Some elements of the Iranian regime have suggested political reform to assuage protesters’ frustrations, although such reform is highly unlikely. Hassan Khomeini—the reformist grandson of Ruhollah Khomeini—called for a “majority-based democracy” in Iran on November 7. Khomeini also implicitly criticized the Guardian Council—the state body constitutionally responsible for approving and vetting electoral candidates—for disqualifying prominent moderates and reformists from running in recent elections.
The regime continued linking the ongoing protests with terrorism on November 6 as part of an information operation to delegitimize protesters and their grievances. Parliament Speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf accused the US and Israel of stoking the protests to create a new ISIS in Iran. A group of 227 parliamentarians signed a letter similarly blaming the US for the unrest and comparing protesters to ISIS militants, calling for harsh and rapid prosecutions. Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Telegram channels previously characterized protesters as ”domestic ISIS” on November 3, as CTP previously reported.
Prominent Sunni cleric Moulana Abdol Hamid may begin regularly instigating protests throughout Sistan and Baluchistan Province rather than in just Zahedan. Protests occurred in at least five cities in Sistan and Baluchistan Province on November 4, including Zahedan, where Abdol Hamid has instigated protests during his Friday sermons in recent weeks. Abdol Hamid called for a referendum on the Islamic Republic during his Friday Prayer sermon on November 4. Abdol Hamid’s criticism of the regime may be resonating with a larger portion of the Sunni Baloch community, indirectly stoking additional demonstrations against the political establishment.
Violent clashes erupted between security forces and protesters in Karaj, Alborz Province on November 3. Mourners and protesters gathered around Karaj, which is just outside Tehran City, to commemorate the 40th day since the regime killed Hadis Najafi. Security forces blocked roads leading to the cemetery where Najafi is buried and fired live ammunition and tear gas at protesters. Protesters attacked security forces stations and vehicles. Protesters stabbed and killed a Basij member and injured five Law Enforcement Command (LEC) officers. Protesters also severely injured a cleric.
The regime has begun indicting and sentencing arrested protesters as part of the increasingly harsh and uncompromising stance that the regime has adopted toward the ongoing protests. Tehran Provincial Chief Justice Ali al Ghasi Mehr announced the indictment of around 1,000 protesters on October 31. Shiraz Provincial Chief Justice Asadollah Jafari announced the indictment of 70 protesters, six of whom the regime has already found guilty. Mehr and Jafari both noted that the judiciary will open protester trials to the public. The regime will likely use these show trials to make an example of some arrested protesters and deter future demonstrations. If the regime shows trials, convictions, and then death sentences of teenagers, it may further fuel rather than diminish enthusiasm for demonstrations.
The regime is escalating its protest crackdown in a way that could fuel an enduring and increasingly violent uprising against the political establishment. Protests continued on October 30 despite the call from Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Commander Major General Hossein Salami for the immediate end of protests on October 29. Protest organizations have called for more demonstrations from November 1-3. The regime will likely intensify its crackdown further in the coming days as protests continue. Such an escalation will likely cause protesters to either stop demonstrating or escalate further themselves in response.
Iranian security personnel fired live ammunition and tear gas at anti-regime demonstrators in Zahedan, Sistan Baluchistan Province on October 28 as protesters commemorated the regime’s brutal crackdown there four weeks earlier. Iranian security forces may have deployed snipers to help violently suppress dissent. Iranian social media users reported that security forces killed at least two protesters-- possibly including a 12-year-old boy--although the true figure is likely higher. Cybersecurity watchdog NetBlocks confirmed severe internet disruptions in Zahedan on October 28. Protests likely commenced during Friday prayer sermons at the Makki Grand Mosque in Zahedan, where hundreds of worshippers gathered to commemorate the regime’s violent September 30 crackdown on anti-regime demonstrations. Some worshippers carried signs with slogans unique to the Mahsa Amini protest wave, including ”woman, life, freedom.” Online footage shows significant crowds participating in anti-regime protests throughout the city later that day. Anti-regime demonstrations in Zahedan may become increasingly common on Fridays as residents seek to commemorate protesters killed by regime security personnel.
Some Iranian social media users are invoking the November 2019 gasoline protests as the ongoing, anti-regime protests enter the Persian calendar month of Aban (October 23-November 21, 2022). Some Persian-language accounts have described the ongoing protests as the continuation of the gasoline protests, which are often referred to as the Aban protests since they occurred primarily from November 15-19, 2019. Estimates of civilians killed by the state security services in November 2019 range from 304 to 1,500.
Anti-regime protests in Iran occurred in at least 24 cities in 18 provinces on October 22—a significant increase from the protest activity in recent days. Protest organizations called for countrywide demonstrations on October 22 as CTP previously reported. Protestors are continuing to organize demonstrations despite ongoing and severe internet and telecommunications censorship. The protest organizations have called for additional demonstrations on October 26—the 40th day since the morality patrol killed Mahsa Amini.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) began a three-day military exercise along the Iran-Azerbaijan border on October 17 likely to threaten Azerbaijan for allegedly hosting Israeli intelligence agents. The IRGC is using this exercise to demonstrate its capability to attack Azerbaijan and strike targets in Azerbaijani territory. The exercise includes artillery, helicopters, tanks, and missiles. The IRGC announced plans to practice bridging the river that divides Iran and Azerbaijan for the first time during this exercise. The IRGC is using the Fateh-360 short-range ballistic missile, which has a reported operational range of 120 kilometers, in this exercise. IRGC-affiliated media boasted that the IRGC has previously used these missiles for cross-border attacks into Iraqi Kurdistan. An IRGC-affiliated journalist tweeted that the exercise signals the readiness of the IRGC to confront Azerbaijan.