In the state of Iran, whose officials boast of their control over four Arab capitals, the protests in the city of Mashhad, the second largest city in Iran, began on December 28 and are rare protests. And the motives of it, the Iranian journalist Mohammed Majid Ahwaz has published series of Twitters on his own account via Twitter explaining what is happening in Iran, he said that the reason for the start of these demonstrations from the city of Mashhad was for the following reasons:
First: 160,000 Mashadi families lost their money in the Chandigarh residential project. The project was the biggest scam and deception, and Officials in the system involved in the theft who were not held accountable and the people of Mashhad lost their money and dream of housing.
Second: Most of the Iranian banks that have declared bankruptcy are from the Iranian city of Mashhad. People have lost their money because the banks have declared their bankruptcy. The Iranian government has ignored the demands of the Iranian people in the bankrupt case and focused on Iran’s nuclear deal.
Third: After stopping the religious tourist trips between the Gulf states and Iran, the people of Mashhad lost thousands of their jobs and investments and closed many small factories and shops because they depended on the Gulf Shiite pilgrims and after the burning of the Saudi embassy, everything was ended .
He added that “the largest Afghan community is located in the city of Mashhad and compete with the people of the city on employment opportunities and after the housing crisis and the crisis of bankruptcies and the loss of the city tourism revenues and high prices and the increasing unemployment rate, poverty and addiction and unemployment in the body of this city and its population is more than three million people, All these “objective reasons provide an environment ready for the start of any popular movement against poverty and unemployment and the suffering of the people of the Mashhad .”
The popular protests in Iran have extended from Mashhad in the north-east to the west of the country. Attempts at repression have led to the reversal reaction where the demonstrations have reached to Yazd in the south and Shahroud in the north and the people of Kashmer and Nisabur joined their neighbors in Mashhad, and on December 29, 2017, Protests extended to the capital Tehran, where hundreds of students chanting slogans against the regime and President Hassan Rowhani.
Five days after protests broke out in Iran, Iranian state television reported on Monday that 12 people were killed during protests across the country, including 10 killed in clashes on Sunday night. Today, however, the features of the slogans that have started as economic ones in general have been changed in which some politicians of different tendencies, especially the conservative movement, defended them, but they have more political significance than the first day, which was accompanied by political slogans , it has angered and warned some of them . As different in nature in different regions and cities, the demonstrations that emerged initially in the areas of Mashhad and Nishapur, in the northeast of the country, do not resemble those that emerged in the capital Tehran on Saturday night. The fall of the first victims of these demonstrations were in the southwest of the country on Saturday, Sunday night, to increase the political reservations on them. Yesterday, the authorities restricted access to the Telegram and Ingram applications on mobile phones temporarily, state media announced yesterday.
Of those who took part in the demonstrations in Mashhad, where a large number of conservatives lived in , mainly demanded to get their rights after they lost money when decided to invest it in financial institutions supposed to have been licensed by the government and raised slogans criticizing the actions of President Hassan Rowhani and his economic policies ,especially that he submitted a budget to the parliament, which was to increase the price of fuel , which coincided with the rise in prices of some major food commodities. What is going on in Tehran and in a recognition of all officials, those who went out in front of the university and headed along the street of revolution or called Enqelab Street in Persian, chanted slogans against the Rohani and the government and the policies of the regime. Although the city has a large number of supporters of the reformist and moderate, but some do not see it in connection with what happened, especially as other protests came out in the same region and in front of the same university, on Sunday, condemning those that preceded it, the demonstrators echoed slogans against those who were described as a luxury class that launched political slogans and are not concerned mainly with concerns of the living of the citizen.
In this regard, the political analyst Imad Abshnas said, that the protest on the economic situation has existed for some time, and there are cities that have seen simple gatherings because of the file of financial institutions, but developed after that. As for Tehran, Abshnas said in an interview with “The New Arab” that what happened in the capital is very different from its predecessors. “The issue is not about the presence of a reformist or fundamentalist public as there are slogans in videos that criticized the two movements, considering that deviates the main context of the protests.”What makes people come out to the streets is usually economic problems, frustration at the lack of job opportunities, and uncertainty about the future of their children,” says Esfandiar Batmengelijg, founder of the group of Europe – Iran Business Forum. He added “There is no doubt that austerity measures are difficult, but necessary to counter inflation and currency problems, and to try to improve Iran’s ability to attract investment.”But patience of the people must be running out from these measures after a long period of sanctions against Tehran. Economists said that Iran is a rich country with its revenues; it is the second largest producer of oil after Saudi Arabia and the second largest natural gas producer in the world after Russia. It has a wide network of economic relations in the world and its military expansion, especially in the field of armaments and military industries, is the big evidence of the availability of resources despite Tehran’s promotion of the suffering of the country from international sanctions. They added that the sanctions imposed by the United States and the international community mainly affect the military and security sectors and do not affect what may affect the standard of living, but Tehran authorities resort to those sanctions in an attempt to convince the Iranians that the cause of their problems due to the pressure exercised by the enemies of the country.
It should be noted that the subject in the city of Mashhad in particular may be different in fact, despite the fact that the demonstrations permeated political slogans criticized the government’s policy. Some supporters of the government accused the conservative segment of inciting the protesters to come out in favor of them in the end. The Secretary of the Party of “building cadres” Gholamhossein Gharbashi, said that the Supreme National Security Council summoned the imam of Friday prayers in the Mashhad Ayatollah Ahmad Alam al-Huda, in protest against his contribution to support economic protests against the government, which denied by the Office of Alam al- Huda, and demanded an official apology, and denied by the National Security Council as well.
For his part, the editor of the Arab section of the Iranian agency, “Mehr” Mohammad Mazhari said , that the spark that started from Mashhad as an economic ones definitely , and protest against the work of the government and setback that did not allow them to solve the dilemma of unemployment and even to face the risk of the return of high inflation rates. He said that the protesters who filed complaints to the judiciary, the Islamic Consultative Assembly and government institutions were not heard by the government itself about compensating them for financial losses. With regard to Kermanshah, where protests have also taken place after Mashhad and Nishapur, civilians are suffering from difficult conditions because of the legacy of the earthquake. He described the turning of the protest slogans to be an issue that move things to another context, which is being provoked by external incitation , as he put it, but this does not mean the absence of economic causes.
It was political chants that angered many at home. The Iranians did not hesitate to use the slogan “Death to the tyrant” in their ongoing protests in more than one Iranian city to express the prevailing anger over economic and security policies imposed on them years ago. And with it, there are the protests against Hezbollah and the embrace of sectarian militias sponsored by the alliance of Murshed – Revolutionary Guards in the Arab Mashreq, that have reached to an intolerable degree. The Iranians expressed about that by chanting: “People beg and the clerics act like gods.” Their warnings, which have expanded over time, have been launched, accusing external parties of inciting this, the external parties means t he Iranian opposition, headed by the French-based Mujahedin –e khalq , whose leader, Mariam Rajavi, encouraged the Iranian action against the regime, as well as a second opposition represented by supporters of the former Pahlavi monarchy. US President Donald Trump’s comments on the issue, as well as Saudi media’s handling of Iran’s protests since its first day, have provoked many resentments and the Iranian foreign ministry denied the Canadian position in a statement as well.
For its part, the Iranian authorities consider that the popular protests are illegal and accuse those involved in moving the street against President Ruhani’s government and economic policies, which is referred to by the first deputy president of Iran, Ishaq Jahangiri, saying that a political trend – which he did not name it – taking from the raise of prices and some food commodities and some of Oil derivatives as a pretext to criticize the president and his government by encouraging people to take part in demonstrations against the government.
For his part, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards said in a statement about what he called a new plot of sedition aimed at Iran, and said that America, Israel, Britain and the anti-revolutionary front at home and abroad and reactionary “follows a new tricky way to cause strife in the country and target the movement of its revolution outside the border. The stat Tv. Accused “”The enemy’s websites and the foreign media of trying to exploit the economic difficulties and the legitimate demands of the people to launch illegal marches and provoke potential unrest.”
The authorities faced public protests by using the riot police, which used water and tear gas cannons to disperse the crowds in Kermanshah and Tehran. They also arrested 52 people in Mashhad for attempting to burn and destroy some public property, as revealed by the city’s governor Mohammad Rahim Nuruzian. Router Agency confirmed that two people were killed in the city of Durood, west of Iran, by riot police on December 30, 2017. Habibullah Khojatahbor, deputy governor of Luristan province, confirmed the killing of the two men, but state television said: “no shots were fired by the police and the security forces and we found evidences indicating that the enemies of the revolution , Takfiri groups and foreign clients in this engagement.”
Any scenario for predicting the outcome of the current demonstrations in Iran is at least determined by the following two determinants:
First, the extent of the intensity of those involved in the protests. Under Iranian authoritarianism, the closure of Iran’s media and its lack of openness to neutral or foreign media, it is impossible to estimate the actual number of protesters,
Second, in light of the harsh repression of the Iranian regime, it is difficult to know the extent to which these demonstrations are capable of sustaining, to stand firm and sustaining support, and the ability to influence and impose conditions.
Therefore, we may have three scenarios:
1. The Iranian authorities were able to suppress and repress the demonstrations, and thus buy time, as happened in 2009
2 – The extension and breadth of the demonstrations, which may gain more influence and seriousness in imposing conditions on the regime to adjust the course, and be in front of a new political actor on the Iranian arena.
3) The decrease of intensity in demonstrations, as a result of the a double – government policy that based first on the suppression of the demonstrators by authorities described them as “illegal gatherings” and “anti-revolutionary groups trying to stir unrest in the country”, Iranian officials said, and secondly it is based on the response of the government of the president of Rohani to some demands of protesters with demanding dimensions, and perhaps to retreat from some austerity policies or price increases.
In conclusion: the protests in Iran reveal the state of intimidation that the Iranian political system seeks to conceal in a populist speech that boasted of the country’s power and its immunity. The protests shed lights on the growing state of social unrest in Iran, not only because of the economic situation of the country, which is not worse than many countries in the world, but because of the oppression of Iranians of different nationalities as a result of the oppression exerted by authorities against the voices of opposition or reformist or criticism to Tehran’s political options in the international community.
Iranian Studies Unit
Rawabet Center for Research and Strategic Studies