“Iranian opposition cleric accuses Khamenei of abuse of power”

Reuters: “‘You have been Iran’s top leader for three decades, but still speak like an opposition,’ Karroubi said in an open letter to Khamenei published on Saham News, the official website of his reformist political party.”

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“Rouhani moves to leverage unrest to loosen IRGC grip on economy”

Al-Monitor: “In the aftermath of the recent protests in Iran, public announcements about a concerted effort to get the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the Iranian army (Artesh) to divest from the economy seem to signal that President Hassan Rouhani remains firmly committed to his agenda. Indeed, unlike the past — when civil unrest was quickly assumed by default to weaken moderates as the security state stepped in — elite responses to the protests have this time acknowledged grievances. Believed to have initially been instigated by hard-line foes who sought to undermine him, Rouhani is now using the protests to leverage his efforts to restrict the influence of unaccountable centers of power.”

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“US and Saudi Arabia arms significantly enhanced Isis’ military capabilities, report reveals”

The Independent: “An extensive field investigation into the origins of Isis’ weaponry in Syria and Iraq has found that weapons supplied by the US and Saudi Arabia to the Syrian opposition often ended up in the jihadis’ hands, enhancing the “quantity and quality” of their armaments. While most weapons in Isis’ arsenal were captured from the Syrian and Iraqi armies, Conflict Armament Research (CAR)’s report, published on Thursday, found that the number of US and Saudi supplied weapons in Isis’ arsenal goes ‘far beyond those that would have been available through battle capture alone’.”

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“Trump Admin Commits to Forever War in Syria against Iran”

Informed Comment: “Since the al-Assad regime has won the civil war, it does not feel it needs to make a grand political compromise with the rebels, who only have three significant pockets of resistance left: Idlib Province in the north, the East Ghouta neighborhood in the vicinity of Damascus, and Deraa south of the capital. All together, these three account for about 2 million people. The YPG Kurds of the north and northeast constitute another 2 million, but they are not rebels against the regime per se and probably would be willing to rejoin Syria if it were reformulated as a federal state with substantial states’ rights. They also now rule over about a million Arab Syrians in Raqqa. So the remnants of the rebels rule about 11 percent of the some 18 million Syrians still inside the country. The YPG Kurds have about 16 percent of the population. That is 27%. Let’s say there are rebel pockets amounting to another 3%, giving the regime 70% of the population. Tillerson says Damascus only rules half the territory, but that statistic is irrelevant since the eastern desert is thinly populated It is like the US government losing control of Wyoming, which is a big place but, no offense, few people live there. And remember that the 11% that is Kurds, while they are not under government control, have been willing to cooperate with the Syrian Arab Army against the Arab fundamentalists and would likely do a deal with Damascus if the US left.”

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“How years of increasing labor unrest signaled Iran’s latest protest wave”

Washington Post: “Beginning on Dec. 28, a wave of protests surged across Iran, with at least 75 cities reportedly experiencing one or more demonstrations in the first week. Soon after they began, commentators rushed to attribute the protests to various grievances, from Ponzi-like banking scheme collapses and budget corruption allegations to soaring prices of eggs and gasoline. However, our research suggests that rather than grievances alone, an underappreciated precursor for the protests was the buildup of demonstrations and rallies by teachers, workers, trade unions and civil society associations.”

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Fox News as the Rag of the MEK

Fox News: “‘They should impose major sanctions on the regime,’ one protester demanded. Another added there ‘should be sanctions for human rights violations.’ The protesters are members of the long banned opposition group, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI, also known as the MEK). The group’s leader, Maryam Rajavi, has been directly blamed by the Iranian government for fomenting the unrest. Social media videos show supporters unveiling large banners with Rajavi’s photo over highway overpasses, and continuing their opposition.”

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“The Moral Economy of the Iranian Protests”

Jacobin: “The Iranian demonstrators share the familiar anxieties produced by global capitalism’s rampant inequalities and environmental destruction. For now the protests seem to be petering out under state repression and the protesters’ inability to broaden their support. The government acknowledges that 21 have been killed and almost 4,000 have been arrested in a national sweep. The government may try to alleviate tensions by rewriting the budget and reinstating the subsidies and cash payments that it had planned to slash. A new round of highly publicized anti-corruption cases may also be a means for the regime to argue that it is taking action and responding to social demands. But the social realities of those living on the jagged edges of Iranian society will persist. What makes the demonstrations against malfeasance and the calls for political change and social justice powerful is the fact that the protesters are accusing Iran’s rulers of violating the revolution’s commitment to a moral economy.”

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“How Iran’s Bread Riots turned anti-Systemic & what it means for the Future”

Informed Comment: “A few issues stood out in the January 2018 protests. These will have far-reaching implications in the future. First and foremost, the protests turned very quickly into anti-systemic riots. Reports of the unrest have noted that demonstrators chanted slogans against the regime (Down with the Dictator) and tore down pictures of the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. The wide spread of anti-regime sentiments was remarkable. While the 2009 Green Movement was effectively an extension of the reformist faction aimed at countering the excesses of the conservatives, the January 2018 protests did not differentiate between the reformists and conservatives and rejected the whole system of clerical rule. This suggests a qualitative shift and a significant challenge to the future of the regime. This challenge will remain real as long as the ruling regime fails to deliver on the much needed economic recovery.”

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“A London Television Station Has Convinced Iran the Shah Was Great”

Foreign Policy: “Of course, none of this would have mattered if the Islamic Republic hadn’t blocked any alternative for political opposition within the country. With most of Iran’s critical voices and political leaders under arrest or in exile, and a long-running deadlock between conservatives and reformist political elites, young Iranians are hungry for a political alternative. The only alternative at hand happens to be a news and entertainment industry that pines for Pahlavi Iran.”

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“Why is Iran arresting its protesting youths?”

WaPo: “That these emerging Iranians are willing to take direct action against their government doesn’t mean that they want to burn it all down. As I’ve noted elsewhere, citizens take to the streets to preserve the system, to make it work for them and not against them. Protests have a long and proud pedigree in Iran, and should, for now, be seen as politics by other means, a way to avoid the change that comes by any means necessary.”

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