[Strategic Intel] Anti-government protestors take to the streets in Iran

Iranians protesting government corruption and rising prices have taken to the streets of major cities across the country for the second day in a row, escalating tensions amid growing unrest.

Protests have begun in Rasht, in the north, and Kermanshar, in the west, with smaller protests in Shiraz, Isfahan and Hamadan.

The demonstrations began as protests against rising prices, but they have now evolved into general protests against clerical rule.

Tehran’s deputy governor-general for security affairs told the Iranian Labour News Agency that about 50 people have been arrested in the capital of Tehran.

City officials said that protests will not be permitted and that violators will be dealt with harshly by police.

Reports said that the biggest protest on Thursday was in the north-eastern city of Mashhad, where there were 52 arrests.

The government is blaming anti-revolutionary elements and foreign agents, but the protests very clearly stem from rising discontent in Iran, mainly because of the worsening economic conditions faced by ordinary Iranians. A Western media poll found that Iranians, on average, have become 30% poorer in the past ten years alone. [source]

(Analyst comment: These kinds of protests are exceedingly rare in Iran, which controls the population with an iron fist (and police, and the military). But they are indicative of a pattern of unrest seen in other parts of the world where authoritarian governments are spending precious resources on military upgrades and the spread of ideology rather than on their own people. These protests, if they continue, will seriously undermine Iranian domestic stability, which will avert its attention inward rather than regionally.)

Jon E. Dougherty is a political, foreign policy and national security analyst and reporter with nearly 30 years of experience in both fields. A U.S. Army veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, he holds BA in Political Science from Ashford University and an MA in National Security Studies/Intelligence Analysis from American Military University.

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