An audio file obtained by the hacktivist group, Black Reward, has revealed concerns among Iranian officials about worn-out security forces, media failure and strikes.
Black Reward found access to Fars News Agency’s digital files in recent days providing Iran International with an audio tape of a meeting between a Revolutionary Guard general and a group of media managers or representatives from outfits affiliated with the IRGC.
We published one part of the audio file Sunday which detailed coordination between Iran and Qatar to silence dissidents during the World cup. The new part of the file is about plans to quell popular protests in the country.
In the file, which is almost two and a half hours long, Qasem Qoreyshi, the deputy commander of the paramilitary Basij and media representatives have expressed concern about the fatigue of the regime’s security forces, the strikes in 22 provinces and the defeat of the Islamic Republic in the “media war”.
Qoreyshi also speaks against Molavi Abdolhamid, the Sunni Friday Prayer Imam of Zahedan in Sistan-Baluchestan province in the southeast, making suggestions to damage his reputation.
In early November Abdolhamid strongly criticized the authorities for their brutality in the province, holding Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei responsible for government violence against Sunnis and other protesters.
In the meeting, state media managers say 22 provinces were the scene of strikes on November 15, adding that around 70 to 100 percent of markets and bazaars were shut down on that day.
Based on the file, most of the closures were in capital Tehran and in some cities almost 100 percent of the shops and businesses were closed.
It is also mentioned that students in 62 universities and colleges across Iran have held gatherings while 11 others were the scene of sit-ins.
In another part of the leaked file, Qoreyshi says the attack on Sharif University, October 2, was carried out by agents of the Ministry of Intelligence.
In the meeting it is also stated that the reformists had separate meetings with President Ebrahim Raisi, Chief Justice Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei and National Security Chief Ali Shamkhani.
Media reports in the past week confirm that Iran’s ostracized reformists have been meeting officials and trying to suggest solutions about how to pacify the protests, so far with no apparent success.
According to the media managers, Ali Shamkhani, has predicted that sanctions against the Islamic Republic will increase and more “investments” will be made “in media war.”
For regime officials, ‘media war’ means winning the narrative, which has become much more difficult with people having mobile phones and access to the Internet to share scenes of protests and the subsequent brutality of the security forces.
Someone also quotes Shamkhani as saying that “we completely failed in the media war.” In another part of the file, he is also quoted as expressing that 70% of Iranians believe their living conditions are declining.
It is also revealed in the file that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has complained about the silence of the members of the Expediency Council regarding the protests.
According to one of the speakers, Khamenei in his meeting with Police Chief Hossein Ashtari has warned that “You must not lose your confidence.”
The managers of the state-affiliated media have also demanded a pay raise for special police forces warning, “There is no good news about police forces. They are exhausted and so unhappy, especially after the events happened in Sistan and Baluchestan.”
Iranian security forces killed almost 100 Baluch citizens, including children, and injured hundreds of others after firing assault rifles, shotguns and teargas at protesters, bystanders and worshippers during a violent crackdown after Friday prayers on September 30 and also later in October and November.
According to Qoreyshi, Khamenei demanded that Molavi Abdolhamid must be warned about his comments.
Protests in Zahedan
Qoreyshi adds that “We made a mistake about Abdolhamid. We first eliminated tribal leaders in the region to give more credit to Abdolhamid. However, he didn’t carry much weight [in the past].”
The media managers also express concern about the deteriorating health condition of detained rights activist Hossein Ronaghi saying that his possible death before the World Cup can lead to another Mahsa Amini situation because he “has lots of fans in Azarbaijan Province.”
At the beginning of the meeting, one of the participants says 10,000 World Cup 2022 tickets will be distributed among the government-affiliated forces to go to stadiums in Qatar. He says these spectators will be accommodated in Kish Island in southern Iran to be transported to Qatar to watch the matches.
Another person says, “there are five thousand cameras in stadiums, and they record every move of the opponents of the Islamic Republic.”