The Iranian regime is counting on the Islamic Republic’s thousands of loyal supporters to stop the protest movement that has been going on for more than three months, reports the Iran Daily.Wall Street Journal“.
The newspaper reported that thousands of loyalists who are used by the Iranian government as a bulwark against protests make up the Revolutionary Guards and other less official militias.
She pointed out that these loyalists fought the demonstrators in the streets, defended the values of the Islamic Republic, and in some cases died for them.
According to opinion polls conducted by the Iran Attitude Analysis and Measurement Group, a non-profit think tank based in the Netherlands, one in five Iranians supports the current regime.
The government empowers these people – often from economically modest and socially conservative backgrounds – through perks, jobs and weapons, making it a force for maintaining the status quo.
“There’s little infrastructure, but it’s solid and it’s very loyal,” said Sanam Wakil, deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa Program at Chatham House.
She added that without these loyal supporters, “the Iranian regime will be divided,” adding: “The hard-liners have nowhere to go. This is why the regime is still confident and exists.”
Since September 16, Iran has been witnessing continuous protest movements following the death of a young woman of Kurdish origin, Mahsa Amini (22 years old), after she was arrested by the morality police in Tehran for not adhering to the strict dress code in the country.
Officials considered a large part of these movements as “riots”, and accused the country’s enemies, led by the United States and Western countries, of being involved in it with the aim of destabilizing Iran.
And on Tuesday, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said in a televised speech that “the recent events were the war of the parties, all the arrogant currents came to the field with all their might… The hypocrites, the supporters of the monarchy, all the anti-revolutionary currents, and all those who were harmed by this revolution, were involved.” in events.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the continuation of the protest movement for more than 3 months surprised outside observers, although Western and Middle Eastern governments have assessed that the demonstrations do not yet pose a threat to overthrow the regime.
The Basij stands out as an opposition group to the protesters, a volunteer force of 700,000 people formed as a youth militia during the 1979 revolution that brought clerics to power.
Since then, the Basij paramilitary force has become an institution that permeates Iranian society and fiercely defends the Islamic Republic as a political system dominated by religion and Khamenei as the undisputed head of state.
The Basij calls for maintaining strict women’s dress codes, supports Iran’s regional military moves as a means of defending Islamic holy sites, and opposes any normalization of relations with the United States and Israel.
Other saviors include Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, a 210,000-strong army dedicated to protecting the government from domestic unrest and foreign attacks, as well as Iran’s Hezbollah, a more extreme militia that advocates total religious rule.
Human rights groups have criticized the Basij, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and other loyalist groups for using violence against protesters.
Amnesty International said it documented their use of live ammunition, rubber bullets, metal pellets, tear gas and water cannons.
The United States, the European Union and the United Kingdom imposed sanctions on the “Basij” leaders for using violence to put down the protests.
Saeed Golkar, an Iran scholar at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga who has written an author on the Basij, said Iran is grooming young men from conservative families to join the Basij with training in religious principles and the government’s anti-Western views in children’s camps and neighborhood clubs.
He added that loyal youth are given priority at Iran’s best universities, putting them in line for top government positions and well-paying jobs in companies controlled by hardline factions.