Iran shows no concern for its people: analysts

By Nohad Topalian in Beirut and Faris al-Omran

Protesters in Paris demonstrate in support of the Iranian people amid a wave of protests spreading throughout Iran over the economy, on January 6th, 2018. [Christophe Simon/AFP]

Protesters in Paris demonstrate in support of the Iranian people amid a wave of protests spreading throughout Iran over the economy, on January 6th, 2018. [Christophe Simon/AFP]

The Iranian regime's brutal suppression of a fracas that broke out in central Iran over the alleged use of contaminated syringes shows its harsh treatment of its own people and its utter lack of empathy for their concerns, analysts said.

Last month, protestors stormed local government offices in the village of Chenar-e Mahmudi in the Lordegan region of Iran's Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari province.

They accused the local authorities of negligence, claiming that syringes had been re-used during a diabetes screening drive and had caused a large number of HIV infections. HIV can be transmitted via contaminated needles.

The government denied that any infections had been caused in this way, but rather than reassure the villagers and allow them to voice their concerns, police reportedly fired warning shots and tear gas, and made numerous arrests.

This type of heavy-handed response is all too familiar in Iran, where freedom of speech is not upheld and demonstrations on all manner of social issues, from the economy to women's dress, are suppressed rather than addressed.

Suppression of demonstrations

Analysts who spoke with Al-Mashareq said the situation in Iran is likely to explode at any moment as a result of the Iranian regime's oppressive actions in suppressing demonstrations demanding decent living conditions.

Demonstrations are a means for the people to express their views and demand their rights, said Iraqi researcher and political analyst Anmar al-Droubi.

But the Iranian people have been denied their most basic rights since the mullahs' regime took power four decades ago, he told Al-Mashareq.

This hardline regime "pushed Iran into the abyss, and since it took power, has suppressed Iranians and imposed severe restrictions on their public and personal freedoms", he said.

"They can no longer freely express their views or criticize the conditions under which they are living, as arrest campaigns, the forced disappearance of dissidents and the leveling of accusations against them continue," he said.

"Despite these oppressive practices, Iranians continue to express their legitimate demands in waves of protests staged in the streets of Tehran and other parts of the country," al-Droubi added.

Deteriorating conditions in Iran

Recent years have seen larger and louder protests as the performance of Iran's service sectors -- and the medical sector in particular -- declines, al-Droubi said.

Iranians complain about the deterioration of the education system, lack of basic services and high prices of fuel and other consumer goods, he said.

The regime is responsible for this general state of internal deterioration and decline, he added, noting that the Islamic Republic was founded with the goal of "exporting the Iranian revolution", and its focus is outside the country.

It has focused its attention on subjugating the countries of the region to the doctrine of Wilayat al-Faqih (Guardianship of the Jurist), which calls for allegiance to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, he said.

This expansionist and interventionist approach has left Iran internationally isolated and saddled with a growing raft of sanctions.

"Instead of trying to absorb popular resentment over the lack of freedoms and rights, poor services and difficult living conditions, the regime has resorted to suppressing any demonstration or protest and using excessive force," he said.

The regime "may pay dearly" for thwarting the will of the people, he added.

Regime fears loss of hegemony

The Iranian regime, "like any fascist and authoritarian regime, does not believe in the rights and aspirations of the people", said former Iraqi MP Mithal al-Alousi.

"When the people revolt, it comes down hard on them with utmost cruelty and violence, because it fears it will be toppled," he told Al-Mashareq.

"Iran's rulers view every demonstration or opposition activity, regardless of its size, as a direct threat to their power and to their regime," he said.

"Even their interventions in the protests taking place on the Iraqi street stem from their fear of losing their hegemony, and that they could give moral impetus to the Iranian people to escalate their protests against them," al-Alousi said.

The Iranian street in turn is disgruntled with the regime's policies, which have failed to provide any real solutions to the problems the people are facing, such as widespread poverty, corruption and neglect of public services, he said.

The recent protest in Chenar-e Mahmudi was directed against a regime "that does not consider the interests and health of its people", Lebanese journalist Badiya Fahs told Al-Mashareq.

"There is an acute shortage of services in poor areas to the point where residents are deprived of water, electricity, roads and education," she said.

Funding goes to IRGC and militias

Fahs attributed the Iranian regime's apathy towards its people to a shortage of money, resulting from the large outlay of funds its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has used to buy weapons and support foreign militias.

The regime is "starving its people in order to sustain its militias", she said, adding that these militias have been "terrorising the region".

Iranians are mired in poverty because the regime funnels its resources towards procuring weapons for its proxies, furthering its expansionist ambitions and expanding its influence, political analyst Elias al-Zoghbi told Al-Mashareq.

The Iranian regime and the IRGC "never cared about their people's rights or about working to provide the minimum level of services to them", said Lebanese political activist Luqman Salim.

The regime is spending a lot of money on weapons and financing its militias in Lebanon and Yemen and other countries "while neglecting to invest in service-related and development projects" at home, he told Al-Mashareq.

Furthermore, he said, its suppression of the Chenar-e Mahmudi protest is "proof of the deliberate neglect by a regime that does not like its people".

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