Iran: crackdown, conciliatory line or chain reaction?

Iran: crackdown, conciliatory line or chain reaction?

In the run-up to the mass protests in Iran, the annual Free Iran conference of the Iranian resistance groups took place, at which the People’s Mohjahedin were again the focus and a number of Western politicians from Pompeo to Liebermann, but also Kasparov and the grand daughter of Nelson Mandela took part. To what extent this contributed to the current mass protests remains unclear:

OTS0018, 01 Jul 2022, 08:16

Announcement: Free Iran International Conference, April 23-24 July 2022 Largest gathering of Iranian opposition with international political dignitaries Vienna (OTS) – The annual international summit of the Iranian opposition will take place on July 23-24 this year. In addition to Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), numerous high-ranking politicians from Europe, the USA and other countries will give speeches. As in the last two years, the summit conference will take place in hybrid form in the form of a large online conference and rallies in several cities. Among other things, a large rally is planned in Berlin, where several thousand participants demonstrated last year. Last year’s Free Iran World Summit, held on July 10-12, 2021, was attended by more than 1,000 political dignitaries and members of delegations representing the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, and the Arab world, among others . Among speakers in 2021 were former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo; former Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman; 30 sitting U.S. Congressmen from both parties, including Ben Cardin, Bob Menendez, Ted Cruz, Roy Blunt and Kevin McCarthy; Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša; former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper; former President of the German Bundestag Rita Süssmuth; Zamaswazi Dlamini-Mandela, human rights activist and granddaughter of the late Nelson Mandela; former Prime Minister of Algeria Sid Ahmad Ghozali and Russian opposition politician and former world chess champion Garry Kasparov

This year’s „Free Iran“ summit is all about regime change and democratic alternatives. The social situation in Iran has deteriorated significantly: protests and strikes are taking place almost every day in various cities and the resistance units have become even more active across the country. No agreement has yet been reached in the nuclear talks due to violations and attempts at deception by the Iranian regime. The final conviction of an Iranian diplomat accredited in Vienna for planning a foiled bomb attack at the Iranian opposition’s annual summit in Paris in 2018 was a major setback for the mullahs‘ regime and its diplomatic relations with the EU. The Organizing Committee of the „Free Iran 2022“ World Summit invites all people who are interested in democratic change in Iran to this year’s event.

For more information for interested parties from Austria, please contact us. Questions & contact: Mag. Ehsan Ayatollahi Phone: +43 69914054869

In any case, the wave of protests in Iran is not abating. Iran’s top leader has portrayed the recent unrest in the country as a conspiracy operation by the US, Israel and „Iranian traitors abroad“. „A young woman died and that was very bitter and regrettable,“ said Ali Chamenei in his first reaction to the case of the deceased Mahsa Amini and the ongoing protests. But it is neither normal nor acceptable to burn Korans, mosques, cars and banks for this reason and to tear the veils from the women’s heads. „These riots are an operation programmed by the USA, the Zionist regime (Israel) and Iranian traitors abroad to torpedo the security of the country,“ said the cleric on state broadcaster IRIB. The United States and the West are concerned neither with Amini, who died in police custody, nor with the headscarf requirement in Iran. „Nobody in the US is mourning the dead woman, this is just about the independence of the Islamic Republic and its resistance (against the US),“ Chamenei said. The Americans and Iran’s enemies wanted to break this resistance and make the country once again dependent on the West. According to local media reports, security forces at Sharif University in the capital Tehran used massive violence against students who were demonstrating against the repressive Islamic system on Monday night. According to the Iranian news portal Emtedad, several professors at the elite university were also beaten. Raisi then attended the university and was booed while he let some cheering regime advocates burst into the lecture hall. Now that the street protests have spread to the elite institutions, the universities, and have not stopped after a month, a meeting of the Iranian leadership is now planned, from which critics expect that a hard line of repression could possibly be decided, especially since after the OPEC plus resolutions and the hacker attack on the Iranian state television, in which a call for ato join demonstration and with Khameini as the target was fed in on all channels and the Tehran Times complained about an „all-out cyberwar“.

“Iran grapples with all-out cyber war

By Mehran Shamsuddin

October 8, 2022 – 20:45

The Islamic Republic has been subject to a cognitive cyber war that is unprecedented in terms of creating perceptions of downfall in a stable country where people continue to live their normal lives. The venue for this war is social media which has been abuzz with footage and videos purportedly showing that the Islamic Republic is on the verge of collapse, if not already cracked up.

The reality, however, is quite different. Tranquility and calm are prevailing throughout the country, with people continuing to lead a life of serenity. Of course, this is not to say that unrest is over, rather it means that the majority of Iranians are living in peace and security amid sporadic pockets of unrest. 

Ordinary Iranians deal with contradiction on a daily basis. In their daily lives, they see in person the tranquility of the streets, but when they sign up to their social media accounts, they get bombarded with countless posts and footage that are meant to portray the situation as tense and exploding.

To be fair, there has been unrest in some parts of the country. And this has largely been the result of the atmosphere created by social media. Influenced by the highly charged atmosphere of social media, some Iranians joined the unrest believing that the game is over.

But many pundits believe that the Islamic Republic can by no means be overthrown by clicks from outside.

According to a recent study by Stanford Internet Observatory, the U.S. has run social media campaigns targeting Iran, China, and Russia with the aim of influencing public opinion in these countries and promoting pro-Western narratives on social media platforms.

“These campaigns consistently advanced narratives promoting the interests of the United States and its allies while opposing countries including Russia, China, and Iran,” the study said. “We believe this activity represents the most extensive case of covert pro-Western influence operations on social media to be reviewed and analyzed by open-source researchers to date. With few exceptions, the study of modern influence operations has overwhelmingly focused on activity linked to… Russia, China, and Iran.”

In July and August 2022, Twitter and Meta removed two overlapping sets of accounts for violating their platforms’ terms of service. Twitter said the accounts fell foul of its policies on “platform manipulation and spam,” while Meta said the assets on its platforms engaged in “coordinated inauthentic behavior.” After taking down the assets, both platforms provided portions of the activity to Graphika and the Stanford Internet Observatory for further analysis.

Mere days after the protests erupted on September 16, the Washington Post revealed that the Pentagon had initiated a wide-ranging audit of all its online psyops efforts after a number of bot and troll accounts operated by its Central Command (CENTCOM) division – which covers all U.S. military actions in West Asia, North Africa and South, and Central Asia – were exposed, and subsequently banned by major social networks and online spaces, according to a Cradle report.

These campaigns played a major role in inciting riots in Iran over the last few weeks. Many teenagers, influenced by these campaigns, took to the streets and set fire to public property.

But there are now also other prominent voices that advocate a conciliatory line, as everything else could trigger a chain reaction. On the one hand there is the former leader of the green reform movement Chatami, who has spoken out from his isolation and supported the protests. Secondly, the daughter of former Iranian President Rafsanjani is also a famous representative of the movement. But now a representative close to the IRGC is also airing his voice and admonishing a conciliatory line. He recognizes the legitimacy of the protests, which resulted from economic problems to the wrong treatment of Islamic laws, demands the resignation of those responsible, tours of the country by the leaders, to seek dialogue with the people and the protesters, as well as to stop and correct the regime’s false reports, i.e. a certain honesty in communication:

“Iran’s regime trying to manage protests it can’t contain -analysis

If Iran suppresses the demonstrations more it could create a chain reaction in which the protests get worse.

By Seth J. Frantzman

Published: OCTOBER 9, 2022 14:19

Updated: OCTOBER 9, 2022 14:20

Facing weeks of unprecedented protests, Iran’s regime is now in a bind.

If it suppresses the demonstrations more it could create a chain reaction in which the protests get worse because the people’s anger grows over a crackdown.

On the other hand if the regime appears weak and doesn’t do anything the protests may create a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for people to feel free from the regime’s grasp and then push for the regime to fall. 

Iran’s regime is smart and sophisticated. It has survived for decades ruling over a country in which many people despise it.

Opposition comes from many minority groups and regions and also from people who prefer Iran to be a more modern society, rather than run by theocratic men who chase after women for not covering their hair.  

“Violence that overtook the people’s protests should not make them ignore the protests and forget the discussion about them.“

Hujattul Islam Hajj Sheikh Ali Saeedi

Unprecedented interview in Iran

A recent article in Tasnim News, a network close to the IRGC, illustrates the problem Iran’s regime faces. The article included an interview with Hujattul Islam Hajj Sheikh Ali Saeedi.

This man was appointed in 2108 to the position of head of the Ideological-Political Bureau at the office of the Commander-in-Chief of Iran’s Armed Forces.  

The article explains why they interviewed this man. It says that many people protesting in Iran today “neither knew who Mahsa Amini was nor what the issue was.” The point they made was that there is widespread anger in Iran, and that some protests are legitimate, but many are being exploited.

The article uses some conciliatory language, referring to “bitter and unfortunate events.” The article has sympathy for peaceful protests, it says. But it says “violence that overtook the people’s protests should not make them ignore the protests and forget the discussion about them. A pathological and reformist look at the processes and seeing the generation that is growing in the context of virtual space is one of the necessities of governance.”

This word salad of a sentence is a way for the regime to say that they are concerned the young generation is getting away from them. Most of the protesters today are students and teens.  

In the interview with Ali Saeedi, he draws a comparison between protests in Iran, to more generalized issues.

He said that “if an accident occurs, if a person or persons are guilty and negligence has occurred, they should take responsibility for their mistake and say that we are ready to accept any punishment. In some countries, we see that a minister resigns because of an incident that happened in his subordinate. This culture should flow in our administrative and government system, so that if there is a fault in a system, the officials of that system will take responsibility for that fault. People will be convinced when they see the honesty of the officials.” 

This sounds like he is blaming someone in the government for the death of Amini. “What to do here? First of all, the speed of informing and mastering is also very important here. In the case of Mrs. Mehsa Amini’s death, which was a bitter incident and hurt public opinion, such a thing should have been done quickly.”

Ali Saeedi argued that even if someone is not clearly at fault and her death was an accident, then someone should be critiqued and should resign. Clearly, this is a sign that many members of the regime think this was not handled well. They are sensitive to the murder of a young woman and especially a woman from the Kurdish minority, because they know that people take this seriously and they cannot pretend she was a dissident or “terrorist.”  

Even Tasnim’s official line on this, in the introduction to the article, notes “everything started from a tragic event, with the death of a young woman named Mehsa Amini, many people were upset and everyone reacted in a different way to this incident…After the death of Mrs. Mehsa Amini, protest gatherings were held in Tehran.”

Could dissent become more acceptable in Iran?

The article is basically saying that protests are fine and people have a right to protest; but that the riots and violence are not acceptable. This is conciliatory language from the very top.  

In the interview, there are more nuggets of interest for those who wonder whether cracks are openly appearing in the regime.

A history of regime mistakes

Ali Saeedi compared the event to other regime mistakes. He said that it would have been better for the medical examiners to announce the results of the investigation into Amini’s death earlier.

“Maybe we would have seen less tragic events after that…Later, the medical examiner announced in the first stage that there were no traces of beating in the skull of this woman. But anyway, people are waiting for the medical examiner to announce his opinion.” This is a clear questioning of the official narrative.  

The interviewee then turned his attention to the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in 2020. 

He said the government made mistakes; it said “first one thing…and then something else.” 

Indeed, contradictory and incorrect news and narratives were published, he says, comparing it to “fake news.”

Then he moved on to the downing of the Ukrainian airliner in January 2020 when the IRGC shot down a civilian plane.

“The same happened with the Ukrainian plane crash. It is necessary to form a committee or council with a combination of radio and television and other members under the supervision of the Supreme National Security Council so that we do not witness the emergence of false and flawed narratives. The news should also be conveyed to the people quickly and urgently.” 

He went on to say that in the beginning of the “revolutionary“ era in Iran, the period of 1979, that “figures from different and even opposing intellectual and political groups appeared, spoke their words and criticized each other. Those debates were very good. People were also persistent. One of the solutions can be the revival of these debates and conversations.”

He proposed a real change in Iran in which protests are protected and people can speak more freely.

“It is necessary to give value and opportunity to trade unions and any groups and institutions that are similar to these so that they can do these things and finally prevent protest from turning into convulsions and conflicts.”

The danger of protests for the regime

Ali Saeedi warned that protests can be hijacked and turn violent.

“For example, people have come to the street for water and say they want water, but suddenly some people jump on these protests and riot.” 

He encouraged officials to protect the right to protest and the right to gather.

“Institutions and officials should also be receptive to protests and take responsibility for ensuring the security of protesters. Even if a gathering has taken place without prior coordination, they should be guided so that their words and lives are not threatened…Maybe this will take time, but by amending the laws and creating a culture among the officials and the people, we can witness gatherings and protests in the future where the people will convey their words to the officials directly and clearly and in complete security, demand and follow up. Of course, it should not be overlooked that the presence of officials among the people is very important in this regard. Provincial trips of Ayatollah Raisi, the country’s highest executive official, and direct meetings with the people are somewhat effective and useful in fulfilling this demand.”

In this unprecedented interview, the media and the interviewee are suggesting a real reform in Iran in terms of approaching protests. This is a major shift in how most authoritarian regimes deal with demands from the people.

In other regimes such as Turkey, Russia and China no articles appear like this in which officials argue for listening to protests.

Iran’s regime is trying to be flexible because it understands that it faces a crossroads today. If it crushes the protests with mass killings, as it did in 2019 and other instances, it will lose a generation. If it listens it might get to survive another decade or so. The regime knows that it is facing a real test.

It also knows that the Iran deal which it was able to get in 2015 may not be on the table and that its allies in Moscow and Beijing may not be able to come to its aid because they face hurdles of their own at home. Iran’s regime understands today that it doesn’t have the wind in its sails it had back in 2009-2015 when a new US administration was working to secure the deal and Iran was on the winning side; today it faces real hurdles at home.

In an interview with the Jerusalem Post, the Shah’s son Reza Pahlevi now also speaks out, against a scenario in Syria as threatened by the Iranian regime, rejects armed resistance, speaks out for civil resistance and disobedience, and appeals to the Iranian military to get on the right side of history and create a democratic and peaceful Iran that can also live at peace with Israel and its Arab neighbors. To what extent he sees himself as a leader or a future Iran, to what extent he hopes that a kind of constitutional monarchy will be established there or that he can use the military and a Neosavak to reintroduce a new authoritarian Shah rule remains open, although the Iranians are probably sensitized in this regard:

“’Iran will seek economic, cultural ties with Israel‘ – Iranian prince – opinion

I interviewed Prince Reza Pahlavi, the son of the last Iranian shah, to understand more about what Iran may look like should there be a successful revolution.

By Emily Schrader

Published: OCTOBER 3, 2022 11:34

The Iranian Revolution in 1979 saw the ousting of the Shah of Iran and the implementation of an oppressive, theocratic regime which imposed draconian, barbaric laws on the people of Iran that have only intensified in their cruelty over the last 40 years.

Today, the people of Iran are fighting back with a massive wave of ongoing popular protests against the Islamic regime following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini by Iran’s notorious morality police. Unlike previous uprisings in Iran, the protesters have been very clear about their message and demands: they want regime change.

 PRINCE REZA Pahlavi sits in his office in Washington.  (photo credit: Courtesy/Secretariat of Reza Pahlavi)

PRINCE REZA Pahlavi sits in his office in Washington.

(photo credit: Courtesy/Secretariat of Reza Pahlavi)

I interviewed Prince Reza Pahlavi, the son of the last Iranian shah, to understand more about what Iran may look like should there be a successful revolution. Our discussion took place online.

ES: Prince Pahlavi, thank you for taking the time to speak with me. To start off, Iran is obviously in a tumultuous time once again. What do you see as the goal of the popular uprisings in Iran and do you support the protesters in their initiatives? What do the protesters need to do to ensure meaningful change and do you believe the army will eventually side with the people? Why or why not?

Pahlavi: It is my pleasure. We are indeed in more than tumultuous times in my country. We are in revolutionary times. The popular uprisings we are seeing in hundreds of cities and towns across Iran have a very clear goal: the overthrow of the Islamic Republic and the establishment of a secular democracy based on human rights. I appreciate the way you phrased the question, my brave compatriots on the ground are leading this struggle. Of course I support them with every fiber of my being and will do everything in my power to support them and help them be victorious.

One of the ways I believe I can do that is by speaking, publicly and privately, to the army and armed forces. As a soldier myself, I am telling them that their duty is to defend our country, our borders, and our people from foreign enemies but now they face a domestic enemy: the Islamic Republic, and they must defend the people against it.

The Islamic regime in Iran has ruled over the Iranian people for decades with an iron fist, despite not having popular support from the public. How has this regime maintained its power?

The regime has sustained power by brute force and attempting to divide and atomize our nation. It has attempted to fracture our people along exaggerated or even nonexistent lines of gender, religion, tribe, race, sexuality, or ideology. But the regime is failing. The Iranian people are showing right now that just as we have remained a united people for thousands of years, we continue to be one in the face of this domestic enemy. The young generation is bravely standing up against this regime’s violence and they aren’t afraid. They stand ready, shoulder to shoulder, to reclaim Iran from this medieval and divisive regime.”

ES: Many Westerners are wary of revolutions as a result of what happened in the Arab Spring and the subsequent instability. What is different about these protests? Hypothetically, the day after a successful revolution, what does Iran need to do to succeed and restore its position as a peace-loving nation in the world?

Pahlavi: “Westerners should be more concerned about the Islamic Republic staying in power than my compatriots establishing a free, secular, democratic Iran. The Islamic Republic has destroyed the Middle East, caused massive migration waves to Europe, and sown terror around the world. Yet, some are afraid of a democratic revolution against the regime that caused all of this? I find it a very sophomoric and unimaginative viewpoint.

These protests are being led by a new generation in Iran and as they chant in their slogans they want to “reclaim Iran” and rebuild it as a member of the international community. They want to live lives of peace and prosperity as so many nations of the Abraham Accords do. The day after this revolution succeeds, a national government dedicated to the well-being of the people will come to power and a constituent assembly begin the process of drafting a new constitution before heading to the first free elections. The process has been completed elsewhere, we do not need to reinvent the wheel.”

Moving on to the West, what is the role of the West (if any) in resolving the chaos in Iran? Do you think the US and other Western nations are doing their part? Finally, do you think that the US and allies should arm the protesters in Iran?

The West must move on from supporting this revolution in words to supporting it in actions. My compatriots need Internet access and they need support for their growing strikes. These countries spend millions of dollars annually on Internet freedom. What better investment could they make than providing Iranians with technology like Starlink? What better investment could be made than a strike fund to support laborers who are willing to take the risk to go on strike? As to the United States, it is finally time for [US] President [Joe] Biden to forcefully and unequivocally announce his support for the Iranian protesters taking valiantly to the streets. As a moral imperative, he should support this freedom movement as boldly as he supported the anti-apartheid movement.

However, under no circumstances do I think that any foreign nation should arm protesters. Our people have been proceeding wisely, thoughtfully, and largely through civil disobedience. They do not need foreign powers to arm them and we will not, under any circumstances, tolerate foreign powers attempting to arm or back certain factions against others. We are a united nation.”

The Iranian people and the Israeli people have a long and rich history and enjoyed mutually beneficial relations for years before the Islamic revolution. In the future, what are your hopes for the Israel-Iran relationship?

You are right. The history of the Iranian and Jewish people is an ancient one, from the times of Queen Esther and Cyrus the Great facilitating the rebuilding of the temple. Even more recently, our countries had excellent and productive relations in the 1960s and 1970s. Once this regime falls, its antisemitism and hatred for the state of Israel will also fall. Iran will seek economic, cultural and other ties with Israel as we will with all nations who seek relations with us based on goodwill and mutual interest.”

You are widely considered to be the favorite to rule Iran should the Islamic regime fall. What would Iran look up under your leadership? What would you do with the Iranian nuclear program? Do you support normalization with Israel? Do you support normalization with other Arab states?

I have never sought to free Iran for myself, I have sought to free Iran for my compatriots. For the youth who deserve the right to live like youth anywhere! I am not doing this for a title or a position. I am doing it for my country. My vision, however, is one far different from what one sees today. A free Iran would never seek nuclear weapons, as we would not need them. Of course we support normalization with Israel and Arab nations in the Persian Gulf region and broader Middle East. The future, free Iran will look to normalize relations with all based on mutual interest and mutual respect. Our region can, if we work together, be a global powerhouse.”

What is your message to the Jewish people and the people of Israel that you wish the public would understand more of when it comes to Israel and Iran?

Today protesters chant: “Women, life, freedom!” I believe our Jewish friends will empathize with this slogan and as we are in the middle of the Jewish holidays I say to them, “L’chaim!” To life! The Iranian people seek freedom for themselves and coexistence with others. We hope the people of Israel and the people of all nations will stand with us in that process.”

The writer is the CEO of Social Lite Creative and a human rights activist.

Meanwhile there has been heavy criticism from leftists, women’s groups and the BILD newspaper of Baerbock’s alleged cosiness towards Iran, as well as arguments in the Foreign Ministry between Iran experts who fear for the nuclear deal and the stability of the region and people who call for a tougher line against the mullahs‘ regime :

“The government cannot find a clear line Iran uprising splits Baerbock ministry

By: Björn Stritzel and Maximilian Both 10/08/2022 – 11:41 am

Tens of thousands have been protesting in Iran against the rule of the Islamist regime for weeks – but the German government has not found a clear line on this. In the Foreign Office in particular, there are apparently differences between the management and officials in the department responsible for the Middle East. Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (41, Greens) showed solidarity with Iranian women. Although she denied the religious character of the Islamist murderer gangs, she clearly condemned „the brute force of the regime“ and announced sanctions against those responsible. On the other hand, according to BILD information, some top officials continue to cling to the mullahs! Because: In Department 3 of the ministry, headed by Philipp Ackermann for many years, a change of power in Iran is assessed as a „catastrophe“ and „instability in the entire region“ could result if the demonstrators gain the upper hand. Ackermann himself, like his successor Christian Buck, is seen in the ministry as a supporter of the nuclear deal with Iran and an advocate of a soft course with the mullahs.

It is Iranian-controlled militias that are spreading terror and creating instability in Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq and Syria. The bloodshed in Iran continues relentlessly. Two teenage girls have been beaten to death by police. At least 76 people have had to die in Iran so far because they opposed the Islamist mullahs‘ regime and the government’s headscarf requirement. But instead of facing up to this reality, the ministry still listens to the German-Iranian Adnan Tabatabai, who describes himself as an „advisor“ to the Foreign Office. His think tank „Carpo“ is funded by the Federal Foreign Office.

„Tabatabai comes from a family that is very closely linked to the Islamic regime, he tries to give it a friendly face abroad,“ says human rights activist Mina Ahadi (66). In fact: Tabatabai’s father Sadegh (died. February 21, 2015 in Düsseldorf) was a confidante of the Iranian revolutionary leader Ruhollah Khomeini (also known as Ayatollah Khomeini), who staged a coup against the Shah of Persia in 1979 and consequently established a theocracy. Sadegh Tabatabai was then often in Germany as Iran’s special ambassador, even smuggling weapons and drugs for the mullahs. Only because of his diplomatic status were these acts not prosecuted. Also interesting His son Adnan Tabatabai does not hold an official position in Iran, but he repeatedly promotes understanding for the brutal regime, which he downplays as a „regulated democracy“. Tabatabai repeatedly warns against interference „from outside“ and even defended the anti-Semitic Berlin al-Quds day on Twitter in 2016. Carpo is currently receiving 900,000 euros in tax money from the Foreign Office for a project that is intended to improve the „dialogue“ between Iran and its neighbors, especially Iraq and Yemen, but also the Gulf states such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. An earlier dialogue project by „Carpo“ was funded with 290,000 euros. Cooperation projects between Iran and its Arab neighbors regularly fail due to fundamentally opposing interests, so the dialogue projects are more like „occupational therapy,“ explains a person familiar with the matter.

In fact, the Iranian regime regularly threatens the Arab Gulf States with annihilation and attacks them again and again with rockets, drones or even through piracy. The Federal Foreign Office does not contest this: „The aim of the project is to promote exchange and cooperation between the states of the Gulf Cooperation Council as well as Iran, Iraq and Yemen and thus make a contribution to regional stability,“ explains a spokeswoman when asked. Iranians have been demonstrating against the regime of the Islamic Republic for three weeks – and now the schoolchildren and students are also rising up… Now even schoolchildren are protesting against the Islamist regime in Iran, putting their lives at risk. Why is Secretary of State Baerbock meeting Tabatabai? In July, Foreign Minister Baerbock even met Tabatabai – the visit was also recommended by ministry officials.

When asked, the Foreign Office said it was a general meeting with various NGOs, and Carpo was only one of „over 100 partners“. The project, which was funded with almost one million euros, is said not to have been the issue: „There was no connection to the project in question,“ according to the Federal Foreign Office.

Adnan Tabatabai (erster von links) und Bundesaußenministerin Annalena Baerbock (mitte)
Adnan Tabatabai (l.) und Bundesaußenministerin Annalena Baerbock (Mitte Foto: Twitter/@CARPObonn

Carpo presents the process differently, there they are obviously proud of the minister’s visit and, according to Carpo, the project funded by the Foreign Office was also presented. When asked about Tabatabai’s depiction of al-Quds Day, the Federal Foreign Office explains: „For the Federal Foreign Office, anti-Semitic statements or the negation of Israel’s right to exist are always red lines.“ A red line that Iran under Ali Khamenei, of course, regularly crosses.

„Adnan Tabatabai’s activities boil down to getting the German government to cooperate with the regime in Iran while discrediting the Iranian opposition, which wants a shift towards democracy,“ says Ulrike Becker of the Berlin think tank Mideast Freedom Forum. The director of the American Jewish Committee Berlin, Remko Leemhuis, is outraged: „It is very irritating that an organization that is obviously so close to the Iranian regime is being supported with German tax money.“ Middle East expert Saba Farzan (42) also puts her finger in the wound: „Is Minister Baerbock really serious about realigning German foreign policy?“

 „Iran protests: Baerbock is holding back with a clear reaction – apparently for two reasons (…)

It was the stone that broke the camel’s back and caused the citizens to rebel. To strengthen women’s rights in Iran. With which Baerbock, who is committed to a “feminist foreign policy”, may have felt directly addressed. But, as is so often the case in politics, things are more complicated. The 41-year-old recently explained that it’s not about „how loudly or how often you tweet, but that a value-based foreign policy is often tedious, hard work behind the scenes“.

German reaction to Iran protests: does the planned nuclear deal with Tehran stand in the way of a response?

But where politicians cannot collect any plus points from the population. What Baerbock could have alluded to can only be speculated. The newspaper BILD claims that there are „apparent differences between the management and officials in the department responsible for the Middle East“ in the Foreign Office. Specifically, the sheet goes into department 3 of the ministry. This is responsible for „political relations with 110 countries in the Near and Middle East, in Africa and in Latin America“, as can be read on the homepage. According to the tabloid report, a change of power in Iran would be viewed as a „disaster“ in the department, fearing „regional instability“ as a result. The long-standing leader Christoph Ackermann and his successor Christian Buck would be seen in the Baerbock-House as „proponents of the nuclear deal with Iran and advocates of a cozy course with the mullahs“.

Iran protests and the nuclear deal: are the Iranians demonstrating at the wrong time from a German perspective? Der Spiegel also points to a connection with the nuclear agreement hoped for by the West. For example, Baerbock’s State Secretary Andreas Michaelis informed the members of the Foreign Affairs Committee about talks to revive the deal, which had been virtually dormant since the US left under Donald Trump, when the situation on the Iranian streets had long escalated. Committee participants had gained the impression that the already slim chances of a compromose on a nuclear agreement should not be reduced by tough sanctions. That would mean: the brave demonstrators had defended themselves at the wrong time. The news magazine cites “concern for the well-being of German nationals who are being held in Iran” as another reason for Germany’s reluctance to do so. The number would be in the single digits. But as it says in the oath of office of every minister: It’s about averting damage to the German people. No matter where in the world. With that, Baerbock would have an argument on their side. But don’t expect applause for that. Because the images sent from Iran all over the world contradict everything that can be understood by a free and self-determined life. For Baerbock, too, it is „hard to bear what is happening at Sharif University in Iran,“ she alluded to the violent suppression of student protests. The dilemma: From Berlin’s point of view, the situation in Iran is obviously more complex than in Ukraine.

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