The Islamic Republic of Iran has been rocked by more than 100 consecutive days of unrest, with residents of more than 300 cities and towns expressing a shared desire for the collapse of what they’ve termed “the child-killing regime”. More than 70 juveniles have been identified among the more than 700 protesters who have been killed by the regime’s crackdown in total, according to the leading pro-democracy opposition group, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran.
Despite this death toll and despite more than 35,000 arrests leading to a growing number of indictments on vaguely-defined capital charges, the unrest does not appear to be diminishing in any measure. Quite to the contrary, some of the most significant public gatherings in recent weeks have been organized specifically to coincide with memorial ceremonies for those already killed in earlier protests. Amidst these conditions, a growing number of experts including Western policymakers and heads of state have come to recognize the ongoing uprising as a “revolution” and a likely turning point in modern Iranian history.
In other words, there is growing confidence that the clerical regime established in the wake of the 1979 Revolution may be on its way to extinction. Nowhere is this confidence more acutely felt than within the ranks of Iran’s organized opposition movement, which has overseen several large-scale uprisings just since the beginning of 2018.
Accordingly, the opposition leader Maryam Rajavi greeted the eve of the Western world’s New Year on Thursday by noting that it “coincides with the Iranian people’s victorious uprising to end the ruling religious tyranny” and that that uprising, “led by women and youth, will bring freedom and prosperity to Iran and promote peace and justice in Ukraine, the Middle East, and across the globe.”
Such broad references to prominent geopolitical issues reflect the widespread perception of Iran’s existing regime as one of the greatest global threats to peace and stability. The United States and its allies have long described Iran as the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, owing to its effective control over groups like Hezbollah in Lebanon and the so-called Popular Mobilization Forces in Iraq.
The Iranian opposition has long urged Western powers to halt those negotiations and to strengthen multi-lateral sanctions targeting Iran’s nuclear program, arms smuggling network, and human rights violations. The National Council of Resistance of Iran has also been promoting a viable alternative to Iran’s clerical regime. The NCRI has designated Maryam Rajavi to serve as transitional president in the wake of the mullahs’ overthrow, and she has outlined a 10-point plan for Iran’s transition to secular-democratic governance.
That plan includes the disavowal of the current regime’s nuclear ambitions and commitment to peaceful relations with neighboring countries and the West. Rajavi no doubt had the same plan in mind when she said at the outset of her New Year statement that “2023 is the year of freedom for Iranian people, peace and friendship for the people of the world.”