Iran’s Internet Blackout: What’s Happening?

The ‘internet as we know it’ is off in Iran. Here’s why this shutdown is different.

People of Iran have been suffering under harsh USA sanctions for years, trying to force the Iranian government back to the negotiation table but the sanctions hurt the poorest families most.

The authorities in Iran have shut down the internet to create an information blackout within digital media preventing the rest of the world from seeing the brutality unleashed on their own people.

Since the Islamic revolution and fall of the Pahlavi dynasty in 1979, the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran is the ruling state and current political system in Iran. They changed the flag to incorporate the centred symbol which is said to symbolize the five principles of Islam.

Internet access ‘gradually being restored’ as cyberspace official says the country will have full access in two days.

Nationwide anti-government protests had led the Iranian government to turn off their access to the internet (and therefore revoked the right of freedom of speech at a global level). This leads us to the conclusion that the Iranian government are treating their own people in horrific ways. With confirmations of civilian deaths, the toll continuously rising, and threats by the Iranian regime against its own people also grow. This government has labelled the protestors as ‘thugs’ to try to stereotype them negatively in the media. It didn’t work.

Violent protests have erupted throughout Iran since the US-Iran standoff began in 2018 when tensions began to rise ever since the United States tore up a multilateral deal on Iran’s nuclear programme. 

The US government put sanctions seriously impacting the quality of life of every person living in Iran today. This has been justified by accusing the Iranian government of planning to build nuclear weapons.

The harsh sanctions were designed to strangle the Iranian economy, while Tehran has taken a series of steps to scale back commitments to the 2015 accord.

It’s no wonder people have begun protesting when their livelihood has not just be threatened but removed by force over many months. The average income has halved for most working people and to add to this burden, food prices have almost doubled. Less money, more expenses and no sign of change.

Nuclear deals, in Appleby Ink’s own opinion, seem to be struck with less developing countries usually where the population is a dense majority of Muslims, so the westernised powers can control that country for their resources. This is no more than governmental blackmail. It further aids the Islamaphobia in developed countries by creating these violent mass demonstrations (by citizens surely at their last resort)

For the first time in the history of the UN, the United States – a permanent member of the security council with veto power – is engaging in penalising nations across the entire world; not for violating a security council resolution, rather, for abiding by it. The resolution in question, UN security council resolution 2231, was authored (including by the US itself) and passed unanimously by the council.

After more than a year of holding the joint comprehensive plan of action (JCPOA – known also as the Iran deal) to ransom and demanding Iran make a spade of unilateral nuclear and non-nuclear concessions, ultimately, on 8 May 2018, the Trump administration withdrew from the JCPOA. Simultaneously, Trump signed a presidential memorandum to reimpose all US sanctions lifted or waived in connection with the Iran deal.

As a result, the agreement that was the culmination of more than a decade of negotiations and was endorsed by security council resolution 2231 now faces an existential moment, especially as the first set of US sanctions come into effect this week.

Tehran, the Capital City of Iran

What the Trump administration has done, through threatening economic revenge against the countries that continue their economic ties with Iran, is to weaponise its economy.

It is a clear rejection of diplomacy and multilateralism; a clear call for confrontation rather than cooperation; an open invitation to resorting to logic of force instead of force of logic.

Such reckless and menacing behaviour by the Trump administration renders it responsible for the ensuing adverse consequences, and it must be held accountable for such blatant material breach of its obligations under the JCPOA; for the consequences of its wrongful acts that fly in the face of the UN charter and international law; and for the damages and irreparable harm it has caused to Iran and its international business relations.

Despite its well-entrenched mechanisms of repression, the Islamic Republic has experienced a vigorous pattern of mostly small-scale unrest since its inception, a legacy of the revolution itself as well as the old Persian tradition of bast, or seeking sanctuary as a form of political protest. After the monarchy was ousted, collective action — both spontaneous and opportunistic — was a primary mechanism for gaining an advantage in the chaotic struggle for power.

Most infamously, this led to a student-led seizure of the American embassy in Tehran 40 years ago this month, an action that toppled Iran’s liberal-leaning provisional government and permanently escalated tensions between Washington and Tehran. Iranians’ penchant for protest has continued, as has its cynical deployment by the regime itself, whose internal schisms have frequently occasioned official and semi-official groups to use public demonstrations to advance their own agendas.

As a result, Iranians are well familiar with political, social, and economic protest.

Over the course of the past 40 years, Iran has routinely witnessed all varieties of rallies and riots; sit-ins by families of political prisoners; labor strikes by teachers, truckers, and factory workers; student demonstrations over everything from free speech to dormitory conditions and cafeteria food; soccer riots; and marches and sit-ins sparked by localized grievances. These manifestations have never been limited by geography or class.

The problem is not just economic, however. The Islamic Republic’s old guard is dying of old age, and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei realizes he may not be far behind. Unlike in 1989—the last time Iran had a leadership transition at the very top—there is no clear successor nor confidence within the system that transition will be smooth. More likely is a stalemate or even a military coup which would subordinate the clerics to the generals. Islamic Republic or not, that has been the norm throughout the bulk of modern Iranian history.

Iranian protesters gather around a burning motorcycle during a demonstration against an increase in gasoline prices in the central city of Isfahan, on November 16, 2019. – One person was killed and others injured in protests across Iran, hours after a surprise decision to increase petrol prices by 50 percent for the first 60 litres and 300 percent for anything above that each month, and impose rationing. Authorities said the move was aimed at helping needy citizens, and expected to generate 300 trillion rials ($2.55 billion) per annum. (Photo by – / AFP)

Both Khamenei and the Revolutionary Guards know that they are largely unpopular inside Iran.

As Iranians resent the ruin brought to their country by forty years of clerical rule, they remain fiercely nationalistic. Khamenei and the IRGC, therefore, might try to precipitate a crisis with which they can rally Iranians around the flag.

Iran began restoring internet access in the capital and a number of provinces after a five-day nationwide shutdown meant to help stifle deadly protests over fuel-price hikes.

The country’s elite Revolutionary Guard security force said calm had now returned across Iran on Thursday, state TV reported.

According to news reports, fixed-line internet was restored in Hormozgan, Kermanshah, Arak, Mashhad, Qom, Tabriz, Hamadan and Bushehr provinces, as well as parts of Tehran.

“We again have internet as of an hour ago,” a retired engineer, who declined to be named, said by telephone from the capital.

Death toll dispute

Amnesty International said on Tuesday more than 100 demonstrators had been killed by security forces, a figure rejected as “fabricated” by Iran’s government.

Iranian officials said the steep fuel-price increase was imperative because of crippling American sanctions devastating its oil-based economy, and the money raised would be given to the nation’s poorest people.

The government said the price rises were intended to raise about $2.55bn a year for extra subsidies to 18 million families struggling on low incomes.

Appleby Ink hopes other media providers, news stations and bloggers will keep the Iranian conflict at the top of their publication list. Stand with the people of Iran and report for them, don’t just pray for them. Do something.

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