A message to Iran: 'The revolution is coming'

A message to Iran: 'The revolution is coming'
Comment: Iran is beginning to see signs of revolt. From the poorest to the middle classes, Iranians are no longer tolerating the regime, says Salameh Kaileh.
5 min read
14 May, 2015
Many young Iranians are becoming disillusioned with the country's authoritarianism [AFP]

A while ago, I wrote a short post on my Facebook page calling for a revolution in Iran.

The call was not just to express hope, but was after a close and careful analysis about the situation in Iran.

I am not saying that what is happening in Iran has reached the stage of revolution, but a protest movement has begun to evolve in some areas of Iran. 

Dawn of revolt

A while ago, demonstrations began in Arabistan. Protesters were met with arrests - and, reportedly, even executions.

It did not stop the activists, and the protests continue.

Now, Mahabad is erupting in protest, following the suicide of a Kurdish girl who was allegedly escaping a rape attempt by an Iranian intelligence officer. 

Teachers across Iran have called a strike. There are likely many protests taking place that are not being covered by Iran's tightly controlled media.

The situation is further escalating and could lead to a full-blown uprising. 

Khamenei has already started invoking a conspiracy against the regime - a cover-up of the real situation.

This is the usual rhetoric of all regimes threatened by revolutions, even those that are subservient to US imperialism. 

Indeed, this is a "defensive" discourse aimed at obfuscating and obscuring all the problems Iran is undergoing, many of which are fundamental.

Whatever form they take, they all portend to make Iran a country which will undergo a revolution.

Iran's accumulated problems are many, and they are growing worse as the regime grows weaker and its internal contradictions increase.

This is in tandem with its foreign adventures and quest to build empire.  

There is also an ethnic question in multi-ethnic Iran, involving Arabs, Kurds, Azeris, Baloch, and others.

Nationalist and ethnic rights' movements have evolved in the Arabistan, Kurdistan, Baluchistan regions, with the authorities moving to marginalise and undermine such groups.

These communities have moved to demand a fair resolution to the ethnic question, though secession is not on the table - yet. 

There is also the question of the religious character of the regime, which imposes a narrow fundamentalist interpretation of Islam on Iran's population.

Despite the fact that the Shia faith is dominant, a branch of Shia that adopts the idea of vilayet-e-faqih ["clerical rule"], was imposed on the people by the regime.

It has imposed a dress code and religious laws, holds people accountable on the basis of Sharia, and imposes a broad ideological structure based on a specific interpretation of its religion. 

This regime ruled tyrannically in the name of religion, imposing values that incompatible with people, especially the modern middle classes.

In effect, it is these classes that backed the Green Revolution in 2009 and worked to put the reformists in power. Furthermore, not everyone here is Shia - Sunni Muslims also live in Iran.

However, over the past few decades the authorities have been able to control the situation as oil revenues used to provide a degree of "economic prosperity".

It recent years, however, things have changed as oil prices have plummeted.

The regime is in essence capitalist, due to its subscription to a free market economy.

     The regime is in essence capitalist, due to its subscription to a free market economy.

Wealth became centred in the hands of a minority within the regime, along with the Revolutionary Guards who monopolised much of the economy and built an economic empire. 

This has led to the formation of a wealthy elite that controls power in the country. This is the case with all regimes that follow a neo-liberal course, even if they hide behind a religious facade.

Motives for revolution
This situation has resulted in the impoverishment of society and increased the marginalisation of the poorest Iranians. In turn, social discontent has risen.

Unemployment in Iran has reached more than 20 percent and poverty rates are above 60 percent.

It is a similar situation that the Arab states were experiencing when revolutions broke out four years ago.

Iran's economic woes were exacerbated by the sanctions imposed on the country by US imperialism, which meant that it could no longer sell its oil - and if it did, it was not able to get its true value for it.

Therefore, Iranian oil exports declined by more than half, while being subject to the whims of importers.

Due to the sanctions, Iran has lost its most important revenue streams - and, in the past few years, has been forced to use its foreign currency reserves, resulting in the decrease of the value of the Iranian rial and mass inflation.

Another similarity between Iran and the Arab region is that 60 percent of the Iranian population is under the age of 30.

This means that young people face higher unemployment rates than previous generations.

Furthermore, 750,000 young people enter the job market every year, which compounds the problem of unemployment - as the economy is not able to absorb these numbers.

All of these factors are a recipe for increased anger and discontent that pushes the low and middle classes towards rebellion. 

This has materialised in the protests in Arabistan and Mahabad. 

Are current events in Iran the harbinger of revolution? Perhaps.

What is certain, however, is that the revolution will be the result of factors mentioned above.

The poorest members of society will want to change their living standards and Iran's ethnic groups will also seek to improve their situation. 

Even the middle classes will seek to destroy the authoritarian system that imposes its "god-bestowed" authority on the people.

This could be delayed by the outcome of the negotiations with the US, and whether or not sanctions are lifted as part of the nuclear deal.

Perhaps this explains Iran's rush to achieve the nuclear deal - to prevent a revolution within its borders.

But things appear to have gone too far already, with a crisis deep in Iranian society. Iran will witness a revolution - that much is for sure.  

Salameh Kaileh is a prominent Palestinian-Syrian intellectual and activist.

This article is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of al-Araby al-Jadeed, its editorial board or staff.