The biggest protests in nearly a decade have shaken up Iran, as the country in not used to citizens challenging the politico-economic status quo. Tensions across Iran run high, as 21 people have killed and hundreds have been arrested in a violent police crackdown.
As inflation and unemployment rates continue to climb, relative moderate Iranian President Hassan Rouhani stated that he sympathizes with peaceful protesters. Nevertheless, despite the symbolic support the problems continue for the average Iranian household failing to make ends meet, as the much-expected economic growth as a result of the nuclear deal has not yet been as evident as promised.
Due to the nature of the demonstrations, immediately they were compared to the 2009 protests, mostly led by middle and upper class supporters of reformist candidates who lost to the hard-liner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in an election best by allegations of fraud. It wasn’t difficult to light the fuse, as all the pent-up resentment was unleashed during the country’s largest protests since the Iranian Revolution in 1979. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was quick to suppress the “Green Movement” as it became known
Even though, protests have flared up all over the country, for the moment there is no common political platform apart from the anti-government sentiment, denouncing the Islamic Republic itself and the Supreme Leader. Social media brands these protests with the hashtag #ProtestsEverywhere.
The protests seem to have been organized through the messaging app Telegram, which the Iranian government banned, along with Instagram, in an effort to reduce the protesters momentum.
On Tuesday, Supreme Leader Khamenei broke his silence after six days of unrest, blaming the “enemies of Iran” who attempt to interfere with Iran’s internal affairs. He warned of an enemy waiting to infiltrate their country, criticizing the international community’s response to the demonstrations.
Even though the Ayatollah did not mention a country specifically, he is most likely talking about US President Donald Trump, who tweeted his support for the protesters. In spite of that, it is unclear whether his actions had any impact on the Iranians, as many distrust him due to his refusal to recertify the nuclear deal and the infamous travel ban.
The U.S. government called for the UN Security Council and UN Human Rights Council to hold emergency meetings on the issue, with the US Ambassador before the UN stating that the organization must take a stand.