNA news agency and social media reported demonstrations in other cities in Razavi Khorasan Province, including Neyshabour and Kashmar.
video of that protest in Mashad showed some 50 people chanting slogans with more bystander just milling around.

Protests against the (neo-)liberal economic policies of the Rohani government in Iran are justified. Official unemployment in Iran is above 12% and there is hardly any economic growth. The people in the streets are not the only ones who are dissatisfied with this:
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has repeatedly criticized the government’s economic record, said on Wednesday that the nation was struggling with “high prices, inflation and recession”, and asked officials to resolve the problems with determination.
On Thursday and today the slogans of some protesters turned the call for economic relief into a call for regime change.

My hunch is that the usual suspects are behind these protests. Note that these started in several cities at the same time. This was not some spontaneous local uproar in one city but had some form of coordination.
Then there is this:
Carl Bildt‏ @carlbildt - 9:38 PM - 28 Dec 2017 from Rome, Lazio
Reports of signals of international satellite TV networks jammed in large cities of Iran. Would be sign of regime fear of today’s protests spreading.
A search in various languages finds exactly zero such "reports". Carl Bildt is a former Swedish prime minister. He was recruited in 1973 as a CIA informant and has since grown into a full blown U.S. asset. He was involved in the Ukraine coup and tried to personally profit from it.

The only response to Bildt's tweet was from one Riyad Swed‏ - @SwedRiyad who posted several videos of protests with one of them showing burning police car.


I am not sure the video is genuine. The account has some unusual attributes (active since September 2016, 655 tweets but only 32 followers?).

Just yesterday one lecture at the CCC "hacker" congress was about the British GHCQ Secret Service and its sock-puppet accounts on Twitter and Facebook. These are used for acquiring human intelligence and for running "regime change" operations. Page 14-18 of the slides (11:20 min) cite from obtained GCHQ papers which lists Iran as one of the targets. The speaker specifically notes a GCHQ account "@2009Iranfree" which was used in generating the protests in Iran after the reelection of then President Ahmedinejad.

Today, Friday and the weekly day off in Iran, several more protest took place in other cities. A Reuters report from today:
About 300 demonstrators gathered in Kermanshah after what Fars called a “call by the anti-revolution” and shouted “Political prisoners should be freed” and “Freedom or death”, while destroying some public property. Fars did not name any opposition groups.
...
Footage, which could not be verified, showed protests in other cities including Sari and Rasht in the north, Qom south of Tehran, and Hamadan in the west.
Mohsen Nasj Hamadani, deputy security chief in Tehran province, said about 50 people had rallied in a Tehran square and most left after being asked by police, but a few who refused were “temporarily detained”, the ILNA news agency reported.
Some of these protests have genuine economic reasons but get hijacked by other interests:
In the central city of Isfahan, a resident said protesters joined a rally held by factory workers demanding back wages.
The slogans quickly changed from the economy to those against (President Hassan) Rouhani and the Supreme Leader (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei),” the resident said by telephone.
...
Purely political protests are rare in Iran [...] but 
demonstrations are often held by workersover layoffs or non-payment of salaries and people who hold deposits in non-regulated, bankrupt financial institutions.
...
Alamolhoda, the representative of Ayatollah Khamenei in northeastern Mashhad, said 
a few people had taken advantage of Thursday’s protests against rising prices to chant slogans against Iran’s role in regional conflicts.
...
“Some people had came to express their demands, but 
suddenly, in a crowd of hundreds, a small group that did not exceed 50 shouted deviant and horrendous slogans such as ‘Let go of Palestine’, ‘Not Gaza, not Lebanon, I’d give my life (only) for Iran’,” Alamolhoda said.
Two videos posted by BBC Persian and others I have seen show only small active protest groups with a dozen or so people while many more are just standing by or film the people who are chanting slogans.

Videos published by the terrorist group Mujahedin-e Khalq [MEK], 12345, also show mostly small protests despite the MEK's claim of Tens of thousands of people chant “death to dictator". The MEK, or its "civilian" organization National Council of Resistance of Iran , seem to be most involved in the current protests. Its website is currently filled with the protest issue with a total of ten reports and its head figure issued a supportive statement:
Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the Iranian Resistance, saluted the heroic people of Kermanshah and other cities who rose up today chanting “death or freedom”, “death to Rouhani”, “death to the dictator”, and “political prisoners must be freed”, and protested against high prices, poverty and corruption.
She said, “Yesterday Mashhad, today Kermanshah, and tomorrow throughout Iran; this uprising has tolled the death knell for the overthrow of the totally corrupt dictatorship of the mullahs, and is the rise of democracy, justice and popular sovereignty.
This very early engagement of the MEK -its first report was published yesterday at 10:26 am- is extremely suspicious.
In 2012 it was reported that Israel had used the MEK terrorist organization to assassinate nuclear scientists in Iran:
On Thursday, U.S. officials speaking to NBC news claimed that Mossad agents were training members of the dissident terror group People’s Mujahedin of Iran in order assassinate Iranian nuclear scientists, adding that the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama was aware of the operation, but had no direct link to them.
The U.S. officials reportedly confirmed the link between Israel and the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (MEK), with one official saying: "All your inclinations are correct.”
In October a CATO Institute paper analyzed (and rejected) several options for U.S. handling Iran. Under Option Three: “Regime Change from Within” it noted:
In this approach, the United States would pressure the Iranian regime and simultaneously back groups that oppose it-whether the exiled extremist National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), pro-democracy Green Revolution factions, or ethnic minorities within Iran-a strategy advocates often compare to Reagan’s support for civil society groups in the Soviet Union.
...
[A] proponent of “coerced democratization,” the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Mark Dubowitz, urged President Trump to “go on the offensive against the Iranian regime” by 
“weakening the Iranian regime’s finances” through “massive economic sanctions,” while also “undermin[ing] Iran’s rulers by strengthening pro-democracy forces”inside Iran. This option appears to be gaining traction in the Trump administration’s ongoing Iran policy review and has received public support from Tillerson. CIA Director Mike Pompeo also favored such an approach during his time in Congress.
The MEK/NCRI noted that Senator Tom Cotton, who will likely replace CIA chief Pompeo when Pompeo moves to the State Department, issued a supportive statement for the protests.

The White House and the Netanyahoo regime agreed on a strategy towards Iran. Major members of the Trump administration are in favor of "regime change" by "pro-democracy forces" in Iran. A few weeks after an agreement was found, coordinated economic protests start in Iran which are soon hijacked by small groups of very active regime changers. A group of Iranian exile terrorists, well known for deadly collaboration with Israeli spies as well as for having operation cells in Iran, is highly engaged in the protest from very early on.

If this the "regime change" operation I presume, the protests will soon get bigger. 
When the people need money a few thousand dollars are enough to create a large crowd. Small groups will riot while hiding within the larger protests of maybe genuinely concerned people. The "western" media will engage with their usual pseudo liberal humanism and concern trolling. When the police in Iran tries to arrest those rioters who are raising havoc the media will scream "brutality". Some "martyr" will be created and iconified. Rumors of censorship and suppression will be raised (see Carl Bildt above), fake news will come from everywhere and hundreds of sock puppet Twitter and Facebook accounts will suddenly be "Iranian" and breathlessly report "from the scene" of their Langley offices.

For the Iranian politicians and police the issue is tricky. Economic protests are clearly justified with even Khameni voicing support for the issue. But rioting in the streets must be suppressed before it further escalates and becomes uncontrollable. Weapons on the protesters site firing in all directions may soon become a problem. The Mossad and the MEK are not shy of killing random people.

But the Islamic Republic in Iran has genuine support in large parts of the society. There are big civil organizations that support the government - not on every issue but in its general framework. Most Iranian's are proud nationalists and will be difficult to divide. If this is indeed the "regime change" attempt I suspect, I predict that it will fail.


Al-Jazeera, which is relatively sympathetic to Baghdad has written this as civil unrest because of food prices.

This is from Reuters


Price protests turn political in Iran as rallies spread


29 December, 2017

DUBAI (Reuters) - Demonstrators chanted anti-government slogans in several cities across Iran on Friday, Iranian news agencies and social media reports said, as price protests turned into the largest wave of demonstrations since nationwide pro-reform unrest in 2009.

Police dispersed anti-government demonstrators in the western city of Kermanshah as protests spread to Tehran and several other cities a day after rallies in the northeast, the semi-official news agency Fars said.

The outbreak of unrest reflects growing discontent over rising prices and alleged corruption, as well as concern about the Islamic Republic’s costly involvement in regional conflicts such as those in Syria and Iraq.

An official said a few protesters had been arrested in Tehran, and footage posted on social media showed a heavy police presence in the capital and some other cities.

Washington condemned the arrests. “The Iranian government should respect their people’s rights, including their right to express themselves,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a statement.

The U.S. State Department in a separate statement urged “all nations to publicly support the Iranian people and their demands for basic rights and an end to corruption.”

About 300 demonstrators gathered in Kermanshah after what Fars said was a “call by the anti-revolution.” They shouted: “Political prisoners should be freed” and “Freedom or death”, and some public property was destroyed. Fars did not name any opposition groups.

The protests in Kermanshah, the main city in a region where an earthquake killed over 600 people in November, took place a day after hundreds rallied in Iran’s second largest city Mashhad to protest at high prices and shout anti-government slogans.

Videos posted on social media showed demonstrators yelling, “The people are begging, the clerics act like God.”

Fars said there were protests in the cities of Sari and Rasht in the north, Qazvin west of Tehran and Qom south of the capital, and also in Hamadan in western Iran. It said many marchers who wanted to raise economic demands left the rallies after demonstrators shouted political slogans.

PRO-GOVERNMENT RALLIES PLANNED

State television said annual nationwide rallies and events were scheduled for Saturday to commemorate pro-government demonstrations held in 2009 to counter protests by reformists.

The Revolutionary Guards, which along with its Basij militia spearheaded a crackdown against the protesters in 2009, said in a statement carried by state media that there were efforts to repeat that year’s unrest but added: “The Iranian nation ... will not allow the country to be hurt.”

Mohsen Nasj Hamadani, deputy security chief in Tehran province, said about 50 people had rallied in a square but most had left after being asked to by police, while a few who refused were “temporarily detained,” the ILNA news agency reported.

In the central city of Isfahan, a resident said protesters had joined a rally held by factory workers demanding back-pay.

The slogans quickly changed from the economy to those against (President Hassan) Rouhani and the Supreme Leader (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei),” the resident said by telephone.

In Qom, a stronghold of the Shi‘ite clergy, footage posted on social media showed protesters attacking Ayatollah Khamenei by name. “Seyyed Ali should be ashamed and leave the country alone,” they chanted.

Protests were held also in the town of Quchan near the Turkmen border, and in Ahvaz, capital of oil-rich Khuzestan province, social media and Iranian news websites reported.

Police arrested 52 people in Thursday’s protests, Fars quoted a judicial official as saying in Mashhad, one of the holiest places in Shi‘ite Islam.

In social media footage, which could not be authenticated, riot police were seen using water cannon and tear gas to disperse crowds.

Openly political protests are rare in Iran, where security services are omnipresent.

The last unrest of national significance occurred in 2009 when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s re-election as president ignited eight months of street protests. Pro-reform rivals said the vote was rigged.

However, demonstrations are often held by workers over lay-offs or non-payment of salaries and by people who hold deposits in non-regulated, bankrupt financial institutions.

Prominent conservative cleric Ayatollah Ahmad Alamolhoda called earlier for tough action against the protests.

If the security and law enforcement agencies leave the rioters to themselves, enemies will publish films and pictures in their media and say that the Islamic Republic system has lost its revolutionary base in Mashhad,” the state news agency IRNA quoted Alamolhoda as saying.

DEATH TO DICTATOR”

Some social media videos showed demonstrators chanting “Death to Rouhani” and “Death to the dictator”. Protests were also held in at least two other northeastern cities.

Alamolhoda, the representative of Ayatollah Khamenei in Mashhad, said a few people had taken advantage of Thursday’s protests against rising prices to chant slogans against Iran’s role in regional conflicts.



Protests erupt in Iran over high cost of living

Hundreds demonstrate in Tehran, Kermanshah and other cities against economic inequality, unemployment and inflation.


29 December, 2017

Hundreds of protesters have rallied in several Iranian cities against rising prices, unemployment and economic inequality, according to anti-government activists and Iran's semi-state news agency Fars.

About 300 people protested in Kermanshah, a city in western Iran, on Friday, according to Fars.

Police intervened after protesters damaged public property, the news agency reported.

Protests also broke out in the capital Tehran, according to social media.

The protests came after an earlier demonstration in Mashhad, Iran's second-largest city, on Thursday drew "thousands" of residents, anti-government activists said on social media.

Rallies were also held in a handful of other cities to decry rising food prices and other economic issues.

The prices of several staples, including eggs, have risen by up to 40 percent in recent days, the Associated Press news agency said.

Eshaq Jahangiri, Iran's first vice president, acknowledged that "there is an increase in the prices of some products", but said "the government is working on fixing the causes of the high prices".

Jahangiri also cast doubt on whether the protests were solely motivated by economic issues.

"The people behind what is taking place think they will be able to harm the government, but when social movements and protests start in the street, those who have ignited them are not always able to control them," he said.

High unemployment

In August, the Iranian Central Bank said inflation had reached 10 percent, the Tehran Times newspaper reported at the time.

The unemployment rate reached a three-year high of 12.7 percent last year, according to the World Bank.

Adnan Tabatabai, a political analyst and co-founder of the Germany-based Center for Applied Research in Partnership with the Orient, wrote on Twitter that the protests "are driven by socioeconomic grievances, not political aspiration".

"Peaceful sit-ins, strikes & gatherings in front of ministries & state institutions have happened regularly in various parts of the country, as people continue to have unresolved/unaddressed economic grievances," Tabatabai wrote.

Still, the protests have also been conspicuous for their anti-government slogans.

On social media, anti-government activists said protesters had chanted for the release of political prisoners, while others reportedly shouted, "Death to Rouhani", referring to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, said AFP news agency.

Rouhani, who was re-elected to a second term in May, has been under pressure from his conservative opponents inside Iran over perceived efforts to liberalise the country.

Tabatabai, the political analyst, said he did not believe the protests were the start of a revolutionary movement in Iran.

Instead, he wrote on Twitter that they signal that Rouhani, his government and Iran's political elite as a whole "must finally take [the] socioeconomic grievances" of ordinary Iranians seriously.

Videos of the protests in Mashhad, published by small reformist media group Nazar, showed people shouting "not Gaza, not Lebanon, my life for Iran", AFP reported.

The slogan reflects anger that the Iranian government is focusing on regional politics at the expense of tackling domestic issues.

Iran's semi-official news agency ILNA reported that about 50 people also protested in a public square in the capital, Tehran, on Friday, AP reported.


Mohsen Hamedani, the security deputy for Tehran's governor, said a few people were "temporarily arrested", but did not specify how many, said the AP report.

You wouldn’t expect anything very much from the pro-Saudi press.

Protests continue in at least a dozen cities throughout Iran



29 December, 2017

As protesters continue to take to streets in Iran and shout anti-government slogans against high prices, a top cleric in the second largest city of Mashhad has called for tough action by security forces.

According to reports from the network of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI / MEK) inside the country, the anti-regime protests in Iranian cities have spread throughout the country on Friday.

There were demonstrations in at least a dozen cities throughout Iran including Qom, Ahvaz, Isfahan, Zahedan, Qazvin, Kermanshah, Quchan, Sari, Qaemshahr, Rasht, Hamedan and Sabzevar today.

In Qom, young demonstrators chanted: “Death to Hezbollah”, “Seyed Ali [Khamenei] shame on you, let go of our country”, “Dignified Iranians, join your people”, “We don’t want an Islamic Republic”, “Young people are unemployed; and mullahs have all the positions”.

The commander of the State Security Forces warned that “This gathering is illegal, be dispersed or you will be treated as disruptors of public order.” But people paid no heed and continued their protest.

In Ahvaz, people chanted “Leave Syria alone, think about us instead”, “Forget about Gaza and Lebanon; I’ll sacrifice my life for Iran”, “Death to the dictator”, and “The nation is destitute while the leader is acting like God”.

In order to prevent the protests from spreading and not to allow people to join the demonstrations, the security forces blocked the main bridge of Ahvaz. Yet a number of people reached the other side of the bridge using boats.

In Isfahan, people gathered in Enqelab and ‘Khomeini’ squares as well as in ‘Siosepol’. In Enqelab Square, people chanted “Death to the dictator” and “Forget about Gaza and Lebanon; I’ll sacrifice my life for Iran”. The anti-riot forces broke up the people into different groups and started to arrest them.

In Zahedan, people chanted: “Leave Syria alone, think about us instead”.

In Qazvin, the protesterss chanted “Dignified Iranians, support us, support us” and “Guns and tanks! The mullahs’ must be killed”.

Hundreds gathered in front of the governor’s office in Sari for the protests.

The people of Kermanshah (West Iran) poured onto the streets from the morning hours of Friday, and demonstrators chanted “Death to the Dictator”, “Death to Rouhani”, “Don’t be afraid, we are all united”, and “Political prisoners should be freed.”

The number of protesters grew and reached to several thousand.

Arrests

Police arrested 52 people in Thursday’s protests, the semi-official Fars news agency quoted a judicial official as saying in Mashhad. Political protests are rare in Iran but demonstrations are often held by workers over layoffs or non-payment of salaries and people who hold deposits in non-regulated bankrupt financial institutions.

This time, the protests have continued even as anti-riot units of the State Security Forces were stationed extensively throughout the city. Special anti-riot forces tried to disperse the protesters with water cannons but the people resisted and stood up to them, chanting “Shame on you”.

During the march, the protesters chanted: “The nation is destitute while the leader is acting like God”, “Forget Gaza, forget Lebanon; my life is for Iran”, and “Bread, work, freedom”.

The security forces charged at the people but the people resisted and confronted them.

In Tabriz, despite extensive mobilization of government forces to prevent mobilisation, people took part in protests and chanted “Death to the dictator”.

In Mashhad, fearing resumption of protests, the anti-riot forces and the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) were deployed extensively on the streets and city squares. Patrols on motorcycles and vehicles were seen, and water cannons were stationed in various parts of the city.

In Tehran and Kerman cities, anti-riot forces and motorcycle patrols were being stationed in the main squares to prevent the formation of any protests.

If the security and law enforcement agencies leave the rioters to themselves, enemies will publish films and pictures in their media and say that the Islamic Republic system has lost its revolutionary base in Mashhad,” IRNA quoted prominent conservative cleric Ayatollah Ahmad Alamolhoda as saying.


Videos posted on social media showed demonstrators chanting “Death to (President Hassan) Rouhani” and “Death to the dictator”. Protests were also held in at least two other northeastern cities.

Death knell for mullahs’ regime

Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the Iranian Resistance, saluted the protestors: “This uprising has tolled the death knell for the overthrow of the totally corrupt dictatorship of the mullahs, and is the rise of democracy, justice and popular sovereignty.”

"The four-decade record of the mullahs’ rule has been nothing but inflation, poverty and corruption, torture and execution, killings and aggression. The bulk of the people’s wealth, including the money released in the nuclear deal, is either spent on repression and export of terrorism and war, or is plundered by the regime’s leaders. “The overthrow of the religious fascism is the first step to get out of the crisis that is intensifying every day,” she said.

The mullahs’ regime has no future; investment on it is doomed to failure, and it is time for the international community to not tie their fate to this regime and recognize the Iranian people Resistance to overthrow that regime,” said Rajavi.

Regime excuses

Alamolhoda, the representative of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in northeastern Mashhad, said a few people had taken advantage of Thursday's protests against rising prices to raise slogans against Iran's involvement in regional conflicts.

Videos on social media also showed demonstrators chanting “Leave Syria, think about us”, criticizing Iran's military and financial support for President Bashar al-Assad who is fighting opponents of the government in Syria's six-year-old civil war.

Vice-President Eshaq Jahangiri, a close Rouhani ally, suggested that hardline opponents of the president may have started the protests.

When a social and political movement is launched on the streets, those who started it will not necessarily be able to control it in the end,” IRNA quoted Jahangiri as saying. “Those who are behind such events will burn their own fingers. They think they will hurt the government by doing so.”

With Reuters inputs.

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