In a recent interview with a Western a journalist, an Iranian dissenter accused Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei of “imposing famine on us” through “useless uranium enrichment, interfering in internal affairs of neighboring countries, stupid enmity with Israel,” and much else. As Behnam Ben Taleblu and Saeed Ghasseminejad document, the ongoing protests in Iran—which the government has brutally been trying to repress—may have been prompted by economic conditions but have become more broadly political. They outline the conditions leading to the current unrest, their proximate causes, and the reasons they are unlikely to end anytime soon—as well as possible steps the U.S. can take to support the dissenters.
Early this May, the ultra-hardline government of President Ebrahim Raisi cut subsidies for flour and wheat pursuant to a greenlight in March by the Iranian parliament to slash select price controls. Days later, the government hiked prices on other staples such as dairy, poultry, and cooking oil. The decision sent prices soaring by a reported 300 percent and immediately sparked unrest, as some in Iran had anticipated. Although the month of May saw various other demonstrations—such as by teachers and bus drivers—the protests triggered by food-price spikes have begun to spread across the country, with a reported six dead and a growing number arrested.
Despite attempts by Iranian leaders to downplay protests, more turbulence is expected. As such, the quickly changing facts on the ground in Iran mean that U.S. policy can no longer afford to be limited to the number and type of centrifuges installed, nor Tehran’s stockpile of enriched uranium. Various economic, social, and political forces have brought about these protests and are slated to sustain future ones. Turning a blind eye to each [of these factors] and continuing to see Iran policy through the sole prism of nuclear nonproliferation ensures that Washington will perennially be caught off-guard by the next iteration of protests, as well as their results.
Read more on Dispatch: https://thedispatch.com/p/protests-in-iran-are -surging-the?s=r