What Iran’s latest protests for regime control mean

1. What caused the latest protests?

The Iranians were surprised by the delay in the government’s admission that their main military force, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, shot down a Ukrainian plane shortly after taking off from Tehran on January 8. The Revolutionary Guard, which led an attack on US bases in Iraq Hours earlier to avenge the United States assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, said he had confused the plane with a cruise missile. The public’s anger was fueled by the incompetence of the incident, a security establishment that constantly boasts of its skill, and so it seemed a coordinated effort to hide the guilt of the state for days. A large number of those on board the flight were university graduates, many of them studying more abroad. The massive student population of Iran led demonstrations that included chants against the regime, specifically the Revolutionary Guard.

2. What were the November protests about?

They were caused by a sharp and sudden increase in the price of gasoline ordered by the government, which subsidizes fuel. Iranians were already affected by the effects of US sanctions, imposed in an effort to force Iran to renegotiate a 2015 multilateral agreement that limits its nuclear program, which Trump says is inappropriate. The US strategy to bring Iran’s oil exports to zero has forced the country to depend on one of the most frugal budgets in its history and has sunk the economy. The International Monetary Fund forecasts that the gross domestic product will be reduced by 9.5% in 2020. The price increase has reduced revenues and caused shortages of some imports, including medicines. Two days after the gas increases, protests broke out in dozens of cities around Iran and hundreds of banks were set on fire.

3. How did the regime respond to the protests?

The default reaction of the Iranian police and security forces is to disperse unapproved meetings. When political protests are vocal and the number of participants begins to increase, riot police normally deploy quickly to attack crowds with batons and fire tear gas. In November, security forces responded with lethal force. Video footage showed snipers shooting unarmed people from a distance, often from the roofs of state-owned buildings. The human rights group Amnesty International said at least 304 people were killed. Some of his relatives have been jailed for criticizing the state. The authorities took the unprecedented measure of enforcing an almost complete Internet shutdown that lasted for days. Security forces also clashed with those protesting the role of the state in the plane’s disaster. Unverified video images showed them the use of round ammunition to disperse crowds in Tehran.

4. What happened in previous protests?

The Iranians took to the streets at the end of 2017 to express their frustration with economic insecurity in the protests that expanded to include opposition to the regime. Before that, the biggest internal challenge to the government came from the so-called Green Movement, caused in 2009 by accusations of fraud in the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The demonstrations focused mainly on political issues and attracted millions of middle-class Iranians. The state reacted quickly to quell dissent in both groups of protests, with dozens killed, hundreds arrested and Internet access significantly slowed. In the southwestern, oil-rich province of Khuzestan, which has a large population of Arabs, a mostly Persian minority, protests against corruption and poverty are common, which led to repression by security forces .

5. What is the state of the opposition in Iran?

There is no legitimate and organized opposition within Iran. People criticize the leadership among them, but such views are rarely reflected in the strictly regulated means of the country. The only political factions that can work are those that support the core values ​​of the Islamic Republic. Iranian politicians fall into approximately three categories: ultraconservatives such as the supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, moderate conservatives such as President Hassan Rouhani and reformists. The reformists believe that the political system should be open to improvements, but its popularity and influence has diminished since the US. UU. He abandoned the nuclear agreement and began imposing old sanctions and adding new ones on Iran. The reformists defended the agreement, as did Rouhani, whose credibility has also suffered.

6. What about the groups outside of Iran?

The Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, or MEK, an Iranian resistance group originally based in Iraq and now in Albania, is the most active of these. He is widely hated within Iran for sided with Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s and was designated a terrorist group by the US. UU. Until 2012. Some Iranian exiles want to put Reza Pahlavi, the son of Iran from Iran. Last monarch or shah, who was deposed in the 1979 revolution, on a restored throne. His absence of 40 years from the country and his lack of experience in public office have caused the ridicule of many Iranian residents. In general, the Iranians are very suspicious of interference from outside the country, a legacy of US support for a coup in 1953 that overthrew the nationalist prime minister of Iran and reinstated the sha, who sympathized with the West.

To contact the journalist in this story: Golnar Motevalli in London at [email protected]

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Riad Hamade at [email protected], Lisa Beyer, Mark Williams

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