Dhe nervousness in the leadership of the Islamic Republic is growing. President Ebrahim Raisi has now called on the religious dignitaries to finally break their silence and comment on the protests in the country. He accused them of remaining silent because they feared campaigns against them. Hardly any well-known Ayatollah below revolutionary leader Ali Khamenei has commented on the unrest so far. Because thanks to social media, nothing would go unchallenged.
At the same time, the critical voices of little-known mullahs and Friday preachers, some of whom are now joining the protests, are increasing. Khamenei turned against the demonstrators on Saturday. They would not have managed to bring a broad mass onto the streets. Therefore, they are now attacking security forces, he said in Isfahan. “These wicked will not endanger our system, no doubt the riots will be stopped.”
Regime tries to take advantage of the World Cup
The leadership now wants to capitalize on Iran’s participation in the World Cup in Qatar. That’s why the Tehran city government organized a big fireworks display on the central Azadi Square on Saturday evening. Pro-regime propagandist Ali Akbar Raefipoor yelled at the national team on Instagram: “Let’s wave our flag high!” However, key figures in the football-loving country have taken a stance against the regime.
Well-known football reporter Davoud Abedi resigned on Sunday. On Instagram he said goodbye with the words: “How can you keep a friendly face on the show with so much sadness, suffering and pain?” Another football commentator, Adel Firdousi-Pour, has rejected an offer from state television about the World Cup to report. The reporter, who was critical of the regime, had not received a contract with television for four years. Among the figures most recently summoned and interrogated is Yahya Golmohammadi, the coach of the popular football club Persepolis.
Tensions are mounting, especially in the Kurdish areas of Iran. From their base in Urmia, the Revolutionary Guards have deployed armored vehicles to Mahabad. On Saturday, demonstrators erected street barricades and temporarily took control of the city. Fighting continues in the city in north-west Iran. Reports of Revolutionary Guards being killed in the Kurdish town of Bukan confirm their increasing use in the crackdown on protests. In Kermanshah, a Revolutionary Guard colonel who was urging his people on was stabbed to death by demonstrators.
As has just become known, during a visit to Baghdad last week, the commander of the Revolutionary Guard’s Ghods Brigade, Ismaeel Ghaani, threatened to invade Iraq if the Kurdish parties were not disarmed. Ghaani called on the Iraqi government to station army soldiers on the border with Iran to stop arms smuggling into Iran.