Iran President Hassan Rouhani invited Iranians across the country to attend the upcoming annual rallies commemorating the anniversary of the 1979 Revolution to show unity against all the “enemies” of the regime.
This comes as the government in Iran strives to win support at home and globally after the killing of Revolutionary Guards commander Qassem Soleimani served yet another strike at the regime’s diminishing authority after losing the nuclear deal and being slammed by international sanctions.
“Today, we need, more than ever, to gather together on Bahman 22nd (February 11) and tell the enemies that we have been standing by the Revolution for 41 years and will stand by the Revolution, Imam (Khomeini) and the Leader’s path as long as we are alive,” President Rouhani said, addressing a cabinet session this week.
In additional comments, President Rouhani warned against antagonistic schemes launched against Iran by other nations, mentioning the United States, in order undermine national interests and unity.
Every year, the 22nd of Bahman, the Iranian calendar date coinciding with Feb. 12 commemorating the day the Shah’s regime was replaced by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, small and large-scale rallies for and against the government are held across Iran.
“There are a good amount of Iranians in Iran who are tied to the government because they rely on them for handouts and other favors. They bring these people to the protests,” a political science and history professor named Payam from Mashad said to The Foreign Desk.
“In order to carry out these public shows, the regime counts on this sector of Iranians and repays them with different favors. They will provide free transportation, food, and who knows what else,” Payam said.
While there has been no mention of organized protests against the government for the upcoming anniversary, protests in recent months have spontaneously grown into larger demonstrations.
“The people have surpassed the opposition leaders. They have become weakened by a lack in leadership and direction and this has ultimately been a blessing for the regime,” Payam said.
Large scale protests erupted across Iran mid-November, in the most recent volatile uprisings the country has experienced, apart from demonstrations following the death of Qassem Soleimani. While there are discrepancies as to the exact death toll following the protests among the media and international rights groups, political activists say the number is in the thousands, while Reuters reported that security forces and police killed roughly 1,500 protesters, including 400 women and at least 17 teenagers. The regime has contested this number, stating that the death toll was significantly less.