FILE - Protesters chant slogans during a protest over the death of a woman who was detained by the morality police, in downtown Tehran, Iran, Sept. 21, 2022.  

As Iran protests continue, experts discuss the likelihood of regime change

Iranian protesters continue to confront the autocratic regime that rules over the vast Mideast country with chants of “death to the dictator,” a slogan targeting the iron-fisted rule of the Islamic Republic’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

The pressing question for many experts on Iran and veteran observers of Tehran is will the widespread demonstrations blanketing Iran end the regime that imposed a radical Islamic law system in the country after the 1979 revolution?

Iranians from all walks of life are now turning the tables with their calls for the dissolution of Khamenei’s regime. 

After all, the “founding principle of Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution was ‘Death to America,'” according to Clifford May, president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies who, as a New York Times reporter, covered the 1979 revolution. 

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In this photo taken by an individual not employed by The Associated Press and obtained by the AP outside Iran, protesters chant slogans during a protest over the death of a woman who was detained by the morality police, in downtown Tehran, Iran, Sept. 21, 2022.  
(AP Photo, File)

The spark that ignited the mass protests was the morality police’s alleged torture and murder last month of 22-year-old Iranian-Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini for not complying with the nation’s dress code rule that a female’s hair be covered.

Contrary to the claim by the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, who told NPR in late September “there is a not going to be regime change in Iran,” Iranian-American experts see potential for a transition to a post-Islamic Republic of Iran.

“While the regime has been more brazen than ever in their crackdowns against protesters, we’ve never seen the protesters as zealous as they’ve been this time around. The Achilles heel of this regime has always been its people. They know the only way they’ll be toppled is by the people, the same way they came to power,” said Lisa Daftari, an expert on Iran and editor-in-chief of The Foreign Desk.

The Iranian people are telling the world that they’re accepting the burden of taking down their government, but they need help. It will start not just with support from the podium, but will require the West, spearheaded by the U.S., to fully support the task of removing Iran’s regime by placing crippling sanctions on the sectors that deal directly with Iran’s regime, stepping away from the JCPOA negotiations which will give billions of dollars and political leverage to the mullahs and, lastly, providing strategic and organizational resources to Iran’s protesters to be able to carry out this endeavor.”

People attend a protest over the death of Mahsa Amini, a woman who died after being arrested by the Islamic republic's morality police, in Tehran, Iran, Sept. 21, 2022. 

People attend a protest over the death of Mahsa Amini, a woman who died after being arrested by the Islamic republic’s morality police, in Tehran, Iran, Sept. 21, 2022. 
(West Asia News Agency via REUTERS)

The JCPOA is an abbreviation for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the formal name for the Iran nuclear deal that the Biden administration is working to conclude with Tehran’s rulers.

The Iran atomic accord is shrouded in intense controversy because it, according to reports, will pump as much as $275 billion into Iran’s coffers during the first year of the deal, according to an FDD study, and merely impose a temporary restriction on Tehran’s capability to build a nuclear weapons device.

Both Democratic and Republican administrations have classified the Islamic Republic of Iran as the world’s worst state-sponsor of terrorism.

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While Iran’s top diplomat, Amir-Abdollahian, continues to stress that the ubiquitous protest against the regime “is not a big deal,” Mariam Memarsadeghi, a fellow for the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, told Fox News Digital, “The people of Iran have shown that they are capable of coming out into the streets in all large and small cities at once and occupying most parts of large cities simultaneously, too.

“Their unity is unprecedented since the 1979 revolution. So is their fury. People have brought down other totalitarian regimes through mass civil disobedience. The people of Iran are more than capable of doing the same.”

People light a fire during a protest over the death of Mahsa Amini, a woman who died after being arrested by the Islamic republic's morality police in Tehran, Iran, Sept. 21, 2022. 

People light a fire during a protest over the death of Mahsa Amini, a woman who died after being arrested by the Islamic republic’s morality police in Tehran, Iran, Sept. 21, 2022. 
(West Asia News Agency via Reuters)

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Memarsadeghi urged, in a reference to the JCPOA talks, “for the world’s democracies to stop legitimizing those oppressing Iranian protesters by continuing to negotiate with them.”

“The Iranian people are showing the way for regime change,” she added. “They’re deploying a diversity of tactics that engage a broad cross-section of society with street protests and labor strikes as the two main drivers of the revolution.”

While the Treasury Department sanctioned “Iran’s morality police for abuse and violence against Iranian women and the violation of the rights of peaceful Iranian protestors,” in late September, Iran experts are seeking greater U.S. aid to the pro-democracy protesters across Iran.

A man gestures during a protest over the death of Mahsa Amini, a woman who died after being arrested by the Islamic republic's "morality police" in Tehran, Iran, Sept. 19, 2022.

A man gestures during a protest over the death of Mahsa Amini, a woman who died after being arrested by the Islamic republic’s “morality police” in Tehran, Iran, Sept. 19, 2022.
(West Asia News Agency via Reuters  )

“Now is the time for the West to put their money where their mouth is on a human rights-centric approach to politics and standing with the Iranian people,” Behnam Ben Taleblu, a senior fellow and Iran expert at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told Fox News Digital. “Washington needs to not only support Iranian strikers, which will amplify street power, with a potential strike fund that can be sourced from confiscated Iranian assets and illicit exports but also needs to have a strategy that encourages elite defection.” 

He noted that other tactics to accelerate the protesters’ activities include “ways to creatively send and secure hardware needed in Iran to make satellite internet a reality. The same goes for making sure Iranians have the capability to communicate with one another, particularly via mobile phone, in the case of the next internet blackout.”

The clerical regime frequently pulls the plug on internet service to block communication among protesters and news to the international community.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, center, reviews an honor guard during his official departure ceremony as he leaves Tehran's Mehrabad Airport to New York to attend annual U.N. General Assembly meeting Sept. 19, 2022.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, center, reviews an honor guard during his official departure ceremony as he leaves Tehran’s Mehrabad Airport to New York to attend annual U.N. General Assembly meeting Sept. 19, 2022.
(AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

Ben Taleblu stressed that the Biden administration “must drastically intensify the sanctions architecture against both regime elites and national level officials as well as the local commanders and political officials cracking down or calling for a crackdown against protesters.”

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The question, for many Iranian experts, is no longer will the clerical regime collapse but when. Memarsadeghi said democracies “should be investing now in strategic planning for the day after the regime falls.”

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