THESE IRANIAN PROTESTS ARE DIFFERENT FROM 2009; Congressional Record Vol. 164, No. 11
(Extensions of Remarks - January 18, 2018)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E59]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




             THESE IRANIAN PROTESTS ARE DIFFERENT FROM 2009

                                 ______
                                 

                          HON. TOM McCLINTOCK

                             of california

                    in the house of representatives

                       Thursday, January 18, 2018

  Mr. McCLINTOCK. Mr. Speaker, I include in the Record the following 
op-ed, written by Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the elected President of the 
National Council of Resistance of Iran, in support of the Iranian quest 
for freedom, printed in the Wall Street Journal on January 9, 2018.

             These Iranian Protests Are Different From 2009

       Then, the cause was a rift within the regime. Now, the 
     people are demanding an end to the regime.
       The protests in Iran send a cogent message: The clerical 
     regime stands on shaky ground, and the Iranian people are 
     unwavering in their quest to bring it down. Slogans against 
     velayat-e faqih, or absolute clerical rule, called for a real 
     republic and explicitly targeted the regime's Supreme Leader 
     Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani. This dispels the 
     myth, still harbored by some governments, that Iranians 
     distinguish between moderates and hard-liners in Tehran. It 
     also undercuts flawed arguments depicting a stable regime.
       Millions of Iranians live in poverty. Yet Tehran has spent 
     upward of $100 billion on the massacre in Syria, according to 
     reports obtained by the National Council of Resistance of 
     Iran. The chants of ``Death to Hezbollah'' and ``Leave Syria, 
     think about us instead'' clearly demonstrate the people's 
     opposition to the regime's belligerent regional schemes.
       The country's official budget this year allocates more than 
     $26.8 billion to military and security affairs and the export 
     of terrorism. This is in addition to the $27.5 billion in 
     military spending from institutions controlled by Mr. 
     Khamenei and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The 
     budget for health care is a mere $16.3 billion. Weak and 
     vulnerable, the regime spends such astronomical sums on 
     regional meddling as part of its strategy for survival.
       Skeptics might point out that Iran has faced protests 
     before. What makes the current uprising different from the 
     2009 protests?
       The 2009 protests were sparked by rifts at the top of the 
     regime. The current protests--which began in Iran's second-
     largest city of Mashhad and quickly spread across the 
     country--were motivated by rising prices, economic ruin, 
     widespread corruption and resentment toward the regime. This 
     systemic economic mismanagement has its roots in the 
     political system, and it grows worse every day. That is why 
     the demand for regime change surfaced almost immediately. It 
     seems to be the only conceivable outcome.
       Another major difference: The 2009 uprising was initially 
     led by the upper middle class, with university students at 
     its core and Tehran as its center. The recent demonstrations 
     span a much broader swath of the population--the middle 
     class, the underprivileged, workers, students, women and 
     young people. Nearly all of society has been represented on 
     the picket line.
       Nor is the current uprising tied to any of the regime's 
     internal factions or groupings. There are no illusions about 
     reform or gradual change from within. One of the popular 
     slogans in Tehran is ``Hard-liners, reformers, the game is 
     now over.'' This is yet another sign of the certainty of 
     overthrow. As an Iranian expression goes: Maybe sooner or 
     later, but definitely certain.
       The final differentiating factor is the pace of events. In 
     less than 24 hours, the protesters' slogans shifted from 
     economic woes to rejection of the entire regime. The 
     establishment has been caught off guard and is scrambling to 
     find a unified solution. The IRGC declared victory over the 
     protests on Sunday, but this reflects its hopes more than the 
     reality on the ground.
       The regime has issued strong warnings against joining the 
     leading opposition group, Mujahedin-e Khalq. One after 
     another, low-ranking and senior officials, joined by the 
     Friday prayer leaders across the country who toe the regime's 
     line, blame the MEK for the protests. The torrent of 
     statements by regime officials reflect their panic at the 
     expansion of the nationwide uprising and the rising 
     popularity of the MEK and the National Council of Resistance 
     of Iran.
       The religious dictatorship has resorted to extensive 
     suppression to confront protesters. The IRCG has killed at 
     least 50 people and wounded hundreds. By the end of the ninth 
     day of protests, at least 3,000 had been arrested, according 
     to our sources in the country. Numerous reports indicate that 
     security forces literally knock on people's doors and warn 
     them against attending demonstrations. The net of suppression 
     has been cast as wide as possible.
       In light of this brutal repression, the international 
     community must not remain silent. The United Nations Security 
     Council must adopt punitive measures against the regime's 
     crimes. This has long been the demand of the Iranian people 
     and opposition. We must not forget that the perpetrators of 
     the horrific 1988 massacre of 30,000 political prisoners are 
     still in power today, holding senior executive and judicial 
     positions while engaging in the murder of protesters in the 
     streets.
       Perhaps the final difference between the 2009 protests and 
     the recent uprising will be that the latter succeeds in 
     overthrowing the reviled theocracy in Iran. The people of 
     Iran fervently hope so.

                          ____________________