The War for the Persian Succession

It’s time for a winning strategy.

Is this the end at last? Or just another speech? 

There doesn’t seem to be a crucial level of deaths and injuries that will lead to a revolution against the Islamic Republic of Iran. The latest reports put the death total at well over a thousand, with ten times as many wounded. And the list of victims continues to grow apace, with scores arrested every day. New victims are fished out of the waters or dragged from their death beds, and added to the grim totals. Banafsheh’s regular reportage brings us up to date:

A detailed report published on the Persian-language section of the Al Arabiya news website has estimated the number of Iranians killed by the regime during the November demonstrations to be 1,360. The report, which is very detailed, and lists the date, time and location of each clash between regime forces and the crowds, also identifies the specific Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) units involved in suppressing the people. The information is said to come from clandestine sources inside the IRGC.

It's significant that the death toll comes from secret sources from within the Revolutionary Guards Corps, apparently eager to reveal what they have done to the protesters, and to make sure that the victims’ families know the details. 

150 doctors inside Iran have signed an open letter critiquing the regime for its abuses against the protestors. “Regular and disguised military, law enforcement and security forces opened fire on the people and used the destruction and rioting of a few opportunists as an excuse to attribute the rightful protest of the people to foreign [powers]. Our country with God-given abundant resources should have enjoyed a much better situation than it does now. Unfortunately, our statesmen with costly and fruitless adventurism have repeatedly pushed the country to the brink of the abyss,” the statement read.

A recent Iranian poll found that only fifteen percent of the citizens of Tehran supported the regime, and approved of the uprising.

In other words, the most violent and widespread insurrection against the Tehran regime produced the most systematic, murderous repression since the revolt against the shah in 1979, all across the country. And both the insurrection and the repression are continuing. This is a continuation of the fierce internal struggle that I have called the war for the Persian succession, a struggle to name the next supreme leader after Ayatollah Khamenei.

The two main contenders are the old leaders of the Revolutionary Guards Corps and the current spokesmen for the regime, starting with President Hassan Rouhani. The former chief of the IRGC, Mohammad Ali Jafari, has called for Rouhani to stand trial for causing the massive protests, oppressing the people, and wrecking the society.

Once the regime had gained the upper hand against the demonstrators, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered his usual series of warnings, placing the United States firmly on the side of the insurrection, and expanding sanctions on Iranian leaders. It was a fine speech, and numerous commentators pointed out that the Trump Administration was edging closer and closer to a policy of regime change. 

Yet, despite the powerful rhetoric, there is still no sign that the United States is actually moving to assist the Iranian people to bring down the detested regime. If we were serious about regime change, we would hear about it, in no uncertain terms, from Pompeo and Trump himself. But we do not. I wonder if we even have ongoing contacts with the leaders of the insurrection.

On the other hand, there is abundant evidence of Iranian penetration of U.S. defenses, highlighted by the sentencing of Ali Kourani to forty years imprisonment for plotting to carry out terrorist acts. Kourani, originally Lebanese, was trained by Hezbollahis, and trained like-minded terrorists to unleash attacks on American soil. It was an Iranian operation.

“Ali Kourani’s arrest was a reminder to us all that New York City and its surrounding areas remain primary targets for those looking to conduct a violent attack against our way of life,” said FBI assistant director William F. Sweeney Jr.

The Kourani case shows that our intelligence services can see the enemy at work, and that our courts have the will to lock away the perpetrators. Kourani cannot be the only such case; we need a more active counterintelligence campaign against the Islamic Republic.

Which brings us back to the insurrection, which remains open-ended:

Islamic authorities willfully continues to invest in additional apparatus of oppression, in order to crack down on Iranians who protest, the regime’s rampant corruption, financial waste and depletion of the country to fund its regional adventurism. This reflects a pattern common to the entirety of the Islamic regime’s 40-year-long reign, where national development, infrastructure, and social services have been overlooked, while Iran’s oil wealth has been thrown around on the regime’s military machine, foreign interventions, and terrorism.

The regime in Tehran is at war with us. Enough speeches, it’s time for a winning strategy.


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