Friday, October 28, 2022

Iran Crisis Update, October 28, 2022


Kitaneh Fitzpatrick, Johanna Moore, Zach Coles, and Frederick W. Kagan with LJ Trevette

October 28, 6:00 PM ET 

The Iran Crisis Updates are produced by the Critical Threats Project (CTP) at the American Enterprise Institute with support from the Institute for the Study of War (ISW). To receive Iran Crisis Updates via email, please subscribe here. 

Iranian security personnel fired live ammunition and tear gas at anti-regime demonstrators in Zahedan, Sistan Baluchistan Province on October 28 as protesters commemorated the regime’s brutal crackdown there four weeks earlier.[1] Iranian security forces may have deployed snipers to help violently suppress dissent.[2] Iranian social media users reported that security forces killed at least two protesters-- possibly including a 12-year-old boy--although the true figure is likely higher.[3] Cybersecurity watchdog NetBlocks confirmed severe internet disruptions in Zahedan on October 28.[4] Protests likely commenced during Friday prayer sermons at the Makki Grand Mosque in Zahedan, where hundreds of worshippers gathered to commemorate the regime’s violent September 30 crackdown on anti-regime demonstrations.[5] Some worshippers carried signs with slogans unique to the Mahsa Amini protest wave, including ”woman, life, freedom.”[6] Online footage shows significant crowds participating in anti-regime protests throughout the city later that day.[7] Anti-regime demonstrations in Zahedan may become increasingly common on Fridays as residents seek to commemorate protesters killed by regime security personnel.

Uncorroborated reports suggest that Iranian authorities may seek to arrest senior Iranian Sunni cleric Maulvi Abdol Hamid, who has become increasingly critical of the regime in recent weeks.[8] Abdol Hamid and regime officials have rhetorically clashed in recent days over the regime’s brutal protest crackdown in Zahedan, as CTP previously reported.[9] Large crowds purportedly gathered in the vicinity of the Makki Grand Mosque to preemptively condemn or prevent Abdol Hamid’s arrest on October 28.[10] Abdol Hamid’s arrest would likely stoke further anti-regime sentiment and unrest among Zahedan residents and possibly the broader Iranian Sunni community.

Key Takeaways

  • Demonstrations in Zahedan may become increasingly common on Fridays as residents seek to commemorate protesters killed by regime security personnel.
  • Anti-regime protests occurred in at least 23 cities in 11 provinces on October 28.
  • Mahabad protesters are employing increasingly organized and militant tactics to resist regime attempts to suppress demonstrations, including creating durable barricades.
  • Iranian intelligence organizations published a joint statement blaming ongoing unrest on the US and its allies.
  • Unverified reports claimed that Iranian officials and their families are attempting to flee the country.
  • Iranian proxy media amplified pro-regime demonstrations in a likely attempt to deflect attention from ongoing unrest.

Anti-Regime Protests

Anti-regime protests occurred in at least 23 cities in 11 provinces on October 28. TP assesses with moderate to high confidence that protests occurred in the following locations:

  • Karaj, Alborz (Several dozen Azad University of Karaj students protested on campus)[11]
  • Kermanshah, Kermanshah (50-100 protesters chanted “I will kill the one who killed my brother”)[12]
  • Qasr-e Shirin, Kermanshah (50-100 protesters blocked traffic and demonstrated in Qasr-e Shirin streets)[13]
  • Baneh, Kurdistan (Protesters reportedly clashed with security forces that used live ammunition in Baneh streets)[14]
  • Saghez, Kurdistan (100-200 protesters chanted and listened to a speech from the wife of a protest martyr)[15]
  • Divandarreh, Kurdistan (Several dozen protesters chanted “death to the dictator” and commemorated a protest martyr)[16]
  • Sanandaj, Kurdistan (50-100 protesters set a fire in the street outside Sanandaj Kotsar Hospital; several dozen protesters danced and set a fire in Sanandaj streets; security forces attacked an undetermined number of protesters)[17]
  • Doroud, Lorestan (One to two dozen protesters blocked traffic; security forces attacked an undetermined number of protesters in Doroud streets)[18]
  • Babol, Mazandaran (50-100 protesters gathered in front of a protest martyr’s shop and set a fire in the street; several dozen protesters chanted and commemorated protest martyrs in Babol streets)[19]
  • Tonekabon, Mazandaran (Several dozen protesters clashed with security forces in Tonekabon streets)[20]
  • Saravan, Sistan and Baluchistan (Security forces attacked protesters with tear gas and reportedly live ammunition in Saravan streets)[21]
  • Iranshahr, Sistan and Baluchistan (50-100 protesters blocked traffic and demonstrated in Iranshahr streets)[22]
  • Rask, Sistan and Baluchistan (An undetermined number of protesters set a fire in the street)[23]
  • Zahedan, Sistan and Baluchistan (Likely thousands of protesters gathered in Zahedan streets, with possibly some attendees protesting the October 26 Shiraz attack instead of against the regime; 50-100 protesters marched through Zahedan streets and chanted “death to Khamenei”; security forces injured or killed an undetermined number of protesters with reportedly live ammunition against protesters)[24]
  • Tehran, Tehran (Several protesters set fire to a Basij base with Molotov cocktails; 100-200 protesters chanted “death to Khamenei” and demonstrated in Tehran streets)[25]
  • Boukan, West Azerbaijan (100-200 protesters set fires and demonstrated in Boukan streets)[26]
  • Ourmia, West Azerbaijan (Undetermined number of protesters set fires, blocked roads with debris, and chanted “death to the dictator” in Ourmia streets)[27]
  • Mahabad, West Azerbaijan (Several hundred protesters attended a protest martyr’s funeral; 50-100 Azad University of Mashhad students protested on campus; 100-200 protesters set fires and marched in Mahabad streets; undetermined number of protesters established barricades and threw Molotov cocktails at security forces)[28]

CTP assesses with low confidence that protests occurred in the following locations:

  • Ardabil, Ardabil (100-200 protesters rushed security forces in Ardabil streets)[29]
  • Rasht, Gilan (50-100 protesters chanted “death to the dictator” in Rasht streets)[30]
  • Mashhad, Khorasan Razavi (50-100 protesters demonstrated at an undetermined location in Mashhad)[31]
  • Marivan, Kurdistan (Undetermined number of protesters set fires and protested in Marivan streets)[32] 

Mahabad protesters are employing increasingly organized and militant tactics to resist regime attempts to suppress demonstrations. Hundreds of protesters sustained large-scale demonstrations in Mahabad and other cities in West Azerbaijan Province again on October 28, despite increasingly violent tactics from regime security forces. Iranian security personnel used tear gas, birdshot, and live ammunition to break up protests in the Mahabad streets.[33] Protesters clashed with regime forces and set fires and created barricades to impede security forces’ advances.[34] Footage from social media depicted protesters constructing a robust brick wall that spanned across the street.[35] Footage also showed protesters preparing a small stockpile of Molotov cocktails behind the wall and later using them to prevent security forces from approaching.[36] The increasingly organized and militant acts of resistance suggest protesters in Mahabad may be transitioning from primarily non-violent protests to more insurgent tactics.

State-backed and affiliated media outlets circulated footage of pro-regime rallies condemning the October 25 attack on the Shah Cheragh shrine in Shiraz, Fars Province.[37] IRGC-affiliated media outlets reported pro-regime rallies in unspecified locations in Kerman, Kermanshah, Kurdistan, Markazi, Mazandaran, Qom, Semnan, and Zanjan Provinces and in Bandar Abbas, Hormozgan Province, Mashhad, Khorasan Razavi Province, and Tehran City, Tehran Province.[38] Rally participants brandished the Islamic Republic flag and, in some locations, an English-language sign condemning the US and Israel.[39]

The IRGC Intelligence Organization and Ministry of Intelligence and Security released a joint statement blaming the US for inciting ongoing anti-regime protests. The statement asserted that the US stoked unrest with help from Israeli, British, and Saudi intelligence agencies.[40] An interim Tehran Friday prayer leader tied the October 25 attack on the Shah Cheragh shrine in Shiraz, Fars Province to the US and its allies on October 28.[41] CTP previously assessed that Iran may attack US, Israeli, or Saudi interests and targets in retaliation for the Shiraz attack on October 27.[42] 

The Iranian regime is increasingly attempting to repurpose symbols used in ongoing anti-regime demonstrations. Participants in some pro-regime rallies held signs displaying the slogan “woman, life, martyrdom” on October 28.[43] The phrase “woman, life, freedom” has been a slogan unique to the Mahsa Amini protest wave in recent weeks.[44] IRGC-affiliated media and a senior Iranian military official have similarly amplified the story of five-year-old Artin Saridaran, whose family died in the October 25 Shiraz attack.[45] A senior cleric called Saridaran ”proof of the oppression of the Iranian nation” on October 28.[46] The regime’s narratives surrounding Saridaran mirror protesters’ ability to commemorate and rally around people killed in demonstrations, thereby sustaining unrest.

Unverified reports claimed that Iranian officials replaced airport security at Imam Khomeini Airport in Tehran to facilitate Iranian officials and families’ attempts to flee the country. Local sources allege that regime affiliated individuals have been spotted chartering up to five flights a day out of Iran and seeking British, Canadian, and Swiss passports within the past two weeks. Regime security officers reportedly replaced airport security, confiscated employees' phones, and sectioned off areas of the airport within the same time frame.[47] CTP cannot independently verify these claims.

Axis of Resistance and Regional Developments

Iranian proxy media amplified regime rhetoric that portrayed October 28 protests as pro-regime marches. Proxy media circulated Iranian news footage of regime-organized marches condemning the attack against the Shah Cheragh Shrine and claimed that “millions” had come out in support from across Iran.[48] Proxy media also echoed regime accusations that foreign actors are interfering in Iranian affairs and inciting protests.[49] 

Israeli activists circulated calls for a solidarity protest on October 29 in Tel Aviv.[50]




[3] ;


 [5] ;




[9] ;




























[37]; ttps://

[38] ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;


[40] https://defapress dot ir/fa/news/552678/%D8%A8%DB%8C%D8%A7%D9%86%DB%8C%D9%87%E2%80%8C-%D8%AA%D8%A8%DB%8C%DB%8C%D9%86%DB%8C-%D9%85%D8%B4%D8%AA%D8%B1%DA%A9-%D9%88%D8%B2%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%AA-%D8%A7%D8%B7%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%B9%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D9%88-%D8%B3%D8%A7%D8%B2%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%A7%D8%B7%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%B9%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%B3%D9%BE%D8%A7%D9%87-%D9%BE%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AF%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%86-%D9%BE%DB%8C%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%85%D9%88%D9%86-%D9%85%D8%AF%D8%A7%D8%AE%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%B1%DA%98%DB%8C%D9%85-%D8%A2%D9%85%D8%B1%DB%8C%DA%A9%D8%A7-%D8%AF%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D8%BA%D8%AA%D8%B4%D8%A7%D8%B4%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%A7%D8%AE%DB%8C%D8%B1-%DA%A9%D8%B4%D9%88%D8%B1

[41];https://www.isna dot ir/news/1401080603773/%D8%AA%D8%A7%DA%A9%DB%8C%D8%AF-%D8%AE%D8%B7%DB%8C%D8%A8-%D9%86%D9%85%D8%A7%D8%B2-%D8%AC%D9%85%D8%B9%D9%87-%D8%AA%D9%87%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%A8%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%AA%D9%82%D8%A7%D9%85-%D8%A7%D8%B2-%D9%85%D8%B3%D8%A8%D8%A8%DB%8C%D9%86-%D8%A7%D8%B5%D9%84%DB%8C-%D8%AD%D8%A7%D8%AF%D8%AB%D9%87-%D8%AA%D8%B1%D9%88%D8%B1%DB%8C%D8%B3%D8%AA%DB%8C




[45] https://www.tasnimnews dot com/fa/news/1401/08/06/2795031/%D8%AA%D9%88%D9%84%DB%8C%D8%AF-%D8%A7%D8%AE%D8%AA%D8%B5%D8%A7%D8%B5%DB%8C-%D8%B4%D8%A8%DA%A9%D9%87-%DA%A9%D9%88%D8%AF%DA%A9-%D8%A8%D8%B1%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D8%A2%D8%B1%D8%AA%DB%8C%D9%86-%D8%A8%D8%B1%D9%86%D8%A7%D9%85%D9%87-%D8%B1%DB%8C%D8%B2%DB%8C-%D8%A8%D8%B1%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D8%B3%D8%A7%D8%AE%D8%AA-%D8%A7%D9%86%DB%8C%D9%85%DB%8C%D8%B4%D9%86-%DA%A9%D9%88%D8%AF%DA%A9%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%87; https://www.tasnimnews dot com/fa/news/1401/08/06/2795031/%D8%AA%D9%88%D9%84%DB%8C%D8%AF-%D8%A7%D8%AE%D8%AA%D8%B5%D8%A7%D8%B5%DB%8C-%D8%B4%D8%A8%DA%A9%D9%87-%DA%A9%D9%88%D8%AF%DA%A9-%D8%A8%D8%B1%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D8%A2%D8%B1%D8%AA%DB%8C%D9%86-%D8%A8%D8%B1%D9%86%D8%A7%D9%85%D9%87-%D8%B1%DB%8C%D8%B2%DB%8C-%D8%A8%D8%B1%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D8%B3%D8%A7%D8%AE%D8%AA-%D8%A7%D9%86%DB%8C%D9%85%DB%8C%D8%B4%D9%86-%DA%A9%D9%88%D8%AF%DA%A9%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%87

[46] https://www.tasnimnews  dot com/fa/news/1401/08/06/2795012/%D8%A7%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%85-%D8%AC%D9%85%D8%B9%D9%87-%D8%B4%DB%8C%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%B2-%D8%A2%D8%B1%D8%AA%DB%8C%D9%86-5-%D8%B3%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%87-%D8%B3%D9%86%D8%AF-%D9%85%D8%B8%D9%84%D9%88%D9%85%DB%8C%D8%AA-%D9%85%D9%84%D8%AA-%D8%A7%DB%8C%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA;