The Recent Civil Movements in Iran
On 28 December 2017; people took to the streets on the pretext of economic problems in Mashhad and Qom provinces of Iran and demonstrated against the Hassan Rouhani administration. The nature of these demonstrations soon changed and became anti-regime. US, EU, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Egypt supported the demonstrations that also spread to the other provinces of Iran. RF, Turkey, Qatar and Iraq declared that what happened was an internal problem of Iran and that foreign intervention could not be accepted. In this context, we can list our determinations about the civil movements that started in Iran in the last week of 2017 and have been gradually decreasing in scope and density:
1. Similar street demonstrations took place in Iran in the past. During the 2003 demonstrations, university students took to the streets to demonstrate against the regime. The basic demand of the students was freedom and democracy. Iranian Turks, Kurds, Arabs and Baloches participated in these demonstrations. These demonstrations were supported by the West, particularly the US and the EU. These demonstrations lacked a full organization, and there was not a figure to lead the masses. During the student movements in the early 2000s, which were severely suppressed by the regime, many Iranians had to flee abroad.
2.Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took the support of the regime after the controversial election results in 2009 and became the president for the second time. The street movements thereupon started again in Iran The West, in particular the USA and the EU, supported the anti-regime demonstrations identified with the slogan, “Where is my vote”. The Western media broadcast these demonstrations live for days and social media was used effectively in directing these demonstrations. The leading figures of the demonstrations were Mir Hussein Mousavi and Mehdi Kerrubi. These demonstrations were also suppressed very violently. Mousavi and Kerrubi were placed under house arrest; some of the demonstrators escaped abroad, while the remaining was severely punished.
3.These street movements in Iran were driven by the competition between the reformists (opponents of the regime) and conservatives (regime supporters and the demonstrations were suppressed by the regime forces very violently.
4. The demonstrations that started in the last week of 2017 and still continue differ from the past demonstrations of Iran. First of all, these demonstrations were initiated by the masses of the people who suffered economic problems. The demonstrators are not targeting the regime, but Hassan Rouhani.
5. After being elected president for the first time in 2013, Hassan Rouhani promised to save his country from the embargoes and open it to the international community. In this context, Rouhani signed a nuclear deal with the P5 + 1 countries and the embargo on Iran gradually started to be lifted from January 1, 2016. This development led to great hope and expectation in the Iranian people. This success of Hassan Rouhani brought him back to power in 2017 as the candidate of reformists.
6. However, when Trump, who came to power in the US, withdrew from the nuclear deal, the situation slightly changed. In the national security strategy document announced in 2017, the Trump administration declared Iran an enemy country again. With Trump coming to power; the project of Iran’s integration into the international community, which was developed during the Obama period, failed. This strengthened the hand of the regime while weakening the reformists’ hand. The economy of Iran, which could not be fully freed from the embargoes, deteriorated. The worsening economic conditions created unrest in the Iranian people.
7. Supreme Leader Khamenei, who opposed both the nuclear deal and the Rouhani administration since the beginning, benefited from this situation in order to remove the Rouhani administration from power. First, the Iranians who suffered the economic conditions were mobilized in a controlled manner in the provinces of Mashhad and Qom. The demonstrations in Mashhad and Qom provinces started on December 28, 2017 under the control of the regime against the Rouhani administration with economic justifications.
8. As is known, Mashhad and Qom provinces are very important centers for the regime which has a strict control in these two provinces. Without the knowledge of Iranian intelligence and the Revolutionary Guards controlling it, it is not possible to stage demonstrations in these two provinces. In short, the target of the demonstrations, which started in Mashhad and Qom provinces on December 28, 2017 and spread to Iran’s other provinces, was the overthrow of Hassan Rouhani administration.
9. Hassan Rouhani administration is accused by the regime forces of cooperating with the US because of the nuclear deal. The economic development promised by Hassan Rouhani failed with the Trump coming to power and Iran could not be integrated into the international community. Rouhani administration has been held responsible for the economic problems this has caused. In short, these demonstrations emerged as revenge between the regime forces and Rouhani administration.
10. However, the nature of the demonstrations changed later. The demonstrations began to spread to the provinces where the majority of the population is Persian and became anti-regime. The United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia announced support for the demonstrations. Upon this, the Iranian people, who were sensitive about foreign intervention, withdrew their support from the demonstrations and the demonstrations turned into meetings with weak participation especially in Tehran.
11. If not for the support statements by the US and other countries, perhaps the demonstrations could continue in a different way. Clearly, this intervention of the foreign powers relieved the regime forces. Regime forces using the discourse that these demonstrations were organized by the United States and Israel ensured the marginalization of the demonstrations.
12. Despite all provocations, the Iranian Turks did not participate in these demonstrations until now. The Iranian Turks were aware that the demonstrations that started on December 27, 2017 and changed in scope and content day by day were an internal settlement in Iran (Rouhani Administration-Regime Forces).
13. The United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia, which misread this civil movement initiated by the regime and controlled by the Iranian Intelligence and Revolutionary Guards, provoked The Iranian Turks, Iranian Kurds, Iranian Arabs and Iranian Baloches to ensure the participation of these communities in the demonstrations. These communities have understood that the internal developments in Iran do not concern them.
14. The destabilization of Iran will affect the countries in the region, especially Turkey. Therefore, Iran’s stability is essential for our country’s national interests.
15.The rights and assets of the Turks living in Iran should be protected within the territorial integrity of Iran. The Iranian Turks should seek to participate in the Iranian administration as one of the major partners through democratic means. Therefore, Iran’s democratization is important for our country. However, the Iranian Turks should not be driven by countries such as the US, the EU, Israel and Saudi Arabia into using the discourse of independence. We believe that the greatest danger in the Iranian issue is the West’s attempts to turn the Iranian Turks into a side of the conflict in Iran. The sensitive treatment of this issue is of great importance for the national interests of Turkey and for the establishment and maintenance of regional peace. Considering the recent developments in Iran, we think it would be appropriate to further detail the issue of Iranian Turks.
Iranian Crisis and Iranian Turks
The recent social and political disputes in the Iranian geography attract the attention of the world on The Iranian Turks, who are around 25 million. It has been made clear that the US-Israel axis, struggling to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear power, is plotting in this country a practical struggle over the Iranian Turks.
The US considered the Iraqi Kurds as a helping force during the occupation of Iraq and now, in the Iranian issue, it is trying the same with the Iranian Turks, which needs elaborate thinking. The latest situation of the Kurds in Iraq and the Free Syrian Army model fighting in Syria are the two forms of struggle that the United States has put forward.
The US is trying to adapt this model to the Iranian Turks to ignite an internal collapse in Iran, thus make it vulnerable against a possible US operation. In the Iraqi model, the Kurds were the local collaborators of the US. However, while the United States is withdrawing from Iraq, the Kurds have become the target of the Shiite Arabs. Although Turkey is concerned about the establishment of a Kurdish state; it is necessary to see the fact that this model will not survive in the region and that this model is standing with the support of Turkey.
The Free Syrian Army model is in a struggle not concluded yet and some of the structures that constitute this movement are struggling as professional terror groups in the eyes of the people. It is not clear who will succeed and which people will be independent as a result of this struggle. These two models, which have failed, are being tried to be imposed on the Iranian Turks. While Turkish nationalists think that the Kurds in Iraq are collaborators, and the Free Syrian army fighting in Syria is subcontractors, they are forced to choose one of these two models imposed on Turks in Iran. The most important fact that those who want to apply the FSA’s method in Iran need to see is that the armed struggle did not give the Turks any rights in the history of Turkish nationalism. In addition, the US’s cooperation with the PKK/ PYD/YPG terrorist organization in Syria should also be taken into consideration.
Since the collaborative Kurdish movement in Iraq is an ordinary movement that would not suit a nation that has established a civilization and an empire; this example cannot be a model for the struggle of The Iranian Turks. Trying to impose a model on the Turks in Iran originates from not knowing the region. The Persian Turks were in power in Iran until 1924, when the Persian Pahlavi dynasty, came to power in Iran. In other words, the Iranian Turks are neither like the Kurds in Iraq, nor the majority Sunni Arabs in Syria. This fact will be better understood when the history of Syria and Iraq is examined since the historical background of the Iranian Turks has a great accumulation.
The future of the Iranian Turks is proportional to the construction of a more active democratic system in Iran. Turks living in Bulgaria were forced to leave their homeland 25 years ago. However, those who were deported from their homeland became a partner in power after democratic struggles. This is a beautiful example that the Iranian Turks can easily apply. To be a collaborator in a possible operation to Iran will erase the Iranian Turks from history and the Shah Ismail tradition will disappear forever.
A sweet competition between the Turks will trigger development and initiate the process of civilization. If the Iranian Turks are pushed into a collaborative position, this competition will disappear and both the Iranian Turks will be destroyed and the future of Turkish civilization will darken as Turkish competition will disappear. The fate of the Iranian Turks and the civilization war of the Turkish world lie in the democratic struggle of the Iranian Turks.
Iran will eventually move to a democratic order and the Turks will return to the period before 1924. This is a way out for all peoples, especially Persians living in Iran. The struggle of the Iranian Turks in Iran is a struggle aimed at ensuring more active use of cultural rights within the democratic system. Despite this fact, it is unacceptable that the Iranian government began to oppress the Iranian Turks by being deceived by the psychological operations of the US-Israel front. If the Iranian administration thinks about its future, it has to fulfill all democratic demands of the Iranian Turks.
Misled by the US-Israel axis in its psychological operations, the Iranian administration’s disregard of the Iranian Turks will lead to chaos, which will benefit neither the Turks nor the Persian regime of Iran. The Iranian Turks should continue their struggle in Iran without being a tool in the US-Israeli-axis psychological operations and should demand not the dissolution of Iran, but rule over the whole Iran.
It is not quite easy to foresee the extent of such dissolution in the region. No Turk should be harmed by Iran’s oppressive power or by the forces that desire to carry out operations in Iran. Turks in Iran, on the other hand, should know that this can only be achieved through democratic means.
With the US’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal, the Iran issue has started to take the first place on the agenda of the international system. The policies and strategies to be produced in this regard also started to be discussed in our country. Iran is the eastern neighbor of Turkey and the two countries have extensive relations ranging from economy to foreign policy, from energy to culture. In addition, 25 million Turkish people living in Iran are important for us. The issue of Iran should be dealt with in these two aspects, and attention should be paid to the sensitive issues we have explained above in order to preserve the existence of the Iranian Turks. The next section will discuss what can be seen in the future by revealing the latest developments in Iran.
Dr. Ufuk Cerrah-KAFKASSAM