Look From Inside Iran: What Is Going On? Why? What To Expect?

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Look From Inside Iran: What Is Going On? Why? What To Expect?

Students attend a protest inside Tehran University while a smoke grenade is thrown by riot police, Saturday, Dec. 30, 2017. (AP Photo)

Written by Hadi Gholami Nohouji exclusively for SouthFront

These past days Iran has been the scene of nationwide protests (although limited in scope and amount of people attending to them) which have in many cases lead to violence and to this day —according to Iran’s official statistics— have caused at least 21 deaths and have left a vast (and not specified) number of injured while hundreds have been detained.

The protests took everyone —both journalists inside Iran and outside and the Iranian authorities— by surprise while the world watched in awe the unexpected (or not?) events taking place in this middle eastern country that long has been an isle of stability in the midst of the mess that is the Middle East.

In this analysis I, as an Iranian journalist and someone who is currently inside the country and works for a national TV station (IRIB’s Spanish service, HispanTV), will try to analyze the current situation and its causes and possible outcomes from a perspective as unbiased as possible.

Before examining this topic more closely we first need to have a clear background of the facts and hand: The manifestations first began in the eastern city of Mashhad and their main purpose was to protest the supposed inaction of the government of President Hassan Rouhani towards the inflation, the high levels of unemployment, corruption and the growing economic inequality in Iran (which haven’t been as rampant as presented— I will present statistics for each of these later on and discuss them in detail). The manifestations soon turned into full scale anti-governmental and even anti-system protests.

Different factions, both inside and outside Iran, point to different factors and even State actors to be responsible for the actual situation or at the very least for the start of the protests and the continuation and propagation of them:

Causes from different perspectives

1. The Iranian authorities’ perspective:

The Iranian state’s official line is that the current wave of protests and unrest has its root in the economic problems that the populace are facing but that it began and is being directed by foreign hostile actors such as the U.S, Israel and possibly even Saudi Arabia, while some have pointed directly at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Mossad (Israeli national intelligence service) as the ones responsible (also accused is the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran, also known as MKO, which have a  long history of mischief in Iran, have been accused of taking part in the violent acts).

There are until now no hard facts and evidences presented by the Iranian authorities to confirm or corroborate these allegations but they assure that, considering the past record of these countries, there is no doubt that these events are happening because of their plots.

Nevertheless the Iranian authorities, even though they believe the current wave of unrest to have originated from abroad, they still insist and recognize the right of the populace to take part in peaceful protests and their right to express themselves.

It is of importance to note that the Iranian conservatives also voice similar views and support a tough stance on those committing violent acts and consider them of having external sources.

Important to note is the fact that some of the Iranian officials have pointed to possible internal power plays by the conservatives as part of the reason why the protests began. They assure that the conservatives are instigating the protests as means to discredit the current Administration, reduce its support among the Iranians and force some kind of early elections.

2. The Iranian reformists’ perspectives:

Interestingly the reformists, who have many times in the past headed protests calling for reforms, have distanced themselves from the violent aspects of these manifestations and condemned the United States’ support for the protests and its hostile rhetoric.

In spite of that they still have voiced their support for the people peacefully protesting the economic hardships and have pointed to these (the economic difficulties) as the main perpetrator of the manifestations while they have condemned the “opportunists” and “troublemakers” who are trying to take advantage of the current situation.

Some of the political personalities considered as reformists have also urged the Iranian government and the highest echelons of power to combat corruption and carry out the so called “surgery” that the Iranian economy (specially the banking system) needs in order to avoid unnecessary unrest and possibly even chaos.

3. The Iranians in “exile”, the dissidents and the Pahlavi’s perspective:

The so called Iranians in exile (referring to those opposing the Islamic Republic system), the dissidents and the Pahlavi’s remnants all insist that these are “popular uprisings” protesting the economic hardships and charging against the “regime” that has been “oppressing” them these past 30 and so years.

They also believe that these can and will cause a regime change and are even trying to organize themselves to somehow support the protests in order to fulfill their long held dream of toppling the current Islamic Republic system.

4. The United States (Trump’s Administration) and Israel (and possibly soon their allies’) perspective:

The Administration of President Donald Trump has been very vocal since the beginning —with the Commander in Chief himself tweeting over 6 times about Iran and condemning that country’s authorities— and has made sure to let everyone know that he supports the protests and that will do all in its power to help them achieve their objectives (although that “movement” right now lacks both a leader and a roadmap and, yes, objectives) while, regarding the causes, they share the “exiled ones’” view.

Trump and his team have even gone so far as to call an emergency meeting on Iran in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and are, according to the pioneer of the term “alternative facts”, Kellyanne Conway, in the process of preparing new sanctions against Iranian authorities “involved in Human Rights violations”.

Israel also shares a similar view but denies any involvement in the matter and “hopes” for the fall of the current system.

5. The Barack Obama team, the Democrats and the European countries:

The Democrats and the officials of the previous U.S Administration headed by former President Barack Obama have voiced their concern but they have kept their distance while some have even criticized the over-excitement of Trump & co. over the events that are taking place in Iran.

The European countries have also been, so far, largely silent with the exception of a vague statement by the European Union’s (EU) foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini by which she assures that the EU “is watching the events closely” without further explanation.

Now that we know some of the views it may be time to consider some facts about the Iranian economy at the moment. Although some have pointed to economic hardship as the main fuel of the current events it is a bit farfetched to blame it all on that.

First of all, the inflation rate was at 9.6% in November, up 1.2 percent from the previous month but still at levels comparably low to the years before (and specially the last years under the former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad). One of the current Administration’s most important achievements has been lowering the rampant inflation rates under Ahmadinejad —up to 32% in 2013, when Rouhani was first elected—.

I, as someone that has lived the past several years, have seen much less price increase than during the previous Administration when it was possible to feel the increase of the prices on a weekly basis so I would, according to my own judgement, discard inflation as a source of the protests.

Nevertheless the unemployment rate, the main source of discontent in my opinion, hasn’t lowered much and it has pretty much stayed at around 12.2% which is a major source of disappointment among those who voted for Rouhani since creating jobs was one of his main promises during both campaigns.

Corruption, though, hasn’t been confronted much and it keeps being rampant in the country even though Rouhani’s team has been trying to combat it. Still, there has been an increase in transparency which means that many of the corruption cases that before were hidden from the public eyes now come to the attention of the populace and increase their anger and discontent.

Predictions for the future

Many different scenarios come to mind regarding the future of Iran and the effect of the current events on it.

One of the scenarios could be a tough response by the Iranian authorities against the violent protests which, if not accompanied by some sort of reform or economic action by the Iranian government, could result in even more anger and cause future more powerful and intense unrest and protests which could even end up in a possible civil war and a repeat of the Syrian crisis.

Another scenario could be that the protests and the unrest die down after a while and the government takes various measures to improve the economic conditions in the short term while planning a long term plan to solve the structural problems of the Iranian economy.

A less likely scenario would be the overthrow of the Islamic Republic and its substitution with an unknown regime (we currently do not know the political affiliation of the people involved in the anti-system part of the protests so it’s difficult to guess what they would plan to do in the event of being able to overthrow the I.R). This is a bit farfetched considering the actual situation and the general preference of the Iranian populace of peaceful reform.

There are other scenarios too but these were, considering the views and perspectives presented in the previous sections, the ones that that matter the more.

I highly recommend the Iranian authorities to, if it exists, present hard proof of the involvement of foreign actors in the actual unrest but I also suggest that they take drastic measures to fix some of the structural economic problems and face the rampant corruption in the country and the growing economic inequality. This, I recognize, is a herculean task but a necessary one to safeguard the country against dangers threatening it.

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  • chris chuba

    Regarding the size of the protests, couldn’t that be determined independently through satellite imagery?

    Pity about their unemployment, Iran certainly has a lot of potential for development and unlike the Saudis they actually like to work. They have a good literacy rate, University system, and plenty of infrastructure projects just waiting to be done, more refineries, water processing, electricity, and even a Caspian Sea canal to the Indian Ocean (or Persian Gulf) project
    https://sputniknews.com/middleeast/201604091037748591-trans-iran-canal-prospects-analysis/
    and yes, unfortunately, they do need a prudent Defense budget.

    They have to find their own way.

  • Drinas

    Seems to have died out as expected.

  • 1691

    what bugs me regarding the protests and the demonstrations is the timing. why now? the writer is covering all aspects. thank you. but corruption, level of unemployment are not news there. it is strange that it happens now, when isis is beaten down and running away to new destinations; now when the whole world stood up to usa and israhell regarding Jerusalem,;now when usa has no grounds to stay in Syria ( it never had any grounds for that anyway), now… I knew usa will not attack North Korea, not until the Olympic games are over and Iran has been a subject of verbal threats for a long time. to say that they are surprised is shallow. please, Iran, take good care. you know that you have some hard- core enemies.

    • as

      It’s partly organized partly genuine i think. Maybe the leader of the more genuine one are directed to arrange their protests into one simultaneous demonstrations unknowingly.

    • Hisham Saber

      beautifully said.

      No worries, Iran is steady, strong and determined. She will rid the Middle-East of the parasite Zionist entity. And who knows, she is the Islamic world’s last great hope. This coming from a Sunni Arab. God protect you and give you strength Iran. You, Russia…our Orthodox Christain brothers are fighting the Dajjal / Anti-Christ. This is all foretold according to Islamic eschatology.

      The Dajjal / Anti-Christ is not some one eyed monster, but is the Anglo / Talmudic Jewish/Khazarain international organized criminal, diabolical syndicate. Jews, Christain Zionists/Televangelists , in fact the whole ‘Bible Belt’ of the U.S. are hell bent on dominating the world and subjugating mankind, Its right their in their Talmud, and Scriptures. They are somehow chosen by a bigoted

      • 1691

        thank you. it warms up my heart. it feels me with joy that more people, regardless of religion or culture are united against the zio- mafia, the evil on Earth. I wish the conflicts around the world are solved in a civilized manner. no more wars. Thanks God, the storm is over in Iran and hopefully you will be able to enjoy life without external restrictions, limits and interference. as for the enemy of humanity- it is not going to stay for much longer. Blessings!

      • GRAHL

        How, in your opinion, will Iran “rid the ME of the parasite Zionist entity”?

      • First Lastname

        I don’t believe in the magic of the Abrahamic books (like Muhammad flying a horse with wings to heaven, or Jesus being resurrected) but you and I are brothers because we both stand against the Talmudic Jewish threat! Keep up the good work, and let’s hope Iran avoids the trap the Jews have set for them with these protests. Now is not the time for regime change. After the Israeli menace is dealt with, the people of Iran can change their regime safely. Right now, instability in Iran only benefits Israel.

      • Omega

        Worth nothing that Judaism was a synthetic cult invented by the ruling class of Babylon to attack/destroy the Canaanite-Phoenician cult. It comes to no surprise that the history of the Canaanites-Phoenicians was suppressed by the Jews and later the Romans.

        The conquest of the land of Canaan by the so-called Hebrews and the genocide of its inhabitants, the Canaanites, – found in the Book of Deuteronomy – was propaganda that is invalidated by modern forensic archeology and genetic studies.

        Also, the old Hebrew script was Canaanite. Old Hebrew language was a Canaanite dialect.

  • Freespirit

    In the last weeks of December, Washington and Tel Aviv meet to discuss a strategy for Iran and then suddenly just before the New Year, “magically” Violence and Protests in Iran with shouts for Regime Change and to STOP supporting Palestine ! What a “coincidence”: https://southfront.org/happening-iran-another-color-revolution-underway/ And “strange” how, of all the Western Media, without exception, “none has covered the massive pro-government rallies held in more than 1,200 cities and towns on Saturday”.: http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961011000804 and https://youtu.be/b2qqLIWHx6k

    MORE U.S. Israeli Zionist “War by Deception”

    • Barba_Papa

      Probably because by now everybody has learned that in a dictatorship, which Iran is, I’ve been there 3 times, I know and seen it, pro government rallies tend to be orchestrated by the government. Therefore hardly newsworthy. Which makes the anti-government rallies all the more interesting.

      The only thing western news agencies don’t know how to assess properly is who and what are behind the rallies. The word I hear from Iran is that in 2009 the protesters were students, now they are poor people.

      • Freespirit

        Wow, you’ve been there “3 times” and now, as a tourist, you know all about Iran. You must be either American or British and VERY young ( compared to myself)

        All input welcome, even from fools, the uninformed and trolls

      • Turbofan

        How much time did you spend in Iran..in total? what is a dictatorship?

        “pro government rallies tend to be orchestrated by the government.”

        The depth of this mans ignorance is astonishing. I spent 6 years in Cuba ( a supposed ” dictatorship”) ( by the way I didnt go there 6 times, I spent 6 full years). Every 1st of May and on multiple occasions for the Cuban 5 there would be rallies organized and orchestrated at a community or an organization level.Students (both cubans and foriegn) would match, farmers, docs and nurses and more. These rallies were not called by the upper echelons of power just ordinary people standing up to imperialism..

        I always thought your condemnation of terrorism in Syria were weak, that comment explains everything

        • Hisham Saber

          ignore him, he’s a miserable jewish shill.

          • Solomon Krupacek

            you fascist shit!

          • Hisham Saber

            oh, here comes his alter ego, another one of the eternal whiners

        • Solomon Krupacek

          you are crazy. i lived long time in socialiesm. never more!

          • Turbofan

            This isnt about socialism..or communism ..or capitalism..The idiot stated that pro government rallies in countries like Cuba, Iran, Syria, NK, Vietnam( countries labeled dictatorships by the imperialist west) cannot be genuine.In other words the government in these countries have no support..ZERO.. and all citizens in these countries LOOOOVE western imperialism..

      • as

        It’s simple. They’re not really behind anything pro government. Why can’t they pro government anyway ? They let their opposition to hold rally and protest under condition that it’s civil and non violent and that’s supposed to be dictatorship ? And what’s with the western idea that they’d rather be led by MEK who is very pro western that thrive in the dogship Shah era ?

      • Robert Ferrin

        I find it strange that the so call Western news agencies haven’t figured it out as to who’s behind rallies, hell I’ve read that there isn’t a news agency in the U.S. but what have C.I.A. operative working for it,so the simple solution is simply to ask them…

    • christianblood

      The Iranian government should deal with the legitimate economical grievances that some of its people have but if the unrest continues after this, then they should close all Iranian borders, mobilize its army, nation and people and deal sternly with the traitors.

      • Freespirit

        NOW you’re talking :-)

      • 888mladen .

        Economic sanctions and the cost of military ops in SY and IQ have been the main reason for IR financial troubles and high unemployment rates combined with corruption of IR clergy which lacks any accountability.

        • christianblood

          You are right but I believe the Iranian government could deal with those economical issue but they should firstly deal with corruption within their system. Without dealing with their internal corruption they cannot deal with the economical problems.

      • Lemon1987

        Dont worry if anything happens Russia will give them hepling hand, but I dont think Iranian goverment needs it , they will deal with it by themself without US and OSN intruder scum

        • christianblood

          Thank you!

  • BL

    (((The enemy))) was extremely busy in the last few days using CIA controlled apps like Telegram messaging system which is unfortunately popular in Iran to spread non-stop fake news in order to incite unrest and violence. Here’s just some of the psychological operation tactics they used:

    1. Use fake pictures and clips from outside of Iran with fake titles.
    2. Use old clips from 2009 and portray them as clips from this week’s protests.
    3. Use the same clip under several different titles in different cities.
    4. Spread non-stop rumors and completely made up news with no proof.

    If you want to see a few examples visit:

    https://www.mashreghnews.ir/photo/815793/نقش-اخبار-جعلی-در-گسترش-اغتشاشات-خیابانی-ایران-عکس

  • Hisham Saber

    Massive marches in Iran today, across many cities and towns. Hundreds of thousands of Iranians , if not millions came out to support the Islamic establishment.

    http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961013001328

    IRGC Commander says the sedition is over. The enemies plots were all uncovered and the individuals involved in fomenting discord and violence are in custody. Iran is steady, she is strong

    Check out these hardcore guys. Tel-Aviv, watch out. Riyadh, , the House of Saud will implode, and be https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/05bb2f57c9d94a14dfe9a51969518ce363848b9f89225f645a992c391a910465.jpg swept away.

  • Cheryl Brandon

    one thing is for sure, The U$A doe snot care about any country or ethnic groups but the JEWS and Palestine. SANCTIONS pushed on Iranians by USA, have been causing more economic hardship. Plus a, a young population needs more jobs; Maybe Iran needs a green new deal. The POIR/President of Iran needs to move unto renewable energy.

    • Omega

      It’s not the USA but the ruling class of the British Empire. That ruling class hijacked the US with the creation of the privately owned/ran “Federal” Reserve and that same ruling class created IsraHell.

      And they don’t care about the average-joe Jews, they have used them to advance their hegemony.