Belgium (Brussels Morning Newspaper), As the Middle East grapples with an ongoing regional crisis, the Iranian regime emerges as the primary beneficiary. With the conflict having claimed nearly 12,000 lives and no end in sight, Western nations, including the US and various European countries, are actively seeking ways to exert control over the situation.
They issue statements, engage in diplomatic talks, and admonish Iran to cease fueling the war. Yet, amidst the focus on the regional conflict, Western leaders often overlook a separate, unaddressed war for freedom and democracy taking place within Iran. This article aims to shed light on how the Iranian regime capitalizes on regional crises to obscure its brutal domestic policies and why we should be concerned.
Regional Chaos: Shielding the Mullahs’ Repression
Regional crises provide a convenient smokescreen for the Iranian regime’s oppressive actions. Since the 1980s, when the Iranian regime faced democratic demands from its citizens after the 1979 Revolution, it demonstrated no interest in ensuring the basic rights of Iranians within a democratic framework. Instead, the regime constructed its rule on two pillars: internal suppression and external expansionism, war and terrorism.
These twin pillars have shaped Iran’s history over the past four decades and have allowed the regime to silence democratic opposition.
A brief historical review reveals how regional conflicts have served as cover for the Iranian regime’s suppression of dissent. The eight-year war between Iran and Iraq in the 1980s concealed the Iranian regime’s systematic elimination of political prisoners and opposition voices.
The extent of these executions, particularly during the massacre of 1988 when more than 30,000 political prisoners were executed in a span of a few months, remains shrouded in mystery. The victims were primarily supporters of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), the main opposition group to the current regime.
Subsequently, during the first Gulf War, the Iranian regime engaged in a wave of assassinations of intellectuals and political figures abroad, in the early 1990s, while pursuing its nuclear program with hopes of turning into a nuclear power and furthering its grip in the region. Meanwhile, Iran actively stoked conflicts in Syria and Yemen to divert attention from mass protests that erupted in Iran in 2009 before the Arab Spring.
Last year, a major uprising in Iran that spread across 280 cities in all 31 provinces shook the regime to its core, bringing to the forefront the regime’s illegitimacy and instability for the world at large.
Despite deploying various repressive measures and an unprecedented surge in executions, the protests in Iran have continued and more than anyone, the mullahs feel the growing dissent within the Iranian society, which will inevitably turn into another uprising sooner than later, with a greater momentum than the September 2022 uprising, triggered by the unfortunate death of Mahsa Zhina Amini.
In the face of growing domestic unrest, the Iranian regime’s leaders are now fanning the flames of regional war to shield their fragile rule from the wrath of Iranian women and youth. A cursory examination of human rights violations since the escalation of Middle Eastern crises unequivocally shows that the war, at least in the short run, benefits the Iranian regime more than any other entity worldwide.
Silencing Dissent: Armita Gravand’s Tragic Death and the Surge in Executions in Iran
On October 28, 2023, Armita Gravand, a 17-year-old student who had been in a coma since October 1 due to an assault by morality police in Tehran’s metro, passed away at Fajr Hospital. Western countries closely monitored this incident. Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ms. Hadja Lahbib, expressed her sorrow, calling for transparency in the circumstances surrounding Armita’s death. The similarities between Armita’s and Mahsa’s deaths infuriated the Iranian people, potentially sparking new protests. Yet, the Iranian regime managed to quell the situation by shifting the focus outside its borders.
Another alarming concern is the surge in executions in Iran. Executions have become increasingly frequent under Ebrahim Raisi’s rule, a key figure in the 1988 massacre death committees. The Iranian regime employs executions to intimidate the populace, fearing outbreaks of dissent. Since January 2023, the Iranian regime has executed over 600 individuals, including political prisoners and women.
In the past two weeks, the regime executed at least 43 prisoners, averaging three executions per day, mostly from Iran’s Baloch minority, who have kept the flame of uprisings lit with weekly protests in the past year. These chilling statistics illustrate how the Iranian regime intensifies its brutal crackdown within Iran while the world’s attention remains primarily fixated on the regional crisis.
The Iranian regime’s leaders provoke regional conflicts to create a pretext for suppressing dissent and postpone an inevitable uprising, which can result in its downfall. Supreme Leader Khamenei has repeatedly stated that if they do not engage in conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Gaza, they will have to confront protests within Iran and in big cities, a reasoning which was repeated again recently by the regime’s Foreign Minister, according to the state-run Mashregh news on October 16.
As the people of Iran and the Iranian resistance have reiterated time and again, the head of the snake of warmongering and instability in the region, is in Tehran. Achieving sustainable peace and security in the region demands addressing the democratic aspirations of the Iranian people, which can only be realized through regime change.
It falls upon Western leaders to adopt policies that support the Iranian people in their quest to overthrow the Iranian regime, paving the way for peace and stability in the region.
Adopting a firm policy on Iran by means of blacklisting the IRGC, the Iranian regime’s main force for repression at home and export of terrorism and warmonger abroad, and supporting the Iranian people’s legitimate right to defend themselves in the face of the ongoing brutal repression is a step in the right direction for peace and stability in the region and across the globe.
Opinions expressed in the op-ed section are solely those of the individual author and do not represent the official stance of our newspaper. We believe in providing a platform for a wide range of voices and perspectives, even those that may challenge or differ from our own. As always, we remain committed to providing our readers with high-quality, fair, and balanced journalism. Thank you for your continued support.Sincerely, The Brussels Morning Team