The Iranian regime has cracked down hard on crowds of protesters who have taken to the streets to complain about soaring food prices. Widespread demonstrations have erupted following sudden price hikes across a range of subsidized staple foods, including cooking oil, chicken, eggs, and milk, which have gone up by as much as 300%.

The mullahs’ regime has blamed the cost-of-living crisis, together with holdups in the global supply chain and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), the regime’s Gestapo, together with their paramilitary Basij thugs, have brutally suppressed the protests, arresting dozens of demonstrators in Dezful in Khuzestan province and Yasuj in Kohgiluyeh-Boyerahmad province in southern Iran. The theocratic regime also blocked the internet in a bid to prevent the protests spreading.

The Iranian regime is in a dangerously unstable state. The Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and his army of venally corrupt and sociopathic mullahs, are terrified that a nationwide uprising could throw them from power.

The mullahs and their IRGC flunkies have wrecked the Iranian economy, financed and sustained proxy wars across the Middle East, accelerated their program to develop a nuclear weapon and sponsored acts of terrorism worldwide. With inflation running at around 40%, 80 million Iranians are now facing abject poverty and destitution and repeated protests and uprisings are a clear indication that a major revolt is evolving. Sixty percent of the Iranian population now live below the extreme international poverty line of $1 per day. They face starvation and a daily struggle to survive.

As acute poverty deepens, the corruption of the mullahs and their IRGC protectors becomes increasingly apparent. Senior mullahs, members of the judiciary, and IRGC commanders, now live in excessive luxury. A powerful system of political patronage, nepotism, cronyism, plundering and embezzlement, sustains the elite and cripples the economy, effectively stealing bread from the mouths of the people. Iranians know that while they starve, billions of dollars are beings squandered on the covert bid to build a nuclear bomb and the ballistic missile systems required to carry it, while billions more are being spent to finance their proxy wars in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Lebanon, and Gaza.

Courageous resistance units of the People’s Mojahedin of Iran/Mojahedin-e Khalq (PMOI/MEK) have helped to fan the flames of protest in towns and cities across Iran, daubing graffiti on walls and defacing government buildings and effigies of Khamenei and Ebrahim Raisi, the Iranian president, dubbed "the butcher of Tehran."

State-controlled TV and radio broadcasts have been repeatedly interrupted by resistance hackers, displaying images of Ms. Maryam Rajavi, president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and calling for the downfall of Khamenei, Raisi and their henchmen.

In recent weeks, tens of thousands of teachers have taken to the streets in towns and cities across Iran, protesting about legislation that only allocated a fraction of the budget required to meet their needs and left most of them in extreme poverty. The nationwide protests have been joined by impoverished workers and pensioners, defrauded investors, frustrated students, angry health workers and ordinary citizens dismayed at the spiraling inflation and collapsing economy.

Eighty million beleaguered Iranians know that their once-wealthy country has been plundered by the mullahs and their rage has reached boiling point. No amount of repression, brutality, arrests, imprisonment, torture, and executions can quell the rising tide of opposition to one of the world’s most evil regimes.

With more than half of its cooking oil imported from Ukraine and half of its wheat coming from Russia, Putin’s illegal invasion and ongoing war have brought supplies almost to a standstill. IRGC gangsters are selling Iran’s heavily subsidized stocks of bread to neighboring Iraq and Afghanistan and pocketing the proceeds, spiking widespread hunger and fury in Iran. 

Drought and Western sanctions have further ravaged the Iranian economy which is now teetering on the edge of collapse. Desperate to sell condensate to Venezuela, the mullahs have even despatched Iranian-flagged vessels to trans-ship cargoes of the light oil onto sanction-busting Venezuelan tankers in remote parts of the Indian Ocean near the Maldives, from where they head home to the Bolivarian Republic in Latin America. The cash-strapped Venezuelans require loads of Iranian condensate to convert their extra-heavy oil, to boost exports.

Seeing an end to sanctions as their only hope of survival, the mullahs have been pressurizing the Biden administration for more than a year.

But talks in Vienna which had stalled appear to have begun again, according to the EU’s chief diplomat Josep Borrell, the Spanish socialist High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security.

A renowned appeaser of the mullah’s theocratic regime, Borrell even failed to criticize the mullahs when an Iranian diplomat was arrested, charged, and jailed for 20 years for supervising a terrorist bomb attack on an Iranian opposition rally in Paris. Three Iranian-Belgian co-conspirators involved in the plot had their sentences extended to 17 and 18 years, respectively, when their appeals in a Belgian court were rejected earlier this month.

Borrell announced last week that talks on the moribund nuclear deal had been “unblocked.” This followed a bizarre occurrence when Borrell’s senior envoy Enrique Mora, was held briefly by German police at Frankfurt Airport, after returning from talks in Tehran.

Borrell admitted that the Vienna negotiations had stalled because the Iranian regime was demanding the removal of the IRGC from western terrorist blacklists. His suggestion that a final agreement on the nuclear deal is now possible has raised suspicions in many quarters that not only will the IRGC be de-listed, but that the convicted Iranian terrorist diplomat may soon be released.

If this happens, there will be an international outcry at the betrayal of justice and the betrayal of the Iranian population, who want rid of the mullahs and want peace and prosperity in a secular democracy.

Struan Stevenson is the Coordinator of the Campaign for Iran Change (CiC). He was a member of the European Parliament representing Scotland (1999-2014), president of the Parliament's Delegation for Relations with Iraq (2009-14) and chairman of the Friends of a Free Iran Intergroup (2004-14). Struan is also Chair of the ‘In Search of Justice’ (ISJ) committee on the protection of political freedoms in Iran. He is an international lecturer on the Middle East and is also president of the European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA).