Iran’s National Security Council is afraid that fresh riots and demonstrations are about to break out, a video seen by IranWire reveals, while contractors in Tehran province are being asked to wall off a cluster of government buildings.

The video, shot somewhere in Khuzestan province – possibly Ahvaz – shows security and law enforcement officials meeting with local gas station operators to discuss their concerns. Instructions have recently been issued to protect public buildings, government offices and gas stations.

In the video, one man thought to be representing the Revolutionary Guards refers to a resolution apparently made by the National Security Council – the body entrusted with implementing a planned hike in gas prices in Iran – on July 1, 2020. It states: “Security officials and executive managers of governmental and public bodies must protect their premises in times of crisis, and programs for this purpose will be planned by the Imam Ali security base of the IRGC."

The “Imam Ali security base” is responsible for suppressing urban protests and countering street protests: an activity it refers to as "fighting riots and unrest". The acting commander, Brigadier General Gholamhossein Gheibparvar, operates on behalf of the commander-in-chief of the IRGC.

Speaking at the recorded meeting, the same official said that according to another provision of the Security Council’s resolution, security and law enforcement officials  were required to hold meetings and give guidance to personnel about what to do "in the event of unrest and potential conflicts".

They also confirmed that the [Khuzestan] Provincial Security Council had held a meeting on July 7, 2020, and had decided that "banks, gas stations, executive bodies, and public places" must effectively protect their branches and put in place measures to deal with any "anti-security and destructive action".

The video confirms mounting concerns among security officials of the Islamic Republic that another round of widespread popular protests might break out in Iran. These demonstrations, referred to by the state apparatus as “riots”, last engulfed dozens of Iranian cities for at least four days in November 2019, leading to the arrests of thousands of people and the deaths of an unknown number of protesters. The number of fatalities in the November 2019 protests is variously estimated at between 200 and more than 1,500, depending on the media outlet.

In recent days, both President Hassan Rouhani and Iran’s health minister Saeed Namaki have issued warnings about the possibility of an insurgency. Meetings such as this are symptoms of the growing unease – along with additional security measures laid on at government buildings.


Builders Approached to Take on Fast-Tracked Contract

A construction worker in a city of Tehran province, who spoke exclusively to IranWire on the condition of anonymity, said he had received at least four direct proposals to build walls around government buildings and banks in Tehran in the past week, outside of any formal tendering process.  

"They offer a good price and assert that, contrary to the usual procedure, the contract amount will be settled in a short time," he said. "The purpose of the contract is to build a four-meter-high wall around the buildings and premises of the government offices and institutions. If there is [already] a wall, the wall should be raised to a height of four meters, and if there is a fence, the railings should be removed and replaced by a four-meter-high wall."

In the video seen by IranWire, an official also confirms plans to build walls around some government buildings, as the National Security Council’s new resolution also places an obligation on managers of executive, governmental and public bodies to protect their premises in times of crisis.


What’s Being Discussed Behind Closed Doors?

Below is the transcript of part of the video, in which a man thought to be part of the IRGC addresses other security officials in Khuzestan.

"Another issue in the resolution of the July 1 National Security Council meeting is this: ‘Security officials and managers of executive, governmental, and public bodies must protect their premises in times of crisis’. This should be planned collaboratively with the Imam Ali Security Base.

“We also have a resolution of the Provincial Security Council dated July 7, 2020, which states: "Banks, gas stations, executive bodies and public places should put the effective protection of their branches on the agenda and, while preparing, implement preventative measures against any anti-security and destructive action… And the Basij, the NAJA, the intelligence section, and the physical departments, should [all] be fully prepared to protect these places."

“These are just a few of the agreements which I mentioned before. What is approved in the National Security Council is the law and is enforceable and its non-implementation is prosecutable. About 95 percent of these approvals are related to security departments.

“One last word and then, if there is anything, I will be here to answer your questions. Good measures have been taken, [such as] dividing into blocks; the city is divided into blocks and compartmented, not [good] for riots. Maybe, God willing, there will be no riots in the next decade.

“But there may be small activities. For example, attacks on gas stations, and some thugs wanting to show off. Yes, in some neighborhoods these things happen. We must be prepared for these issues. Again, this is not about turmoil. It is a two-way relationship: the commander of the base and the commander of the police will come to you, and you will go to them as well.

“Our request is that both they (on behalf of police stations) come to you and you go to the bases and police stations. Get in touch. When this relationship is close, your capacity, our capacity and the capacity of the police forces, when combined, become a coherent whole and God willing, we can secure our position.

“When we come to you, we really are concerned. We have come to serve you. Otherwise, I'm sorry, we used to say the gas station belongs to the owner, but after all, the duty of general security is first and foremost with the police, and, well, no-one else. We, who are now at the forefront of this meeting, are really concerned about both the damage that will be done to you and to the security of the city. We are honestly concerned and we have sincerely come to serve you. And if at any point our words are a bit sharp, it is because we are in charge of these operations and we are talking about the operation. Please, generously, forgive us."

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