As attempts to resuscitate the Iran nuclear deal drag on, stalling and sputtering, the Islamic Republic, to an extent, has dropped off popular radar. The ins and outs of centrifuge production and rotation, levels of uranium enrichment and the fine points of inspection rights are details that were never destined to hold the attention of the masses, for the duration.
But now Iran is throwing people in jail.
That, in itself is nothing new, and could also fail to crackle on radar. But there is an intensity about this latest round of arrests that former Iranian diplomat Mehrdad Khonsari says merits a powerful expression of outrage from the West.
The additional detention of Mostafa Tajzadeh stands out for a different reason. Tajzadeh is a former presidential advisor who has long been outspoken, but who, according to Khonsari, is far from a dissident calling for revolution. In fact, he comes from a family of system stalwarts, including an in-law who was instrumental in the founding of Hezbollah. It is some time now that the system has apparently become so paranoid that it turns easily on its own, says Khonsari.
“These are not people calling for either the restoration of monarchy or the bringing about of a leftist government. These are people who are part and parcel of the original constituency,” Khonsari says. “The only part of it remaining is what we refer to as the ‘deep state’ and now they are beginning to arrest their own former colleagues and their own former revolutionary partners.”
Khonsari says the situation in Iran is fragile. There are protests regularly. Point to point inflation recently registered at 50%. The price of bread shot up 300% in just one day. Pensions are not enough to live on. People protested corruption around the previously mentioned building that collapsed in Abadan leaving 41 dead. Various unions are up in arms about pay. But still, there is no political rallying point and apparently Iran is not at a tipping point.
“The fact is, there is no organized mechanism inside the country… something the ‘deep state’ has deliberately prevented from being able to be in a position to mount a serious challenge to its authority,” Khonsari says.
Khonsari adds this is all the more reason the West should speak out against the crackdowns on Iranian people.
“Nobdoy wants the U.S. or others to interfere in Iranian domestic politics, but supporting and providing moral support for the rights of people who are trying to rid the country of the yoke of fundamentalist radicalism” and turning Iran into “something that is more amenable to the region and the world is something that is welcome,” he says, claiming such recognition would be a source of inspiration for many and adding that the message shouldn’t be that the Iranian regime “can do whatever they want with their people as long as they don’t have a nuclear bomb.”