Дата публикации

On the issue of protest activity in Iran

10 years after the Green Revolution of 2009 and two years after the events of 2017-2018, Iran has again been overwhelmed by a wave of mass violent protests. This time, the formal reason was a 2-fold increase in gasoline prices and restrictions on the sale of fuel. Spontaneous demonstrations quickly escalated into riots and, in addition to the capital, swept dozens of cities across the country under the slogan of dissatisfaction with the policies of the leadership of the Islamic republic.

One of the catalysts for the current outrage of protesters has been Tehran's funding, against a backdrop of decreasing living standards in the country and a number of foreign Islamist movements – in particular the Palestinian group Hamas, which is recognised as a terrorist organisation in a number of Western countries.

The media reported on violent clashes between protesters and law enforcement forces using tear gas, destruction of dozens of government facilities with killed and wounded.

In an attempt to limit the communication capabilities of protesters, the authorities have cut off mobile communications and the Internet. Against this background, opposition Telegram channels are massively gaining new subscribers.

It is noteworthy that slogans are increasingly appearing at rallies: "They lie to us that the USA is our enemy, a real enemy is the leadership of the country". By the way, Washington, represented by White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham, almost immediately expressed solidarity with the "peaceful protests of the long-suffering Iranian people demanding responsibility and transparency from their government," condemned the "use of deadly force against demonstrators" and severe restrictions on communications.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry expectedly qualified these passages as an attempt to interfere in the country's internal affairs. State TV accused "hostile media" of trying to exaggerate the scale of the demonstrations by "using fake news and videos on social media". Prosecutor General Mohammad Jafar Montazeri said in an interview that the demonstrators blocking roads and resisting the security forces "certainly" enjoy support from abroad.

Analysis of current events shows that, just like in December 2017, the starting point of protest activity was precisely the economic factor, which quickly moved into the political plane. While the Iranian protests are somewhat chaotic in appearance, some of the speeches, videos of which appear on the news feeds, appear to be reasonably coordinated and have clear slogans.

Obviously, Iran's economic situation has been deteriorating since 2018, when the United States withdrew from the international "nuclear deal" and re-imposed sanctions against Tehran. Experts note the disappointment of part of the population, especially young people, with the policy of the Iranian authorities, as the lifting of the multi-year sanctions as part of a nuclear deal in 2015 has not brought the expected improvement in life in the country.

The November events in Iran seem to be a logical continuation of the "maximum pressure campaign" used by the US to "tame" Tehran's "reckless foreign policy". In addition, they complement the "hot" map of protests that have swept various parts of the world this year (Bolivia, Venezuela, Hong Kong, Georgia, Iraq, France, Chile, etc.), only increasing the general turbulence in the already unstable Western Asia region.

Taking into account the current situation in Iran, the task of maintaining and increasing the dynamics of interaction between Belarus and Iran, including the implementation of the existing potential for building up trade and economic ties, which was discussed on October 30, 2019 in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs during the protocol visit of the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Iran in Minsk Mostafa Oveisi, is becoming a serious challenge for all interested departments from the Belarusian side.