Protests reach Tehran: "Iranian people want peace, democracy, and freedom"

While the Iranian ruling class exports its vicious brand of totalitarianism around the region, its own people have once again attempted to revolt against it. A water shortage brought about in part by mismanagement of its hydroelectric infrastructure has turned out to be the last straw. Protests that began in a drought-stricken region have grown and expanded into the streets of Tehran, even after the Revolutionary Guard opened live fire on at least one demonstration:

Protests that began in southwestern Iran last week have spread to the capital Tehran, activists said early Monday, despite the efforts of the regime to quell the unrest with a crackdown by security forces.

Marchers took to the streets in several areas of the capital on Monday. Videos sent to Newsweek by opposition activists and other clips uploaded on Twitter showed dozens of people choking roads and chanting for the fall of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The protests began in the southwestern, oil-rich province of Khuzestan earlier this month. Iran’s worst drought in 50 years has left parts of the province without sufficient water or electricity. Iran’s hydroelectric network is buckling under the strain of drought and what regime critics say are decades of official incompetence and corruption.

The water issue is just a catalyst. The mullahs’ failure to provide the essentials to its people have exacerbated the underlying unhappiness with the theocratic tyranny imposed on them since 1979. The revolution has only delivered the kind of government that fires bullets at its own people in political protests.

Rather than cow the people back into compliance, the violent response from the IRGC appears to have backfired:

“There is no end to these protests,” Hadi said, adding that the demonstrations had gone beyond water scarcity. “I think they will continue tonight, tomorrow and into the coming days…Iranian people want peace, democracy, and freedom.”

Amnesty International has put the death toll from IRGC suppression at eight at least:

Amnesty International in a report Friday said that security forces had killed eight protestors, including a teenage boy, by deploying indiscriminate and deadly force. The clashes have continued since.

“Video footage from the past week, coupled with consistent accounts from the ground, indicate security forces used deadly automatic weapons, shotguns with inherently indiscriminate ammunition, and tear gas to disperse protesters,” Amnesty said.

Citizen Free Press has aggregated videos of the Tehran protests from earlier today. The tenor of the demonstrations has turned sharply against the mullahs and their totalitarian regime:

The demonstrators also oppose the mullahs’ foreign policy and military adventurism, which has resulted in sanctions that fall hardest on the Iranian people least able to change those policies:

We have seen these demonstrations in the past, which prompts the question of how long they will last. The most significant of them occurred in 2009, the so-called Green Revolution that arose over a laughably cooked national election. For some reason, the Obama administration went out of its way to avoid criticizing the election or embracing the demonstrators. Barack Obama’s desire for a deal with Iran’s mullahs overrode any impulse to support their opponents.

That has implications now. Joe Biden is in the exact same position as Obama, if not even more committed to partnering with the mullahs on a nuclear deal. Biden has tied a lot of his credibility in foreign policy on getting back into the nearly useless JCPOA, and has already begun to relax the sanctions that creates the economic pressure on the regime to reform. The best way to remove the threat of Iranian nuclear weapons would be to encourage Iranians to overthrow the religious fanatics pursuing them, just as it was in 2009. Get ready for the US to miss another opportunity to encourage real democracy and self-determination.