EN | BA

Wannabe-revolutionary freak show after Iranian economic protests

Being a revolutionary is a great thing, and a very few persons in history deserved to be called by such name. It requires wisdom to recognize flaws of the existing system and to offer something which can replace it, it requires charisma to gather many people who will follow the same path, it requires courage to challenge the establishment and to risk everything you have, and it requires a pure and uncorrupt heart to not betray own ideals. The way of a revolutionary is not an easy task and he must pass many obstacles in order to succeed, and indeed, a very few accomplished all mentioned and provided better and sustainable alternative to their nation. In the eyes of average people, revolutionary has the superhero status, as well as his vigilante allies. They are honored by having streets, squares, institutions, and airports named after them. So, who wants to be a revolutionary?

Judging by recent economic protests inside Iran, the answer is – everyone. In late December, the demonstrations were started by crowds of several hundred people protesting in Mashhad, the second-most populous city, and in several other towns in province of Khorasan-e Razavi. Their demands revolved around economic issues and the unfulfilled promises of President Hassan Rouhani. Protests also spread throughout other provincial cities and reached capital Tehran, and totally several thousand people participated in all of these demonstrations. In the same time, more numerous marches were also held in large cities, as Iranians were commemorating the "Dey 9 epic," the anniversary of the 2009 mass rallies that were held in support of the Islamic Republic. While mostly peaceful, in some cities the anti-government demonstrations turned violent, some hooligans attacked the police and other protesters, and several have been killed and arrested.

Immediately after the demonstrations were started, various wannabe-revolutionaries (mostly exiled) tried to hook up, and to convince the worldwide public that protests revolves around them and their ideas. Marxists, Monarchists, secularists... absolutely everyone joined the freak show. To be clear, there are indeed people in Iran who hold their views, because among the nation of 80 million people, you can find literally all the political fractions that exist. You can also find Communists in India, Monarchists in China, Stalinists in Poland, Nazis in Israel, and so on. In the Balkans, the two-digit percentage of the population has nice words for the former Yugoslavia, even for pro-Nazi puppet regimes from the Second World War. Still, even such marginal dissidents are perfectly aware that their ideas can not be accepted by most people, they can not do anything, and that their protesting is meaningless. Even if some staunch activist joins unrelated protest, what is the real chance that someone will spontaneously record his chants, and then publish it on the Internet? Close to zero.

However, according to the Western media outlets and social networks, this one-in-a-million chance apparently happened. It happened for every single marginal ideology which exists, and it happened in a very few hours of protests. Of course, this does not present any real situation on the ground, but merely the dreams and desires of political slanders who claim to have a share in demonstrations. Now lets take a look at all of these wannabe-revolutionaries and their methods:

1. US and allies
Toppling the Iran's government has been a long desire of the United States since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, and without any doubt, many US politicians hope the economic protests may escalate in something bigger. We should be fair enough and remember the leading Iranian politicians also supported the Occupy movement in the United States, however, unlike their American counterparts they didn't support violence. The official US stance is highly reflected in the mainstream media, where it was claimed that the protests were only initially for economic woes, but has "quickly changed to protesting the system itself." Still, there's no a single proof for this. No posters or placards with alleged anti-system slogan, or any other visual evidence. No even young and urban, allegedly 'pro-American' population, only conservative lower classes from Khorasan. There are only textual claims.

If you check the English Wikipedia, an 'encyclopedia' which became (Western mainstream) news aggregator when it comes to the international politics, you can see the protests are allegedly still 'ongoing' (three weeks after they actually finished), and that goals are 'overthrow of the existing government' and 'removal of Supreme Leader.' In fact, an article has been hijacked by four Israeli editors who excluded the Iranian media because US advocacy group Freedom House says 'there's no freedom of the press in Iran.' They also excluded experts' opinions, claiming they are 'individual' compared to the mainstream media view, and one of them even made a 'conflict map' similar to Syria, Iraq or Yemen, showing 'government-held cities' and 'clash areas.' Reference? An anonymous Twitter account.

2. NCRI aka MEK/PMOI
A short inspection at the oldest tweets reveals that most came from activists of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), a dissident organization based in France. The NCRI is actually rebranded name of the People's Mujahedin of Iran (MEK), regarded by the Iranian government as a terrorist organization, and notorious among Iranians for their attacks against civilians and participating on Saddam's side during the Iraq-Iran war. Still, members of this group claim they have a large base of supporters among Iran's population. In the past two decades, their major goal was lobbying and provoking a military intervention against Iran, so the recent activism is clearly a continuation of that policy.

3. Saudi Arabia
A weird alliance between the Marxist/secular NCRI and Saudi regime has been established, as Saudi-owned Al Arabiya established itself as a major distributor for sharing the NCRI's videos and tweets. This cooperation was also evident before, as Saudi prince Turki Al Faisal has participated and hold speech in the "Free Iran" gathering in Paris, organized in July 2017 by the NCRI. Also, their crown prince had asserted that they were trying to transmit the war within IRI's borders. According to the released statistics by Twitter, more than 30 percent of anti-Iranian tweets has been tweeted from Saudi Arabia. Ironically, a majority of them speak about democracy, freedom, minority rights, anti-corruption and so on. While it's obvious that policies of Saudi Arabia failed in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Qatar, they still became a Twitter superpower and indeed transmitted a war inside Iran. A fake and virtual war.

4. Separatists
Kurdish separatist parties PDKI and Komalah, both of them with a significant terrorist past, in a joint statement praised the protests and claimed they're a result of "decades-long repression." The PJAK, an offshoot of Turkish terrorist group PKK, also celebrated the demonstrations which were completely irrelevant to their views and far away from Kurdish-inhabited areas. Speaking from Europe, they all expressed desires that protests may escalate and system may fall. One Kurdish 'patriot' posted a tweet claiming "tens of thousands all over Iran and Kurdistan are rising up against the government," and to support this claim he used a footage showing a series of demonstrations in Argentina earlier that month.

Pan-Turkist activists also claimed there are thousands of people in Tabriz, the largest city in Turkic-speaking region, waving with Turkish and Azerbaijani flags, but attached videos show tens of people without any flags. Several anonymous Twitter accounts have been set up for promoting Arab ethnic nationalism, claiming there is a serious unrest in the Iranian south-west, with tens of killed in the city of Masjid-e Soleyman. An ethnic Arab revolt in oil-rich province of Khuzestan? This was also a dream of Saddam Hussein when he attacked Iran in 1980. Unrealized dream.

5. Monarchists
Reza Pahlavi II and other members of the Pahlavi family, a toppled pro-US dynasty residing in the United States, also expressed support of the protests. Originally Mazandarani peasants, this 'aristocracy' was established by British in the 1930s and reimposed by the American-British coup of 1953, and ruled Iran until 1979. We can express a serious doubt in their concern about the Iranian lower class, considering for decades they enjoyed the extreme luxury and kept a vast majority of population in poverty. Then the Iranian revolution happened, millions marched in cities demanding freedom, as well as billions from their American accounts back.

Everything has changed. Once a royalty and billionaire, he suddenly became an average Middle Eastern immigrant in the US, and had to learn how to pay a bill, clean his room, change a bulb, etc. A descendant of two brutal dictators, now representing himself as a 'democracy activist.' Today he may be capable of changing a bulb, but for the changing of the Iranian political system, it's highly unlikely. The only thing he cares and dreams about is repeating of the 1953 scenario. His daughter Iman Pahlavi shared a photo of a young woman who is fighting back against police, proven to be false. A fake princess from the fake dynasty of fake surname is sharing fake photos.

6. Pseudo-feminists
Pseudo-feminists are group of activists who use centuries-old Western clichés about 'oppressed Muslim women' as a base for their discourse. They can be easily identified by criticizing the laws that don't exist, advocating changes that already exist, or something that majority of women do not even want. Masih Alinejad, a well-known propagandist married to a staunch Pahlavi monarchist and with an experience in the US governmental media, is a fine representative of pseudo-feminist activism. On her Facebook page, three days after the protests started she posted a footage showing a young woman standing alone in Tehran and waving her scarf in front of her. Video is actually dated before the demonstrations were initiated in Mashhad, and it isn't possible to understand what she advocates or is she even protesting, yet in the mainstream media it was claimed that "a women's revolution is possibly erupting inside Iran." That's the mainstream media logic: one woman in Iran is a 'revolution' while the 500,000-strong Women's March on Washington DC in January 2017 was only an 'ordinary protest.'

7. 'Human rights' activists
Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch (HRW), has posted a tweet claiming "With no option for voting out their Supreme Leader, Iranians take to the streets to press him to resign." To illustrate his statement, he used a photo which actually shows pro-government supporters commemorating the "Dey 9 epic" and holding posters featuring pictures of Supreme Leader. After followers warned him about a contradictory mistake, Roth removed his post. His claim was credible just like his reports about Iran found on the website of HRW, alleged pro-human rights organization which actually serves as a pro-US advocacy group and spread ridicule distortions of the Iranian laws.

Numerous activists of Iranian origin, operating under the 'human rights' agenda, also participated in similar games. A Canadian based journalist Maziar Bahari with almost 19,000 Twitter followers, as well as his site IranWire, posted the fictitious heinous post claiming that a boy called Amir Hossein Papi was one of the protesters killed in the city of Doroud. This proved to be a fake news, as boy himself made a video to prove he is alive and well. Bahari claims to be a 'democracy advocate persecuted by the government,' while the Iranian media described him as 'an agent in the British anti-Iran campaign.' A recent case has made things much more clear.

Loghman Mehri, yet another self-proclaimed human rights activist and victim, posted a clip showing alleged Iranian riot police looting a store. The footage is actually from Mexico, evident even from their uniforms showing "Policia" caption, but despite numerous objections pointing out that the clip is not from Iran, Mehri refused to take it down on the grounds that the clip has even been shown on Arab TV. This person is described as a 'Kurdish human rights activist' and a 'victim of government kidnapping' by the Amnesty International, another pressure group similar to HRW.

Since the discourse of human rights in the Western world has reached a homonormative level, the LGBT community deserves a honorable mention. Yes, even them claimed a participation. Richard Grenell, a gay Republican, posted that "many Iranian LGBT supporters are joining in the public protests," and he stands with them.

A gay protest in Mashhad? One may wonder who's his source for such claims. Perhaps Peter Tatchell, a self-proclaimed expert of Mashhadi gay scene? He also had something to say:

In 2005, Tatchell claimed that two executed rapists of 13-years-old boy from Mashhad were actually only 'homosexuals,' and couple has reached a martyrdom status among the Western LGBT community, despite many objections coming from inside and outside of Iran (even from the HRW). It was not the first time that Tatchell was engaged in pedophile activism, or the last time. Earlier he defended publishing pro-pedophile books in the UK, and later he again claimed that Makvan Muludzadeh, executed Iranian child rapist, was just a 'gay.' He angrily attacked Iran in the media and also praised MEK, ALO, and Jundallah as a "respectable democratic opposition." Still, his post actually excellently summarized all types of misrepresentations: pedophiles as "LGBTs," extremist Takfiri groups as "Sunni Muslims," and separatist/Marxist terrorist groups as "ethnic minorities"/"leftists." That's the Western concept of human rights.

Conclusions

Unfortunately, not all people are born to be revolutionaries, heroes, and superheroes. Many of us passed such a childhood phase, dreaming of being a superhero and trying to climb a wall in Spiderman costume, but sooner or later you grow up and realize you're not up for it. On the contrary, the wannabe-revolutionaries in their mature years still dream they can lead masses and save the world. There's a great Yugoslav movie of 1983 addressing this issue, named 'How I Was Systematically Destroyed by an Idiot' (original: Kako sam sistematski uništen od idiota). It's about the turbulent 1960s in the personage of an old Che Guevara Marxist, who ventures into student demonstrations in his Latin American guerrilla outfit and begins to ramble on and on about changing the world.

When it comes about the Western mainstream media, their behavior is quite opposite to the anti-hooligan policy. If some streakers invade the football pitch, TV channels apply the rule of censorship against the attention-seekers. But when they report about the Iranian economic protests, they expose every single freak found on the ground or on the Internet. If someone is seeking a true revolutionaries, he should travel to Iran, arrive at Imam Khomeini Airport, pass near Imam Khomeini Mausoleum and arrive at Imam Khomeini Metro Station, and look around.

All of these places are named after a person who, as a 77-year-old man and without any financial background, managed to led a successful and lasting revolution against the rich dictatorship with powerful military and intelligence service, and against a will of two superpowers. If you can not achieve the same in your best ages, with the help of Saudi money, mainstream media and a sole superpower, and it all makes you frustrating, then you're indeed - a wannabe-revolutionary.

Ivan Kesic

Ivan is a freelance writer.