The Iranian Protests, What Is It All About?

By Steven E. White

Protesters hit the streets of Iran’s Capital, Tehran, on Saturday the 30th of December. Riots and protests have been rampaging in Iran since Thursday, but only now hit Tehran. There have been, reportedly, two deaths of demonstrators, as they attacked police and state buildings.

The Protests started in the northeastern city of Mashhad, on Thursday, before rapidly spreading throughout the country on Friday. First Vice-President Eshaq Jahangiri told the IRNA, an official news agency, the the demonstrations had spread throughout Tehran, Kermanshah, Qazvin, Karaj, Sabzevar, Arak, and Khorramabad. Many Iranian media outlets reported a number of arrests, including the detainning of two students of Tehran college.

A video surfaced on social media, showing the two young men lying motionless on the ground, covered in blood, as the voice over spoke, “I will kill whoever killed my brother.” though the video cannot, as of yet, be authenticated. Another video from Dorud showed protesters yelling, “Death to the Dictator!”

The protest, said to be caused by the rising price of gasoline and food, and alleged corruption, is described as the largest public display of discontent since the Green Movement in Iran of 2009. According to the Statistical Center of Iran, in 2017’s fiscal year, unemployment in Iran has risen to 12.4 percent, up 1.4 percentage points from last year, and leaving, roughly, 3.2 million Iranians jobless. Annual inflation is up by 8% as well, hiking up food prices, while there is still a shortage of goods.

The unrest sparked communication between nations, Trump tweeting that the world is watching, on December 29, “Many reports of peaceful protests by Iranian citizens fed up with regime’s corruption & its squandering of the nation’s wealth to fund terrorism abroad. Iranian govt should respect their people’s rights, including right to express themselves. The world is watching!”

He continued in a speech, “The entire world understands that the good people of Iran want change, and, other than the vast military power of the United States, that Iran’s people are what their leaders fear the most.” He then explains that this fear is the cause of Internet restriction, shooting of unarmed student protesters, and imprisonment of political reformists; all carried out by the regime.

The Revolutionary Guards’ Deputy Security Chief in Tehran, Brigadier-General Esmail Kowsari, concluded the situation in the capital was under control, but if the unrest continues, protesters would face “the nation’s iron fist.”

Though there have been many arrests, a state television announced that most detainees had been released, without giving detail. It put the blame on enemy media outlets, saying, “Enemy websites and foreign media continue to try to exploit economic hardships and the legitimate demands of the people in this respect to launch illegal gatherings and possible unrest.”

Trump concluded, in his speech, “Oppressive regimes cannot endure forever, and the day will come when the Iranian people will face a choice. Will they continue down the path of poverty, bloodshed, and terror, or will the Iranian people return to the nation’s proud roots as a center of civilisation, culture, and wealth, where their people can be happy, and prosperous once again.”