Middle East

Amid Turmoil In Iran, Khamenei Praises IRGC

The 74th annual United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) convened in New York on 17 September with the General debate taking place from 24 September to the close of proceedings on 30 September.

The week before the Member nations gathered, the supreme leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei, hoped that the event would be a good opportunity for outreach, to force the U.S. to back down from its maximum pressure campaign.

However, his hopes turned to dust as on the eve of the UNGA,  Britain, France, and Germany joined the United States in blaming Iran for the September 14 attack on Saudi Arabia’s Aramco oil installation.   A press conference held by the Organization of Iranian-American Communities (OIAC) at the National Press Club of Washington, DC, revealed new details about the attack, providing incontrovertible evidence that Khamenei and the IRGC were behind it.

This attack has proved an expensive strategic error for the Iranian regime as inevitably news of its responsibility preceded the Iranian delegates into the UN General Assembly where they experienced yet more global Isolation and division.

With no obvious breakthrough emerging from Rouhani’s New York visit, the prospects for the JCPOA’s survival were darker than ever, leading the Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi, one of the key architects of the nuclear accord, to say on Tuesday, October 1.  “The nuclear deal is in the intensive care unit”.

Also on October 1, Ali Rabie, spokesman for the cabinet of the Iranian regime President Hassan Rouhani acknowledged at a news conference that Rouhani’s recent visit to New York for the 74th annual United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) had been a complete failure.

On Wednesday, October 2, after 40 days of absence, Khamenei arrived on the scene and, adopting an arrogant tone, presented a highly belligerent stance.  In a meeting with the members of the High Council of the Commanders of the IRGC and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, he said: “You should not fear the enemy no matter how strong, but at the same time you should not underestimate its capability.” He called on the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) commanders to organize and prepare for “major events.” He advised them to extend their outlook beyond Iran’s geographic borders and pay attention to threats “beyond the borders”. Iranian officials have occasionally said that Syria, Yemen, and Lebanon are part of the country’s ‘strategic depth.’ “We must not be content to our region & ignore threats beyond our borders… An extraterritorial vision, for which the IRGC is responsible, is the depth of Iran’s strategy & more important than anything else,” he emphasized.

Khamenei also ordered the Atomic Energy Organization to press ahead with a phased reduction in the country’s commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The reductions had begun in May, involving three different ‘steps’, with the fourth in the works unless Iranian leaders are convinced that the European signatories to the nuclear deal abide by their part of the agreement and provide the promised economic relief.

While he supported 100% the Internal and External Approaches of the IRGC in every aspect of development, fearing defection of members from their ranks Khamenei advised the commanders “not to allow the IRGC to become old and conservative or complacent with the status quo.

“Do not fear the enemy at all. Be alert and have a thorough assessment of the enemy’s potentials.”

Also in his speech, Khamenei downplayed the role of Zarif and Rouhani compared to the IRGC’s commanders and boosted the role of Ghasem Solemani in his estimation.   

In parallel, on October 2-5, several Iranian cities witnessed demonstrations by angry citizens who were protesting about intensifying economic woes and lack of public services.

On October 5, 2019, thousands of residents in Lordegan demonstrated against the mullahs’ regime in support of the residents of Chenar Mahmoudi village in Chaharmahal-Bakhtiari Province.

Angry youths set ablaze the office of the representative of the regime’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and Lordegan Governor’s Office as well as several other regime’s centers.

The protesters were chanting, “Down with dictator,” “have no fear, we are all together,” “neither Gaza nor Lebanon, I give my life for Iran,” and “incompetent official, resign, resign.”    

In Arak, the workers of the Azarab Factory gathered at Sanat Square to protest the unsettled state of the company’s ownership. Continued their rallies on Monday, Oct.7, despite authorities summoning them for questioning and resorting to threats. This was the fourth consecutive day that these workers were holding a demonstration; the protesting workers were seen chanting:

“We will not live under the weight of cruelty.”

“No to these conditions.”

“One less case of embezzlement and our problems will be resolved.”

“If our problems are not resolved, the city will witness an uprising.”

On monday morning, various security and provincial officials attempted to prevent the workers from holding their rally. The workers voiced their protests to these measures and continued with their scheduled demonstration.

The workers of this company have been regularly protesting about delayed wages and poor working conditions.

In Khuzestan, the managers of the Haft Tapeh sugar mill was forced to renew the contract of 17 workers after nine continuous days of strikes and protests at the factory.

Also on October 2, the Iranian authorities executed four prisoners in Gohardasht Prison, Karaj. The names of the executed prisoners are Hassan Roshan, Mohammad Reza Ghanbari, Hamid Sheikhi and Mohsen.

Beleaguered at home and abroad, the Iranian regime, finding it increasingly hard to keep friends, especially in the aftermath of the attack on the Aramco facilities in Saudi just before the UNGA, seems prepared to make enemies, but this is sounding more and more like the empty posturing of a spent force.  Let us sincerely hope so.

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