An ex-security official still well-connected with Iran’s security apparatus has told IranWire that many members of the paramilitary Basij are refusing to attend preparatory meetings , and women who previously volunteered to join the “morality patrol” have walked away.
Morality patrol vans usually include two male officers, one female officer and a female volunteer from a religious organisation. But they have been drastically reduced in number all over the country since protests broke out over Mahsa Amini’s death on September 16.
The former official said: “The current principal concern of all Iranian officials, from Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC) commanders to the Health Minister, is the depletion of police forces and even potential desertion by members of the military in the face of a growing youth-led movement.
“The question of many in the military and security forces is: ‘For what? For this government that’s corrupt from top to bottom?”
This informed source also reported that in the past few days, several officials within the current government have privately expressed concern about the potential collapse of the armed forces.
Many individual officers will appear superficially loyal to the regime, he said, due to fear of reprisal by a future government rather than genuine belief in its principles.
The source added that a number of ex-Ministry of Intelligence employees have also signed a confidential letter to the Office of the Supreme Leader.
In the letter, they warned that security forces’ violent approach to the protests could have “dangerous immediate consequences”. The letter may be made available to some members of the media in the coming days.
Even some former IRGC commanders, including Mohammad Ali Jafari and Yahya Rahim Safavi, have expressed their displeasure in private about how young protesters have been treated.
Instead, the source told IranWire, the former commanders have said that the priority should be dealing with so-called “terrorist and separatist” groups in Kurdistan.
In an earlier interview with IranWire, extracts of which were published on Saturday, this person said Ali Khamenei had given the nod to exacting revenge on those who protested, especially in Kurdish zones.
Hours later, IRGC forces launched aerial strikes on Iranian Kurdish groups based over the border in Iraq. Two more drone strikes on various targets in Iraqi Kurdistan have since taken place.