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Protests in Iran: analysis of the causes
Material posted: Publication date: 02-01-2018
In Iran there is no end to the mass protests that swept in recent days, Tehran and other major cities of the country. In some cases, they resulted in violent clashes with protesters by Iranian security forces. At the time of this writing, the result of the confrontation between demonstrators and police, according to official data, has already killed 13 people. The evening of January 1 of the Iranian TV channel IRIB reported on the murder of a policeman in Najafabadi as a result of fire allegedly opened from a hunting rifle by one of the rioters. Earlier, the Islamic revolutionary guard Corps threatened the protesters with an "iron fist" if the protests do not return to a peaceful course.

Such a turn in Iran's domestic political life and the dramatic escalation came as a surprise to many observers, who have drawn Parallels between the current protests and mass actions of the opposition Green movement Mir-Hossein Mousavi in 2009. However, in contrast to the demonstrations of 2009, triggered by the dissatisfaction with presidential election results in the framework of the existing government, today are unhappy with their economic situation, the protesters oppose the theocratic regime. We are talking not about traditional wrestling "reformers" and "conservatives" within the system, and on emerging on the background of discontent about socio-economic situation in the country non-systemic movement.

According to the Agency "Anadolu", "stock previously invested in more than 6 thousand local companies that soon went bankrupt. Thus, their money has lost several million people. Public and government agencies did not attach importance to these protests. Most of the participants of mass protests that gripped Iran today - people have lost their money. But this time they were joined by poor citizens and opposition political groups. Most of the bankrupt Finance companies belonged to the supporters of the camp of the conservatives. In this regard, the fate of the invested funds remains unknown."

The Iranian government, in turn, says about the role of "foreign agents" in the beginning of the riots. Of course, statements about the intrigues of external enemies, of which Iran has plenty, could be regarded only as the usual political move, designed to consolidate internal forces in the face of external threats. However, in the context of the new U.S. strategy for countering Iran announced by President Donald trump in October 2017, agreements of a similar focus between Washington and tel Aviv, as well as the active tripartite cooperation in the fight against the growing regional influence of Iran in the triangle US-Israel-Saudi Arabia to dismiss the version of external influence would be wrong.

However, even assuming a factor of attempts to influence the situation in Iran from the outside, without the presence of fertile soil for protests in the state they would not have the effect. The fact that among the population of Iran was and remains a serious dissatisfaction with the economic situation in the country, is not news. However, in the summer of 2015, the country has achieved a major breakthrough on the international scene, having signed the so-called "nuclear deal" with the six countries (USA, France, UK, Germany, China, Russia) that resulted in the lifting of international sanctions against Iran. Tehran is actively attracting foreign direct investment, including, it would seem, in such situation, the dissatisfied part of the population had to be reasons to start looking to the future with optimism.

But probably in excessive expectations on the part of the Iranians from the rise to power of President Hassan Rouhani, and the availability of public demand for a positive effect from the "nuclear deal" in the daily lives of citizens in the short term lies the reason for the protests. Starting in 2016, when the nuclear agreement with Iran took effect, the economy began to recover – but not so fast that the Iranians managed to feel real changes in your daily life. According to IMF, the growth rate of GDP in 2016 and 2017 amounted to 4.5% and 4.1%, respectively. At the same time, the rise of inflation over the past two years was approximately 10%. According to the Persian service of the BBC study, over the past 10 years, the population impoverished by about 15%.

As noted in an interview with NZZ German expert Fathallah Ali-Nejad before the start of the protests in Iran, many campaign promises Hassan Rouhani was populist. "They formed part of the Cabinet is contrary to any will for reform. Despite the fact that some of the sanctions in the transaction was reduced, the economic benefits from this today get the elite. Among the poor and the middle class is noticeable disillusionment, dissatisfaction with the situation draws more and more wide circles of the population." According to Fathollah-Nejad, is planned for 2018 the budget also does not involve any progress for the population, while the funds for the IRGC to be significantly increased.

The position taken by the administration of U.S. President Donald trump against Iran also does not contribute to the active influx of European capital into the country, the European banks are not at risk to Finance negotiated with Iran deal, fearing to fall out of favor of the us Treasury Department, jealously watching over the execution and remaining in effect of the American sanctions regulations. Moreover, the fears of investors spurred the sequential introduction of the White House new unilateral sanctions against some Iranian companies in February, and the Islamic revolutionary guard Corps in October of last year – especially given the close "integration" of the IRGC in the Iranian economy. Focused on the actual undermining of the "nuclear deal" policies of the American President and his team, to some extent, is bearing fruit as it supports the uncertainty in moods of investors and bankers about doing business in Iran and its lending.

It is noteworthy that out on the street and Iranians are chanting for the government to abandon the excessive attention to foreign policy objectives ("Not Gaza, not Lebanon, my life for Iran") in favor of solving socio-economic problems of its own population. In fact, support of military forces outside of Iran and part in the Syrian campaign rests fairly heavy burden on the Iranian budget. Estimated Staffan de Mistura, the UN special envoy for Syria, supporting the regime of Bashar al-Assad Iran annually allocates $6 billion to $35 billion Valuation, of course, very vague, but even its lower limit is wasting the Iranian government considerable sums on its Syrian ally.

In any case, the current protests will be a serious test of margin in effect from 1979, the political system of Iran. Without a doubt, the event data, regardless of the future dynamics of their development will have a significant impact on the current political balance in the Iranian state. If "iron fist" of the IRGC will be disproportionately hard, it cannot be ruled out and reviewing EU relations with Iran under pressure from Washington and human rights defenders. A lot now depends on whether the Iranian leadership at this stage, quickly, effectively and without the use of disproportionate violence to break up originated, are still quite chaotic protest movement, separating the radical opponents of the existing state system from those whose protest is largely socio-economic in nature.


Tags: Iran , assessment

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