Iran Crisis Update, December 22

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Iran Crisis Update, December 22

Dec 22, 2022 – Press ISW

Social media accounts reported that Iranian security forces have begun violently killing and mass arresting citizens in Izeh, Khuzestan Province since December 21. Some accounts have claimed that the regime has arrested over 350 individuals thus far and completely disrupted internet services in the area. Others have claimed that the regime has established checkpoints on the major roads leading into and out of the city.[3] CTP cannot verify these reports at this time, and the information space remains extremely muddy. We will provide more information on the situation in Izeh in future updates.

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Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, December 22

Dec 22, 2022 – Press ISW

Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to refuse to treat Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as an equal and sovereign counterpart, further indicating that Putin is not interested in serious negotiations with Ukraine. Putin did not react to Zelensky’s remarks to the United States Congress in Washington, DC on December 22, but instead oriented his December 22 press conference on US and Western influence over Ukraine. Putin reiterated his boilerplate and false claims that the US and Western countries have intervened in Ukraine since the Soviet Union, driving a wedge in the supposed Russian-Ukrainian historic and cultural unity. Such statements are meant to suggest that Ukraine’s 1991 emergence as a sovereign state was a sham. Putin also restated Russia’s maximalist goal of “protecting” the Ukrainian people from their government, implying that Russia intends to force the Kyiv government to capitulate. Putin mentioned Ukraine as a state only to note falsely that Ukraine had barred itself from negotiating with Russia.

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Data Analysis of the Mahsa Amini Protest Movement

Dec 22, 2022 – Press ISW

The ongoing anti-regime protests in Iran reached their three-month anniversary on December 16. Countrywide demonstrations and strikes are continuing to shake the Iranian regime, presenting it with one of the most existential threats it has faced since the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s. The continuation of this popular uprising is particularly impressive given the immense effort the Iranian regime has made to brutally suppress the movement. Its resilience is a testament to the tremendous bravery, courage, and determination of the Iranian protesters. CTP has produced daily updates on these protests and their evolution since September 2022. We present here a series of visualizations produced from the open-source data that we have gathered over the past three months to further inform the public discourse on this important moment in Iranian history.

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Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, December 21

Dec 21, 2022 – Press ISW

The Kremlin intensified its information operation accusing NATO expansion of presenting a military threat to Russia. Shoigu stated that NATO’s military expansion near Russian borders, including Finland’s and Sweden’s NATO membership aspirations, necessitates an “appropriate” Russian response to establish a Russian force group in northwestern Russia. Senior Kremlin officials said that the accession of the Nordic states to NATO would not threaten Russia in spring 2022. Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov stated that Finland and Sweden joining NATO would not present an existential threat to Russia in April 2022 and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated that Finland and Sweden joining NATO would not make “much difference” in May 2022.

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Iran Crisis Update, December 21

Dec 21, 2022 – Press ISW

Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei appears to be personally directing the regime’s approach to protests in Sistan and Baluchistan Province. Senior Iranian cleric Mostafa Mohami stated during a meeting with local university students on December 21 that Khamenei has taken a “personal interest” in the unrest in Sistan and Baluchistan Province. Mohami asserted that Iranian authorities had taken a different approach in Sistan and Baluchistan Province—framing this approach as a marker of Khamenei’s interest in the region. He added that Khamenei instructed the Supreme National Security Council—the regime’s most senior foreign and security policy body—to listen to the demands of the people of the province.

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Iran Crisis Update, December 19

Dec 20, 2022 – Press ISW

Some protest coordinators and organizations are trying to reclaim religion from the regime, essentially arguing that one can be devoutly religious and still oppose the Islamic Republic. The Mashhad Neighborhood Youth published a statement from “a group of Iranian Muslim and Shia youth” that accused Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei of using religion to control and manipulate. The statement argued that Khamenei does not represent true Islamic values but is rather undermining religion. The framing of the group as representing “Muslims and Shia” is noteworthy and may suggest outreach to the Sunni community in Iran. The Mashhad group separately asserted that the regime has not upheld some of the founding principles in the constitution. CTP has previously reported how protesters have tried to reclaim ideas of revolution, Iranian nationalism, and secular martyrdom from the regime for their own movement. The regime has long labored to appropriate many of these ideas for its own purposes.

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