Iran’s latest purge

Source: www.foxnews.com : 2022-07-11 20:50:32 : Amy Kellogg

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As attempts to resuscitate the Iran nuclear deal drag on, stalling and sputtering, the Islamic Republic, to an extent, has dropped off popular radar.  The ins and outs of centrifuge production and rotation, levels of uranium enrichment and the fine points of inspection rights are details that were never destined to hold the attention of the masses, for the duration.

But now Iran is throwing people in jail.  

That, in itself is nothing new, and could also fail to crackle on radar. But there is an intensity about this latest round of arrests that former Iranian diplomat Mehrdad Khonsari says merits a powerful expression of outrage from the West.

In this June 25, 2018 file photo, a group of protesters chant slogans at the main gate of the Old Grand Bazaar, in Tehran, Iran.

In this June 25, 2018 file photo, a group of protesters chant slogans at the main gate of the Old Grand Bazaar, in Tehran, Iran.
(Iranian Labor News Agency via AP, File)

“I’m particularly surprised at the Biden administration because, it has been, and rightly so, engaged in trying to resolve this nuclear issue, but they have omitted taking into consideration at any level the ordinary people of Iran,” Khonsari tells Fox News, attributing this lack of focus on human rights in part to Washington not wanting to further alienate Tehran so as to keep it at the table. “Sadly, it’s become a ritual — talking about human rights — where people say it without really meaning it. But here they haven’t said it. People in Iran want to know their plight is recognized.”

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Among those recently arrested are some of Iran’s leading creative lights like award-winning filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof and his colleague Mostafa Al-Ahmad. They put out a plea on social media for security services to lay down their arms in relation to the harsh crackdowns on protests sparked by a deadly building collapse earlier in the year. Then within the last few hours — news that another filmmaker, Jafar Panahi, was arrested too. Nahid Shirpisheh, the leader of a group of mothers seeking justice for their children killed in protests a few years back, was also reportedly arrested.  

The additional detention of Mostafa Tajzadeh stands out for a different reason. Tajzadeh is a former presidential advisor who has long been outspoken, but who, according to Khonsari, is far from a dissident calling for revolution. In fact, he comes from a family of system stalwarts, including an in-law who was instrumental in the founding of Hezbollah. It is some time now that the system has apparently become so paranoid that it turns easily on its own, says Khonsari. 

Mourners chant slogans against the U.S. during the funeral of Iran's top general Qassem Soleimani, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy commander of Iran-backed militias in Iraq known as the Popular Mobilization Forces, in the shrine of Imam Hussein in Karbala, Iraq, Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020.

Mourners chant slogans against the U.S. during the funeral of Iran’s top general Qassem Soleimani, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy commander of Iran-backed militias in Iraq known as the Popular Mobilization Forces, in the shrine of Imam Hussein in Karbala, Iraq, Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020.
(AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

“These are not people calling for either the restoration of monarchy or the bringing about of a leftist government. These are people who are part and parcel of the original constituency,” Khonsari says. “The only part of it remaining is what we refer to as the ‘deep state’ and now they are beginning to arrest their own former colleagues and their own former revolutionary partners.”

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Khonsari says the situation in Iran is fragile. There are protests regularly. Point to point inflation recently registered at 50%. The price of bread shot up 300% in just one day.  Pensions are not enough to live on. People protested corruption around the previously mentioned building that collapsed in Abadan leaving 41 dead. Various unions are up in arms about pay. But still, there is no political rallying point and apparently Iran is not at a tipping point.

“The fact is, there is no organized mechanism inside the country… something the ‘deep state’ has deliberately prevented from being able to be in a position to mount a serious challenge to its authority,” Khonsari says.

In this photo released by the official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks in a televised New Year speech, in Tehran, Iran, Monday, March 21, 2022.

In this photo released by the official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks in a televised New Year speech, in Tehran, Iran, Monday, March 21, 2022.
(Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)

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Khonsari adds this is all the more reason the West should speak out against the crackdowns on Iranian people.

“Nobdoy wants the U.S. or others to interfere in Iranian domestic politics, but supporting and providing moral support for the rights of people who are trying to rid the country of the yoke of fundamentalist radicalism” and turning Iran into “something that is more amenable to the region and the world is something that is welcome,” he says, claiming such recognition would be a source of inspiration for many and adding that the message shouldn’t be that the Iranian regime “can do whatever they want with their people as long as they don’t have a nuclear bomb.”  

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