By: Pejman Amiri
Another sign of no changes in Iran after the “landmark” and “historic” nuclear deal signed in Vienna back in July is a new wave of arrests launched by hardliners in Iran. Reports from inside Iran are showing numerous arrests of people that have made the regime’s president Hassan Rouhani quite angry. The camp supporting supreme leader Ali Khamenei have been arresting and targeting figures described as supporters of the Rafsanjani-Rouhani base.
While Khamenei is recently seen speaking out against what he is dubbing as attempts by the West to “spread their influence” in Iran, a member of the notorious Revolutionary Guards has explained the recent arrests as apprehending people described as “pens for hire” and working for the CIA.
The recent crackdown, while leaving those boasting of new relations between the US and Iran in awe as they ridiculously thought the Ayatollahs would actually give in to such major shifts, has targeted businessmen and IT experts, accusing them of espionage for the West.
These people are accused by remarks such as, “Through close associations with some political movements, he intended to intensify a bipolar current inside Iran so that Western and American intelligence services could increase their activities in Iran,” a presenter on state television said. ‘He’ is a reference to Nizar Zakka, a Lebanese IT expert who enjoys a legal permanent US residency and was invited by an Iranian deputy vice president to Tehran.
Hardliners in Iran have a long history of silencing media for criticizing the regime.
This latest round of crackdown intends to send various messages. Khamenei is first aiming to ensure his camp of the fact that he remains fully in charge and no changes made to major policies, as doubts are raised over the nuclear program and supporting Assad in Syria. It is also a message to the West that your citizens will continue to be used by Tehran as bait to pursue their policies.
The Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) has also issued a statement paving the path of closing various newspapers across the country, accusing them of promoting the growth of Western influence inside Iran.
“Election, the major concern for Khamenei and his regime in Iran”
Various analysts are describing the arrests and pressure on media as measures aimed at influencing the upcoming February general elections in Iran by cementing a climate of fear preventing anyone from raising their voice against the regime. If it can actually be described as an election, this is yet another scene of major concern for Khamenei and his regime.
Therefore, expect to witness more arrests and crackdown measures in the near and distant future as the regime’s dilemmas are on the rise after major setbacks suffered in the nuclear dossier and Syria.
Pejman Amiri: Freelance writer on Iran & Middle East Pro-democracy & freedom for Iran